Holmes Cay Heritage Blend Esotico Edition Rum Review

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Holmes Cay Heritage Blend Esotico Edition Rum Review

If there’s one thing I appreciate in a spirits brand, it’s a sense of balance. Building a brand around super-premium price points, for instance, is all well and good, but it’s bound to leave a huge portion of the potential marketplace–the majority, if we’re being honest–sitting on the sidelines. The most successful brands typically find a way to make an appeal to different types of consumers at a variety of price points, and increasingly this is what we’ve come to expect from the independent rum bottlers at Holmes Cay. Born as an experiment in bottling extra-mature, pricy bottles of single cask rum from around the globe, and producing some of our favorite recent rums in the process, the company has increasingly found ways in new series to offer less expensive, more accessible products. The launch of the Single Origin Edition series featured an excellent $49 bottle from Fiji, which was a far cry from the price points Holmes Cay had established in the past. And now, with their Heritage Blend, the Holmes Cay Esotico Edition, the brand has truly conceived an endlessly adaptable, everyday rum blend that could easily serve as a multipurpose flagship. Price tag: $39, something you wouldn’t feel like you were wasting in a daiquiri.

Conceptually, Holmes Cay Esotico is a tribute to the three major rum traditions of the Caribbean, which rum geeks will often refer to as English, Spanish and French-style rums. Esotico is a blend of all three, featuring lightly aged rums presented at the expected lower proof point of 43% ABV (86 proof). Where so many of the Holmes Cay releases of the past are cask-strength bruisers, this one is meant to be an approachable everyday sipper or mixer. As for the rums, they hail from the following:

— Molasses-based Barbados rum (likely Foursquare), blend of pot and column still.
— Molasses-based Venezuela rum (ron), column still
— Cane juice-based Martinique rhum

The label bears those three terms–Rum, Ron, Rhum–in order to drive the point across, that Esotico is a melding of different traditions and styles of production. Like all Holmes Cay releases, the final product is then bottled without any additional sweetening, flavoring or color added. Just a straightforward blend of rum styles. So with that said, let’s get to tasting it!

On the nose, Holmes Cay Esotico is pleasantly fruity and a bit wilder than one might expect for the modest proof point. I’m getting significant dried fruit evocative of sultana, along with some banana and Nilla wafers with vanilla pudding. There’s a touch of almond nuttiness, and some citrus, along with an ethanol note that is a touch more aggressive than one might expect–the youth of the blend likely making itself felt.

On the palate, this rum is initially citrus driven, with bright orange and lemon tones turning to floral vanilla and greener, grassy notes. I’m getting some honey and golden raisin, though the ethanol again feels a bit on the “raw” side, which I have a feeling may lay in the youthful Venezuelan column rum more than anything. Over time, though, it’s the Martinique agricole that emerges more and more to feel like the star of the blend, contributing fresh cane notes and earthier, funkier tones evoking the terroir of the island. There’s not much oak or spice to speak of, besides perhaps a kiss of something like anise, which reinforces the perception of this blend as something on the lighter, fresher and modestly aged side.

At the end of the day, this feels like a rum built for uncomplicated, go-to cocktails and mixed drinks: Daiquiris, Ti punch, Corn n’ oil, etc. I expect it will handle just fine in any of those capacities, while offering customers curious about the Holmes Cay brand an entry point to potentially investigate it for the first time. And at the end of the day, more onramps to the world of rum are always appreciated.

Distillery: Holmes Cay
Region: Caribbean
Style: Blended rum
ABV: 43% (86 proof)
Availability: 750 ml bottles, $39 MSRP

Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.

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