Sugar still continued to drive economies around the world in the 1800s. The windmill played in integral part in the production process as producers made full use of the winds on the islands.
This picture depicts a typical rum distillery in Jamaica during the 1800's. This was an advertisement for the Antilles Company and reflects the use of multiple pot stills in addition to producing the rum directly from the juice of the sugar cane.
By the mid 1800s, Caribbean rum distillers dramatically improved their distillation, filtering and aging techniques, and the result was much closer to the taste of the rum spirit that we know today.
After American Independence and the formation of the United States, the citizen's began to turn to whiskey as the preferred spirit.A number of factors led to an explosion of whiskey consumption in the early 1800s. First, the British stopped participating in the American molasses/rum trade, objecting to its connections with slavery, while the federal government also began to tax rum in the 1790s. At the same time, westward expansion to the Midwest created large supplies of corn, which was cheaper and more profitable to convert into whiskey than it was to transport molasses in great distances without spoiling. By the 1820s, whiskey sold for twenty-five cents a gallon, making it cheaper than beer, wine, coffee, tea, milk or rum.
Basically, whiskey was very cheap and accessible so Americans consumed a lot of it.
Rum still had it's place on the menu, though. By 1830, alcohol consumption reached a peak of 7 gallons of liquor a year per capita. Rum was definitely still a major contributor to this statistic. (By comparison, the best figure for the current American alcohol consumption rate seems to be roughly 2.42 gallons of liquor per year, per capita.) As depicted in this picture, rum still played a role in the culture of the time. This scene included a depiction of Andrew Jackson and his militia during the War of 1812 in which the Major General triumphantly drills a hole into a cask of rum.
A major leap in the production of spirits was the invention of the continuous still in the 1800's. One of the first column stills was patented in the early 1800s by a Scotsman names Sir Anthony Perrier who inspired another Scotsman, Robert Stein, to improve upon it …who then inspired an Irishman, Aeneas Coffey (pictured) to turn it into what we think of as Column stills today. In November of 1852, Aeneas sold his interests to John Dore & Co. which is still involved in fabrication of stills - making it the oldest distillery engineering business in the world.
What is a Coffey Still and how does it work? The still itself consists of two, tall, interlinked copper and stainless steel columns, known as the analyser and the rectifier, which sit side-by-side.
Pressure-fed steam enters the analyser at the base and rises up through a series of compartments, separated by perforated sieve plates. As it does so, hot wash is fed in at the top of the analyser and descends through the compartments.
The rising steam strips the alcohol from the wash and carries it over into the base of the rectifier, where it again ascends though another series of compartments. As it does so, it comes into contact with the cold wash supply pipe, which is routed through the rectifier in a series of loops and coils.
This acts as a surface on which the alcohol vapour condenses, and the strength of the condensate increases as it rises up the rectifier until it is gathered on top of the unperforated spirit plate in the topmost compartment, the spirit chamber.
The spirit this process produces is has less flavour compared to pot still malt spirit, but is of a very high purity at about 96% abv, and is perfect for onward rectification into gin and vodka.
Any uncondensed vapour is redistilled via the wash charger, as is the fluid known as the hot feints, which are piped away from the bottom of the rectifier and pumped back into the upper section of the analyser and redistilled.
Nowadays the wash is fed pre-heated into the analyser, and a cold water pipe acts as the condensing surface in the rectifier. Vacuum-distilling techniques are also more common in the modern day patent still.
The planting and cultivation of sugar cane in Queensland, Australia was paramount to a booming industry: the production of rum. In 1869 there was even a floating mill that produced and delivered rum to eager Queenslanders.
The Walrus had been an unassuming sailing ship purchased by James Stewart in 1869 with plans to convert it into a steamship, and much more. Young entrepreneurs J. Campbell Moffat and John Falconer wrote to the Colonial Secretary on behalf of the Pioneer Floating Sugar Mill to ask for a protection for two years to produce mill sugar and make rum. The protection was granted and the SS Walrus became a floating distillery.
It cruised up and down the Logan and Albert rivers, servicing the local plantations in the area, turning sugar into copious amounts of rum. From 1870 to 1871 the SS Walrus produced approximately 53,000 litres of rum. In comparison to other stationary distilleries at the time, this amount was huge.Unfortunately, the SS Walrus came under the attention of local authorities. The Chief Inspector of Distilleries reported on the floating mill after visiting the area and agreed that even though it was servicing a need, the vessel was not fit for purpose. Considering this, the Chief Inspector did not renew the licence in 1872. Instead he recommended that a stationary distillery be established.Was this the end of SS Walrus? In early 1876, after being abandoned and expected to break up at sea, the ship was rescued and salvaged by Samuel Crawford. The matter ended up in civil court, as the owner needed to pay for the salvage cost (not paying usually meant that the salvager got to keep the vessel). Crawford must have seen the value in the Walrus at the time. The owner, Joseph Hogan, eventually came forward, paid the cost and recovered his ship. After this, it is assumed that rum production recommenced, this time illegally.In 1883, the SS Walrus was found beached on the banks of the Albert River. What happened to the vessel remains a mystery, but it is believed that Francis Gooding then purchased the still from the SS Walrus. Mr Gooding would eventually obtain a licence in 1884 for the Beenleigh Rum Distillery, which is a functioning distillery to this day. Special thanks to Rummelier® Steven Magarry from Australia for sharing this fascinating part of the history of rum. https://blogs.archives.qld.gov.au/2021/10/26/ss-walrus-rum-on-the-river/
This picture represents a dissection of a molasses based rum production facility in the 1800s.
The Shand Still, which made in appearance in Jamaica circa 1831. Although at first it just looks like a triple-retort, there's more going on. The vats are wooden, and the domes ('B') are water cooled, yielding more reflux, so higher separation. - Master Rummelier® Matt Pietrek