Hamilton St. Lucia 2004 9 Year Old Pot Still Rum

Hamilton Label St. Lucia 9YO Mask-RG1

Product of:  St. Lucia, bottled in USA
Aged:  9 Years
Price:  $55 
Alcohol: 46.1% ABV 
Sugar: 0 g/L
Context:  Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 9


Tasting Notes
 
The 2004 St. Lucia 9 Year Old Pot Still rum from the Ministry of Rum Collection by Ed Hamilton is a golden amber color.  Swirling produces a crown of beads that linger before turning into to many long thin legs, giving rise to suspicions of a heavy bodied rum. 

A bright pot-still bouquet permeates rapidly after bottle opening, launching oak, vanilla, some vanilla and much alcohol across your breathing space – the same smells you get when entering a rum aging warehouse.  Aromas are presented in hierarchical order, with the haevier smells more pronounced and easy to detect.  Of course there is  pot still molasses dunder on tap, then smoked wood, followed by the distinct smell exuded by copper while it’s releasing steam and alcohol vapors.  Then you discover  chewy scents of fresh baked bread and heavy flour pastry, phenolic, wax, overripe mango, pitch, and finally hints of licorice, clove and white pepper.  No question about it, this is pot still rum, with all it’s warts and beauty marks. 

A first sip delivers big flavors consistent with the aromas, topped with some molasses, sulphur and a bit more ripe fruit sitting out in the tropical sun.  There’s a refreshingly honest absence of sweetness.  Hamilton 9 Year Old St. Lucia rum’s medium-heavy body leaves a pot still lump in your throat on the finish.

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Anecdotes 
The 2004 St. Lucia 9 Year Old rum from the Ministry of Rum Collection by Ed Hamilton is distilled in a copper Vendome pot still at St. Lucia Distillers, as photographed by Mike Streeter od RumConnection.  After ageing for 9 years in casks #208-10-04, 18-04-04 and 348-08-02 in Saint Lucia, the rum is shipped to the US where the barrels' contents were blended  together at Five & 20 Spirits by Joe Nelson and then diluted with filtered water to 46.5% ABV and for bottling.

At the time of this review, there were 76 cases of Saint Lucia Pot Still 9 Year Old Rum 93 proof available of the 90 cases bottled.   See more about St. Lucia Distillers here.

With his pot still rums, Ed Hamilton has taken the lead in pushing for transparency among rum producers.  For example, type in the batch number of a Hamilton rum at the Ministry of Rum website and you’ll be presented with more detail than you need.  The price of transparency is naked facts.  It is a truism that every answer begets more questions.  So it is with the MoR site.  Caution:  May cause further research, head scratching over long-forgotten chemistry words, and a sense that rum should be enjoyed, not overanalyzed.  It’s up to you to decide - the dossier on Hamilton rum provides chemical analysis, bills of lading, production volumes etc.   

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Ed Hamilton
… Is a modern pioneer of rum, the man who singlehandedly discovered and brought countless Caribbean rums to our attention.  His two books published in the 1990’s – Rums of the Eastern Caribbean and The Complete Guide to Rum: A Guide to Rums of the World – were written while Ed was Island hopping throughout the Caribbean, sailing Matahari solo and visiting every distillery.  Many of those old world distilleries are no longer in operation, Hamilton’s books are long out of print, and Matahari sank off Antigua.

By the early 21st Century, Ed hauled his second sailboat Triton onto terra firma for repairs and began importing rhums agricole from the French West Indies.  Notable brands including Neisson, La Favorite and Duquesne from Martinique have made progress toward educating Americans on the finer points of this unique style of rum.  in 2013, Hamilton began importing pot-still heavy rums from St. Lucia and Jamaica under his own label.

Some of his explorations survive in writings and photographs at the Ministry of Rum website.  The Rum Gallery is perhaps the closest current equivalent to Hamilton’s books and his discovery of rums by sailing.  Ed has influenced many of us, encouraging us to embark on our careers exploring the art of rum.  Respect and gratitude, Mr. Hamilton.

Opinion 
Well aged, mature, 100% pot-distilled and brashly potent:  the 2004 St. Lucia 9 Year Old Pot Still rum from the Ministry of Rum Collection by Ed Hamilton is a rum that other distilleries won’t dare to produce.  It’s probably not going to be appreciated by first-timers or those whose tastes gravitate to to lighter, sweeter column-distilled rums, the style produced by former Spanish colonies.  This is a single batch, pot still rum carrying all the unique, living character of the few barrels it was blended from.

There should be more rums like this.  Thank you Ed Hamilton for bringing us a damn good pot-still aged rum from a first-class distiller.  

Reviewed:  Rum Gallery sampled a bottle from Batch No. 813-993 in January 2014 in the USA.  Bottled in August 2013.

© Dave Russell 2017