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Cuba and the Secrets Behind Good Rum

“Knocking back a long swig, swimming in a sea of brandy,” a poem by Nicolas Guillen reads which describes hardcore drinkers. However, many fans of the bottle, who boast about their “alcoholic culture”, have no idea about the scientific expertise behind each of their favorite drinks.

The main component has many different names, however the most well-known (alcohol) comes from the Arabic word ‘kohol’ (‘fine dust’ or ‘subtle thing’), which modern chemistry defines today as a compound of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen.

Organic alcohols are divided into two large groups: the fatty or aliphatic alcohols and the aromatic and heterocyclic alcohols. In the former, those with a single carbon atom are “wood alcohols” or methanol and it is very toxic; but the one with two carbon atoms is the base of alcoholic drinks, also known as ethanol; thus, a single carbon atom is the only difference between death and having a good time. Ethanol molecules have two carbon atoms, six hydrogen atoms and only one oxygen molecule, and it is extracted from the starch and sugar in fruit and plant juices.

The history of buccaneers and pirates

Son of the tropics and the sun, born from sugar cane in Caribbean mills, rum was originally a rough drink for buccaneers and pirates, rough people who had a stomach for drinking, and has evolved today, thanks to science, conquering global markets. According to experts like Emilio Echevarria, from the science and technology unit at Cuba Ron, there are still secrets being discovered by scientific methods.

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