Hampden 15 year old (2000) – Adelphi Single cask

What is it? Pure Single Rum (100% pot still, from molasses and a single distillery) from Jamaica. This rum was distilled at the Hampden distillery in Trelawney. It was distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2016 at 15 years old by Independent bottler Adelphi, after undergoing a finishing period (for an undisclosed amount of time) in ex-Sherry casks.

Hampden use dunder in their fermentation process and will ferment the rum from 2 weeks and up to 1 month for esterification to take place, depending on the marque of rum they are aiming to produce. They produce 7 marques of rum and you can read more about them at this link, which has been posted recently by Wes at TheFatRumPirate and was written by Marius Elder at SingleCaskRum; clicky click.

The only indication of cask on this bottle is “JM1” which is not one of the Hampdent marques, and I believe stands for “Jamaica Main”. In terms of esters, that’s not very helpful, but using the information provided by Marius it appears that 2000 vintage export from Hampden was from marque LROK, which is a lower ester level and comes in at 200-400g/hlaa. Now I say “lower”, that’s in terms of Hampdens, in terms of most other rums that’s still pretty damn high; most rums come in at around 50g/hlaa….

This is a single cask rum and only 346 bottles were produced from the cask.

It is not coloured, not chill filtered and bottled at full cask strength of 54.3% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: Hello! It’s a pungent little devil alright! The rum literally jumps out of the glass and punches you in the nose. We’re all bananas at the start, but gooey black ones, baked ones, bananas pan fried in butter and banana & walnut loaf. Very overripe pineapple slices, yellow stone fruits (nectarine mostly) and some fig. Then come deeper notes of raisins, fig jam, warm leather, cloves – all of which I presume are from the sherry cask. Finally, notes of hot sandy beach coves, raw shellfish, charcoal, a touch of beewax and a really interesting meaty note that reminds me a lot of home-made honey glazed ham.

Palate: Thick and full mouth, oily in texture. Hot entry – well, it’s 54.3% – bags of bananas again, crushed walnuts and peanuts, baked banana cream pie, banoffee even maybe, salted butter and a brioche with Creme Anglaise over the top. There’s a smoky note of BBQ pineapple, that meaty glazed ham is here too, or a pulled pork, varnished oak and some rubber tyres. As the palate ends there is a zippy citrus and metallic twang like licking your fingers after holding copper coins…..don’t do that, you don’t know where they’ve been 🙂

Finish:  Long, very long. Still dominated by banana and pineapple baked into a cake, but it’s joined by dry leather, spices from the cask and a slight sweetness of raisin from the nose. A touch of smoked lime zest keeps it lively and rubber bands as it tails off.

Thoughts? I need a sit down after that. Absolutely incredible. Easily one of the best rums I’ve drunk so far. The first and only thing I said to my wife when I drank this for the first time was “wow!”, and that pretty much still sums it up.

I’ve lost count of how many different bottles of spirits I’ve drunk over the years, hundreds easily, but I can tell you now that I’ll remember this one for a very long time indeed.

Now I picked this up for £80 in November 2016, which after tasting it, feels like I’ve nicked it. You’re not going to be able to find a bottle of this now, sadly, unless you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a bottle at auction. Another one where I should have bought a case of the stuff at the time, dammit!

Monymusk 9 year old (2007) – Kill Devil

What is it? This is a pot still rum distilled at the “Monymusk Distillery” in Jamaica, so Pure Single Rum, distilled in March 2007 and then aged for 9 years (I assume in Europe) and bottled as a single cask by Hunter Laing for their Kill Devil rum range. One of 303 bottles from the cask.

Now I say “Monymusk Distillery” because that’s what it says on the bottle, however, there is no such distillery – hence the “quotes”. Monymusk as actually a rum brand not a distillery. The largest rum maker in Jamaica is Clarendon, producing around 40 million bottles (75cl) of rum every year, and is owned by 4 different interests: DDL of Guyana (those El Dorado peeps) Goddard Enterprises (who also own W.I.R.D in Barbados, amongst others), the Jamaican government and Diageo. The first 3 form a organisation known as NRJ (National Rums of Jamaica) and the 4th is the massive multi-national conglomerate.

