Our Navy Yard rum begins with Grade A Fancy Molasses. We add the molasses to warm water, then add cool water bringing the temperature to 74F. We mix in a proprietary blend of yeast selected especially for our Navy Yard rum. The yeast will eat the sugar during fermentation and replace it with alcohol. As they create these new molecules they also create much of the aroma and flavor in the spirit. After fermentation the liquid is referred to as ‘wash’, and it no longer has sweetness, it is in fact tart with a pH near 3. It finishes fermentation at about 8% abv.
One of the ways we break with tradition is to ferment for longer at a cooler fermentation temperature. Rum was traditionally a rushed spirit that was fermented at around 105 degrees in 24 hours (whiskey is about 5 days at 80 degrees). When yeast are in such a hot environment they may work more quickly, but they also are more stressed, and they release damaged and unremarkable flavors into the wash. By giving them a perfect home at 74-78 degrees, we allow them to thrive and produce more desirable flavors. We also ferment for 6 days. Most of the sugar is converted to alcohol in the first 48 hours, but the mingling of the yeast with the wash after this period, gives richness and complexity to the spirit, just as it does in whiskey, wine and beer.
The Navy Yard rum is double distilled. The first distillation is done in a pot still. The 8% abv wash is placed in the still and it is warmed up to cause the alcohol vapors to rise, along with the essence of the flavors we created during fermentation. We capture these vapors and it condenses into a liquid we call ‘low wines’. These low wines come out around 35% abv.
We take these low wines and redistill them for a second distillation. Our Navy Yard rum is distilled through our column still with 8 plates adding powerful aromatic structure to the already rich and densely flavored spirit. The vapor is cooled and condensed into spirit. All spirit off of a still is clear and dry (meaning it has no sugar). We collect, proof, and barrel the spirit.
After the final distillation the spirit is brought to 110 proof (55% abv) by adding very soft pure water. Soft water allows us to retain the delicate aromatics in the spirit. We wanted to rethink standard barrel proof and be sure that we were selecting the process that was right for our spirit, not just the fastest or easiest. Barrel proof refers to the concentration of alcohol in the spirit you are placing in barrel. Spirit contains alcohol which is a solvent, it actually dissolves the barrel color and flavor into the spirit. The concentration of the alcohol can help you control the speed, flavors and concentration at which this happens. We found at 110 proof we get a nice gentle influence of oak without overpowering the rich flavors we worked so hard to capture in fermentation and distillation. It takes longer but the flavors are less astringent, and more supple.
Our Navy Yard rum always goes into a new American Oak Barrel with a # 3 level char.
Our distillery has a terroir you can taste in the spirit. It is situated on a salt marsh off the ocean, and on the finish of the Navy Yard, you may taste a tangy mineral note from the briny air. In the summer we have hot and humid weather that allows the grain of the wood to soak up much of the rum in cask creating rich oaky flavors. In November when the temperature drops the oak grain squeezes the rum back out. We can watch the casks drop two shades of color and two layers of richness as the rum is pushed back into the rest of the spirit. This unique push and pull on the spirit contributes to it’s layers of flavor.
Navy Yard rum is harvested and bottled at cask strength. It is decanted from barrel to bottle meaning exactly what our distiller tastes from their cask sample is exactly what ends up in your bottle.