Two new rum offerings from the independent bottlers at Holmes Cay, including a second go-round with Barbados, Holmes Cay’s first release that undergoes a secondary casking (this one’s finished in Port).
Holmes Cay Single Cask Rum Belize 2005 – Produced at Travellers Liquors Distillery in Belize, this 15 year old rum is column distilled and aged in bourbon barrels, then bottled at cask strength. It’s the first “100% tropically aged” cask strength rum from Belize to be sold in the U.S. It’s blazing hot stuff on the nose, but as the alcohol evaporates it reveals an intensity of flavor that I’ve rarely encountered — dense aromas of well-roasted nuts, coffee bean, and oiled leather are all in effect, and it evokes in that lattermost sense some ultra-aged Scotch releases I’ve encountered. There’s no mistake on the palate that you’re drinking rum, however. It kicks off with a gut-punch of molasses and brown sugar, then moves into more exotic territory. More coffee notes, some reduced red wine, and a fresh cola character all quickly emerge — don’t go looking for beachside tropical fruit here — followed by dusky, island spices — allspice, cloves, cinnamon, some nutmeg. Then there’s dark chocolate and a peppery character that feels right at home on the finish. This is an intense and effusive rum that will have you rethinking everything you know about rum, and maybe your life, too. 122 proof. A / $109 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
Holmes Cay Single Cask Rum Barbados 2009 Port Cask – As noted above, this is technically a double cask rum, but the label still says “single cask.” A blend of column and pot still rum from Foursquare Distillery, it was aged 8 years in Barbados and 2 years in the UK, all in bourbon casks. One more year of aging occured in New York in Port casks, bringing the total up to 11 years of age. While the Belize bottling is all intensity and austerity, this Barbados release is full of fruit fruit. Bright and sunny, the nose mixes banana with allspice, citrus with some sweet cola notes. The raisiny Port wine notes are evident on the nose, but they’re never overwhelming. On the palate, the rum is quite sweet — again, ripe banana, some lemon, and a squeeze of orange — but it’s held in check by a bill of familiar spices and ample vanilla. The finish again showcases the Port cask, giving the rum a sweet conclusion with some gentle but complementary raisin notes. Lovely stuff, if not quite as dramatic as the Belizean offering. 112 proof. A- / $129 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]