1992 is one of if not the first Hampden vintage I’ve had. These rums wear the HLCF marque and thus have an ester concentration between 500 and 700 g/hlaa. Despite being relatively extreme expressions (relative to other rums, not relative to other Hampdens), these rums have become somewhat elegant over the years and the fruity esters are now often times balanced out rather nicely by the influence of the cask. Compared to the other, older Hampden vintages of the 1990s, it is quite up there with 1993 (<>H) and 1998 (HLCF) but in my opinion not as great as the amazing 1990 (C<>H) batch. While 1993 produced the legendary Samaroli Hampden 1993 21YO, the average quality of 1992 is quite similar to that of the other 1993 bottlings, mostly because we got so few full proof rums from that year. Anyway, the more interesting comparison should be that with the 1998 batch since they both have the same marque. The only problem arises from a lack of comparibility concerning age and maturity between the batches but I will address the differences between the vintages when I review the 1998 batch.
This time we are getting older and higher in abv at the same time. Cool, eh!?
Renegade Hampden 1992 15YO (Châtou Latour Cask) (46%): In case you don’t know, Château Latour is one of the world’s most famous vineyards and is located in Pauillac near Bordeaux. And the wine cask makes its presence felt immediately as I get a mix of the characteristic Hampden esters and vinous notes (not to mention the very unusual rosé-like colour!). All in all this somehow resembles the rotting strawberry/ mint/ Wick Blau mixture of the Savanna HERR 2006 10YO. Oha! I’d say the nose is quite full relative to the rum’s abv and I can now find more fruity aromas such as papaya or clementine, with a slight herbal touch in the background. This is not your typical wine cask maturation, that’s for sure! The palate is a real rollercoaster. I get the typical Hampden flavours, immediately followed by vinous and leathery notes until the rum becomes quite adstringent in the same second. Then directly back to Hampden’s potpourri of fruits. The rum is really mature and woody for its age but nevertheless extremely fragile and unstable. There’s a lot going on here and I must admit that I am a bit overwhelmed. Finish: Quite long and full with brambleberries and other dark fruits as well as a few herbal notes. This is not Hampden as I know it. However it’s just not a rum style that is suitable for experiments like this if you ask me. An interesting rum nevertheless that every Hampden aficionado should have tried at least. (85/100)
Silver Seal Hampden 1992 23YO (50%): Dilution doesn’t work very well with high ester rums in general but there are exceptions. Based on a first sniff, 50% seems just fine here. I get marzipan, varnish, nail polish, flambéed oranges, pineapple, pastry-like notes, some alcohol, fusel oils and a hint of spices from the cask. Palate: Yup, I can live with the dilution. Tangerine, oranges and other citrus fruits, barely ripe pineapple, cherries, olives, jalapeno and wood chips/ furniture pins. With the second sip more bitter elements and stronger olives, tapenade perhaps. Then English curry and now finally some herbs. It’s really good so far. The finish is rather long and strong on the wood with a hint of mint. It dries out, making you want to take another sip. Great juice and not too thin. I like the sweeter, pastry-like notes. (89/100)
Samaroli Hampden 1992 24YO (54%): Samaroli and Hampden sounds like a good match to me and I am glad that they deviated from their typical 45% with this bottling. Nose: Rather restrained at first but once it opened up it’s all there. Some alcohol, varnish, spicy oranges and pineapple, mango, sweet and sour lemons, delicate salami and mild paprika. Nice. The palate works in a similar manner. At first the alcohol and varnish but it is quickly followed by the spicy oranges, citrus fruits, herbs (thyme, heather), mango and quite some oak. The mouthfeel is rather full but somehow lacking just a little bit of intensity. The finish is very long and suits the rum quite well. A mix of the fruity notes and almost dusty, wooden and spicy flavours make us enjoy the dram for quite some time. The 24 years are really noticeable and the rum is quite mature but maybe, just maybe it should have been bottled a year or two ago. The 23YO Silver Seal definitely felt quite a bit fresher and more balanced overall. (87/100)
Compagnie des Indes Hampden 1992 24YO (59,8%): Finally cask strength and now we’re talking! White gummy bears (the pineapple flavoured ones), nail polish remover and acetone, rum & raisin ice cream, sweet oranges, ripe pineapple, some oak and spices from the cask, more juicy gummy bears (now also the orange ones), white tea, hibiscus and other floral notes is what I am picking up in the nose. It works extremely well. The palate might be even better. The esters have been tuned down by the ageing a bit but didn’t lose their intensity. The rum is just incredibly flavourful with notes of pineapple, mango, sweet oranges, marzipan, cherries, oak and vanilla, whipped cream and even caramel. Later pastry/ confection, olives and Mediterranean herbs. Bell peppers perhaps. The finish is very long and provides an almost perfect balance between fruity and bitter elements. After a couple of seconds also a pronounced herbal touch. Just lovely! Definitely a top three rum from this batch for me. (91/100)