Brand: Holmes Cay, Single Cask Rum series
Origin: Grays Distilling Ltd, Pamplemousses, Mauritius
Still: Pot & Column Blend
Age: 13 years
Being a newly minted rum enthusiast, I’ve become more acquainted with proper tasting etiquette, the subtle nuances between cask finishes, and further developing my personal preferences for a dram. That being said, I have been fortunate enough to be involved in a club (and the exciting spirits scene of Memphis!) that readily shares both samples and recommendations for interesting and exceptional rums, so I am steadily gaining invaluable experience and knowledge.
After actively participating in Morgan McKinney’s illuminating Best Shot Co. cocktail classes throughout these pandemic years, I felt educated enough to determine what style of rums I preferred and how to optimize their unique flavor profiles in individual cocktails (cheers to splitting your spirits when you can’t settle on just one!). One of our guest teachers in the cocktail class, Lindsay Smith of Advintage, hosted a rum tasting, which included several Holmes Cay Single Cask bottles, at 901 Wine & Spirits Market. We sampled bottles from Privateer, the Transcontinental Rum Line, and Holmes Cay, but one of the standout choices for me was the Holmes Cay Single Cask Mauritius 2007.
The Mauritius struck me as a smooth sipper with a lingering chocolate-y aftertaste—unlike any other rum I’d had before. Immediately hooked and eager to try it once more, my only hesitation in bringing a bottle home was never having purchased any premium “sipping” rums prior to this. These bottles can be quite the investment for both spirit aficionados and casual sippers alike, but I can now recommend taking that initial plunge if you really love the taste (and an added bonus for it keeping you warm during some of these colder days). I was given this bottle for Christmas and am now a wholehearted devotee of a neat rum and a good snifter glass.
As for provenance and production: Holmes Cay is an independent bottler, owned and operated by Eric Kaye out of New York, and is focused on identifying exceptional rums from across the globe. These rums are traditional, limited edition, free of additives, and cask strength–all criteria that can be challenging at times to find in our current American market. The particular bottle I’ll be reviewing is the Holmes Cay Single Cask Mauritius 2007.
Although there is a more nascent rum scene in Mauritius, the production of sugar has been a staple of their economy for centuries. With the lift on the ban of sugarcane-based alcohol lifted in 2006, some of the rum producers in Mauritius began to dabble in the creation of agricoles and therefore initiating the export of Mauritian rums into an international marketplace. The Holmes Cay Mauritian rum was aged in the tropics for 13 years in Ex-Cognac casks at Grays Distilling, LTD. in Pamplemousses, Mauritius and bottled in New York State at barrel proof. Grays Distilling has been producing spirits since 1931 and manufacture their own alcohol through the fermentation of molasses and pure sugar cane juice, as well as managing their own aging cellars.
Medium amber color in glass, rich mahogany in the bottle, good clarity, slightly oily finish on glass, light viscosity
Flambeed bananas, dark brown sugar, wood, molasses, nail polish remover, menthol, fermented pineapple
Sweet Hawaiian bread, cherry cough drops, cocoa, menthol, oak, nutty, cola
Drier sensation that lingers on the back of the palate– much like a cherry cough drop (but boozier!). Takes some time to wear off from the senses, but the warmth on the tongue and nutty flavor lingers as an after-taste. Also felt on the sides of the tongue.
This is a delicious rum and I believe it could be nicely paired with some light and buttery foods to complement the rich taste. Some options would be either a branzino and halibut with some fingerling potatoes or grilled steak with some mushrooms. Maybe even a mixed salad with some pulled chicken! The Mauritius rum is one of unique origins and I think it’s worthwhile to try some other iterations of Holmes Cay’s partnership with Grays Distilling. I can also appreciate an independent bottler who is dedicated to sourcing quality rums and bringing something new and exciting to the table, so to speak.
This marks my inaugural review and I am working on further developing my palate and being more easily able to isolate specific notes. I am certainly looking forward to tasting more rums and traveling around the world–one bottle at a time. I was struck by the fascinating flavor profile of the Mauritian rum, as well as the sweet and nutty aftertaste that lingered on my palate (and my mind!). It will be very exciting to try additional Holmes Cay releases in the future and to delve deeper into Mauritian rum and history.