I was typing up some notes and wanted to compare with other online takes. Turns out, there aren’t any (yet). But I do see a lot of folks asking how is it and while I would say, in general, if it says Hamilton on it, are you going to be disappointed, I figured I’d help those people out.
In the spirit of all things tiki, there’s not a whole lot of solid information on this rum. According to Ed’s website write up, it’s a blend of aged Jamaican from Worthy Park and aged Guyanese rum, bottled at 90pf for the tiki bar, Strong Water, in Anaheim, CA. Since I wasn’t able to attend the release party and ask annoying questions, that’s all the info I’ve got to go on. When it landed at the shop, I did pop a bottle right away. That initial take was of dark, spicy Christmas cake with plenty of ginger. Then I poured it out with a couple friends a few days later and took my time. We also test drove it in a daiquiri. This is our collaborative take.
In the glass, it has a reddish brown hue, like oversteeped black tea. Not as garnet as, say, Appleton. Bananas and molasses jump out first. No surprise, that’s similar to what I get with Ed’s other Jamaican bottles. But the bananas here are sweeter like Bananas Foster with eucalyptus oil and pine tar sticking to them. One note was, “like opening a cedar box that hadn’t been opened for a long time.” More spice and the bananas are tucked away compared to Ham Jam.
On the palate, I still stand by my snap “review” of candied ginger but there’s a lot more than that here. Spiced red apples, sweet tea, cacao nibs, and carton orange juice. The bananas are very much present but there are some other underripe tropical notes too. In the daiquiri, pineapple really started to emerge and the banana flavor become more of a green banana due to the tartness of the lime. The more you sit with this one, the less funky treacle it becomes and the sweeter it feels. The spice - clove, black tea, and peppermint - isn’t too sharp or in the way and plays its part keeping the fruitier notes in bounds. Slightly more amplified in the daiquiri. That initial eucalyptus aroma comes back in the form of emanating from the chest a la Vicks Vapor Rub. There’s also a lingering charred pineapple on the finish.
My first thought was that it was very dense but actually pondering on it I can easily see its versatility, like a more complex Coruba replacement. Next up to try it in a Montego Bay Cocktail or a Queens Park Swizzle. The hogo factor isn’t anything above Hamilton’s other Jamaican releases. I think the balance of fruit and spice is great and find this more enjoyable on its own than some of Ed’s other releases though probably shines brightest in cocktails. Surprisingly, my two friends, one a tequila drinker and the other favors gin, both said they could see themselves drinking it neat but that might have been a few fingers of rum talking.