Jamaican rum week began on Monday with a 15 yo Long Pond and continued on Wednesday with a 16 yo Worthy Park. Here now to close out the week is a Hampden, albeit one that does not bear an age statement. This is Hampden’s third annual release in their “Great House” series. I’ve previously reviewed the 2020 release, which I liked a lot. At the time of that review I’d made a mental note to try to find the 2021 release when it came out, but it’s not a mental note I remembered to read often. Then again, it probably wouldn’t have mattered. Very few interesting rums come to Minnesota and with inter-state shipping of spirits now as difficult as international shipping I probably wouldn’t have been able to buy a bottle even if I’d looked for one. (This is where someone will tell me it was available at my local Total Wine.) Anyway, I did get to it via a bottle split and that’s better than nothing. If I like it will I actually remember to look for the 2022 release? I don’t think it’s out yet.
Hampden Great House, 2021 Release (55%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Leads with diesel and engine oil with lemon peel and a mess of herbs (sage, oregano, dill). On the second sniff there’s a lot of aniseed and more than a bit of ye olde Hampden funk. As it sits, the funk recedes and the lemon peel turns to dried tangerine peel; some banana bread too now (which is to say there are bananas and there are bready notes) along with earthier notes of dark chocolate. With more time still there’s some apricot jam and lightly caramelized pineapple. With a few drops of water it softens further, with toffee and a touch of butterscotch emerging.
Palate: Comes in darker with caramel and bananas caramelized with brown sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Very approachable at full strength with rich texture. The herbs come through on the second sip along with the diesel. Continues in this general vein: diesel, herbs, lemon, aniseed. Okay, let’s add water. Water makes it a bit sharper at first and emphasizes the lemon but then it begins to turn quite sweet as I swallow.
Finish: Long. The herbs and then the diesel expand here and there’s quite a bit of lemon as well. Gets more bitter with time (then again, who doesn’t?). Yes, sweeter with water (apricot jam, toffee, brown sugar) but also more cinnamon and some pepper as it moves to a close.
Comments: As with the 2020 Great House release, this is not a high funk, wild and crazy Hampden. Sure, there’s more funk here than in Monday’s Long Pond or Wednesday’s Worthy Park, but it’s generally in the vein of those two. Indeed, they’d make for a very good head-to-head-to-head tasting. Anyway, this is very good. Maybe I’ll actually try to remember to look for the 2022 release.
Rating: 88 points.