Brand: Hampden Estate
Origin: Hampden Estate, Wakefield, Trelawny Parish, Jamaica
Finish: Neutral vessel
As we approach the end of the month, we're not slowing down as far as funk is concerned. Hampden Estate is well-known around the world for being a distillery that produces among the funkiest of rums; DOK is one of the marques used in the blends that Hampden releases, and is today featured in a standalone bottling, similar to our preceding review.
While Hampden has released a bottling of a single marque before (in that case LROK), DOK and other high ester marques are not typically featured in standalone releases. Aficionados Group is a collective of spirits enthusiasts that "[pick] small batches and [release] eclectic runs of spirits for purchase by enthusiasts across the internet". Founded by spirits reviewer Jay West, also known by his internet moniker t8ke, Aficionados Group has selected a variety of different spirits, and worked with Danish retailer Fine Drams and Dutch bulk rum importer/exporter E&A Scheer to bring the world this special DOK release.
On their website, Aficionados Group offers some perspective about their Hampden DOK bottling:
This high ester, high ABV rum is a monster in both flavour and complexity. Everyone should taste pure DOK rum in their glass at one point or another, because the experience is unparalleled. Sip it neat or take your cocktail to the next level. DOK is here and your house may never smell the same again. Embrace the funk.
As for the rum itself, DOK stands for "Dermot Owen Kelly-Lawson", and is a unique product of Hampden that typically contains a range of esters from 1500-1600 g/hLAA. According to Jamaican law, 1600 g/hLAA is the legal limit of esters that rum can contain for export, meaning that (for Jamaican rums), this is among the most funky rum legally possible.
This release was distilled in Trelawny, Jamaica (Hampden Estate) in a pot still, and features an insane ester count of 1,488.8 g/hLAA and was bottled at a nice 69% ABV; it also was a very limited release, having only yielded 400 bottles globally. Austin Rum Society's Mike Hooker is once again my supplier of high ester samples, and I thank him for giving me the opportunity to try this rum.
Clear, high clarity, low viscosity
Permanent marker, pineapple rind, ripe blueberries, malt vinegar, cherry turnover, prunes
Rotting fruits: bananas, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, prunes, sour grapes; paint thinner
Medium-short and warming; mild tropical fruits, rotten fruit funk, sour green grapes
The (in)famous monster of funk and dunder, DOK is everything commentators have made it out to be: high-ester, fruity, funky, and strong. Once you get passed the wonderfully funky rotting fruit overture of the palate, you get a delightfully complex rum that drinks well below its stated proof.
This unaged Hampden DOK is visibly clear, with high clarity and low viscosity.
On the nose, I get notes of permanent marker, pineapple rind, ripe blueberries, some malt vinegar, cherry turnover, and prunes. DOK leans heavily into the permanent marker aroma, which, along with the malt vinegar note, seems to gate-keep the more fruity notes from the initial sniffs. It's a very aggressive, but not off-putting nose, and definitely fits the bill of a funky, high ester rum, though interestingly enough, does not overwhelmingly suggest it's a Jamaican rum.
The palate of DOK offers a host of rotting fruits, including bananas, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, prunes, and sour grapes; paint thinner rounds out the flavors I can pick up off this sample. While there are more than double the amount of esters than HERR, DOK actually is a bit less intense than the tidal wave of flavor the Savanna marque exhibited, but no less funky. The palate is subdued, in a good way, and is a master class in well-constructed, yet complex and high ester distillate.
DOK's finish is medium-short and warming, with notes of mild tropical fruits, rotten fruit funk, and sour green grapes. Similar to the palate, the finish is a bit subdued as far as funk goes, but is plenty warming. It trails off into a bitter note that drives the brave imbiber to dare to take another sip of this ester bomb.
Having finally tried some of the highest ester rums out there, I feel like I can eventually retire as a rum reviewer with some sense of accomplishment. Hampden DOK indeed lives up to the hype, yet I was a little surprised at how easily it drank and how subdued some of the notes were. Aficionados Group did a great job with this bottling, which is another great showcase of a single rum marque from a respected distillery. I hope another release of DOK is around the corner, so more rum enthusiasts can experience this monster funk.