Review #8: Habitation Velier Hampden LROK 2010

Today I’m grabbing another Hampden, yeah! Because times are tough and I just like a good old glass of pot still goodness. Fight me. The drink-away-your-loneliness rum of today is the Habitation Velier Hampden 2010 LROK, and boy does it get rid of my loneliness.

So this is probably one of my first Jamaican rums I ever bought and it still amazes me to this day. Everything about this bottle just gives me a warm fuzzy feeling on the inside. The old time-y pharmacy style of the bottle that must be an absolute b*tch to put on your production line, the beautiful illustration of the double retort pot still, the simplistic yet informative label on the front and back of the bottle, and of course the 67% ABV. After drinking a couple of drams of this high ABV beast you will get a warm and fuzzy feeling regardless. That’s the Hampden guarantee for you.

This is a independent bottling of a Hampden rum, well, kind of independent. Mr. Gargano’s Habitation Velier collaborates very closely with the distilleries who’s rum they sell. In fact, the Habitation Velier brand is basically a distillery bottling, but under a different name. A specific marque of a specific vintage is chosen, the bottles and labels are shipped to the distillery, where bottling also happens. Then the full bottles are shipped back to Europe, ready for distribution. What a wonderful way of doing business. Distilleries get put in the spotlight and they enjoy the company of other highly prestigious and bottlings in the Habitation line. Consumers get the some of the purest rums available from that distillery, and Velier gains even more fans and admirers.

I’d also just like to remind everyone again. Before Hampden started releasing their own in-house brand of rum, you could only get Hampden from independent bottlers and the Habitation Velier bottlings were and still are as good as it gets.

As per usual I’ll run over the specs before we get started on tasting. The rum in this bottle has been distilled back in 2010 and has aged for 6 years, with a total angel share of over 40%. It’s 100% discontinued double retort pot still rum. The rum contains 375gr/laa of esters, which makes it fall in the LROK (Light Rum Owen Kelly) marque, and it’s bottled at an absolutely amazing 67% ABV.


Colour:

Orange, slightly golden-brown. At only 6 years of aging, this looks like a very mature rum. This just shows how intense tropical aging can be.

Nose:

On the nose this rum is quite deep and compares more towards the in-house (also high in ABV) hampden overproof. Firstly I get raisins that spent a couple of days soaking in rum. Some Vanilla and  a banana pie also come to mind. My nose does get tickly thanks to the high ABV, and the tiniest bit of alcoholic smells peep through. After a while the lighter Jamaican staples come back up. The pineapple and funky banana come through a bit, but overall I get a deeper darker note from this one.

Taste:

Oh yeah, the alcohol is noticeable, though not disruptive. The alcohol gives a more fiery feeling that reminds me of BBQ chicken with some incredible spicy hot sauce. That warm fuzzy feeling overtakes me and I break a little joyous sweat.

After a couple of sips the dark and deep notes that were previously prevalent in the nose and the first sips open up towards lighter and fruitier notes. The classic fruits of Jamaican rum are present, but they were also but on the same BBQ as that delicious chicken. Yeah, the fruits are here, but the high alcohol gives them another dimension that’s weirdly pleasing. Especially if you’re used to those high and light flavours, this gives a nice deep alternative.

Finish:

The finish is long! No surprises there. After some time the roasted fruity notes give way to more oak-y notes and a bit of chocolate sprinkled banana.

The finish is definitely pleasant, so pleasant in fact that I would consider not eating or drinking anything for the rest of the day, just so the flavour stays in my mouth for the remainder of it.


Overall, this is a great rum. Pure, unadulterated, honest and deep. For Hampden it’s a low ester rum and it’s noticeable, the high fruity notes and the kick-in-your-face high ester count aren’t present. Instead, habitation Velier chose a lower ester count with more warmth and dark notes. They switched the face kicking from ester count to ABV and they did a very good job doing so, giving a hot sauce-like feeling to this purely Jamaican rum

9/10

Review #7: Compagnie Des Indes Guyana, Diamond 14 years

“average, yet not averagely Guyanese”

Today we’ll be visiting Guyana. And the only distillery that’s left in the country: The Diamond Distillery. But in an independent way.

We’ll be visiting it through the lens of Compagnie des Indes, an independent bottler from France.

