Monymusk EMB 9 year old (2010) – Habitation Velier

What is it? Pure Single Rum (100% pot still, molasses based, single distillery) from the Clarendon distillery in Jamaica and bottled under the Monymusk name – you can read a bit more about Monymusk and Clarendon here in this review. The rum was distilled in 2010 after which it was aged tropically for 9 years before being bottled in 2019 for the Habitation Velier series of rums. The aging has taken its toll on the rum with an Angels Share of over 64% lost in that short 9 years. This particular bottling is from the EMB marque of rum meaning it has an ester level of 275.5 g/hlpa – so a mid level range of esters.

Not chill-filtered, not coloured and bottled at 62% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Woody at first – toasty oak, varnish, furniture glue, toffee, maybe a touch of golden syrup. It’s not an ester bomb that’s for sure but Monymusk rarely are. We’ve got fruit in here though, richer, darker than you’d expect from a Jamaican with prune, plum, black cherry, sultana and dried apricot. There’s a little pineapple hiding in here too but it’s almost candied, some roasted nuts, marzipan, vanilla and dried coconut. Maybe a little note of chocolate here and there but it’s faint. It’s quite fruit cake like on the nose.

Palate: Full mouth feel. We’re at the same party as the nose, which is good. Cherries, figs, prune, black plum and raisin. Some dark chocolate, butterscotch, golden syrup, molasses, dates, flamed oranges – all that deep stuff. There’s a burst of sourness part way which is almost gherkin or caper like, some varnish notes, pear drops, mango and fresher pineapple, but it goes back to the richer side and gets cake’y again.

Finish: Long. Stays as we are here, nothing fancy. Brioche buns, vanilla, chocolate and fruit cake with marzipan again. The odd burst of sourness pops up with brine, some pear drops and mango too but it remains largely darker and cake’y. We get the addition of some rubber gloves and black olives here at the end as things tail off.

Thoughts? Very good. It walks a careful line between Demerara and Jamaica, and it’s definitely more brooding than normal Jamaican rum – it’s a cracker for our shit Autumn weather. Ok, this probably isn’t the “best” Monymusk I’ve ever had, but you often get a bit of a curveball with these Habitation Velier releases and this is one of them. This was a touch over a ton when I bought it, I think it was around £105 or £110.

Would I get another at that price? You know, I really enjoyed this rum but if I were pressed for an answer, no I wouldn’t. There’s just something missing here and I can’t put my finger on it, but if I’m spending over £100 on a bottle I want a little something “extra”.

If you fancy giving this one a go it’s still around on The Whisky Exchange here:

Monymusk EMB 9 year old (2010) – Habitation Velier

 

Or Master Of Malt here:

Monymusk EMB 9 year old (2010) – Habitation Velier

Hampden Estate Overproof

What is it? Pure Single Rum (molasses based, pot still, single distillery) from the Hampden distillery in Jamaica. This is one of the two official distillery bottles that came out back in 2018 – the Hampden Estate Overproof (bottled at 60% abv), the other being a standard 46% one – the rum in the bottle is the same, only the abv differs. It’s a 7 or 8 year old blend, I say this because the front of the bottle says 8 years old and the back says 7 years old, all of which was done tropically so is equivalent to around 25 years worth of European aging. There are no concrete details of the marques in the blend but the consensus seems to be that it’s a mix of OWH, LROK and DOK, which vary massively in ester levels – for those that know, the DOK will be only a small amount due to it being the secret formula that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America, it’s that damn strong:

OWH: 40-80 g/hlaa (low ester leve)

LROK: 300-400 g/hlaa (mid ester level)

DOK: 1500-1600 g/hlaa (holy fucking shit)

Not coloured, not chill filtered and bottled at 60% abv.

I’m drinking this, and therefore reviewing it, at between 50% and 55% abv depending on how heavy handed I’m being with my teaspoon as I find that this is where it gets the most out of the rum. 60% is fine, but a lot of the smells and tastes are muted there.

Sugar? No

Nose: Not entirely what I was expecting, which is good I guess as it keeps us on our toes. Pretty savoury at first; putty, wallpaper paste, vegetable bullion, nail polish and a little musty hessian. Dry spices like cumin and cardamom, maybe a little turmeric and liquorice root, and a touch of new leather. Classic brine and a bit of olive oil in here too and then the fruits with lemons, mango, Conference pears, faint pineapple and maybe a small peach which sharpens it. It certainly doesn’t scream “high ester” or punch you  in the face like so many Independent bottles.

Palate: Full mouth, but crisp at the same time. Hot, even with water. This is more like what I was thinking; brine, salted fish, tar, varnished wood, stamp glue, liquorice and olives. More fruit here with pineapple, lemons, papaya, mango and green banana. There’s a touch of pipe tobacco and some nutty, earthy notes mid way, just before it swings back to fruit again.

