RumFest 2018: Kill Devil

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%

Kill devil Diamond Distillery 2008 9yo HL Guyana [258 bts] 63.2%.jpeg

  • 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%.jpeg

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.’

Travellers Distillery 2005 11yo HL Kill Devil Belize [389 bts] 46%.jpeg

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


Kill Devil Nicaragua 1999 18yo HL [257 bts] 59.2%.jpeg

Kill Devil Nicaragua 1999 18yo HL [257 bts] 59.2% WF79 RR5/10[1]

  • 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[1]

Kill Devil Guyana 1998 18yo HL [299 bts] 46%.jpeg

  • 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%

Enmore 1992 25yo HL Kill Devil Guyana [345 bts] 46%.jpeg

  • 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.

[Not scored]


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 1998 18yo HL Kill Devil [246 bts] 65.5%
[Demonstrative example]
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.





Hunter laing Kill Devil




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