Brand: Holmes Cay, Single Cask Rum series
Origin: Diamond Distillery, Diamond, Guyana
Still: Column (Savalle)
Age: 18 years
Finish: ex-Bourbon & ex-Rum
For those that have been reading since review #002, Holmes Cay doesn't need an introduction. This review focuses on the American independent bottler's release of an 18 year old Demerara rum.
This rum comes to us by way of the famed Diamond Distillery, owned by Demerara Distillers Ltd. in Guyana. Demerara Distillers Ltd., otherwise known on rum forums simply as "DDL", is both a massive rum distillery and a living museum of sorts. Guyana used to be home to a ton of rum distilleries, but eventually each one closed up, leaving only one: Diamond.
With the closing of each distillery, stills and equipment would find themselves transferred to Diamond, leading to some former distilleries– including Port Mourant, Enmore, Savalle, Uitvlugt– having their physical and intellectual property transferred to new owners.
In this case, the Savalle wooden column still that produced this Guyanese rum came from that last and probably most confusingly-spelled distillery, Uitvlugt (pronounced "eye-flot"). The distillery was founded in 1750 and took its name from the Dutch sugar plantation owner Ignatius Uitvlugt, whose plantation supplied sugar to this distillery on the West banks of the Demerara River. Uitvlugt eventually closed its doors in 2000, and as previously mentioned, the stills therein were transferred to DDL's Diamond Distillery.
This Holmes Cay release of 18 year old Guyanese rum comes from cask #27, and is bottle #206; the rum was aged for 2 years tropically in ex-Bourbon casks, before being sent to the UK for a further 16 years of aging in "recycled ex-Rum casks", as noted on the bottle.
Deep burnt orange, medium clarity, medium viscosity
Brown sugar, molasses, warm plum, pineapple, orange marmalade
Grilled pineapple, overripe tropical fruit funk, sea salt, warm oak, molasses, black pepper
Long, medium moisture, salty, heavy bourbon oak influence; very warm
The story of Demerara rum typically revolves around brown sugar and molasses, and then veers in any given direction depending on which marque or still (likely from a once-famous, now-defunct distillery) DDL uses.
This is only slightly true with Holmes Cay Uitvlugt 2003; this is a much more fruit-forward distillate, that also seems to take a lot of cues from the bourbon casks it was aged in.
Its appearance is a nice deep burnt orange in the glass, but in the bottle it has a noticeably reddish hue. It has medium clarity, and is slightly viscous as it is swirled around in my Glencairn.
On the nose, this Uitvlugt does lean into its heritage, offering up heaps of crystalline brown sugar and molasses, as well as warm plums, pineapple, and orange marmalade.
The palate definitely leans on the fruit, with grilled pineapple and overripe tropical fruit leading the way, followed by sea salt, warm oak, molasses, and a black pepper note. There's not as much brown sugar as one may expect, given the nose and general provenance, but I can't say that I'm disappointed with a nice, well-constructed palate.
This dram features a long, medium-moisture finish with a salty, heavily bourbon-soaked oak influence; think that heavy, smokey, far back of the palate sensation that transfers to the upper part of your lungs. It's definitely one of those rums that warms you up, no matter the weather outside.
The Uitvlugt 2003 is a good rum, and I wouldn't go much farther than that: the flavors are nice and the proofing works really well with the rest of the profile. This is honestly a great sipper, but in my opinion falls a little short on complexity. I would definitely be interested in trying
If you are looking for a nice long-aged Demerara rum that exhibits the techniques used by a foregone distillery, Holmes Cay Guyana Uitvlugt 2003 may just fit the bill. If you're looking for a challenging, complex sipper that has a little more molasses notes on the palate, this may not give you what you seek.