The 2007 Hampden batch actually shouldn’t exist. After all, the distillery just resumed production in 2009. Apparently NRJ ran a couple of distillations in 2007 so that we are getting this batch now. This is interesting since it seems likely that entirely different people might have produced this rum than those who have been employed at Hampden in the past, or who run the distillery today. I am guessing that fermentations are especially tricky with Hampden and it will be interesting to see to what extent the rums differ from the Hampdens we know. The only thing we know for sure is that they sticked to Hampdens marques (they have to, by Jamaican law), with this one being C<>H – a Continental Hampden with an ester range of 1300-1400 g/hlaa. We are familiar with this marque from the 1990 batch (which we have yet to review…) but given that today’s rums are so much younger and what we’ve just talked about above, I am not necessarily expecting huge similarities.
Navy Island Hampden 2007 10YO (51,2%): Before we start with the
quartett triple by Kill Devil, let’s start with the only non-Kill Devil bottling of the batch that I am aware of. Nose: Plenty of esters, acetone and nail polish remover. The fruity side is present, but not to the extent that we are used to. Then confectionary, artifical marzipan, rum aroma, and even quite some sugar and artifical sweeteners. In the background also pineapple and sweet citrus, but few cask aromas. It’s really promising, even though it seems to be rather immature. Palate: Oh my dilution. Why would you do this? This is so much less than the nose! Geez. Pineapple, pear and a whiff of acetone form these esters but in general, this so much less intense than the nose suggested. When comparing this one’s abv with the others, it becomes clear just how much water has been added here and the higher the ester level gets, the worse dilution typically becomes. It is still not a bad rum, but the texture is just, pardon my english, a pain in the ass. I’ve had Hampdens at 46% that were heavier and more intense, and (or perhaps but) these had smaller ester levels. I just hope that this is not a general problem with the batch but only an issue with this particular bottling. Finish: Medium long and again better than the palate. It comes with pineapple, citrus, herbs and wood but the water-y element seems to carry over. After that promising nose, this rum is a real slap in the face. (80/100)
Kill Devil Hampden 2007 10YO (64,1%): This one is clearly high ester territory. Already from afar I can sniff sweet pastry, ripe fruits, marzipan and orgeat. It reminds me a bit of Christmas stollen. Deeper in the glass, the relatively sweeter elements turn more sour and I get citrus fruits, sour mango (the small, green ones), Chinese fried vegetables, sweet & sour sauce, nail polish remover (of course) and even slightly salty, maritime notes. A really cool one so far. Palate: A fine balance between sweet and sour elements. I get lots of fruity esters, pastry as well as varnish and more herbal flavours. It works quite well and the maturity is just enough to support the rum adequately. There’s also a weird mix of cheap candies but that makes for an interesting nuance here. Add light olives, cedar wood and rose water and you get a good, slightly atypical Hampden. Finish: Long, fruity and quite lovely. Here and there citrus and green mangos pop up, followed by the cedar wood. Good stuff, even though it’s pretty much a one-trick-pony. What is more, it feels a bit light overall, given it is a Hampden. I guess that’s mostly a matter of (a lack of) maturity. (87/100)
Kill Devil Hampden 2007 10YO (62,5%): Nose: Compared to the 64,1% version, it’s less sour and quite a bit sweeter, which results in a creamier and heavier nose overall. Again the pastry but this time with pistachios and fewer of the stollen-like elements. Then grilled fruits (pineapple, orange, tangerine) and yes, also the varnish and nail polish remover. Palate: More nail polish remover and marzipan galore! And what a heavy body this is, oh my. It’s way more mature than the previous rum and even though it is more balanced all in all, it also comes with enough rough spots and edges to be even more interesting overall. Varnish, glue, more nail polish remover, pistachios, oranges, spicy paprika/ mild chilies, green mango and lime are just some of my associations. A great rum! Finish: Long and almost perfect. Nothing is missing here and it gives you the feeling that you want to, but don’t have to take another sip. Excellent! (90/100)
Kill Devil Hampden 2007 11YO (63,2%): What can another year in the barrel do? Not that much actually, and differences should be mostly attributed to the quality of the barrel, not the rum’s time in it. Nose: Lots and lots of glue, nail polish remover and acetone, rotting fruits (pineapple, oranges and other citrus fruits) and deep in the back also something close to olives or chorizo, say. It is absolutely brutal but after twenty minutes or so, this beast is getting a bit less wild and now also reveals pastry, artifical marzipan, candied almonds and candy floss. So far, it is a rum that you desperately want to try, but one that I never see myself finishing an entire bottle of. Palate: Not as crazy and intense as the nose and way milder than I expected. The acetone and rotting fruits from the nose are still there, as are the notes reminiscent of pastry but then fresher, mint-like aromas are omnipresent. It is kinda like a Savanna HERR in that sense, and something between foul strawberry and Wick Blau can now be found as well. Finish: Long and interesting with a potpourri of the previous associations. Now also some wood in the background, but it is still clearly an aggressive fella. It is a really good one, but mostly one for the freaks. That said, I clearly acknolwedge the rum’s quality, but I am starting to think that I am slowly but steadily moving away from being such a freak. (90/100)
I thought I also have a sample of the Kill Devil Hampden 2007 11YO 63,5% but at the end of the day I couldn’t find it anymore… well, it is what it is. Let’s just leave it at that.