Holmes Cay is well known for its aged rums, but lately it has made moves to branch out into unaged expressions. These two new releases are both unaged white rums from Distillerie de Savanna on Reunion Island (in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Madagascar). Neither has previously been available in the U.S.
Both rums are part of the company’s Single Origin Edition collection, numbers 2 and 3 respectively.
We got samples of both to try. Let’s dig in.
Holmes Cay Reunion Island Agricole Rum – That fun agricole funk hits you the moment you crack open the bottle — and it really smells like a delight: Fresh petrol melded with green grass and — most of all — briny green olives. I was hoping for a martini-like quality on the palate, but the hogo is really all-encompassing here, taking on a green pepper punchiness and a tarry quality that becomes biting and a bit guttural. There’s sweetness present late in the game, but it feels a bit artificial, never quite connecting with its salty, peppery attack. I warmed up a bit to the rum after significant time in glass, but things never wholly coalesced. There’s surely a place for a rum like this in the world, but I’m not entirely sure where. 100 proof. B / $40
Holmes Cay Reunion Island Grand Arome Rum – A high-ester molasses rum fermented for ten days. Notes of acetone meld with impossibly overripe fruit to create a nose so sharp it feels like it sears your soft tissue and causes your eyes to water. Fermenting mango aromas lead to bubble gum notes, slowly burning off to reveal saline — again, olive-adjacent. There’s plenty more acetone where that came from on the palate, bombing you again with overripe fruit and bubblegum notes — and then comes a healthy spray of kosher salt. Again quite biting on the finish, its hefty alcohol content leaving a mentholated burn on the lungs. Again, a wild wild ride that leaves the drinker exhausted. 115 proof. B / $50