My 5-Star Rums of the Year!
This past year I purchased or sampled well over 100 rums, reviewed 30 of those, of which I gave eight a 5-star rating, indicating I enjoyed it enough to want a back up bottle. For the sake of this list, I’m only including rums that were new to me in the year 2022, despite when they were released or when/if I wrote a review.
Tamosi Karaya 1998 Guyana Demerara Rum Uitvlugt Distillery (Port Mourant Still) 22 Year
This to me is quintessential Port Mourant. Brings forth all the flavors I adore from the unique still in perfect harmony. Complex, woody, savory, dynamic. A true adventure rum. Note: I never got to own a bottle of this rum, no less a back up. I tried buying it from Whisky Exchange when it was released. I spent an entire day going through their site trying to narrow down which other bottles to grab to make the shipping cost sting a little less but by the time I went to pull the trigger it was sold out. Thankfully a west coast friend sent me a sample so I could experience it. I truly wish I owned a bottle or three or six.
Foursquare 2009 Barbados Exceptional Cask Selection Mark XVII 12 Year
It’s hard to go wrong with Foursquare in general but this release in particular stood out to me in a way the brand hasn’t in a while. It’s just super balanced, complex and complete. Round that out with a reasonable price point and this is one I’d love to have on hand at all times. I killed two bottles in short order and rather than purchasing a third, decided to hold out for 2010. While the “vintage series” is the closest thing they have to a continuous release, people will continue to debate and defend the merits of their preferred distillate run. Having now purchased one or more bottles each of 2004-2010, I maintain that 2009 is the most enjoyable to me.
Holmes Cay 2005 Mauritius Grays 15 Year
This was a barrel pick from a Dallas non-profit that is absolutely stunning. Aged 15 years in Cognac casks and bottled at 50%, it packs a serious flavor punch and a profile like no other. I get a very distinct bitter grapefruit note, which is not just power of suggestion from being distilled in a city called Pamplemousse. The moderate ABV allows me to sit down with more than one pour in the evening, and I’ve probably shared this rum with more people than any other last year because I think it’s so perfect and approachable. I’m just dreading the day I kill my last bottle.
Chairman’s Reserve 2011 St Lucia Single Batch John Dore 9 Year
I have a love/hate relationship with St Lucian rum. Having tried quite a few “Masters Selections” and many of the long lamented Hamilton’s cask picks from a few years back, I think my preference boils down to what still was used in its creation, and the profile created using the John Dore pot still seems to be the most agreeable to my palate. This limited release selected for the Austin Rum Society is 100% John Dore 1 pot still, aged 9 years in Brandy casks. The flavors just come together so well. Every time I drink this I pick up new nuances and it seems to keep getting better with each pour. I’m nearly done with my second bottle and am contemplating grabbing one more before they disappear forever as only a handful remain on the shelves.
Holmes Cay 2014 Jamaica Clarendon EMB 8 Year
When I had given up hope of ever truly enjoying a Monymusk rum, this one comes along to show me how well rounded and delicious their pot distillate can be. The off-putting antiseptic/band-aid/floral brand of funk I usually associate with Clarendon is less detectable here and works in complete context with the other favorable flavors this delivers. It’s not an ester bomb, it drinks well below its proof, and punches high above its weight considering its age and price point. To me this rum finally puts Monymusk in the echelon of Hampden and Worthy Park.
Honorable Mention: Rare Cane Single Cask 2001 Jamaica (Hampden) 20 Year
I’m calling this “honorable” only because I have not yet posted a formal review of it, but I intend to next week! I was eying the 19 year Golden Devil Hampden for some time on K&Ls website when low and behold this 20 year pops up from a brand I’d never heard of. Something about the understated simplicity of the label allured me in ways I cannot explain. All I knew was, I had to own this rum. Took a chance on an unknown bottler and so glad I did! It’s a true delight of high ester fruity/funky deliciousness complimented by long aging in a moderate climate. If you’re a fan of the 12 year Golden Devil Hampden which made my top five last year, you’ll wanna track this one down.
View all my 5-Star Reviews here.
Disclaimer: It’s worth stating I have recently taken the role as Brand Manager for Holmes Cay Rum. I’m a huge fan of the label and their efforts to bring to market the best rums in the world, which is why I positioned myself for this job. The views and reviews posted on the Austin Rum Society blog and elsewhere are my unbiased opinions of these rums and came before I was employed by the company. All rums featured here were purchased of my own volition with my own money and not provided by Holmes Cay or any other brand or entity.