Welcome back dear reader! Let’s skip the usual empty phrases and taste the Velier Hampden “<H>” 2010 7YO.
At least for now this is the last rum of Velier’s Khong series I shall review. After all only two of them are missing: One I haven’t tasted yet and one I didn’t really like. Coming from Hampden, this one should be one of the most hyped and highly anticipated releases of Velier’s 70th birthday.
For background information on Hampden let me refer you to what I have compiled in this article. As you can see in the table of Hampden’s marks, “<H>” actually doesn’t exist whereas “<>H” denotes rums with an ester count of 900-1000 g/hlaa. I am not sure whether Velier has written it this way on purpose or whether it is just a mistake but as Christelle Harris told us the marks are registered with the Jamaican Spirits Pool Association and the ester range cannot change ever. Likewise, I doubt that the name of the mark can. Also, I am not aware of the registration of a new mark but of course that is not completely out of the question (given the similarities of the two I highly doubt it though). However, further down the bottle it says “Diamond H” so most likely I am just making more out of this than I should (like with DDL, <> is used as an abbreviation for ‘Diamond’). We already know this mark from the 1993 Hampdens, which, to the best of my knowledge, have been released exclusively by Samaroli and Silver Seal, as well as the Swiss bottler Cave Guildive. I have already reviewed the Samaroli Hampden 1993 22YO blindly, which demonstrated signs of greatness but didn’t really tolerate the dilution to 45%. Now we have a Full Proof version of the same mark. Even though it is only a third of the 1993’s age, it has been tropically aged. Many people seem to believe that tropically ageing is equivalent to about three times the amount of continental ageing but personally I am not buying this. Making statements like this is difficult to say the least. To me, the different forms of ageing just bring out different aspects in the rum. To my palate, tropical ageing results in more intensive flavour profiles, whereas the longer continental ageing brings about a certain elegance and smoothness. As of now, I believe that a mix of both is probably optimal, just like we’ve had it with the The Rum Cask Fiji 2001 15YO for example.
Dégustation “Velier Hampden “<H>” 2010 7YO”
Key Facts: This rum has been distilled a year after Hampden’s reopening in 2010. After seven years of ageing in the tropics, five barrels have been blended, which resulted in 1659 bottles at 62%.
Colour and viscosity: Deep gold. A pivot reveals fat pearls and a few medium-sized streaks that slowly flow back down. The viscosity is quite high for such a young distillate.
Nose: Hampden at its best! But it’s different, with sweet notes of marzipan and Middle Eastern pastry. Of course we get the full dose of esters (pineapple, oranges) you’d expect from this mark but overall this rum demonstrates a new side of Hampden and I like it! Then acetone, cherry- and vanilla like aromas and an olive here and there. I am amazed!
Palate: What a “fruitbomb”! The alcohol burns gently with the first sip but it is not really as bad as with the Velier Hampden “HLCF” 2010 6YO for instance. Then all of the flavours sprawl over my tongue simultaneously. Wow. Plenty of esters, once again in the form of pineapple and oranges but now also bananas. It’s all paired with a nice touch of vanilla and the aforementioned pastry (pistachio!). My next impressions are almond-filled olives. The typical Hampden-switch to more herbal flavours doesn’t happen here – quite to my surprise. Instead we get nail polish remover and delicate cherries. I love it.
Finish: The finish is not too special but also isn’t really lacking anything. The flavours pretty much support the palate for a decent amount of time.
What can I say? Velier has done it once again. The Velier Hampden “<H>” 2010 7YO doesn’t really have to enqueue behind older, continentally aged Hampdens, even though it has clear differences to the rums from 1993 for instance. I bet that pretty much noone will care about the older Hampdens anymore once we get 12-15 year old babies of this juice. After tasting all of the rums from the Khong Series but one I have to say that this one has to be sharing the first spot with the Velier St. Lucia 2010 7YO. Both are just that good. If you are into high ester Jamaicans, get this if you can find it at a somewhat reasonable price.