With a rise in health awareness in modern times, it’s no wonder people are curious about what is and isn’t gluten-free (regardless of whether they are celiac, sensitive, or just making better health decisions for themselves).
It’s always important to know what you can drink (without anxiety) and what you should avoid.
Beer, of course, is off-limits to gluten-intolerant people. But what about spirits like Rum, Rhum or Cachaca?
Is Rum Gluten-free?
Rum is made by distilling a sugar wash typically made from raw sugar, cane sugar, or molasses. Since sugar is a refined product, any gluten in the original food product is completely removed, and none makes it into the wash.
Even if there was gluten in the wash, the distilling process will leave 100% of gluten behind – extracting only the alcohol, essential oils, and volatile flavor compounds.
Rum is safe for those with Celiac Disease, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.
Does rum contain sugar?
No, Most rums are 100% sugar-free.
This is a bit confusing since rum is made almost entirely from sugar. In fact, it takes roughly a kilogram (2.25lbs) of sugar to make just one bottle of rum.. so how is this possible?
- First, the fermentation process allows yeast to convert most of the sugar in the wash into alcohol. This typically converts about 80%-90% of the sugar, leaving behind only the complex long-chain polycaccarides which the yeast can’t eat.
- Next, the distillation process boils the wash and evaporates the alcohol. The is then collected seperatly and bottled or barrel aged as rum! Any sugar is left behind in the boiler of the still and thrown away once the process is finished.
But, while it’s true that most rums are sugar-free, some contemporary rum styles actually add sugar back in after distillation. Look out for spiced rums in particular as these can have added species, dried fruit, and table sugar added AFTER distillation.
Spiced rums like Captain Morgan, Sailor Jerry, and most others all contain sugar. Not that there aren’t a few un-sweetened spiced rums, but as a rule of thumb, if it’s spiced it’s also sweetened.
Why does rum and taste sweet when it has no sugar in it?
Firstly, it’s important to understand that sugar isn’t the only chemical compound that provides sweetness.
Some of the sweet taste comes from the alcohol itself. Ethanol itself is slightly sweet, which contributes to the general tendency alcoholic drinks have to exhibit a mild sweetness.
If you sniff or taste pure ethanol it will have a sweet creamy, slightly buttery and vanilla smell.
But the main reason rum tastes sweet is the aging process. Some spirits age in barrels that have had prior occupants like port and sherry, which has a sweetness. But also the wood itself will give up a sweet flavor from the toasting process. Wood barrels are heated to over 200 degrees celsius and sometimes also charred before the rum is added. This creates flavor compounds similar to vanilla, butterscotch and coconut.
Again, it’s not sugar – but it tastes sweet!
Does rum contain dairy?
No, no dairy is involved in the rum-making process.
Interestingly, many commercial vodkas and gins are actually derived from dairy as they ferment the waste milk sugar from the whey in the cheesemaking process.
Is rum vegan?
Yes, all rum is 100% vegan as to make rum you only need sugar and aged in wood barrels. Some rums have added spices, fruits, and sugars but again these are all vegan too.
Is there some rum that is not vegan?
No, not that we are aware of at the time of writing this.
Regardless if you are gluten intolerant, vegan, or trying to manage any other dietary requirements, rum is generally a safe bet when deciding what to drink.
Rum does not contain gluten, dairy, and is 100% vegan. Most classic rums don’t have any sugar either – but make sure to read the label on spiced rums as these may contain a little added sugar as well as other ingredients.