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.
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.