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This is one my last remaining unicorns (only Clairin Ansyen Le Rocher and Ron Santiago de Cuba 11 Years remain on that list and for now I cannot obtain either in anyway).
This is a true 15 year aged column distilled rum from Traveller’s Distillery in Belize with no additives of any kind. The reason this is a unicorn for me is because for one I have a long history with Belize. My brother used to live there and I used to go down every other summer and lay in a hammock in the jungle and sip rum under the stars. At that time I only knew Traveller’s One Barrel and Five Barrel. For a while before I truly found diversity in rum or knew much about it, One Barrel was my favorite. Yet despite all of that I never had a true long aged additive free rum from Belize. Once I saw Holmes Cay Belize 15 Year and read the reviews it rose to near the top of my list to get. Yet every time I tried to order a bottle it sold out. I actually got quite lucky in ordering this bottle as it was the last one available from the Florida Rum Society. I pounced instantly when I saw it available for under $100. So does this live up to unicorn status?
This is a very powerful rum, extremely rich and full. The first thing I notice is how dark this rum is despite 0 additives of any kind. Taking a waft from the Glencairn I get a deep, rich, and powerful note that is a mix of something like concentrated caramel and the spiciness that naturally occurs in oak. Behind that I get the distinct smell of Cheerwine Cola. For those of you who don’t know or remember Cheerwine, it was a cherry flavored soda made in North Carolina a couple decades ago, but it has a uniqueness to it. After the Cheerwine note I get a deep powerful brown sugar and butter combination like the start of cookie dough. Past that I pick up chocolate covered cherries followed by a very light chlorine note that sometimes appears in the aged Worthy Park distillates. With the addition of a little bit of water the nose turns floral. This smells pretty delicious.
The palate matches the intensity of the nose but brings new notes to the mix. Taking a sip I instantly get a unique note that I have only otherwise tasted on the Worthy Park 12 Year, I don’t even know where to start to describe it other than being a rich combination of savory, sweet, and spicy all at the same time. While it was detectable on the WP 12 Year, here it hits you in powerful wave. That wave then melts into a mouthful of brown sugar and butter, with the butter very evident. Alongside that I get clear notes of almonds, cinnamon, and light caramel. Then comes a wave of a rich unique note of Spanish Liqueur filled chocolate bonbons. That then subsides into a powerful note of sour cherries accompanied by fine bourbon and just the hint of aged dairy like yogurt.
The finish somehow gets even better. The finish is very long, perhaps one of the longest finishes I have ever experienced in a rum, and it hits you in phases. After the palate the first note to stick around is Rosewater accompanied by dark chocolate covered almonds. Behind that is a minty note that is refreshing. In my nostrils I get woodsmoke and old musty furniture. But the finish still continues. As the finish starts to linger the chocolate covered cherries return with a deep smell/taste crossover of very long aged tobacco.
I have to say, this is pretty impressive. It’s akin to a Foursquare ECS in its intensity but it is significantly more complex than the Foursquare rums I have had. Now it’s not perfect but it is incredibly rich and the aging is very evident. If I had tasted this blind I would have guessed that it was aged well over 20 years. The chocolate covered cherry and Spanish liqueur filled chocolate bonbon notes are especially delightful.
This is well worth unicorn status even if it isn’t a full 10. It’s a pretty fantastic rum that is akin to a warm hug, as someone so elegantly put it.
Short Description: Worthy Park 12 Year notes with Cheerwine and Spanish Liqueur Bonbons. It’s a rich warm hug of savory, sweet, and spicy with an eternally long finish.
Nose: Deep concentrated caramel and oak spice, Cheerwine cola, brown sugar and butter, chocolate covered cherries, light notes of chlorine; with water it becomes almost floral
Palate: unique note akin to that in Worthy Park 12 Year that I can’t quite place, brown sugar and butter, almonds, cinnamon, caramel, spanish liqueur filled chocolate bonbons, sour cherries, fine bourbon, yogurt
Finish: Eternally long, Rosewater, dark chocolate covered almonds, mint, woodsmoke, old furniture, chocolate covered cherries, long aged tobacco
Country of Origin: Belize
Region: Cayo District, Belmopan
Distillery: Traveller’s Distillery
This was column distilled Travelers distillery in Belize. All of there offerings I have had have been exceptional. I really love this one 61% very dark full bodied rum aged in bourbon casks only. Easy on the nose hints of island spices, smooth lingering depth on the taste, just mildly sweet with some oaky undertones. Going to miss this one when gone.
Holmes Cay: Belize Travelers Distillery 15 Years Old (2005)
This rum was distilled in 2005 and topically aged in ex-bourbon barrels for a full 15 years! Bottled at a wonderful 61%ABV.
On the nose you get oak, orange/lemon zest, ginger, raspberry chocolate, coffee, tobacco, mint and maple syrup.
It's rich on the nose but also on the palate; I get caramel, brown sugar, maple syrup, oak, strawberry, pepper and it's a little drying.
The finish is burnt meat, oak, dry, more maple syrup and nuts.
I find this rum has some similarities to a bourbon with dense brown sugar, maple syrup and oak notes. The tasting group tended to like this one the most, and noting some similarities to Foursquare (I agree - definitely different but this rum is shooting in a similar direction).
Overalls fantastic rum - close to a 10 for me, but not quite.
Try to get a well lit shot from the front of the rum label
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