Everyone seems to like what Hunter Laing [HL] are doing with rum as well as whisky, and rightly so. They source some lovely juice, predominantly presented as single cask expressions at cask strength, without colour or chill-filtering – what Ralfy is now referring to as ‘integrity bottlings‘. Furthermore, HL are a passionate, warm and generous family-led team.
This years colourful RumFest spread was a mixed bag with cask influence very evident. Tried in vintage order, results were varied though quality remained typically auspicious.
Diamond 2008 9yo HL Guyana [258 bts] 63.2%
- N: Distillate-driven with firm funk and a redcurrant jelly note.
- T: Rather reminiscent of a very young whisky or lightly-aged new make. More jelly with water, a little squid ink, tadpoles,… and with that, an amazing mouthfeel.
- F: Distillate-firm with a little pond water and a touch of aniseed.
- C: Weird/different/decent/interesting presentation from this youthful distillate [James Eadie’s Trade Mark X-like blog87], with its pond water funkiness.
Scores 82 points
Kill Devil Panama 2006 11yo HL [263 bts] 60.7%
- C: Tasty whisky-rum. A super gateway rum for malt heads perhaps.
Scores 82 points
Travellers Distillery 2005 11yo HL Kill Devil Belize [389 bts] 46%
SCR says: ‘I’d describe the typical profile of the distillery as rum’s version of Bourbon and if you’ve ever tried a rum from Travellers I think you know what I mean.’
From Belize, this is mainly European aged.
- N: Light, aged rum that speaks of column still & vanilla-ey bourbon cask action.
- T: Grain-like certainly.
- F: Same.
- C: Plain & fine. Peeps will love this.
Scores 80 points
- C: I’m told Luca loves this and I’m surprised as I find this cask trumps the essence of sugar cane. Easily passable as a heavily sherried whisky, so more a malternative than a rum – strangely. I’m instantly over it, maybe because I was a little tired of sherry-induced whisky at the time. Things have improved a little since.
Scores 81 points
Kill Devil Guyana 1998 18yo HL [299 bts] 46% RR7/10
- N: A light-sweet fruity nose with distracting [becoming irritating] cask action.
- T: Follows on neatly from the nose with a noted bone-dryness, though adding water brings out the fruitiness.
- F: Cask-y over cane but there’s no vanilla at least. A fairly long sustain.
- C: Unnecessarily cask dominant, the story of this year’s festival – a move that may well prove popular with the populous however.
Scores 80 points
We are at the end of the line, honing in on the older & rarer bottlings, and to a staggering three-token [£145 bottle] Enmore. That’s no fault of HL, it’s down to RumFest’s incredibly astringent ‘golden tot‘ costs:
- 1 token for rums RRP £80 – £100
- 2 token for rums RRP £101 – £150
- 3 token for rums RRP £151 – £200
Compare that to TWE Show where dream drams start for bottles over £500:
- Whiskies with rrp £500 – £999 = 1 token
- Whiskies with rrp of £1000 – £1999 = 2 tokens
- Whiskies with rrp of £2000 – £2999 = 3 tokens
Enmore 1992 25yo HL Kill Devil Guyana [345 bts] 46%
- N: I only noted chlorine-d towels and young Cognac/grape eau-de-vie.
- T: Yikes, with a distinctive under-the-toe-nail crud note. this is deeply vile to my palate.
- F: Loft insulation, more toe nails, and,… death – literally!
- C: This one hit a palate nerve head on. Hopefully, others may completely disagree.
After that unique experience we come to the only Caroni at the show [that I knew of]. With stocks of Caroni now few & far between, HL presented an excellent Caroni at TWE Show [blog87]. This was a different bottling but I failed to take down any details. Anyone?
Caroni [+/-2018] HL Kill Devil CS
- N: This is similarly soapy/detergent-y to an 18yo BBR bottling [Blog76], though at slightly more acceptable levels. Still, it’s a shame.
- T,F&C: Mainly aniseed > pepper, soap & shampoo. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth however, it doesn’t stop us polishing the stuff off.
I optimistically attempt to reach for an 80 mark, but in reality it’s more a 77 score.
Not the fairytale ending perhaps, but there it is. With many thanks to Lorraine at HL.