The country page for St. Lucia was the first article I wrote for this blog about two years ago, yet I only managed to review one St. Lucian rum so far… So let’s do some catching up with a pair of older and a pair of more recent bottlings.
Hamilton St. Lucia 2004 9YO (61,3%): Isn’t it weird to name your bottlings after yourself!? Anyway, these Hamiltons are hard to get in the EU and I am happy that an US rum bro sent me a sample! My understanding is that these rums have been ageing almost entirely at the distillery. Nose: This smells promising. I get plenty of herbs, fresh sugar cane, raisins, quite some spices (from the cask I assume but I am not exactly sure), glue, honey, banana and minimally salty notes. This should be really good stuff. Perhaps ironically, the cask strength is less alcoholic than the diluted ones (see below) but we actually have that quite frequently. I get the full set of herbs (mint, basil, thyme and whatnot), quite some wood with the associated spices (pepper, nutmeg), green banana, artichoke, match green tea, tannins and honey. It also becomes increasingly adstringent. Finish: Bone dry and looong. I get herbs, wood and all sorts of elements which come and go, mostly banana and forest honey. This is an excellent rum! If it were exemplary for the overall quality of Hamiltion’s bottlings I’d be extremely sad that we’re not getting them over at this side of the pond. With this one, I definitely am. (90/100)
and then we have a pair of 2005s…
Hamilton St. Lucia 2005 8YO (46%): How does a reduced rum compare to that? The nose is rather pleasant with fresh sugar cane, a mix of young, creamy honey and herbs such as mint or basil and even a hint of glue at the back-end. It is not the most complex expression but does a good job at portraying the distillery’s characteristic notes. The rum feels a bit thin at the palate and I guess that the dilution did more harm than good here. In fact, the alcohol is relatively sharp and the texture is not thick enough to make up for that. Flavourwise, we get the desert banana, sweet honey sauce, basil and related herbs as well as something more akin to almonds. Towards the end of the palate we get slightly unpleasant notes of kerosene (bad integration of the alcohol) and a wee bit of oak. The finish is short to medium long and comes with herbs, alcohol and green banana. While it is a very typical St. Lucian rum, it is also one of the weaker ones I’d say. But given that I regard the overall level of the distillery’s rums as rather high, that doesn’t mean that it is a bad rum at all, just that there are far better alternatives. (84/100)
Plantation Extreme St. Lucia 2005 11YO (53,8%): Remember that this should be Plantation’s “clean” series. Relatively speaking, the nose is really heavy on exotic spices such as cardamom, cumin, red pepper or curry powder with quite some vanilla and marzipan as well. Then desert banana and the typical herbs, which come out more and more with increased time in the glass. This might be an interesting one. The rum is quite creamy and continues where the nose ended. I get buttered red currants, toffee and caramel, all of the spices from the nose and again the desert banana. The rum has been finished for one year in former Cognac casks and, unlike their Port Mourant from the Extreme series for example, here you can really notice it. The rum is quite complex and the more time you spent with it the more it reveals. Eventually I also get raw cocoa, peanuts and jasmin even. The finish is no less complex and seemingly infinite. Here, the most notable notes would be the spices, now also herbs and plantain/ cassava. This is a really great one, albeit somewhat atypical. (89/100)
La Maison du Rhum St. Lucia 2010 7YO (45%): Before we start, let me just say that I really like the design of their labels. The dilution, not so much. The nose is quite atypical but after all this is the first 2010 bottling I am aware of. I get lots of banana and alcohol, more so than we should. Really, don’t put your nose too deep into the glass with this one. Then grassy notes, sugar cane and a mix of different woods. If it weren’t the alcohol we might mistake this for an older distillate (spices from the barrel) actually. The palate is surprisingly mild. Most notably there’s candyfloss and more ‘fair’ flavours such as burnt almonds and candied apples. Then spices (again from the barrel), banana and quite a few herbal notes. The finish is short and very forgettable. Basically just like a very small sip. My guess is that there is a lot of column still spirit in this one but that’s just my perception. It actually reminds me more of some Bajan rums than the other lovely St. Lucians I know. There’s absolutely nothing special about this one and it is not at all comparable to any other St. Lucian I know. (78/100)