Brand: Hamilton, Ministry of Rum series
Origin: Worthy Park, Lluidas Vale, Saint Catherine Parish, Jamaica
Finish: ex-Bourbon & ex-Rum
What do you get when you cross the fruity funk of Jamaican rum with the industrial tannins of Saint Lucian rum-soaked oak barrels? Ed Hamilton, proprieter of the Hamilton private label brand, decided to find out.
In the mid-2010s, Hamilton released several single casks of Saint Lucian rum, to critical acclaim from the rum community; even today, these increasingly rare bottles are much sought-after. After dumping these casks, the spent barrels were used to age a blend of Worthy Park rum for "at least 6 months".
Now, there's been open questions about whether Hamilton's Jamaican expressions are aged or not. Thanks to Matt Pietrek– aka The Cocktail Wonk– we have some clarity on the subject. Neither the Pot Still Black or Pot Still Gold expressions are aged, and instead use different types of spirit caramels to achieve their respective appearances.
In the case of the Blonde expression, Ed Hamilton's Caribbean Spirits site says the following about the age of this rum:
I refilled a few barrels with the base rum from Jamaica diluted to 70% ABV. This diluted base blend from Worthy Park aged about 18 months at the Five & 20 Spirits Distillery in Westfield, NY then we added about 12% one year old light rum from Worthy Park aged in Jamaica and put that blend back in the barrels to marry another five to six months
To summarize, Pot Still Blonde is made up of a 1 year, 6 month old rum blend and a 1 year old rum blend, which were further matured in the Saint Lucia rum casks for 6 months. This composition was bottled at 45% ABV.
Champagne, high clarity, low viscosity
Pineapple rind, ripe banana, star fruit, fresh rainwater, vanilla
Ripe banana, macerated blueberries, green apples, vanilla frosting, bitter cherries
Medium-long, tangy, fruity; green apple, raspberries, banana, permanent marker, blueberries, diesel fumes
Pot Still Blonde brings a unique twist to the bar staple that rum enthusiasts love. Saint Lucian rum has its own funk, and surprisingly, the remnant bits of that funk that laid in Hamilton's spent casks pair very well with the Jamaican funk of rum from Worthy Park.
This rum is a champagne color in my glass, with high clarity and low viscosity.
On the nose, Pot Still Blonde offers notes of tropical fruits: pineapple rind, ripe banana, and star fruit. Unlike other Jamaican rums, this is not quite in-your-face funk, but really pleasant fruity aromas. The mineral smell of fresh rainwater comes in next; this enjoyable bouquet wraps up with the scent of vanilla. This reminds me of the WP Forsyths 502 release from Habitation Velier (also from Worthy Park).
Pot Still Blonde's palate leads off with ripe banana that Worthy Park is known for, followed by macerated blueberries. Sharp green apple can be found after a short bit, leading to sweet and slightly viscous vanilla frosting, and ending with a hint of bitter black cherry. There's definitely some elements of Saint Lucian funk here, and like the nose, it marries with the Jamaican elements very well.
The finish is medium-long in length, tangy, and fruity. Raspberries, banana, and green apple are first apparent, quickly followed by permanent marker and blueberries, and ending with a heavy, warming essence of diesel fumes.
I'm glad Ed Hamilton thought to put his Saint Lucian rum casks to use one more time; the results of this experiment are quite enjoyable! The only things that could really improve this rum would be a little more of a funky profile, or a stronger Saint Lucian influence. If you see a bottle of this rarer release on the shelf, I suggest giving it a try!