Brand: Holmes Cay
Origin: Long Pond Distillers Ltd., Clark's Town, Trelawny, Jamaica
Age: 15 years
After years of delving into rum and trying the big (and available) names in Jamaican varieties, I've finally broken through to a more esoteric distillery. Long Pond was founded in the mid-1750s as both a sugar estate and a rum distillery, and located in Trelawny parish, the same parish as Hampden Estate.
The distillery operations traded hands throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, having been acquired by J.B. Sherriff & Company Limited, then Seagrams, to ensure their Captain Morgan brand had its source rum readily available. Later, the distiller was nationalized by the Jamaican government until 1993, and eventually was sold to National Rums of Jamaica (NRJ) in 2006; NRJ is equally owned by the Jamaican government,
Goddard Enterprises (owner of West Indies Rum Distillery (Edit: corrected by Matt Pietrek and Adrienne Stoner) Maison Ferrand, and Demerara Distillers Ltd. While NRJ has released rums from Long Pond and their other constituent distillery Clarendon through independent bottlers, they are primarily known for their Monymusk brand, which exclusively uses Clarendon distillate.
Back to Long Pond itself, the distillery mostly output bulk rum, until its operation was shut down in 2012 due to environmental waste concerns. Thankfully, operations were resumed in mid-2017, although the celebrations were short-lived; a fire broke out at the distillery, forcing it to shutter once again. After being put through a rollercoaster ride of unfortunate events, Long Pond reopened yet again earlier this year.
Amidst the past run of bad luck, the Long Pond brand is making a resurgence, having debuted their first distillery release in 2021 with Long Pond ITP-15 (15 years old, ITP marque), and marked the re-opening with a bottling of VRW 2013 (Vale Royale Wedderburn marque) in 2022. If you were paying attention to La Maison & Velier's Instagram account during the recent Whisky Live Paris show, you also likely saw some upcoming releases from Habitation Velier and the Velier/NRJ collaboration on their stories. Lots to look forward to, and the future looks bright for Long Pond, Jamaican rum, and the rum category at large.
While I have yet to purchase a self-released bottle of Long Pond, I managed to procure a Holmes Cay (HC) bottling, courtesy of Pete Cope of the DFW Rum Club. The club worked with Liquor King in the DFW area to pick cask no. 71 from the independent bottler's stock.
HC Jamaica ITP 2007 was aged in ex-Bourbon barrels for 15 years, exclusively in the tropical climate of Jamaica– somewhat unique among independent bottler releases. The distillate is the product of one of Long Pond's pot stills, and was produced in 2007; it was bottled at a strength of 56% ABV in 2022. The ITP marque stands for "Ive Trelawney Pot", and contains an ester range of 90-120 g/hLAA; while this has a lower count than other Jamaican marques, it still soars quite high compared to most other rums.
Orange-gold, medium clarity, medium viscosity
Bubblegum, vanilla, pastry dough, grilled pineapple, kalamata olives, dish detergent, molasses
Bubblegum, vanilla, red wine vinegar, bourbon oak, rotting fruits (cherries, green grapes, pineapple, star fruit, banana), nutmeg
Long, warming, tannic, fruity; oak, fermenting red grapes, dark chocolate, nutmeg, cherry cough syrup
With my inaugural Long Pond rum, I've found a real treat in ITP 2007. The juice really shows the breadth of variety in Jamaican rum, featuring some similar notes to Worthy Park, Hampden, and Appleton Estate, but featuring other unique and peculiar flavors and aromas as well.
In the glass, ITP 2007 is a slightly dark orange-gold, and has medium clarity with medium viscosity.
The nose offers bubblegum, vanilla, pastry dough, grilled pineapple, kalamata olives, dish detergent, and molasses. It's really a special nose, and already sets it apart from its Jamaican neighbors, especially with the bubblegum, olive, and detergent notes. The kalamata olive comes out in contrast to the overt bubblegum at the onset of nosing the rum, while detergent slips in between wafts of dough, vanilla, and molasses. You can definitely tell that ITP would carry quite the bouquet in less aged distillate.
ITP 2007's palate again features bubblegum and vanilla, along with red wine vinegar, bourbon oak, rotting fruits such as cherries, green grapes, pineapple, star fruit, and banana, and a tinge of nutmeg. Like the nose, the palate drifts between sweet, savory, fruity, and spicy; bubblegum and vanilla lead the way, while a slightly bitter and sour red wine vinegar note carries the experience to rotting fruits by way of heavy oak. It's a really delicious rum, that gives a little something different with each passing sip.
The finish is long, warming, tannic, and fruity, and features plenty of oak, fermenting red grapes, dark chocolate, nutmeg, and cherry cough syrup. It's quite bitter, but not so much that it becomes unpleasant. Some medicinal qualities pair with wine-bound grapes and dark chocolate, while the drying nutmeg and oak bring the tannins.
Long Pond may be playing catch up to Appleton, Hampden, and Worthy Park in relation to releases on the international market, but they are in the lead pack as far as quality rum goes. This ITP 2007 vintage is a stunning view into the world of Long Pond, and sets the bar for future releases. The DFW Rum Club and Liquor King did a fantastic job with this pick, and I look forward to seeing more releases from this distillery, and more selections from this rum group.
Where to Buy
- Visiting Jamaica’s historic Long Pond Distillery by The Cocktail Wonk
- /u/LIFOanAccountant's HC Long Pond 15yr (Lukas Selection) review
- /u/Utsutsumujuru's ImpEx Collection Long Pond 13 year (2007) review - different release, but same distillation year