First Sips: Holmes Cay Guyana 2005, Fiji 2004, & Barbados 2005

By Neat Pour Staff |

Maura Gedid and Eric Kaye, owners of Holmes Cay Single Cask Rum operate on a very simple philosophy. The husband and wife team seek out expressions that are not only aged, rare, and additive free (no sugar, no coloring) but also provide intense illustrations of classic rum styles.

The duo seek out single casks of these rum, mainly from famed English clearinghouse The Main Rum Company Limited, which means that supplies are low—180-504 bottles. Likewise, the prices tend to run high—$150+ if you can find a bottle. Needless to say, the Neat Pour staff was excited to receive samples of the range of Guyana 2005, Fiji 2004, and Barbados 2005.

We conscripted rum expert and NP friend Matt Pietrek of CocktailWonk.com to help, then started sipping. Here’s what we found.

Guyana 2005, Port Mourant Demerara

On the nose and on the first sip, HC’s Guyana 2005 is a force of funk, barnyard flavors and tannins dominate the first impressions.

The fingerprints of Demerara’s Distillers’ Port Mourant Double Wooden Still are strong here. Over 250-yeas-old, Pietrek described the device as the “most famous still in the world.”

Although the pot still’s tops are crafted of traditional copper, the kettle section, itself, is built from Green Heartwood. It is the Heartwood which instills port Mourant rums with their signature aromatic and funky nature.

The fingerprints of Demerara’s Distillers’ Port Mourant Double Wooden Still are strong here. Over 250-yeas-old, Pietrek described the device as the “most famous still in the world.” Although the pot still’s tops are crafted of traditional copper, the kettle section, itself, is built from Green Heartwood. It is the Heartwood which instills port Mourant rums with their signature aromatic and funky nature.

Although this rum is bottled at cask strength (56.4% ABV), the heat isn’t too bad and if the HC flirts with funk bomb status, it’s certainly a smart munition, not an atomic blast. Rather, the juice is immensely sippable with some nice sweetness and banana notes balancing out the initial power.

Fiji 2004

Fiji is not a big name in the rum world like Guyana, Barbados, (or Jamaica). In fact, there is only one distillery on the island the South Pacific Fiji Distillery—and they just signed an exclusive agreement with Plantation.

Fortunately, HC’s 16-year-aged offering predates that contract.

Lightly colored, one might expect that the place of origin would translate to a some sort of super tropical, fruit concentrate. The rich, fatty spirit definitely includes elements of banana and citrus, but those notes are subdued. Esters abound and the rum is mellow, displaying the complexity and balance characteristic of a quality aged spirit.

In fact, we classify this as the least nerdy portion of the HC range. Although, the ABV clocks in at 58%, the taste is very smooth. The Fiji is a perfect sipper and for many, it will be an excellent gateway rum, pushing their palates to explore the bolder offerings hailing from Fiji’s neighboring islands.

Barbados 2005

Aged 14 years, the HC Bajan expression was the original offering from the boutique house—and appropriately so. Distilled under the meticulous care of industry darling Richard Seale at the FourSquare Distillery, here is a quintessential aged rum in a style celebrated by cane-heads.

The taste is a little less funky and more derivative of the British distilling style.

That is to say that the sugar is more forward in the form of caramel, molasses, and toffee notes. The juice is aged in ex-bourbon barrels and that white oak is also well represented in the final product.

The H-C Barbados 2005 is also bottled at cask strength (64% ABV) and there’s a substantial helping of heat here. To veterans, the heat fuses with the peppery finish on subsequent sips, creating a nice medley, but beginners might want to sip slow.

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