With an ester range of 200-400 g/hlaa, LROK is a typical Wedderburn mark. While I love Hampden, especially for its high ester, continental flavoured rums, Long Pond is the king of the Wedderburn style if you ask me. As such, I did have my difficulties with some of the 2000 Hampdens, especially the younger ones (Duncan Taylor had a very good one though!). I always thought that they are decent rums but that they just cannot compete with the high ester Hampdens or comparable Long Ponds for that mattter. The bottlers that I associate most with this vintage should be Duncan Taylor and The Rum Cask, who both released several single casks. Now that we are getting some older LROK epxressions and after having a few really nice ones already, e.g. the excellent TCRL and the very solid S.B.S, I do believe that these rums might become real crackers once they approach the magical twenty year mark. And we actually don’t have to wait for that much longer anymore. Time flies…
On a final note, I didn’t realise this at first but four out of the six rums from todays session come from German bottlers. Apparently we do not only like the continental flavoured ones over here ;).
Blackadder Hampden 2000 16YO (56,1%): My sample barely contains any cask sediments. Not that it matters but it’s something I’ve noticed. The nose is very restrained and reminds me of oriental pastries. There are plenty of nuts such as almonds and pistachios. Then faint esters in the form of sweet, ripe pineapple and juicy mangos. Given that it’s a Hampden, it is not too intense yet quite delightful. Tastewise, we get a very typical LROK. Moderately fruity esters meet slightly sour notes in the form of almost ripe apples and some citrus as well as more herbal and briny flavours. The pastry is completely gone and the rum has a very heavy profile. We don’t really get much new here but what we get knows how to put a smile on my face. Of course it’s not an explosion of the senses but all in all a very solid rum. In the finish we can find nailpolish remover and nail varnish as well as a decent amount of oak. Yep, this works rather well. (85/100)
Origini Hampden 2000 17YO (55,6%): This Origini is a bottling by Pellegrini. The nose has only few similarities with the Blackadder as it is dominated by sour, green apples. There are way fewer exotic fruits and all in all it is closer to a continental fruit basket as you would get it at your local farm. Behind that lures the nailpolish remover which we have encountered in more pleasant versions before. The taste is really weird. It’s sour, sweet and bitter at the same time. I can find the green apples, pastry, olives, dried tomatoes, citrus and very clearly also curry leaves. This is a completely new note for me as I have never encountered it in a rum before. Certainly interesting, albeit it doesn’t work too well for me. It’s not bad though, just different. Compared to the Blackadder, it is not as full-bodied if you know what I mean. The finish has the pastry mouthfeel, paired with the olivey bitterness and the taste of the curry leaves. Wow. Actually I am starting to like it more and more but that’s what you get when you’ve reached a point at which you are only looking for the oddballs out there. (85/100)
Sansibar Hampden 2000 17YO (47,4%): Sansibar is a restaurant on the German island of Sylt but now also a vendor of food and wine as well as clothes and other goods. They entered the rum business relatively recently but didn’t really make a name for themselves with their selections. Let’s see how good this one is but the dilution keeps my expectations in check. The nose is quite reluctant for a Hampden. Well, it’s LROK but still this smells odd. Plenty of acetone (too much for my liking) and more alcohol than you’d expect from <50%. The fruity aromas have a hard time to assert themselves against this wall of rather unpleasant notes. Then citrus, pineapple, oranges and fresh herbs. The taste is slightly better but I still don’t think it’s very good. Again, its sharper than the abv suggests. The rum is quite grassy for some reason with canned fruits, mostly sweetened pears. The transformation to a more herbal profile doesn’t happen. Let’s not even talk about the finish, which has to be the worst part of the rum. I’d say forget about it. (76/100)
Schwarz Premium Rum Hampden 2000 17YO (59,5%): Note that the abv of this one is a bit higher than those of the others. The only question that remains is whether this translates into a more flavourful rum or not. The nose is very woody with paprika or chili powder. Then the famous nail polish remover and weakly also a bunch of esters. Like most other LROKs, the nose is relatively unspectacular but at the palate we get a lot more. It’s an elegant rum with a great maturity. Wood glue meets candied apples and nail polish remover. The mouthfeel is very full and fatty. Add something akin to peas (yep, really), spices from the cask such as anise as well as almond-like elements and you get what is definitely one of the better LROKs out there. The finish is extremely long with more wood glue and a mixed bag of wild herbs. I like it a lot! (86/100)
The Rum Cask Hampden 2000 16YO (52,5%): According to The Rum Cask, this is cask strength, meaning that it must have been pre-diluted in the barrel either by the broker. Light esters calmly crawl out of the glass. The nose is quite Long Pond-ish with a slightly nutty profile but the rum can still easily be recognised as a Hampden. It’s rather woody in fact and not as fruity as most of the other 2000 Hampdens. Then mild herbs, dates and plums. The cask transformed the rum into a rather unusual LROK. It’s not bad but it could have been fruitier for my liking. The first sip is surprisingly strong on the wood but the rum is not over-oaky. I can taste unripe pineapple, sweet pears and something akin to lychee. Then spices such as dry and hot cinnamon and paprika powder perhaps. With subsequent sips I get more and more oaky as well as dry, powder-like notes. The finish is quite oaky again and indeed a good finish to this rum. It’s a solid one but could have used a little more power and fruitiness if you ask me. Crucially, this demonstrates that pre-dilution (i.e. dilution in the barrel) can work quite well, way better than diluting the spirit just prior to bottling it. (80/100)
The Rum Cask Hampden 2000 17YO (55,2%): Together with the Schwarz this one has to have the most aromatic nose, even though we find relatively musty, stale fragrances here. Generally, the aromas are quite balanced and no scent really dominates the others. Once again, I can find sweet pastry, olives, almond milk and plenty of mediterranean herbs. Compared to the others it is not very fruity but here that’s not even a bad thing. The mouthfeel is very heavy and full-bodied. It is incredibly mild and totally not watery, which is amazing at 55%. This might very well be the optimal strength for these rums. I guess you know now what kind of aromas to expect here so I am not going to call them out. Let me just tell you that this is perhaps the most balanced expression of the bunch and definitely one of the better ones as well. The finish supports this with long, heavy and full flavours of sweet butter and herbal olives. Mhhmm. (85/100)
The Schwarz should be the winner here, followed by the 17YO The Rum Cask and the Blackadder, which are both quite good. I wouldn’t necessarily buy them but also would not not buy them :p. Instead, I’d put my money in Pellegrini’s hands, but not because I think that the rum is superior to the others but rather because it is more unusual. Finally, the 16YO The Rum Cask is not very spectacular and the Sansibar has to be dubbed trash tier, unfortunately.