Holmes Cay Mhoba 2017


A bottling from the American independent bottler Holmes Cay, this is cane juice rum from Mhoba Distillery in South Africa. It was aged four years in African ex-whiskey casks then bottled at 59% ABV.


The nose opens with tons of burning plastic and spray paint. With a little time, there comes cooked cabbage, braised meats, horseradish… wait a minute, this smells like a corned beef dinner! Very little in the way of fruit or freshness. It’s pungent industrial chemicals, savory meats, and vegetables all the way down.

The palate is a little fruiter than the nose led on, but still potent with industrial chemicals and savory and smoky notes. Motor oil, plastic, spray paint, horseradish, honey, lapsang souchang. Water brings out some more honey notes, radishes, black pepper, and treacle.


Very unique stuff. There are lots of flavors to enjoy here, but it I’m not sure I can quite crave it yet. This is absolutely one of those spirits where my palate has to get used to it over multiple tastings, and a sample bottle will only take me so far. I did enjoy this sample a lot and would be interested to try other Mhobas, especially their high ester and other forms of aging (or lack thereof). (6/10)