LROK, Light Rum Owen Kelly, is a mark used by Hampden to denote the ester range of 200-400 g/hlaa, which make it a Wedderburn rum (at least). The mark is probably most well-known from the rums of the 2000 batch, which have been released by a whole bunch of different bottlers. I have reviewed some of them here. Today we shall add a pair to that list and continue with another pair of tropically aged LROKs from 2010.
Cadenhead’s Hampden “JMLR” 2000 8YO (63,2%): One of if not the first rum from the 2000 batch. JMLR should stand for Jamaica Main Light Rum. This one should be interesting not only because of its young age but also because its abv is a lot higher than that of the other rums from the batch. Nose: Incredible, barely any alcohol and rather mature, despite the aforementioned factors. I get unripe pineapple, green apples, oranges, just a tiny bit of acetone, oak, some herbs and perhaps even cherries. Based on the nose I would have expected a very different rum; a lot older and with less alcohol. At the palate you’ll start to notice the alcohol though. The rum is rather juvenile and wild, something I am not used to with this batch. The older expressions tend to be more ‘elegant’ and harmonious. Interestingly, the cherries are rather strong here and are supported by citrus notes such as the oranges but also tangerine or sweet lemon. Then something akin to lychee or soursop as well as decidedly bitter notes all of a sudden. These are rather different from the olive-y notes I typically have with some Hampdens though. There’s some dental cleaner in here as well. The finish is medium long with a mix of unripe, pale fruits, the bitter notes and switching forces that cannot decide if they want to be herbal or oaky. A very interesting rum that’s a lot better than I expected. It doesn’t quite reach the same level of the good, more mature bottlings but easily beats the not so good ones. (82/100)
Berry Bros & Rudd Hampden 2000 17YO (55,4%): The nose here is a more scaled down than with the Cadenhead’s. There’s more wood, a bit less fruit and more spices, which have to come from the additional (more than twice as many!) years in the cask. It’s balanced very well and nothing really sticks out in particular, which you may or may not see as a plus. Now the pastry/ almond/ marzipan side seems to come through more and more but they are pretty much in union with the fruits and notes from the cask. Palate: All the (fruity) esters such as pineapple, orange, ripe cherries and acetone. Also quite some vanilla as well as wood and nuances of cardamom or ginger. Later the familiar switch to more herbal notes and almonds. Compared to the Cadenhead’s we can definitely say that the additional time spent in the cask has paid off tremendously. Just lovely! The finish is a bit of the weak point here as it is rather short but extremely mellow and soft. I don’t know why but somehow that’s a bit at odds with the rest of the package. All in all it’s exactly what I’ve expected from the rum, or perhaps even a bit more. A very good Hampden if you are more into the smooth, relaxing side of their rums. (86/100)
That were two continental aged 2000s, from the time before Hampden’s closure. On to tropical 2010s then (post reopening).
Habitation Velier Hampden LROK 2010 6YO (67%): Tropically aged Hampden usually tend to provide a more meaty structure with a stronger emphasis on the pastry than the continental counterparts. Let’s see. Nose: Oh yes, what I’ve said. This is incredibly mature and harmonious, there’s nothing sharp about it. Also, it is almost unfruity in comparison. Rum soaked raisins, Malaga ice cream, stracciatella as well, vanilla, toffee, some oak of course and a potpourri of fruits rather than any individual ones I’d want to pick out here. It’s a lot better than I have in mind. Later the pastry and decently sweet nut paste considerably close to marzipan. Lovely. In a sense the rum’s profile comes reasonably close to a tuned down version of the Velier Hampden 2010 7YO but there are also huge differences of course. Palate: Really sharp and spicy. I get grilled, almost burnt pineapple, strong oranges, tangerine, chilli, different spices such as pepper or nutmeg and quite some wood. There’s also a herbal, heather-like note lurking in the back as well as more spices. It’s quite cool how the nose and palate are so different from one another but I must say that I liked the nose a whole lot more. Finish: Medium long with plenty of wood, spices and the potpourri of fruits. Every now and then a rum raisin is in there for us as well. A good rum, that’s for sure. If only the palate were closer to the amazing nose. (87/100)
Habitation Velier Hampden LROK/ HLCF 2010 6YO (60%): This should be a 50/50 blend of the LROK and the HLCF. So you should be able to replicate it if you have the two ingredients I guess. Nose: I am not sure if I would have recognised the HLCF component here. This is just different. Relatively speaking, the fruity notes are more intense and I get additional impressions of mokka, cappuccino, cocoa and a mix of nuts here. This is something you might only ever notice when having both rums next to each other, these are less than nuances even. Over time, these difference seem to vanish and the two Habitation Veliers become increasingly similar. In fact, after an hour or so the roasting flavours seem to have gone altogether. By the way, this is definitely closer to the LROK than to the HLCF I’d say. Palate: 60% suit the rum much better and the addition of the more fruity HLCF helps here. Grilled pineapple and super ripe oranges, sweet blood oranges and chorizo are among my first impressions. Then some herbs, rather than the spices as we’ve had it with the LROK. I wouldn’t want to pick out any in particular though (oregano, at best). The support from the cask is great and I believe that the minimal dilution has really benefited the rum. Let’s add an olive here and there, a drop of tabasco, sweet peppers/ spicy paprika and now again the Malaga ice cream. Goood stuff. The finish is rather long with a beefy structure. Here we do get plenty of oregano and baked chorizo. Pizza Diavolo anyone!? The nose was so much better with the LROK but the palate is a lot better here. I don’t want to give the edge to either of the two but in my book both fall a bit short of the spectacular HLCF. (87/100)
I almost forgot but: Alaaf minge Fründe! Et is Fastelovend! If you have no clue what the above means no worries, and maybe don’t even bother listening to the song below. You have warned. To everyone else: Et hätt noch immer jot jejange!