Review #4: Hampden Pure Single Jamaican Rum 46% & 60%

The Hampden Estate Pure Single Jamaican Rums: the inaugural release of an aged rum duo from the current Hampden Estate. I say current, because Hampden already sold aged rum before, but this was quite a while ago.

To be more precise, the 46% and the 60% are the first aged rums that Hampden has sold themselves since… wait for it… 1753! At the time of their release 265 years ago! Some other interesting facts that happened since Hampden stopped selling aged rum before: the first official St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated and The British Museum was established. A very long time ago…


Hampden has a dedicated cult-like following for a while now. The only way these people got introduced to and drink the juice produced by the beasts of pot stills found in the distillery, is through independent bottlings or because the rum was part of a blend. But this has changed, in 2018 Hampden released their first pair of aged rums in 265 years. Together with La Maison and Velier (who does the importing to Europe).

I remember being a fan of the distillery before I even drank any of their rums. When I started getting into rum I began reading extensively about this stunning spirit and before long I ended up reading the part about Jamaica and in particular Hampden rum. I was intrigued, since one of the first things I read was that they use wild yeasts for fermentation. For me as a belgian, this kind of made sense. Most breweries use cultivated yeast strains for their beers (claiming this is what makes their beer the best in the world). They are very proud and protective about their yeast, since it’s a very important factor that sets them apart from the competition. This is the same for most (if not all) whisky distilleries. Though some breweries here in Belgium make beer using wild spontaneous fermentation, and these beers have balls. I mean, these are some of the most characterful beers I’ve drunk. so, I could only imagine the “cojones” on these rums.

Aside from the wild yeast something even weirder popped up: Dunder & muck. A combination of the residue remaining in the still after distillation (dunder) and a fusion of acids, lime(stone), mud, fermentation skimmings, cane trash, and so on (muck). These 2 liquids (with muck I imagine it’s more of a thick chicken soup-with-lumps-consistency) are added to the molasses and spring water to kickstart fermentation. At this point in reading I’m starting to think the Ganja really got the better of those Jamaicans, but I found it quite funny and interesting so we continue on…

The fermentation in most Jamaican distilleries is long to extremely long, 7 to 10 days and sometimes even more. Instead of the conventional 30-60 hours. This (again as Belgian) I can understand some of the best Belgian beers are fermented for a long time (perhaps not as long as jamaican rum) and this contributes to some amazing tasting beers.

Then it’s on to distillation. Jamaican rum is widely known for it’s 100% pot still distillation, some distilleries do have and use column stills, but most of the distilling that’s going on is with pot stills. This is a batch-type distillation, which means that distilling isn’t continuous and the process is halted when a batch has run through the still to fill up the still again with the next batch. This is much less efficient than with continuous column stills, but it gives much more flavour. Also the ABV is considerably lower with pot still distillation due to its inefficiency, column stills on the other hand can produce neutral alcohol at around 95% alcohol.

So after reading all of this my attention was tickled. I started looking for Jamaican distilleries and bottles. Very soon I came to the Hampden distillery which had (among others) a couple of bottlings with Habitation velier. As a rum rookie I didn’t really feel like dropping around € 100 for a bottle. But after a while I started getting obsessed by the medicinal looking bottles and I just took my tiny college student budget and got spending.

And boy… I was hooked, like a drug-addict on his first hit of heroin. I never really got the ‘funkiness’ tasting note before, but when I drank it I got it, and got it big-time. But more on tasting notes later.

After this extensive (yet still way too short) intro to Jamaican rum, let’s get on with the rums at hand.

These rums are a product of all that’s been mentioned before: wild & long fermentation, dunder and muck and pot still distillation. These darlings have also been aged tropically for 8 years which according to the label is about the same as 25 years of continental aging. There are no additives.

The standard 46% should cost you about € 60 and the overproof should cost about € 80, but you can find bottles over and under these prices.

Alright, onto the tasting:


46%

Colour:

Light gold-ish brown, almost like the perfect French fry. Lovely light natural colour, obvious that there are no additives to alter the colour.

Nose:

The first thing that I notice is the esters of course, overripe banana and some pineapple. The classics in Hampden. It isn’t the immense funkbomb however. This is probably the purpose of this rum, to be a stepping stone into the proper world of high-funk rums. Some oak is also detectable. Along with other deeper and darker notes: the tiniest caramel-y and butterscotch-y hints. But for these last I had admittedly completely stuck my nose in the glass. Mostly the light fruity and ester-fueled smell remains very dominant

Taste:

This rum is very thin in the mouth and it’s just perfect for its purpose. Thanks to the fluency of the rum it swirls through the mouth very easily and gives a complete taste experience. The fruity notes of the nose make a return in the mouth, they present a very light and fresh balance to a certain smoky spiciness which is very present. Other flavours that I get are; a nice undertone of oak with a spec of bitterness. A bit of vanilla and some faint ester-varnish

Finish:

The finish is pleasant, but nothing extraordinary. Not too long, nor too short. Just a pleasant finish where the fruit lingers somewhat.


60%

Colour:

Again perfect-french fry-golden-brown. But somewhat deeper brown. This difference is of course due to the dilution of the 46%. A marvelous natural colour yet again (no surprise there…).

