Review: Holmes Cay Single Cask Rum – Barbados 2002 and Fiji 2001

We’ve been huge fans of Holmes Cay from the beginning, and with these two new releases — “the rarest selections” — that isn’t about to change. These two new bottlings are some of the most special and prized that Holmes Cay has released to date. We were fortunate to be able to sample them both. Thoughts follow.

Holmes Cay Single Cask Rum Barbados 2002 Pot Still – A rare Foursquare bottling of pure pot still rum, aged in bourbon casks and aged for 20 years in the UK. The essence of Foursquare pours right out of the glass here, offering dense notes of molasses and woodsy tannins, with an element of overripe, oxidized citrus underneath. Gritty and tight on the palate, the rum takes its time to reveal its not insubstantial charms, showcasing notes of green banana, tangerine, caramel sauce, and honey, then lime leaf. Surprisingly sweet and soothing on the finish, it’s one of those experiences that fully takes you on a journey, from savory appetizer to sweet dessert. 102.2 proof.

Holmes Cay Single Cask Rum Fiji 2001 – The oldest rum from Fiji ever released. All molasses, 100% pot still rum, from South Pacific Distilleries. It was tropically aged for 2 years in an ex-bourbon cask, then spent an additional 19 years in an ex-bourbon cask in the UK. Bottled in New York State at full barrel proof. A more subdued rum than the Barbados, with an earthy nose that evokes notes of torched palm fronds, smoldering tobacco, and a fresh box of pencils. Savory but enveloping on the palate, the rum never explodes but stays at a low burn, eventually coaxing out notes of dried limes, sesame oil, and a modest, perhaps fading baking spice element. A gently earthy reprise for the fade-out. 107.6 proof.

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