Focus On: Cane Spirits

Rum and other sugar-cane spirits are truly worldwide drinks, varied and vibrant, with local histories spanning centuries. The one thing they have in common is that they all start with sugar-cane juice, produced by pressing sugar canes. From there the juice is processed, fermented and distilled into a spirit.

Shop Cane Spirits

While the steps are similar, each spirit does things a little differently – here's a breakdown of the most common spirits and what sets them apart from each other:

Rum Molasses

The most popular style of cane spirit, made from the by-products of turning sugar-cane juice into refined sugar. The juice is heated and skimmed to remove the sugar crystals that emerge. They stop before all the sugar is removed – due to diminishing returns beyond a certain point – and the resulting dark, gooey, sugar-laden liquid is called molasses.

Made from: Molasses Where: Globally Flavour: Caramel, sugars Other imagery: Molasses

Cachaça Sugar-Cane Juice Rum/Agricole Rhum

Rum made from raw sugar-cane juice. As the juice hasn't been heated, as it is with molasses rums, it retains a lot more of the flavour of the cane, which carries through into the spirit – grassy and aromatic. These are often called agricole rums or rhums (using the French spelling), although in Europe that is a legal term that refers to rum made in certain countries.

Made from: Sugar-cane Juice Where: Caribbean, especially Martinique, Guadeloupe and Réunion. Also Madeira. Flavour: Grassy and aromatic Fresh cane juice


A spirit made from sugar-cane juice in Brazil. It's made in the same way as many rums but is traditionally kept separate, as it is always made from sugar-cane juice rather than molasses and has its own distinctive style. It has a similar grassy and aromatic character to cane-juice rum, and is best known as the key ingredient in Brazil's national cocktail: the Caipirinha.

Made from: Sugar-cane Juice Where: Brazil Flavour: Fragrant and herbal Brazillian landscape


Another spirit made from raw sugar-cane juice. It's produced in Haiti, and is a very rustic and rural style of rum, generally made on small farms across the country. It's spontaneously fermented – they don't add yeast, relying instead on the natural yeasts present in the environment – and distilled with old-fashioned stills, creating a very characterful spirit that’s sought after by connoisseurs.

Made from: Sugar-cane Juice Where: Haiti Flavour: Herbal and grassy Plantations in Haiti


The oldest style of cane spirit, hailing from south-east Asia and India, where sugar-cane originated. There are a number of different styles – some of which are made from non-cane ingredients including coconut palm sap, rice and even potatoes – and they vary a lot in character from being very similar to rum through to weird and wonderful combinations of flavour that aren't found in other cane spirits.

Made from: Sugar-cane Juice (and more) Where: South-east Asia and India Flavour: Sweet and complex


This is just Spanish for ‘alcoholic spirit' – it comes from agua ardiente, meaning ‘fiery water’ – and is a widely used catch-all term for cane spirits in South America, typically those made from molasses. Increasingly, it’s a name used by distillers who are making something a bit different in style to their local rum, helping drinkers pick out adventurous and distinctive spirits.

Made from: Molasses Where: South America Flavour: Light but complex