Hamilton 8 Year Guyanese Wooden Coffey Still Single Cask Rum
If you've shopped with us at all in our rum department, you may have picked up on the fact that we're nuts for Demerara rum, that is to say, rum from Guyana. Once home to hundreds of sugar producers and distilleries, almost all along the Demerara river, production of rum was slowly consolidated once the sugar industry had done the same. Nowadays all of the surviving stills from various estates are housed together under the auspices of Demerara Distillers Limited, or DDL. And that is truly what makes Demerara rum so special - the stills.
Through the consistent business of the British Navy, which supplied their sailors with daily rations of blended Demerara rum, Navy Style rum became synonymous with Guyana, even after the daily rum ration ceased in the 1970's. Various Navy Style blends had become ubiquitous in tiki drinks, on British grocery store shelves, and in the popular imagination at large. This blend of rum produced on various stills, each one at one time from a unique distillery, is how most people know Demerara rum. When Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) consolidated the rum production of Guyana, they got all the significant surviving stills under one roof. This wasn't out of a sense of duty to history, or to make a museum of rum production, but because they were essential for blending purposes to make this kind of rum, which they then began to sell under their El Dorado label.
Because of this, the more regular model of one kind of still or maybe two (particularly in the case of rum) being all a distillery needs could never really work for DDL. But of course this also means they have under their auspices many very unique stills that produce very unique rum. And now that there is a significant rum drinking consumer base out there, there is a thirst to get to know the character of each of these stills on their own, rather than simply as a component of a Navy blend. Generally the only way to go about this is through independent bottlers - small companies that buy casks either directly from the distilleries or on the European bulk rum market. We have featured Demerara rum from independent bottler Holmes Cay before, and we were absolutely thrilled to be able to do it this time with one of our longtime favorite independent bottlers, the minister of rum himself, Mr. Ed Hamilton.
Ed is well known in the growing but ever small seeming rum community for his Ministry of Rum line of essential rum bottles, his charmingly old-school website of the same name where rummys have long sought information about rum production and well mannered arguments in the forums, and his strong and well argued opinions about the Rum industry and culture. Before he was the Minister, he built sailboats in Taiwan, vagabonded around southeast Asia, and then sailed around the Caribbean, where he stumbled into what seems to be his ultimate calling. His personality is as big as his bushy white moustache, his influence as wide as the brim of his signature Panama hat. We love any opportunity to do business with him, or just shoot the shit.
Not only was it great to work with Ed sourcing this pick for our club, but he was able to supply us with one of the often harder to come by distillates from DDL. The wooden stills of Guyana are perhaps the most famous in the brand's impressive and historic collection, but most of what we see come our way in single still expressions are from the Port Mourant Double Wooden Pot Still. Now, we aren't complaining, as that still makes some of the most characterful rum we've ever tried, and we never tire of its rich and wild character. But it is familiar. We see a decent amount of it. Much less common to see in the wild are bottlings of what is probably the second most famous still - the twin wooden coffey still, formerly of the "Enmore" sugar estate.
This fantastic example of Enmore rum was distilled in 2012 and put down to age in ex-bourbon barrels. It was then bought and transferred to the U.K., where it aged for eight years before being bottled at a hefty cask strength of 67.1% abv. This is some really big rum, and though most of us at B&B tend to drink our cask strength spirits without water more often than with, this one is well served by a few good drops of it. The nose is woodsy from the get go. Cedar, pine, forest floor, herbs, and an almost agave-like sweet earthiness. After sitting for a while with some water, a burnt caramel and roasted pineapple duet emerge alongside the woodsiness. The palate follows with that pineapple, along with more agave, licorice, wet stone, dried apricot, and hints of shishito pepper. The finish sits on the burnt caramel and earthiness, balancing sweet and bitter elegantly. But seriously, add that water for the rum's sake and yours.