Popular Science

For the booze business, going green is a matter of survival

Sustainable rum? I’ll drink to that!
Booze going green

Green booze

Going green is essential for spirits to survive.

Stan Horaczek

Roberto Serrallés is a sixth-generation rum maker, which means he’s also a sixth generation waste recycler.

When Serrallés’s family members first started distilling Don Q Rum on the island of Puerto Rico, they weren’t specifically motivated by a love of spirits. Rather, they were looking to make use of the enormous waste created by their primary business—sugar.

“When you make sugar, your main byproduct is molasses,” Serrallés says. From the 16th to the 20th century, sugar cane farms engulfed Puerto Rico. Before economic factors shifted sugar production to Brazil, India, and other nations, farmers on the island would harvest the sugarcane and strip its leaves. Instead of treating that excess foliage like trash, some extracted juice from the leaves and heated it to create a rich syrup. “And that became our raw material for making rum,” Serrallés

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