Of all the rum produced by Clarendon, 90% of it goes to Diageo for their Captain Morgan blend sold in Europe (US Captain Morgan is mostly from St Croix in the Virgin Islands). Very little of the rum produced at Clarendon (less than 10%) is destined for the Monymusk brand.

Clarendon produce 2 types of pot still rum; light/low ester rum that undergoes a quick 24 hour fermentation in steel tanks and a heavy/high ester rum that is fermented for up to a month in wood tuns. The esterification is controlled by yeast strains and dunder is not used here. The lions share of rum from Clarendon comes via column still, but only pot still is used for Monymusk.

…..anyway, enough of that, on to the review:

Not coloured, not chill-filtered and bottled a 46% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Delicious! A lower ester rum than I was expecting, well, compared to the likes of Hampden or Long Pond that is. Still a funky hogo with plenty of banana and some pineapple cubes, but just softer and less in your face. Some tarry ropes, brine’y sea spray, a little liquorice and maybe green olives in there too. Fresh fruit keeps it lively with ripe pears, lime zest and a little strawberry. There is quite a decadent, richness to the nose too with golden syrup, chewy toffee or maybe butterscotch and a light vanilla. Not one smell dominates, one minute you get fruits, the next you get sweet and go back again to savoury. Really lovely.

Palate: Full and oily, the legs running down the glass hardly move they are that thick. Great mouth feel and weight. Savoury start, olive brine, fennel, tar, and rubber bands. Some surprising wood spice with cloves, grated horseradish and black pepper – gets a little hot in the middle. There is some sweetness in here too with baked pears with a light toffee glaze, but it’s fleeting and hard to keep hold of. A little lift of lime juice as it moves to the finish.

Finish: Medium. Creamy here actually, I mean there is still some heat and pepper but it’s a weird creamy pepper, maybe like horseradish cream. More of the sweet notes come through with time than they do on the palate with golden syrup poured over porridge oats, honey on toast, pear compote and even the faintest hint of sweet pipe tobacco right at the end.

Thoughts? It’s quite a heavy rum but not huge in esters which produces a very noticeable Jamaican but is softer and richer. When I first opened this it was much sweeter tasting but after a third of a bottle it’s morphed and is starting to get more and more savoury.

This is a lovey rum for someone who wants to try a natural Jamaican pot still but may be put off by the massive ester stuff, it’s certainly not an easy rum by any means but would be a great stepping stone into the Jamaican style and it’s fairly approachable.

£45 this cost me, which is a fair bit for a European aged 9 year old rum, but I think it’s got a lot to give and a lot of flavour. One that I’d certainly buy again – if there were any left!

 

South Pacific 10 year old (2003) – Duncan Taylor single cask number 18

What is it? A single cask rum, from molasses, produced at the South Pacific Distillery in Fiji on their Pot still – so a Pure Single Rum. This rum was distilled in April 2003 and bottled in September 2013, making it 10 years old. There are no details on where this was matured but judging from the colour and profile I’d guess it was entirely European ageing.

This is one of 284 bottles from cask number 18.

Not chill filtered, not coloured and bottled at cask strength of 54.8% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Very Jamaican! Bananas (green ones), olives, brine, rock pools, crushed shells and warm sand. Then on to tar, solvent, varnish, petrol and some WD40. Maybe some lighter liquorice and a grapefruit or bitter orange zing – I can’t quite place it but whatever it is it’s zesty and sharp. Really intriguing and quite phenolic throughout – it reminds me of a young Worthy Park or young lighter ester Hampden, or should I say that it certainly has some of the characteristics of them.

Palate: Medium to full mouth feel, good weight and coats well. Oily. Hot and sharp on first entry, verging on sour actually, maybe the white pith from grapefruit that I found on the nose. Liquorice again, beeswax, a touch of caramel and honey, but not a lot. Still pretty phenolic and medicinal, even hints of TCP and smoke, but very distant. There are notes of lemon cough lozenges, tangerine and a handful of dried herbs that I can’t pick out.

Finish: Medium, no more, no less. Phenolic, herbal, lemony. Buzzing spice on the tongue due to the abv no doubt (there isn’t much cask influence here), but things show sweeter at this point with a little butterscotch, runny honey, raisin and some orange. There still lingers a petrolly/briney note and a bit of new car tyre throughout.

