Brand: Holmes Cay
Origin: Ten Cane, Saint Madeleine, Trinidad, Trinidad & Tobago
Age: 10 years
Finish: ex-Cognac & ex-Bourbon
In the centuries-long history of rum, the decade that 10 Cane was in operation was a "blink and you'll miss it" type of moment; the Trinidadian brand was started by Moët Hennessy in 2005, and ceased production in 2015. A unique concept: the rum produced by Ten Cane (distillery) was made up of 75% rum distilled from the juice of local, hand-cut sugarcane, and 25% rum distilled from molasses, then aged for 6 months in ex-Cognac casks.
The brand was intended by Louis Vitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) to be focused on the American market, but it did not find success, leading to its shuttering. In the wake of the brand's failure lie plenty of stock that has proven to be popular in the independent bottler (IB) scene, with brands such as Campagnie des Indes, The Duchess, and Valinch & Mallet releasing Ten Cane-sourced bottles of various ages.
This particular IB release comes by way of Holmes Cay. It sports a 100% sugar cane juice distillate, a slight departure from the 10 Cane style, and tropically aged for 4 years in ex-Cognac casks, then aged for 6 years in ex-Bourbon casks in the UK.
Thanks to 901 Wine & Spirits Market here in Memphis, I was able to obtain a bottle of this rare and sought-after release.
Orange-gold, medium viscosity, medium clarity
Turbinado sugar, plums, flamed orange peel, permanent marker, engine fumes
Mango, orange marmalade, tobacco leaf, sour green grapes, cinnamon, cane sugar
Long and hot, oak-forward, spicy, with tobacco, a hint of orange, and slight smokiness
This is a nice bottle of 100% sugarcane juice rum, and is an experience unlike most other juice-based distillate. It's quite light on the vegetal and funky notes one may expect from rhum agricole or clairin, but still shows its wild side on the back of the palate and finish. Aside from Angostura White Oak and 7 year, I've only experienced the Golden Devil Caroni 23 year in a sample, so this is really one of my first deep-dives into cask strength Trinidad rum.
In the glass, the rum appears in an orange-gold color, with medium viscosity and clarity; it actually reminds me of the color of the Holmes Cay Mhoba release.
The nose offers notes of turbinado sugar, plums, flamed orange peel, permanent marker, and engine fumes. This has a nice bouquet, and differs from the other major Trinidadian grail bottle Caroni in that the nose leans way more towards the fruity, earthen side than the industrial funky side.
On the palate, the ex-Cognac barrel aging shines: mango, orange marmalade, and sour green grapes are present, while also featuring tobacco leaf and cinnamon notes. Predictably, cane sugar can also be tasted, and quickly ushers in the intense finish.
After each sip, a long, hot, and oak-forward finish arrives. It's pretty spicy, bringing notes of tobacco, a hint of orange, and some slight smokiness. The ex-Bourbon barrel aging seems to take over on the finish, as the bourbon oak note sits just at the top of the throat for a while.
As far as whether this lives up to the hype or not, I'd say it's up to the individual to decide that. I love tasting rare and unique rums, and bonus points if they are from a distillery that doesn't produce anymore, so I was happy to have been able to acquire this bottle.
That said, I think the finish is a bit intense, and presents itself too prominently; instead of a fading outro, it plays more of a crescendo role. The palate feels a little mild-mannered, likely softened and influenced by the cognac cask.
Overall, this is a fun piece of drinkable history and offers some interesting notes to compliment my growing collection of sugarcane juice-based rums.