[Grands Arômes & High Esters] Thierry Grondin, Head of R&D at Savanna

Thierry Grondin

What is a grand arôme rum?

According to French legislation, which has not been transposed at European level, it’s a rum made from sugar cane molasses, with a minimum non-alcohol content of 800, including 500 in esters.

What’s the difference with high ester?

Some people say that a grand arôme is high ester. If we base it solely on the ester content, we could consider it as such, but qualitatively there are big differences, at least with us. High is much richer in esters, both qualitatively and sometimes quantitatively.

The bacterial consortium is different in the high ester, an additional bacterium will intervene and be responsible for the production of ester precursors. After that, I can’t go into the manufacturing secrets.

Savanna Herr

How is your grand arôme produced?

At Savanna, we’ve taken the decision to control the fermentation process in order to avoid any uncertainties. We select our own strains of yeast and bacteria. They are developed from the laboratory to the industrial stage.

As far as I know, Galion tends to use spontaneous fermentation. We also recycle vinasse during fermentation, which lasts up to 7 days. In the case of a high ester, it can take up to 10 or even 15 days. Technically, we produce both at the same time, because the process is quite identical apart from the presence of an additional bacterium and the longer fermentation time for the high ester.

This is done outside the traditional production schedule on smaller volumes: 1000, 1200 HAP per year if things go well. Because sometimes we run into problems linked to the variability of the raw material, the quality of the water…

What about distillation?

The high aroma is distilled in a Savalle copper column, which is more appropriate for recovering the aromas produced during fermentation. The high ester is distilled in a pot still. We were inspired by what the Jamaicans do.

In other words, distillation in a pot still, with its time spent at high temperatures to generate additional aromas. This allows us to recover all the aromas produced during fermentation. We have also invested in a new still with a swan neck and copper condenser.

How long has Savanna been producing grand arôme and high esters?

Our first big aromas date back to the late 1990s. At the time, it seemed like heresy to use it as a potable or to age it. But in the end, the choice made by the previous management team paid off.

Read also : [Focus style] In the secret of grand arôme and high esters rums

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