Thoughts? A very intriguing and interesting rum. A style of it’s own really, it’s not sure if it wants to be Jamaican, from Guyana or some Rockley Still wannabe; there are elements of all 3, which it shows equally but doesn’t blend them too well and looses it’s balance. It’s a really solid rum though and great to go for if you fancy trying something new and different. However, beginners beware; there is stuff in here you probably wont like too much if you’re expecting a sweet rum.

I picked this up for £40, and it’s a really good rum for that price, so long as you know and accept what you’re getting with it.

Hampden 16 year old (1998) – Kill Devil

2017 finished with an absolute cracker of a rum, so it only seems fitting to start 2018 with another…..

What is it? Pure Single Rum (100% pot still, from molasses and a single distillery) from Jamaica. This rum was distilled at the Hampden distillery in Trelawney. Hampden rums are the most potent ones out there in terms of esters, they only use pot stills and the distillery boasts a record breaking 89 (!) fermenters. Dunder is used in the fermentation process, which ranges from a minimum of 2 weeks all the way up to a month – this allows Hampden to create 7 marques of rum based on ester levels, which start at LFCH and go all the way up to DOK at 1600 gr/laa; this is virtually undrinkable and only used in the food industry to create rum based flavours in things like ice-cream or chocolates.

This bottle of rum is from a single cask, which was distilled in December 1998, aged for 16 years and then bottled by independent bottler Hunter Laing for their Kill Devil rum range, producing 316 bottles. Going off the colour and taste I’d say most of the ageing on this was done in Europe.

There is no information on the marque of rum that was in this cask, but Hampden rum is bulk exported at one marque per year and 1998 was HLCF – which, if that is the case here would make this 500-700 g/hlaa of esters (not high by Hampden standards, but bloody high by anyone elses.)

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

Sugar? No.

Normally I don’t comment on colour as it’s pretty irrelevant given that producers can just add colouring, however anyone who buys this may find it a bit odd and judge based on that as it’s a very light gold, almost white wine in colour. Don’t let this put you off.

Nose: Ok, yes, forget the colour of this indeed – it no way indicates the coming storm or prepares you for the impending assault on your nose and palate! Massive and pungent, huge funky hogo. If you’ve never experienced dunder and long fermentation before just smell this and it explains everything. Full of rotting citrus and tropical fruit (mangoes, papayas, lemons), fermenting pineapples, really, really, over-ripe bananas. You’ve got gloss paint, turpentine, nail polish and then a big hit of oak with warm wood, cinnamon, cloves and a hint of ginger root. Tucked away in there is a smell of new tyres that have been sat in the sun for days and rubbed with olive oil. Crushed sea shells, rock pools, fish food flakes and warm sand.

Palate: Powerful, even at 46%. Full mouth feel and oily texture. Wow. The taste profile is basically the same as the nose, which is a lazy thing to say I know, but to be honest I want it to taste like the nose, so happy days! A mix of all the rotting, fermenting and gone-off fruit, very juicy and big on banana with fresh pineapples. Then things explode. The initial palate delivery was big but after about 5 seconds in your mouth the whole things goes off like Nicolas Cage loosing his shit. Huge funk, varnish, marine fuel, seaweed, gallons of virgin olive oil, cinnamon and smoked lemons. As it settles down there is a creamy, buttery taste and an almond, almost marzipan note.

Finish: Very long. A little spice (clove and ginger), maybe some white pepper, but it’s that buttery, nutty taste. The fruits are creamed, so banana yogurt, pineapple posset and lemon cream rather than fresh juice. Some rubber gloves, balloons and bicycle inner tube in there to keep you on your toes and again a lovely extra-virgin olive oil note to compliment the savoury side.

Thoughts? Incredible rum. Definitely not a rum for people just starting out in the rum world; it’s so powerful and the flavours are so intense but it’s full, round and complex too. Staggering to think this is from a single cask and not blended, what a selection by Hunter Laing! I’ve had many cask strength bottles, this is more powerful than most of them and it’s only at 46%. I dread to think what this would be like ramped up.

I could go on and on about this rum, there is so much happening in the glass. The intensity makes it very hard to pull the individual flavours out and it’s hard to describe. Just one of those things you taste and think “wow”.

Ok, the grit; this was priced at £60 when I bought it (March 2017). No discussion to be had, it’s a bargain for the amount of flavour that’s crammed into it.