The boutique rum blending and bottling expertise at Holmes Cay have continued to evolve over time. The company has expanded its product range by experimenting with affordable blended expressions and single origin rums from unique locations. However, the essence of the brand has always been single cask rums, which they keep producing excellently, the most recent being Holmes Cay Barbados 2009 Premier Cru, arguably one of their most intriguing and unusual offerings to date. We certainly anticipate nothing less from Holmes Cay.
This single cask release was initially distilled by Foursquare in Barbados and bottled by Holmes Cay. The rum is a blend of copper pot still rum and Coffey column still rum, made from 100% molasses. It was aged for 8 years in ex-bourbon casks in Barbados, then aged an additional 4 years in the UK in ex-bourbon casks, and finally aged 2 years in New York in a scarce Premier Cru Bordeaux wine cask from France. The final product was not chill filtered and was bottled with a cask strength of 55% ABV.
Considering the long finishing period in the scarce style of barrel, it is unsurprising the high MSRP of $170, which aligns with other single cask releases from Holmes Cay.
I was excited to taste this rum, particularly because I haven’t had much exposure to rum finished in red wine casks. We’ve tasted plenty of rums that have been aged in different fortified wine casks such as sherry, port, and madeira, but how this specific cask will influence a well-aged Bajan rum intrigued me. So, it’s time to taste this unique rum.
The Holmes Cay Barbados 2009 Premier Cru introduces a rich mixture of aromas to the nose, showcasing a medley of spices and wood, all balanced by hints of savory and earthy undertones. An unexpected touch of butterscotch further unfolds to a chorus of earth/soil, red fruit, and subtle suggestions of currant. The robust and lively notes of cinnamon and allspice, heavily influenced by French oak, enhance the aroma’s complexity.
The intriguing spice formation greets the palate once more, exposing a grand array of baking spices, particularly allspice. Accompanying these are a fruity hint of pepper and some toasted oak. Concurrently, the flavor deepens with dark stone fruit tones, mainly plum, joined by even darker jam-like notes, and a pecan-chocolate bar’s nutty cocoa. Despite the seemingly dessert-like nature, it gradually turns dry with each sip, as oak makes a prominent return and moderate drying tannin progressively asserts itself. A fleeting touch of earthy notes adds mystery to its memorable taste, giving an impression of undiscovered depths still waiting to be explored.
Overall, this rum is a fascinating and mentally stimulating experience that stands among recent tastings. The influence from wine casks embarks this rum on a mesmerizing journey, culminating in an incontestably unique product.
Distillery: Holmes Cay (Foursquare)
Style: Single cask rum
ABV: 55% (110 proof)
Availability: Limited, 750 ml bottles, $170 MSRP
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident beer and liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.
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