Finish: Long, of course. Salty, brine, olives and tar. Crushed shells, anchovies and rubber gloves. Little fruit here, as with the nose, but what does show up are the usual suspects and mainly on lemon and mango. There’s an undertone of smoky, leathery, oiliness as it finishes off that’s really nice.

Thoughts? I’ll get this out of the way first; it’s a cracking rum, of course it is, and I was never in doubt. As far as my preference for Hampden goes, it falls short. Where the Indie bottles and single casks are full to the brim with character and/or depth (some aren’t deep but are like dynamite), this is narrow and pleasing. It’s excellent rum and will please many (it does please me) but it’s lacking the je ne sais quoi that lurks in a single marque, single cask Hampden. It seems it’s an Everyman’s Hampden and this is something that often happens with official distillery bottlings; Worthy Park Estate was the same for me – very, very good, but robbed of the spark that you get in some those so wonderful single casks. When a distillery puts out a bottling like this they throw the net wide for the biggest catch and in doing so let some the more prized fish escape.

This cost me £80. I’d save the money and get the 46% version instead, as I’ve had to drop it down to not far from that anyway to get the best of out it, and it’s the same rum in the bottle.

If you want a full proof, real Jamaican and big ester stuff puts you off then go for it, but don’t be expecting a massive funky rum here. Not the Hampden I’m after I’m afraid.

If you fancy a bottle of this then you can pick it up at The Whisky Exchange here:

Hampden Estate Overproof

Or Master of Malt here:

Hampden Estate Overproof

Cadenhead’s Classic Rum – 6 year old 2019 release

What is it? A blend of rums done by Cadenhead, and Independent bottler of spirits. This blend is a mixture of molasses based pot and column still rums from Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Panama and was aged in oak casks for 6 years in the UK before it’s release in 2019. For a long time Cadenhead have produced their “Classic Rum” blend and it generally changes year to year, but the type of rum they are aiming to produce remains the same, so if you pick up a bottle from another year chances are it wont be too far from this profile.

Not coloured by Cadenhead, not chill filtered and bottled at 50% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Ah, proper dark rummy rum, in the “Navy” style if you will. Molasses, roasted nuts, soot, boot polish, ink and tar. Certainly some estery notes from the Jamaican element with squishy banana and citrus fruit. There’s some dark chocolate cake here too along with some cinnamon and handful of cloves.

Palate: Full, rich mouth feel. Some black olives, tar and brine at first then richness; coffee beans, cocoa beans, toffee covered banana, liqourice, cinnamon, fudge and a little flamed orange rind. The roasted nuts are still here and a little zing of lime part way keeps it from getting too heavy.

Finish: Long. A little salty brine here but it’s really on the sweeter side as it finishes off with molasses, toffee, strong black and sweet coffee, maybe a really good espresso with a thick crema, dark chocolate and loads of black banana, a little slightly burnt Christmas cake and a touch of charred pineapple right at the end.

Thoughts? Good. A little sweet at times, maybe that’s the Panama or Demerara if it’s been “treated” at the distillery, but I didn’t find any sugar in my hydrometer reading. There are plenty of good flavours going on here and it’s got a lovely body to it so it’s pretty versatile if you wanted to mix it or drink it neat. A proper dark rum without any of the over-the-top colouring nonsense and at 50% it’s good value too for £35. It’s not as good as the 1842 Cask in my view, but it’s cheaper and it is what is it – a consistent, good tasting dark rum.

 

Hampden 18 year old (1998) – Kill Devil

Don’t get too excited, this isn’t some hidden little rum, this is simply me doing a face palm. I get through a lot of rum and I don’t have time in my life to write a review and post on the blog every time I open a bottle, as such I’ve taken to writing notes over the years and posting reviews as and when I’m able to. Usually I’m quite good with it and my reviews are reasonably current to what I’m drinking but sometimes it’s from a bottle that I have finished many months prior. This one is quite embarrassing. I was looking through my historic notes for my next review and found a piece of paper tucked down the back of my bookcase – I did wonder where this one got to! So it’s old. You can’t buy it anymore. I bought it, I drank it and wrote notes, so I’m going to review it.

What is it? It’s a Hampden, so Jamaican Pure Single Rum (100% pot still, from molasses, distilled at a single distillery). This one was distilled in December 1998 and matured for 18 years after which it was bottled by Hunter Laing for their Kill Devil rum range. There isn’t any information on where this was matured but I’m certain it was aged in Europe, judging by the taste profile. Again, we have no marque detail on the rum, but Hampden bulk exported at one marque a year and in 1998 it was marque HLCF which stands at an ester count of 500-700 g/hlaa. Back in the day, when this was put out, Kill Devil only had a small portfolio of rums – there wasn’t much Hampden about (or much else from Kill Devil) at the time and certainly nothing at Cask Strength – so it’s quite interesting to re-read and remember the noting and drinking in the more recent rum climate.

One of 381 bottles.

No colouring, no chill-filtration and bottled at 46% abv

Sugar? No.

