Hampden 1993

Hampden 1993 – this little combination of letters and numbers is what makes rum connoisseurs’ hearts beat faster. First and foremost there’s the Samaroli Hampden 1993 21YO, arguably one of the best rums ever bottled but other rums from the batch, though mostly diluted, come considerably close. The only other rum from the batch we’ve reviewed already has also been released by Samaroli, and while the dilution was almost a slap in the face, it was still a great rum after all. The mark of this batch is <>H by the way, which stands for an ester range of 900-1000 gr/hlaa, pretty much the sweet spot/ ideal compromise with Hampden for me. However, I feel that lower-ester rums are much better fits for excessive dilution but we shall see…

hsama (2).pngSamaroli 1993 18YO (45%): Another heavily diluted one but already while pouring the rum the entire room gets filled by its lovely scents. Nose: It’s incredible how aromatic this is at just 45%. We get the whole potpourri of exotic fruits (mostly grilled pineapple and ripe mango), just a wee bit of nail polish remover, olives, merguez, baklava, sweet cherries, hints of marzipan, ultra ripe oranges and a whiff of herbs. So far, so amazing! Palate: The dilution is obvious and while it seems that it didn’t destroy the flavourprofile, the texture is way too thin for my liking. We pretty much get a one-to-one mapping of the nose with the acetone from the nail polish remover turned down and the baklava (here actually closer to marzipan) turned up a bit. I’d add cherry tomatoes, sun flower seeds and sweet potatoes. Again, the flavours are magnificent, the texture is not. Finish: Long with the exotic fruits, some herbs and oak, and especially towards the end rather bitter. I didn’t expect such a good finish to be honest. What do we make out of this? It is an awesome rum that’s just way too thin. It didn’t tolerate the excessive dilution quite as much as Samaroli’s 22YO counterpart linked in the introduction, for example. (86/100)

hss9320 (2).jpgSilver Seal Hampden 1993 20YO (50%): 50% is a small upgrade but in my memory this one was rather thin. Let’s see. Nose: Already a considerably heavier body than the Samaroli. In direct comparison, I get more oak, more pastry/ marzipan-like scents but a bit less of the fruits. That makes it more balanced overall. The grilled pineapple and ripe oranges are still obvious but here we have to add a few sour elements in the form of green apples or citrus. Especially the latter gets stronger and stronger over time, which is rather nice. What is more, I believe to pick up a few medical notes deep in the glass, which I’d put close to the “herbs” camp. Palate: Just what I thought. It is heavier than the Samaroli but still a lot thinner than Hampden should be at this abv. Seriously, if there is one distillery on the planet that benefits from cask strength it is Hampden! My main associations are the oranges, some cherry, ripe pineapple, very mild tapenade, even milder green peppers, oregano, tiny amounts of yeast and some wood. The finish is long with kumquats, canned mandarines and oak. Great juice that comes in just a bit shy of the magical 90 point mark. (88/100)

hss9322 (2).jpgSilver Seal Hampden 1993 22YO (50%): Nose: The two additional years relative to the 20YO are very noticeable and the rum smells way more elegant and full. In this cross-tasting I’d even start with oak, which would of course be very different if you have just this rum alone. Than it would still be a real fruit-bomb with all of Hampden’s facets: grilled pineapple, foul mango, ripe orange, pink lady apples and overripe banana. Then olives, chorizo, peppers and chili, something close to salt, hot sauce and quite some herbal notes, ranging from oregano to thyme and even sage. Clearly the best one so far. Palate: A lot better than the 20YO if you ask me. Thanks to the increased cask influence we get a sufficiently creamy texture without the oak being too dominant. Flavourwise, we are very close to the nose again but here everything just works so much better. This interplay between sweet, fruity, spicy and dry is just spectacular! However, the weak spot is the finish this time, which, while still quite long, feels surprsignly thin and unaromatic (going back to the 20YO, it actually isn’t much different but given the ‘fuller’ palate it leaves this ever so slightly negative impression with me. Funny, isn’t it!? All in all, it is a really, really good one! (90/100)

hcg (2).jpgCave Guildive Hampden 1993 23YO (61%): The only rum from the batch I am aware of that has not been bottled by an Italian bottler. What is more, it is only the second one at cask strength that I know. Nose: The general trend of this review continues: The rum gets heavier, more mature and quite simply: better! What else becomes evident right away is that we are having a lot more pastry/ marzipan with this one compared to the other rums. My guess is that this is something that gets lost relatively easily with dilution (who knows though). Next I get cheap, canned cherries or cherry flavoured bubble gum, sharp acetone and actually way less fruit than we are used to. Turkish delight, icing sugar, parsley, oregano, olives and lychee/ rambutan are some other associations I have. Palate: Fruitier than the nose! We get a mix of the exotic fruits and citrus, with notes of quality Riesling, mint, acetone flavoured marzipan and ice candy on top. Quite interesting, even though it is not super harmonious. Finish: Long, dry and “fresh” with the ice candy/ mint combo as well as quite some oak, vanilla and herbs. Certainly interesting. A very different Hampden, but neither for the worse nor the better. It is hard to speak of wasted potential in this context but the barrel didn’t seem to do the distillate justice, cask strength give or take. But I guess you cannot always get everything, eh!? (90/100)