The idea behind the company is to bring back the memory of the East India Company. A bit like rebooting a movie franchise but in rum trade. Let’s hope they don’t adapt the business model of “shafting the colony and absurdly enriching the homeland”. All kidding aside, CDI really wants to bring some of the best rums in the world to Europe and that’s a good thing, because we can never get enough rum, can we?

Compagnie Des Indes sells 3 types of rums.

– Blends “for beginners”, which have added sugar in them to make it more palatable for people who are getting into rum.

– Blends that are not for beginners, these blends will bring out the full flavour of the rums that have been mixed together.

– Single casks, pure expressions of one cask that should be a great representation of what the distillery can do. These single casks are of course limited in production, and are in some cases very sought after.

Today I’ll be going over one of these single casks. The Guyana Diamond distillery 14 year.

But before we go into the tasting, a quick word about the Diamond distillery and Guyanese rum-production.

In the early 1600’s the Dutch “discovered” and settled in what is now Guyana. They settled (amongst other places) near the Demerara river. The cunning Dutch irrigated the banks of the river, thanks to their absolute mastery of water control. This lead to massive plantations perfect for sugar and rum production. In the early 1800’s the British took the Dutch settlements… by force (the British really loved their forceful occupations back in the day), and they took over the production of the sugar and the rum.

After a while the Demerara region was one of the most prolific rum-producing places in the colonies. This lead the rum produced at the banks of the river to be a massive part of the Royal Navy Blend and thus a pretty essential part of the British empire.

Rum production in Guyana thrived until it (together with all of the rum producing countries) got hit with a heap of setbacks. From the increase in sugar beets in Europe, prohibition (kind of), the world wars and various other reasons. These setbacks eventually caused the closure of all distilleries, except for one.

The sole survivor of the (what I shall call it henceforth) “gruesome Guyanese gutting of rum(production)” is the Diamond distillery. A distillery that’s been nationalized after Guyana became independent. Since then it’s been privatized again.

Fortunately we don’t completely have to miss out on what Guyana could have been if it wasn’t for all the closures. Because DDL (Diamond Distillery Limited) has bought the main stills from some of the most iconic Guyanese distilleries throughout the year. And this is the ace up their sleeve. With such an amazing array of legendary stills; column (enmore,) and pot (Versailles, port mourant) there is a lot of fun to be had for both the good folk at Diamond and the thirsty crowd.

This is an extremely short and unprofessional summary of the immense history behind this region and its rum. So again, for people who want to know more about the whole story, I’ll direct you to Mr. Matt Pietrek.

Before we begin tasting, let’s go through the quick spec sheet. The rum has been aged for 14 years, it’s bottled at 43% ABV in France, from barrel GDD46 (for those interested, or with a emotional attachment to the number 46… or something)

Righty then, tasting time


Colour:

The colour is very light golden with a slight green tint. It very clearly shows continental aging, or carbon filtration (but that would be immensely stupid). The first thing I thought (and I apologize in advance to CDI) is “wow, this looks like how a healthy person’s pee looks like (yeah, I’m really sorry… but this doubles as a friendly reminder to stay hydrated!)

Nose:

On the nose, this tipple starts of rather fresh, fruity and a bit vegetal. I can really draw a parallel between the smell and the colour: light, fresh, green-ish. Although this is bottled at a mere 43% I can smell a certain alcoholic presence, it is however not disturbing.

After a little while, some creaminess comes floating up. But like a whale that comes up once in a while, it disappears quite soon in a sea of fruity freshness.

Taste:

Taking that first sip reveals a sugary note which went undetected in the nosing. This accompanies the ever-present note of fresh fruit. The combination of these are delightful for a moment, but get dull quite soon. Luckily this rum has some fresh spiciness, a little barrel-influenced bitterness and the return of the creamy flavour. These added elements make sure that one can enjoy this rum for more than a couple of sips.

After some more sips though, the rum becomes a bit boring. Nosing it again doesn’t reveal anything new and the tasting experience is stuck on a plateau of ‘slightly above average’ flavour.

Finish:

After swallowing the rum, the spiciness tickles the back of my tongue for some time and the sweet creamy notes linger for a while, but nothing particularly spectacular happens here. The finish is short to medium.


To conclude, this is not your average Guyanese rum, since most rums that come from this historical rum-place are smooth, sweet, liquorice-y goodness. It is however a pretty good rum, but that’s all it is, pretty good. It’s a solid recommendation for someone who’s not a fan of “big flavour” and who wants something else than what they’re used to in Demerara rum.

5.5/10