Brand: Hampden Estate
Origin: Hampden Estate, Wakefield, Trelawny Parish, Jamaica
Age: 8 years
Hampden Estate is among the most prolific distilleries on Earth, thanks to their commitment to quality, long history of distilling, and production of one of the heaviest pot still rums readily available on shelves.
However, it hasn't exactly been on the shelves for very long; despite the history of the Trelawny-based sugar estate and distillery going back to the 1750s, Hampden has only self-released their rum starting in 2018. Prior to that point, they sold stock to independent bottlers and other rum merchants, two examples being the inclusion of Hampden distillate in the famous Smith & Cross rum blend, and the Black Tot 50th Anniversary blend.
Owing to a distribution partnership with Velier– an Italian spirits merchant with many connections to sugarcane spirit projects like Habitation Velier, Clairin, or the Appleton Estate Hearts collection– Hampden rum is shipped in the recognizable "Velier" bottles: dark cocoa-colored glass, bulbous around the neck, with its vertical edges tapering off slightly down the height of the bottle.
Many Velier-distributed releases such as Hampden, Appleton Hearts, and the upcoming Papalin blends are sold in these bottles. Hampden opts to include a healthy amount of information about their estate, and fermentation and distilling processes on their thematic labels.
Today's review focuses on their 8 year release, a regular in their "core" lineup flavorful rums. Aged for a minimum of 8 years, this specific release is 100% OWH marque, which has an ester range of 40-80 gr/hlAA. (Edit: corrected by Kate Perry)
Also known as "Hampden 46" due to its ABV, is made up of a blend of OWH, LROK, and DOK marques, according to The Rum Barrel blog.
Let's see what this bottle has in store for us today.
Orange gold, medium clarity, medium-low viscosity
Grilled pineapples, blueberry pie, Juicyfruit gum, overripe banana, warm oak
Grilled pineapples, mango, and bananas; oak, heavy tropical fruit funk, cinnamon
Long, moist, warming, fruity, funky; trails into a slightly astringent tannic note
Straight off the bat, you can tell you're sipping a Hampden rum; their signature is one of the most recognizable in the world of rum. The grilled pineapple, overripe banana, and Juicyfruit notes frame the rest of the experience.
In my glass, the 8 year sports a nice orange gold color, with medium clarity and medium-low viscosity; when swirling the glass, you can clearly see the well-defined legs develop over time.
On the nose, I get grilled pineapples, blueberry pie, Juicyfruit gum, overripe banana, and warm oak. I remember the first time nosing this rum, and feeling blown away by the funky nature of it! Definitely loads of fruit, and I could certainly see how one can find something new on the palate in each session.
The palate offers grilled pineapple, mango, and bananas, while oak, a heavy tropical fruit funk (or perhaps, rotting tropical fruits), and cinnamon accompany the fruits. Despite the funkiness, it is well-structured, and offers a bit of spice that compliments the oak notes, while still allowing the fruit to be front and center.
The finish is long, moist, warming, fruity, and funky. The flavor eventually fades, leaving the tannic notes of aged oak to incentivize another sip.
For lovers of Jamaican funk, this is definitely a worthy addition to any home bar, and could supplement your existing Jamaican rum bottles for use in cocktails. It definitely has the ability to stand on its own in a more spirit-forward cocktail or neat pour, but I personally like to use this in cocktails that could use just a touch of increased proof, but a huge bump in flavor and character.