Nose: Yep, Hampden has entered the building. Pineapple cube sweets, old black bananas, pineapple slices, banana bread, pineapple juice and so it goes on. Some lime zest, actually more Key Lime Pie, so creamier and some earthy biscuit. Paint thinner, diesel, creosote and the smell you get on your hands when oiling a door latch – that metallic oily smell. A little brine, sand, rock pools and the faintest distant oak.

Palate: Medium to full mouth feel, just starting to get oily. Big initial entry of banana and fermenting pineapple, it just explodes straight away. Some white pepper, limes, mangoes and more pineapple and banana. Pear Drops, nail varnish, furniture glue – or what it would taste of, I imagine. Olive oil and a little salted butter which is a nice touch. Very little cask influence indeed, the teeniest bit of vanilla and oaky cinnamon, and I mean tiny. Things settle mid-palate and it gets nice and calm.

Finish: Medium, which is surprising, I thought it’d be longer. Left over fruits, but fuller so more on the banana bread, pineapple cake and lime cream than actual banana, pineapple and lime. Big fat green olives (those massive Greek ones) and some rubber balloons, a touch of stamp glue and a prickly buzz of pepper and green chilies right at the end.

Thoughts? Solid. A very good solid Jamaican pot still rum. By anyone’s standard this is very good rum but I can’t help but compare it to another 1998 which was the 16 year old Kill Devil; that one just exploded with flavour – it was just such a massive rum – this certainly has aspects of that but where the 16 year old took off mid-palate this drops away. It just goes to show you how single casks can be.

I picked this up back in 2017 for £70 and it was retailing for a touch over £80 at the time. When I bought it I thought that was fine enough for an 18 year old Hampden, but looking at modern prices it seems like a bit of a steal. Personally though if I had the choice of this or the 16 year old for the same money I’d take the 16 year old every day of the week.

Still, very good rum, just lacking in a few areas.

 

Monymusk 14 year old (2003) – Adelphi Single cask

I ended last year with an absolute cracker by way of an independent Jamaican from Worthy Park (Habitation Velier Forsyths WPM) so what better way to start this year with another one! For today’s review we’re going to Adelphi for their 14 year old Monymusk. Now, I’ve previously reviewed their Hampden which was incredible, so no pressure Adelphi! Eyes down, look in, as they say.

What is it? Pure Single Rum from Jamaica (100% pot still, single distillery, molasses based). This one has come from the Monymusk brand produced at the Clarendon distillery in Jamaica. This rum is from a single cask and was distilled in 2003, after which it was shipped to Scotland for ageing until 2018, making it 14 years old – so European aged rum. The rum was finished in an Oloroso sherry butt for a period of time and a total outrun of 346 bottles were produced. I have spoken to Adelphi about this rum but other than vague details of ageing and the sherry dipping at the end, they don’t have any more information, which is a shame as I’d really like to know how long it was finished off for, if it spent any time in the tropics maturing and definitely some details on the cask marque so we can get an idea of ester levels – unfortunately none of that data exists…..take note please Adelphi, we want to know this stuff, it matters.

The bottle is labelled as cask JM2, which follows on from the Hamden JM1, so I just assume this is some Adelphi code. It was bottled at 58.8% abv, not chill filtered nor coloured.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Mmmmmm, lovely. Deep and rich. Firstly some ester’y, bread’y, banana’y rum – more so than with other Monymusks I’ve had, but it’s not an ester bomb by any means. Then comes the cask with hot buttered cinnamon and raisin bagels, cloves, toffee, flamed orange zest, tree sap, damp leaves and some hessian sacks. Some banana bread and green olive come out again later on as the play between rum and cask moves back and forward dynamically.

Palate: Medium, not as fat as I was expecting – maybe the abv here. A touch of water does make send it oilier. Dry, a little sharp at first and herbal with some lavender or something. Then oranges, the bitter white pith, sour raisins and a touch of white wine. Then comes the banana bread and a touch of pineapple, nutmeg and a real taste of dry sherry, toasted nuts and bung cloth.

Finish: Long, quite astringent at first and hot, but quickly it moves on to the sweeter notes of banana in toffee sauce, banana bread, a little green olive, a touch of brine and cask flavours of raisin, cinnamon, vanilla, chestnuts and orange zest.

Thoughts? Very good – “less good” than the Hampden bottling by quite some way, but that one is very hard to beat, we’re still looking at a top tier rum here though. I had been drinking it neat but after this review I added a touch of water to take it down to about 50/52% abv and it got fatter and less astringent, it does loose some of the oomph though but the gains out-weight the losses here and that’s how I was drinking it towards the end. The sherry cask does over step the rum with this one but it’s such a good cask that it compliments the rum and you can still easily find the Monymusk in there.

A great example of how to sherry cask finish a spirit this is. I paid £85, which I’m happy with. Yes, I know it’s pricey, but Adelphi bottles are always pricey, just have to live with that. One I’d get again and very much enjoy.