A short while ago I interviewed Scott Laing, of Hunter Laing & Co, who are responsible for the very good Kill Devil range of single cask rums. In that he said:
“Our packaging style for whisky is quite traditional, so we thought that if we bottled a range of rums we could have some fun with that, and create something a bit different. A few of our customers had also said they were interested in buying rum but other than that we just plunged in and experimented by bottling a few casks. Unlike with whisky, we didn’t really have any idea about what constituted a ‘sought after’ rum name, so we just bottled the ones that we liked the taste of.”
And there’s nothing wrong with just bottling what you like the taste of, is there? That’s probably why the Kill Devil range makes for a very good and approachable range of rums for whisky drinkers – because it was bottled by whisky drinkers.
Today I have the Kill Devil Nicaragua 2004 – 11 Year Old to try. I’ve mentioned it before, but understanding the provenance of rum – how and where it was made – is much more difficult compared to whisky. So the only information, like with many independent rum bottlings, is of the country and year. There are two major rum brands based in Nicaragua: Flor de Caña and Mombacho Ron, so it can only really be one of those two.
Also, there are some very interesting – and by interesting, I mean simply not very pleasant at all – things happening in the Nicaraguan cane-growing scene. It’s to do with a surge in the cases of chronic kidney disease (CKD) related to the nation’s extremely poor working conditions in the cane fields at the moment. The issue really is quite complicated, so worth a read, but this probably isn’t the thing you hear about in the Flor de Caña gift shop.
I suppose the only question to ask oneself is: how important is provenance to you as a drinker? How much do you care about the origin of the ingredients, and about the people who make it? (I speak of the distilleries here, not the bottlers – they only get their hands on casks, and bottle what they think is good to go.) Perhaps this is not the right platform to discuss such matters, so I’ll just get on with the tasting notes.
Kill Devil Nicaragua 2004 – 11 Year Old Review
On the nose: lovely depth to this. A mix of golden and maple syrup, baked pears, touches of fennel. Dark chocolate with ginger. Burnt toffee, and noticeably warm. Slightly perfumed, with honeysuckle and vanilla.
In the mouth: the texture on this is gorgeously silky. A lot of vanilla but without any prickly woodiness. Orange peel. Salted caramel. Traces of nutmeg, a little tobacco and black tea.
An lovely, easygoing sipping rum, with just enough character. For me this feels one bourbon fans could get along with very well.
It’s also indicative of the Kill Devil range – I have a few more cask strength samples that I’ll get to reviewing in the near future. But, as a whisky drinker, here is a range of rums that’s bottled by other whisky drinkers, and they’re very much recommended.