Vegan lovers of spirits rejoice! There are plenty of plant-based options that are ok to consume. But is Rum one of them? The answer is that yea, most rum is vegan.
As always, things are not as simple as we would like them to be. So, let’s take a closer look and see what to avoid when it comes to liqueurs like Rum.
Because of the lack of regulations, Rum can be made in all sorts of ways. As a vegan, this can be problematic as it often means that no two products are the same.
It has a reputation for being the favored drink of pirates and has roots that date back to the Caribbean in the 1600s.
Most rum is made from the following ingredients:
- Fermented sugarcane juice
- Cane syrup/molasses
How Rum is Made
This clear liquid is made by fermenting sugars molasses or juice, then distilling them. It is then aged in oak barrels.
The main rum producing regions are the Caribbean, as well as in North and South America. Many sugar-producing countries will make their own as well.
What makes rum so exciting is that there are no set production methods to regulate it.
Does Rum Contain Sugar?
Because of the way it is made, Rum shouldn’t contain any sugar due to the distilling process. However, some brands add some before boiling to adjust the flavor.
Most brands will specify if this is the case, which is useful since some sugar can be processed with bone char. This is mostly a concern for the confectionery industry and since they use different methods, most Rum should be fine.
The issue with bone char is that it is made from the charred bones of cattle and pigs. To make sugar a more desirable white, producers will bleach their sugar using this method.
As a vegan, it can be tricky to tell if a company uses this approach since they do not have to specify on the label. When asked, many will say that they use multiple suppliers so it can be hard to tell which of their products uses this method.
You should be safe from this when it comes to Rum.
Is All Rum Vegan?
Although almost every brand of Rum will be vegan, there are exceptions.
Some will contain honey but if it is clear, and there is no sign of the word honey in the name or on the label, then it is highly likely to be vegan.
Honey is problematic because it exploits bees for the production of their food. When humans remove it, bees are at risk of starvation.
This goes against every cruelty-free rule that vegans stand for, so any rum made with honey should be avoided.
One example of a brand that uses honey is Cayo Grande Club Ronmiel, a Spanish brand.
Is Bacardi Rum Vegan?
In a company email in 2014, Bacardi confirmed that their products do not contain animal products and are vegan:
We don’t use animal-derived ingredients in any of our products, nor as a lubricant in the process equipment for making the beverages or packaging material. None of the individual ingredients contain any animal products
So it is hardly surprising but Bacarii can be considered vegan.
Is Havana Rum Vegan?
With another simple ingredient profile, there is nothing to concern a vegan looking for a Rum fix when it comes to Havana.
A company email dated May 2017 confirms this:
“We confirm Havana Club is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.”
Is Captain Morgan Rum Vegan?
This is an interesting one for many since the spiced rum flavor is not as clear. Still, A company email confirms that although they do not use animal-derived ingredients, they cannot confirm that their products are vegan because they have never tested to see if they are.
In 2019, they said:
We currently do not test our products to verify that they are Vegan, and therefore, cannot make any claims about their Vegan status. We also are unable to verify if the ingredients used are vegan, as the ingredients of our products are proprietary.” [Normally we’d put them as unknown if they won’t tell, but “we’ve got a secret way to make rum” is too ridiculous to deal with]
Is Malibu Rum Vegan?
It turns out that many people’s favorite drink is not. The company confirms this in the FAQ section of their website:
We do not add animal derivatives into our products, however, one of our sugar suppliers uses a process that is not considered vegan-friendly. While this is a common practice in the sugar industry, it unfortunately also means we are unable to call Malibu suitable for a vegan diet.
Without confirming further, it appears that they are referring to bone char. This would make their product non-vegan for many people, although some will turn a blind eye to this.
Whilst vegans can enjoy most brands, it is not always as plain sailing as we would like. For a product that heavily relies on sugar in its recipe, we would like a little more transparency, as Malibu has at least offered.
Their product may not be vegan, but at least they are helping those following a plant-based diet.