Up for review I have here three bottles of Hamilton rums from the Ministry of Rum Collection – a pot still Saint Lucian rum from 2006, aged 7 years, the Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum and then the 86 proof Demerara rum. These are rums I was wanting to review for a very long time but couldn`t get to do until now.
Ed Hamilton, who I first encountered at his Ministry of Rum website back in 2008 and who was my first rum mentor sailed the Caribbean for many years searching for rums, visiting distilleries and sampling rums and by the beginning of 2000 started to import rhum agricoles from the French Caribbean and imported rhums such as Neisson and La Favorite.
He also wrote rum books, Rums of the Eastern Caribbean and The Complete Guide to Rum: A Guide to Rums of the World that were published in the 1990s.
And now he hand select rums for his own Hamilton label and is the one who brought us the Hamilton 151 Demerara to help us survive the for now (and maybe forever) not longer produced Lemon Hart 151 (well, the US for now since LH151 is still not yet dried up in Europe – but hurry up Ed and get it to Europe too before it runs out….) and as for the rest of the world I have no idea about the LH151 situation but I guess it´s pretty non existant?
The bottles are very nice, dark, and “rum looking” and the labels are beautiful with an old style map of the island or country producing the rums in the center.
Saint Lucian Pot Still, 2006, 63.8%
Starting with the one I was the most curious about, the pot still Saint Lucian. Each of the Saint Lucia Pot Still rums in the Ministry of Rum Collection were distilled and aged in Saint Lucia then shipped to the US in the barrels in which they were aged. For details of each of these rums can be found on the Caribbean Spirits webpage.
The molasses used at St Lucia Distillers was sourced from Guyana and contained 65% dissolved sugar, one of the highest sugar contents of any molasses found in the Caribbean. The high sugar content is attributed to the age of the Guyanese sugar mill. But it doesn’t matter what the sugar content of the molasses / juice is, after distillation there is no residual sugar left in the spirit and what comes out of the still is dry.
And the rum doesn`t taste very sweet, it more tastes like real unadultered rum, and there was no caramel color or flavoring of any kind added to this rum either.
I was met with a very pleasant nose of plenty of mature macerated tropical fruits, oak, orange peel, vanilla and creamy butter….
But taking a sip, be prepared for a taste chock…. it`s an explosion of heavy pot still punch and strong flavors! but the the thing that really hits you comes after when a dry earthy astringency lets itself be known, which immediately brought my mind to rhum agricole where I think I mostly have found these kind of flavors but here`s a rum made from molasses.
And it`s so very different!! really intriguing. It has flavors of the same tropical fruits i found in the nose, and then oak, leather, tannins, spice and dark plums, paired with this dry earhty astringency remniscent of an aged rhum agricole, it`s an amazing rum! heavy and vibrant.
Revisiting this rum the next day and this time with a few drops of water I don`t think very much changed, more than that the astringency became even more pronounced, maybe it got a little smoother in appearance.
Oh my…. this is very interesting rum!
I happen to really like strong rums with character and so I have no problem liking this one. Another thing that I like is the transparency which Ed puts out on the bottle label, it describes exactly what this rum is all about and at the Ministry of Rum website you can read a lot more!
Heavy rums like this tend to be a bit difficult to use in cocktails if used alone and so I think this one might be best together with something that can tame it a little bit….
Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum, 46.5%
The next one is the Jamaican pot still black rum, this one is a blend of light, very light and heavy pot still rums from the Worthy Park Estate where rum has been made since 1670. And it has been colored with a double-strength black caramel.
Here`s for a very pungent nose… mashed overripe bananas and other tropical fruits, burnt sugar, heavy molasses, hints of wood and pineapple. It`s a funky smell that attacks your senses.
But contrary to the taste chock of the Saint Lucian rum this one enters very smoothly… and that surprised me.
Fruity notes with overripe banana, pineapple and charred wood, molasses and tropical leaves. It`s not an elegant rum, nor is it light despite using two lighter pot still rums in the blend, but it´s smooth with a punchy heaviness and I like it.
Hamilton Guyana Rum, 43%
From the rivers of Demerara…my favorite rum region….
This rum is aged up to five years. and bottled from the same bulk of rum that makes up the Hamilton 151 Demerara which will be the next one of his for me to try. But let`s start with this lower proof demerara and see what it gives.
The nose is quite light with fruity, slightly woody and buttery notes, there´s hints of banana peel and dark sugar.
It has a smooth taste and a velvety buttery mouth feel, charred oak and mash of overripe tropical fruits, some smoke and charred wood, so typical for the demerara rums made with the last remaining original stills of their kind still operating in the world.
Here´s a great rum for mixing up those great tiki cocktails! what i`d do is use this as a base, maybe with another rum and then use the 151 for a float 🙂
Tribute to The Mai-Kai’s Oh So Deadly (Recipe by the excellent Atomic Grog,)
0.5 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
0.25 oz orange juice
0.25 oz pineapple juice
3/8 oz (3 teaspoons) rich cinnamon syrup
0.5 oz rich honey mix (see below)
0.5 oz Hamilton Guyana rum
0.5 oz Hamilton Black Jamaican rum
1 oz light Virgin Islands rum
1 dash Angostura bitters
Blend at high speed with 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of crushed ice for 5 seconds. Pour into a specialty glass. Add more crushed ice to fill.
I recommend using an intense cinnamon syrup, such as the B.G. Reynolds. For the honey-mix use a ratio of 2:1 honey to water. Heat up slightly and dissolve the honey in the water, then cool in the fridge until use.
8 oz Lopez or Real Coconut Cream
2 oz fresh lime juice
4 oz Hamilton St Lucia Pot Still rum
3 oz Hamilton Guyana rum
Put everything in a blender and fill to the top with ice cubes and blend until slushy. Pour into ceramic coconut mugs or other tiki mugs.
Thanks to Jeanne “Catahula” Vidrine for letting me use her tiki collection while away from home 🙂
My conclusion: Is very simple – I love these rums! I like that they are so full of flavors. All three are very different, especially the Saint Lucian which I find to be something else.
They are full of flavors, complexity and punch! – all three of them.
Well done Ed Hamilton!!