A quick and brief session today with a trio of Hampdens, spanning the vintages 2011-2013. You probably didn’t notice but the title ryhmes.
Rum Exchange Hampden 2013 5YO (61,5%): The rum has spent two years in a former Oloroso cask and while Hampden and Sherry typically isn’t a good combination it comes from 1423 (S.B.S), who do finishes better than anyone else. Nose: I am not sure if I could have called this Hampden in a blind tasting… Long Pond maybe but the combination of the Sherry paired with the somewhat atypical Hampden profile is rather unusual. Then there’s plenty of alcohol but with five years and 60+% we might expect worse. I get raw and grilled pineapple, banana chips and slightly herbal notes, which I usually only get towards the end at the palate with Hampden. Then ‘finish’ is very prominent with dark and red berries as well as lots of sweeter notes. I am not quite sure what to expect. Palate: Quite sharp and creamy with the typical Sherry notes. It’s like a Sherry-cask Whisky on crack, or a high-ester Worthy Park with some fortified wine finish if you want. I get plums, dried red fruits, clearly also different nuts, esters and later also the herbal notes again. Now plum wine, exotic wood and papaya perhaps. The finish is medium long with the alcoholic sharpness, sweet and creamy Sherry and some nutty dryness. Not bad. It’s an interesting rum but it is also too juvenile, alcoholic and unblanced for my liking. More of the Sherry-cask probably would have killed it and some more time in a bourbon barrel before the ‘finish’ might have done wonders. I am glad to have tried it though. (76/100)
Transcontinental Rum Line Hampden 2012 6YO (57,3%): The good news is that there are more recent Hampden vintages on the market, which makes me hopeful that there will be more. After three years in Jamaica, it spent another three in Europe, including three months in a former Guyanese rum cask. Ah right, the rum has been bottled for Fine Spirits. Nose: I don’t think I would have called Hampden blindly. Worthy Park rather, as it is dominated by banana, banana chips and vanilla. What is more, hints of kerosene can be found as well, which I also associate with young Worthy Parks. Perhaps some raw pineapple or green mangos but again, this is not Hampden as we know it. Palate: Okay, this is also not Worthy Park as we know it. It has a pronounced pastry-like character with some marzipan, pistachio, rich, ripe apples (Galia) and of course the bananas again. It’s much much better than the nose but doesn’t match Hampden’s usual greatness. Finish: Rather short and unspectacular with vanilla, bananas and the Galia apple again. A good score after all, it is just that with Hampden we usually expect more. (82/100)
Habitation Velier Hampden “LFCH” 2011 7YO (60,5%): We add another year in terms of age but you probably know that this is one has been maturing on Jamaica. Anyway, LFCH is a “new” Hampden mark and stands for Lawrence Francis close Hussey. It has an ester range of 85-120 gr/hlaa but this particular bottling comes in at 231,3 gr/hlaa. So while Hampden has to adhere to the initial ester range by law, the final result my very well be different because of subsequent chemical processes during cask-ageing. To complete the record, the angel’s share was >49%. Now, nose: Very sweet and fruity with powdered sugar, Nimm 2 Lachgummi (especially the artificial passion fruit), sweetened pineapple and guava juice (as Rubicon might produce it), kiwi, tons of other fruit-candies I could name, stevia, some oak and vanilla as well as a hint of sweet cider vinegar. It shifts back and forth between surprisingly nice and distgustingly artifical for me and we will have to taste this babe to learn more. Palate: In a nutshell I’d describe this as Hampden with a pulled handbreak but an extraordinary intensity. It’s kinda like the rum their official bottling tries to be but doesn’t quite succeed at. I get a good mix of sweet pastry, raw pineapple, passion fruit, oak, kiwi and powdered sugar. It is not very complex or interesting but it definitely works for me and while I am not getting entirely crazy about it I’d love to have this as a permanently available bottling (at a decent price of course). Finish: Still a lot of the fruit (pineapple, kiwi) but now way more of the cask. While I don’t get many spices, the cask was quite active and solely based on the profile makes me think of virgin oak. I basically stated my verdict already but again, this is good, basic, “everday-sipping” Hampden par excellence. (85/100)