I interrupt the highly untimely reviews of bourbon cask whisky (Aberlour, Aberlour, Bladnoch) to bring you a review of a relatively recently released Jamaican rum. Well, I guess it might be from a bourbon cask too—I confess I’m not very informed as to rum production methods. I can tell you though that this rum is from the Hampden distillery and that Hampden rums are all the rage these days among whisky geeks who are getting or have recently gotten into rum. I’m not sneering at this phenomenon, mind: here I am myself with a review of a Hampden rum despite not knowing very much about rum. I’ve reviewed another Hampden previously: a highly aromatic bruiser of a 6 yo. That one was bottled at 68.5% (!); this one is at a more staid 50%. A more important difference (possibly) may be that these come from different points in the distillery’s ownership history. As to whether this one is as off the charts with the esters as the Habitation Velier bottle, I don’t know, but I guess I’ll find out in a minute.
This release was a K&L exclusive in the US, bottled by one of the various Laing outfits, better known for whisky. It was initially sold for $99, and sold out quickly. I didn’t get a bottle but I did get a small piece of a bottle. I notice tonight (Wednesday) that they’ve got a few more back in stock, allegedly from an order that was never picked up, and that they’re flogging those for $199. Always lucky for a retailer when they find some more bottles lying around of something that they can sell for twice the price than they originally did…
Hampden 24, 1992 (50%; Golden Devil; from a bottle split)
Nose: Diesel and bananas and damp newspaper. The banana note turns quickly to full-on nail polish remover and something else that’s sticky sweet begins to emerge from behind: golden syrup? honey? Gets stickier and stickier by the minute and quite Grand Marnier’ish (think hard orange candy melted down). A couple of drops of water bring out more of the funk and tamp the sticky fruit down a bit.
Palate: A tamer version of the nose with less of the banana and sticky sweetness. The mouthfeel is a bit thin and after the fireworks of the nose there’s not much of note here. With time the vegetal notes from the finish start showing up earlier. Water brings out more on the palate—some bright citrus, pepper—and there’s less of the vegetal bitterness.
Finish: Very long. That gasoline note pops up again here after a few beats and then expands. Quite a bit of pepper here too and some rooty, vegetal notes mixed in with some citrus. Some menthol with water but all the other stuff is still here.
Comments: Not as extreme as the Velier but very much in the same family. The action here is on the nose and finish, and to my taste it’s most interesting on the finish, which is very long indeed. Hmmm, I wish I’d bought a bottle at the original price; I certainly don’t like it enough to pay twice as much tonight. This is a good change-up for me, but it’s a bit like a carnival side-show act. I wouldn’t want to drink something with this profile very often.
Rating: 86 points.