I have to confess that I’m not fully on board the cask strength rum train yet, so keep that in mind as you go through this review. They’re a bit hard to drink and require a little… special care. If you can offer any explanation that would help me understand or get more out of these rums, please let me know.
After seeing someone post on Instagram (of all places) that the Hamilton Saint Lucia line is one of their favorites, I decided to spring for a bottle on a trip to Binny’s. I was originally going to go for one of the cheaper options, such as the 5 year, but this was the last bottle of 10 year on the shelf. It was a bit spendy (I think it was more than $60), but I decided to live a little since I might not get the chance at this one again.
The Hamilton line of rums is imported from all sorts of places by Ed Hamilton, known as the “Minister of Rum.” These rums are very well regarded in tiki and cocktail circles, and always serve as a great example of the class that they’re in – ranging from Demerara to Jamaican to the Saint Lucia rums in question here. Like all Hamilton rums, the label encourages you to visit the Ministry of Rum website <http://www.ministryofrum.com/index.php> to search for your rum by the batch number on the bottle and read more. If you want to read about my batch, just go there and search for # 100115.
Like I hinted at in the intro, this rum is bottled at cask strength – 65.5% ABV in this case. It was distilled in 2004 by Saint Lucia Distillers Ltd., then bottled in January 2015 at Five & 20 spirits in the USA. The distillation process used Guyanese molasses and took place in a Vendome pot still.
The first time I poured this, it was… rough. With the high ABV, it’s not as easy to just pour and sip as a rum bottled between 40% and 50%. After letting it sit out a little, the nose still burnt a bit if I inhaled too deeply (I forgot my high school science class wafting techniques), although I was able to get hints of tobacco and smoke, along with ripe fruit. These carried through to the palate, although there was a prominent oak flavor that was quickly superseded by the ripe fruit.
Taking the advice on the back of the bottle, I tried this again with a few drops of tap water. The nose mellowed out a bit, and I detected some floral and vanilla notes that weren’t present before. The taste was similar to pre-dilution, but it burned less and was more drinkable, and exhibited some new spicy notes on the forefront. The tail still had a strong ripe fruit presence.
Overall I enjoyed this one, although I think I still have to adapt to the cask strength rums a bit. It’s a lot to take on drink-wise, but if you persevere, you’re rewarded with a complex and interesting rum that’s different from any others I’ve had. If you see this on the shelf, I’d say snag it, although part of that is because you might not get a chance again.