The Hyde No. 2 President’s Cask is a follow-up to the award winning Hyde No. 1. It begins life exactly the same; made from 100% malted Irish barley, distilled in a traditional copper pot still, and matured in American oak first fill ex-bourbon casks from Jim Beam for an initial 10 years. After this point, however, the whiskey takes a new direction. Instead of spending another 6 months in Oloroso Sherry casks, this one is finished for 8 months in Dark Caribbean Rum casks. The whiskey is then bottled at 46% ABV, it is naturally colored, non-chillfiltered and priced around $70-$80 USD.
So what can we expect with this type of whiskey? Well, we know that American oak will add a sweet vanilla and toasted caramel flavor to a whiskey but when double matured in Dark Rum casks, we can now expect much more depth in terms of sweet fruits and spiciness. Rum is a somewhat controversial casking for whisky connoisseurs. Some say that the flavors are too sweet, that it overrides the natural flavor of the whiskey. Others seem to absolutely love it. I’m somewhat in the middle. For me, it may not be my first choice but I do feel there is a time and a place for a rum-finished whisky but it has do be done right. Otherwise, it can feel a bit out of place.
In the glass, the whiskey is deep gold in color with a touch of amber. It seems a bit lighter than the No. 1 Sherry finish but it’s hard to tell really. More importantly, it seems to have the same oily texture we found in the first expression and I love the small bits of sediment left from the oak casks that are visible when held up to the light. The legs are thick, as we can expect from something that is not chill filtered and overall, a solid appearance.
On the nose, OK much different than yesterday’s tasting. The whiskey delivers an immediate burst of tropical fruit; mango, passion fruit, ripe banana, it’s all here. Is this to be expected from a rum-finished whiskey? Of course but this one seems to be delivering more fruity aromas than others I have tasted. There is some sweet vanilla, some caramelized sugars and a hint of spiciness. This one doesn’t come across as distinctly Irish, no this could be easily mistaken for Scotch whisky. That’s not a good or bad thing, just different than what we experienced with the first expression. Overall, a beautiful aroma that lends itself to a mid-summer day spent on the beach.
On the palate, again very tropical with a fresh wave of ripe banana, passion fruit and a fair amount of citrus oils. A lush, almost candy-like sweetness coats the mouthwash the aid of the spirits natural oils. Wow! The 46% ABV really kicks back with a powerful delivery. Not so delicate after all! After a few moments, the sweetness subsides and there is a beautiful wave of fresh oak, almost as if the whiskey has pulled you off the beaches of Barbados, packed your luggage, and sent you on a return flight back to Cork. Really nice flavors coming though. The finish is somewhat abrupt. Everything from the aroma to the flavor is so beautiful and happy and I hate to see that cut short with a finish as this. I have found through trial and error that adding a few drops and bringing the whiskey down to say 43% ABV will really extend the finish to where I think it needs to be. And quite frankly, I think the addition of water enhances the tropical flavors of the rum finish as well. The first expression, No. 1 Sherry Finish, was better neat. With just a touch of water, this No. 2 gains so much.
Overall, if you enjoy a good rum-finished whiskey then this one is a must. Out of curiosity, I compared this side by side with a popular rum-finished single malt scotch whisky: The Balvenie 14 Year Old Caribbean Cask. In my honest opinion, the Hyde No. 2 President’s Cask is a superior whiskey to The Balvenie in many ways. The hot, tropical characteristics of Irish single malt whiskey simply lend themselves better to the rum and the presence of the natural oils that are commonly removed with chill filtration makes for a wonderful tasting experience. The No. 2 may not be as complex or memorable as the No. 1 but it is definitely a whiskey that I will buy again.