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Hamilton Saint Lucia Pot Still Rum Review - A Love Story

I’m a bit of a St Lucia Distillers fan. This started about 12 years ago or so (damn I’m getting old) with their standard Chairman’s Reserve expression, which I’ve always found incredible value for money. After that I found Forgotten Casks. Another great rum, but this time a more complex experience. Where I became speechless was when I found a Hamilton St Lucia 7 year in the US and the black label 1931 in Toronto. Oh my, such great rums! When friend Steve Leukanech offered me a sip of an experimental one off cask strength 1931 at Tales of the Cocktail, I was floored. I needed more of this!


Solidifying my love for St Lucian rum happened on another trip across the border into the US. I always go to liquor stores when I travel and on one of these visits I found a bottle of cask strength Hamilton Saint Lucia Pot Still Rum. That sealed the deal!


Ed Hamilton is well known in rum circles. He’s been exploring the rum world for decades, started the Ministry of Rum website, is a rum importer and a writer. The website is from past times somewhat, but the Ministry of Rum Facebook page is alive and kicking with more than 20k members.


The rum he imports comes from various countries like Jamaica, Guyana, Martinique and St Lucia. Most of these are bottled under the Hamilton label, some are under their own brand name, like Neisson. He offers a variety of options from single distillery bottlings to blends like the White Stache we used in The Big Daiquiri Challenge. The website he has for all his products is one that I love. It’s incredibly informative and transparent. You can even enter the batch number of your bottle and it will give you the specific information for it. Click here to check it out.


The two Hamilton rums in this review were produced at St Lucia Distillers Ltd. I’ve reviewed rums from them before and included quite a bit of information about this distillery. Click here to read that article. Their setup is very interesting as they have three different pot stills and a column still. In most cases they blend pot and column rum for their expressions (and use a combination of molasses and cane juice rum). However, in this case it is a pure pot still rum from their Vendome still, bottled at cask strength.


Ed was able to secure 6 casks of 8 year pot still rum. 124 cases (1488 bottles) of this 2006 expression were bottled. This particular one is batch #80115 at 62.1%.


For the 9 year pot still rum he bought 7 casks. 144 cases (1728 bottles) of this 2005 expression were bottled. The one I have is batch #90115 at 67.4%.


These were aged in St Lucia for the entire time and have no added colour, sugar or other flavouring. Sounds like a dream! Let’s see if it tastes like a dream.



Nosing


Hamilton Saint Lucia Pot Still 8 Year

It’s oaky with eucalyptus, pine, pineapple, furniture wax, honey, cigars and newspapers. It’s very briney, mineraly and meaty, like meat glazed with molasses. There is an underlying sweetness and it has a strong leather note. More herbal than the 9 and definitely heavier on the meat.


Hamilton Saint Lucia Pot Still 9 Year

Strong on chocolate and oak. Smarties, raspberry, fresh paint, candle wax, brine and vanilla. There is a slight musty, meaty funk to it that’s combined with molasses sweetness. It’s got the same eucalyptus as the 8 and is quite medicinal.


Hard to pick a winner here. They are both clearly from the same distillery, but still have a lot of differences. Narrow win for the 9.

Tasting


Hamilton Saint Lucia Pot Still 8 Year

Very herbal with lots of oak spice. It’s a bit plasticy. There is dark chocolate and olives. It’s very dry and would stand up well to sugar (ahum). The finish is long and strong with a tiny bit of engine oil showing up very late. With water the funky meat and brine become stronger. Makes me think in the direction of Hampden.


Hamilton Saint Lucia Pot Still 9 Year

The bourbon cask comes through a little stronger and it seems a bit more mellow than the 8. I’m getting oak, vanilla, chocolate, meat, pepper and brine. The experience is quite velvet until the finish. It’s long and strong again but it does have a bit more fire than the 8. A very nice and sweet molasses note appears after hours. With water the chocolate is more pronounced, the fire goes down a notch. Finish remains long with a hint of leather. Wow.


Conclusion


The slightly medicinal profile of both these rums is something I appreciate. They are very expressive and complex, while still sippable at high strength. Velvet is perhaps the wrong word to use here, but I felt the 9 year was easier to sip than the 8, even though the 9 has the highest abv. The one year additional ageing seems to have done a good job.


To me these rums can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best Foursquare expressions and even Velier’s Demeraras. I can’t stop myself from wondering how much this rum would have costed if Velier had bottled it. As it is, I’m very happy and thankful that Ed Hamilton has put these rums on the market at a reasonable price. It showcases the immense potential of St Lucia Distillers. I really hope they will produce more of this quality pot still rum for us to enjoy. Since they don’t sell bulk rum anymore, it won’t be under the Hamilton label once his inventory runs out, but I’d gladly buy a cask strength Vendome pot still Chairman’s Reserve.


My 9 is almost out….need to find some more. Damn border closure!


Scores


Hamilton Saint Lucia Pot Still 8 Year – 88

Hamilton Saint Lucia Pot Still 9 Year – 94

Click here for info on the scoring method.


Click here for the complete list of reviews.

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