Holmes Cay Jamaica 2014 Clarendon EMB 8 Year – 61%

Holmes Cay Jamaica 2014 Clarendon EMB 8 Year – 61%

Stats: Independent bottling of 2014 pure pot distillate from Clarendon Distillery in Lionel Town, Jamaica, aged tropically for eight years in ex-Bourbon casks before being bottled at full strength without adulteration. It is the EMB mark, which indicates ester levels between 240-250 gr/HL AA, which falls in the medium range of the distillery’s output. This is bottle #91 from cask 77.

Background: I first got to sample this at a tasting Eric Kaye gave to the Austin Rum Society back in June. It was the surprise expression of the session and spoke to me so favorably that I anxiously ran out to purchase a bottle as soon as it landed in Texas a few months later.

Conditions: Enjoyed neat in a Glencairn over the course of several sessions

Nose: Mild funk, beef jerky, seaweed, prunes, cinnamon, rubber band, buttered popcorn, bath soap

Mouth: Super rich, burnt caramel, vanilla, raisins, fig, jerky, cumin, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, cracked pepper, graham cracker crust, diesel. Heavy, trashy overripe fruit bouquet comes on the mid palate. A good amount of warmth coats the throat and lingers along with baking spices.

Final Thoughts: I’ve had a tumultuous past with Clarendon/Monymusk. The typical band-aid/antiseptic/floral/tire fire profile doesn’t agree with me. I lean more towards the bright, fruity, deliciousness of Hampden and Worthy Park. That said, Holmes Cay has made me a believer. First with their Wedderburn release last year which opened my eyes to the possibility that Clarendon has potential to produce quality rum, and now with this EMB release, which elevates the distillery to contend with the Hampden and Worthy Parks I so desire.

This drinks well below its 61% ABV. The approachability for a 100% pot still Jamaican rum is off the charts and the “off” notes I typically associate with Clarendon are absent or non offensive here. The rum isn’t earth shatteringly special, the funk isn’t super wild, it’s just immensely enjoyable and interesting enough that each sip invites further exploration and an initial pour always warrants a second. I kind of put this akin to the fabled Worthy Park Gemini Barrel with the ease in which it can be enjoyed without having to wrap your mind around it. I plowed through half a bottle in a few sittings and no doubt will go out for a back up before this disappears forever.

My Rating: 5/5

My Scale:
1 – I don’t want this in my mouth ever again
2 – Best used for mixing
3 – Decent sipper
4 – Very enjoyable
5 – I’m buying a back up bottle

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