Nose:

The nose is deeper rather than more alcoholic. From only smelling both, I couldn’t tell which one was 14% higher in ABV. I still get the fruit of the 46%, but it’s way more toned down. Instead deeper oak, chocolate and vanilla notes take over the wheel. It feels less of a typical Hampden rum than the 46%. Dare I say it smells primarily sweet with some ester popping up from time to time.

Taste:

There are those 14 alcoholic points. Going from the 46% to the 60% the increase in alcohol is notable. The fruitiness and esters are also perceptible, but are not as “in your face” as I’m used to with Hampden. Oak, vanilla and spice are the frontrunners here. Some ginger also takes my mouth for a ride of spiciness. Don’t get me wrong it’s still a good Hampden rum, but it doesn’t exactly live up to my expectations funk-wise. Pure flavourwise it is indeed a great rum. Maybe it’s even a bit more multi-facetted(?) than what we’ve grown used to with Hampden

Finish:

The finish is quite long as opposed to the 46%. This does give this expression a bonus point. The long finish does give some of the pineapple and other fruits I’ve mostly missed in the tasting itself. This lingers for a while so I’m glad about that


My expectations were that the 60% would be a funkier version of the 46%. I was proved wrong, these are very different rums. Even though they are basically one and the same but diluted, their flavour palette are very divers. I like the 46% more since it has more “Hampden” in it, more light fruity ester notes. The 60% is deeper and less funky. I do really like both, but I’d rather go for the lighter version than the heavier. It’s simply more familiar and enjoyable to drink

46%:

8/10

60%:

7.5/10

Review #3: Foursquare Hereditas 14y

Review 3 and at the time of writing the rum world is in the middle of a heated discussion about GI. Primarily of Barbados and by extension of Jamaica. I don’t think the world needs yet another opinion on this subject, so I’ll just link to some others who have written about it: The Fat Rum Pirate, Rum Revelations and Rum Diaries Blog have all written about it.

I actually prefer to look at the rums being produced and the quality and taste of these rums.

Of course we need clear rules in the form of GI’s, but as long as we all enjoy what we’re drinking and we actually know what we’re drinking thanks to increased transparency from the rum world. I think we can all live side by side without having an extreme and overly hurtful opinion about each other. Why burn bridges when you can build upon each other’s success

Now onto the thing that matters the most to me. The rum inside this bottle. What is the story behind this rum? What is the purpose of this rum? Does it smell like, taste like, feel like? And so on…

Foursquare Hereditas. That is what I’ll be talking about today. This rum is the result of the first  collaboration between the prolific and highly respected Foursquare distillery owned by Mr. Richard Seale and The Whisky Exchange owned by Mr. Sukhinder Singh

The rum is (according to the new classification system of TWE) a single traditional blended rum. This is in reference to the single distillery and the blended distillation method: a combination of pot and column stills. After distillation this rum has had 2 separate aging processes. One part has been aged for 14 years in ex-bourbon cask, the other part for 10 years in ex-bourbon cask and subsequently 4 years in ex-sherry cask (ex-oloroso to be precise). These 2 parts were then blended into the rum that we now know as Hereditas.

To round of the specs, it’s bottled at 56% ABV and there have been 2520 bottles released.


Colour

Very deep orange- brown colour, lovely sherry influence in the colour already

Nose

The first thing I notice is that there’s no real “alcoholic” smell, you wouldn’t notice it’s a 56% rum. The first notes I get are a considerable amount of vanilla and some zesty citrus, some oranges and a bit of that refreshing lime. Overall it’s quite a sweet smell but with some fun interesting hints here and there, a bit of smoked wood and leather. It’s almost whisky-like. After a while the freshness of the lime transforms to more of an apple aroma. I must admit that I also get a scent that I absolutely didn’t expect, a slight saltiness as though I’m walking on the beach on a cold autumn day and the fresh sea breeze hits my face (to me it’s quite a nostalgic smell and therefore I really appreciate it). The final nosing before I got to tasting also revealed some forest-y fruit qualities.

Taste

The nose was definitely more sweeter than the taste. It’s actually a really dry rum this. The first thing apart from this is the tannic bitterness of the wood (which at the first moment is a bit of putting to me). 14 years of tropical aging will do that to a rum. Further on I also get a tingle of ginger with some other spices, some red fruit and a bit of coconut in the background. Some deeper notes were also present in the form of smoked wood and dark chocolate.

Once again I got caught by surprise by this rum. Some anise reared its head and the saltiness came back again in very small amounts (I don’t know if it’s just me or what).

Finish

The finish on this 14 year old darling of mine wasn’t very long. The high ABV wasn’t apparent here either, it’s always pleasant not having to swallow your rum with one of those terrible “I look like I’ve never drunken alcohol before” faces and a subsequent cough.

Flavourwise I get some lingering woodiness and a bit of dark chocolate remaining.


To conclude. This is indeed a nice rum. I must say I’ve gotten used to very highly flavoured Jamaican rums as of late, so this is a nice change of pace as it’s not as in your face, but more subtle. However personally, Jamaican rum speaks more to me and this is less of an “experience focused” rum and more of like a rum you’d drink on weekdays after a day of work. But taking the rum on it’s own it is indeed a good rum. However the short finish and the instant hit of bitterness do leave more to be desired. A real sherry influence was also hard to find for me personally, apart from the nose it didn’t really live up to my expectation as a sherry-cask aged rum.

7/10