Review: Holmes Cay Single Cask Rum Barbados 2005
There’s a new brand of ultra-luxe, independently-bottled rum on the market: Holmes Cay Single Cask Rum. Holmes Cay is doing for rum what folks like Murray McDavid are doing for Scotch, releasing one barrel at a time of high-end rum that simply isn’t available from anyone else.
Here’s the back story on this first release, a 14 year old bottling from the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados — bottled at cask strength.
Limited edition ultra-premium Holmes Cay Single Cask Rum will hit shelves next month, marking a milestone in the US rum industry with the arrival of a US independent bottler focusing exclusively on ultra-premium rum.
“It’s no secret that the growing appetite for premium rums is not being fully satisfied in the United States via independent bottlings. With Holmes Cay we showcase the best that the spirit has to offer. This is the first in a series of extremely special rums bottled at full cask strength,” said founder Eric Kaye.
The first offering in a curated series by Holmes Cay, the Barbados 2005 edition was distilled at Barbados’ legendary Foursquare Distillery. Only 504 bottles of this limited edition rum will be released at full cask strength.
Developed using traditional British-style rum making techniques, the Barbados 2005 edition is a blend of pot and column distilled rums, aged in ex-bourbon barrels for 14 years – 11 in Barbados and three in the UK – before being bottled in New York State. Produced with no added sugar, coloring, flavors or other additives, the Barbados 2005 edition is bottled at 64 percent alcohol by volume. Future releases will be bottled at cask strength to allow spirits lovers a chance to sip and enjoy the complex and distinct flavors of pure rum. Holmes Cay Single Cask Rum will be available for sale on October 1, initially in New York State.
While we wait patiently for more of Holmes Cay’s offerings, let’s dig into release #1.
This presents as an overproof rum, hot and racy, plenty boozy up top, with a nose of coffee beans, dark chocolate, and husky spices — all filtered through a fiery base. On the palate, there’s much of the same, with a heavy fruit component that folds in notes of orange oil, raisin, and sweet molasses. At over 64% abv, I thought this would surely be off-putting at full proof, but I was shocked to find that I’d downed nearly two glasses of it with no trouble, sipping and swirling to coax out notes of cloves, mocha with milk, and a light but savory barrel char note lingering on the finish. Somehow it never needs water to showcase its charms, but please add some if you feel the need.
All told this is an outstanding rum — albeit with a prohibitive price tag — that any rum fan will want to seek out and add to their collection.