Patiently awaiting aging, the rum alcohol is in the oak barrels. The events that take place when aging are rather simple. However, figuring out how long it takes to age is much more difficult. Many variables exist that must be well thought-out. To start with, the kind of wood that will be used must be considered, plus the sort of toast or char, along with the temperature of the warehouse and the kind of alcohol whether it is heavy, medium or light.
What the sugarcane alcohol loses when converted into rum:
• Absorbed through Oak Barrels
• The Proof Declines
• Some Aromas are Lost
Due to evaporation of the rum, the proof of the alcohol diminishes throughout the years. Light alcohols evaporate first because they are thinner and absorbed easily through the oak barrels. The uppermost loss occurs within the first year, and following the second or third year, the losses begin to level out if the barrel stays structurally sound. It is also important for the manager of the warehouse to top off the oak barrels on a regular schedule of at least once a year. A little aroma is also lost, particularly when it is aged in charred oak barrels, owing to the odor absorbing result of the interior carbon surface
What the alcohol gains when converted into rum:
• Amber Color
• Fruit Esters and Spice Notes
• Vanilla Flavors
As the alcohol is transformed into rum, it changes from a light color to dark amber. Toasted oak barrels always take a longer amount of time to pass on their color, whereas charred oak barrels accomplish this faster. Tannins are French oak barrels that impart the maximum absorption of tannins. The Charred White American oak barrels take an extended time to pass on the color.
Resulting in amplified complexity and prolonged aftertaste in the mouth, additional wood extracts are distributed to the rum. A lighter level of char tends to be evidence for added spice notes and fruit esters. The darker char levels extract more color and add vanilla flavors to the rum. Flavors and aromas previously mentioned carry on and react with oxygen within the oak barrels, converting into further compounds.
When carefully analyzing the described steps of how alcohol in oak barrels is converted into rum, it is easy to compare the aging process of rum with the present day alchemy which is the capability of changing base metals, such as lead into gold.