Hampden Great Houses

Not sure why, but some of our US bros seem to have difficulties to pronounces the name of “Hampton” distillery. It is really not that difficult actually! So just for you, we have a pair of Hampton Great Houses today! (please excuse the stupid joke – we just couldn’t think of anything much better, these are tough times for all of us.)

Hampden Great House 2019 (59%): This is supposed to be a blend of 80% OWH distilled in 2012 and 20% <>H distilled in 2016. So a three year old Rum. We didn’t have much love for the OWH Hampdens since we didn’t think that that’s the profile where Hampden excels so please excuse me if we are sceptical here. Nose: Clearly more esters than you’d expect from an OWH-heavy profile. I get apricot, peach, pineapple, even a touch of glue and behind that slightly sour tangerine. Expressed in the language of a single marque, the nose probably speaks LROK and unlike the HLCF/DOK blend for example, we do not get the impression that we are dealing with two parallel worlds here. So far, so good. Palate: Apricot/ peach, pineapple, but clearly also candied ginger are my first impressions here. The Rum is slightly sharp and hot, probably a bit more so than I would have liked. Next I get citrus, vanilla, spicy salami (Chorizo), hints of tapenade and now also quite some wood. A nice and surprisingly well-known profile. Finish: Medium long with the fruits, wood and spices here and there. Later we can even anticipate this switch to the herbal notes, but here they just do not want to come through entirely. It is a good Rum, sure, a lot better than the pure OWHs, but as we’ve feared, not where Hampden is at its best. (85/100)

Hampden Great House 2020 (59%): On paper this should be the same blend as the 2019, we just have to go one year forward in time (i.e. 2013 OWH and 2017 <>H). We do like the idea of being able to analyse how an otherwise identical composition evolves over the years. Nose: A bit more tamed than the 2019 edition. It also comes with this apricot-esque note, but than we find ripe apples (Topaz), citrus (tangerine), herbs such as thyme and more medical, ever so slightly smoky notes. Behind that also clearly buttery bread and pastry-like notes. I do not know why, but it just feels like a lesser version of the 2019 edition. Palate: More oaky and chocolatey than the nose, even though the esters in the form of citrus fruits are still my main associations. Here I can also find more cask aromas such as pepper, nutmeg, cocoa and even peanuts. A slightly different Hampden that will surely have its fans, but we do not belong to them I am afraid. Finish: Long and dry, a lot drier than the more fruity Hampdens we are used to. I get oak, cocoa, cinnamon and here and there also vanilla. Well, it is a good Rum, but we are still not in love. Let’s wait for the Hs, C<>Hs and HGMLs of this world. (83/100)