Transcontinental Rum Line Jamaica WP2013

The Transcontinental Rum Line brand is owned by La Maison du Whisky and in their own words:

“The Transcontinental Rum Line is inspired by Rum Casks’ historical trips between the New World and the Old Continent. From the beginning of its production Rum has always been shipped to Europe for nautical, economical and technical reasons”

So what we gather is that the Rums within the range have a portion of both Tropical and Continental maturation. Fortunately this information is housed on the front and rear bottle labels.

Now I’ve written on a lot of solely Tropically matured Worthy Park releases, some unaged and some having a 12 month ‘finish’ in a Continental climate. This information can be found by clicking here, here and here. With a wealth of other Worthy Park bottlings on my shelves, this number of articles will only increase.

So lets dig straight into it……

Transcontinental Rum Line Jamaica WP2013 – 57% abv – Pure Single Rum

As stated on the label, this Rum is presented at 57% (Navy Strength). Distilled at Worthy Park in 2013 and bottled in Europe in 2017 it spent 57% of its maturation time in Continental weather giving just shy of 2 years maturation in Jamaica and just in excess of 2.5 years maturation in a Continental climate.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Oily in the glass and of a light straw colour. Huge nose of pear drops, acetone and model glue. Some window putty too. Trademark Worthy Park banana but it’s a vibrant green banana initially carried on those stinging estery notes. A large punchy molasses note runs straight through the nose carrying with it buttery pastry wrapped treacle tart and creamy vanilla custard. There is a small wood influence but it’s more sappy and resinous than outright oak. Time in the glass works wonders for this rum….allow the initial sting of young alcohol to subside and you’ll be rewarded. It has that salty oily citrus and powdered sugar thing that I adore in young Ledaig offerings. A little rubbery note follows most visits to the glass along with brine and black olive tapenade. It has a grassy agricole like edge and it’s also a little ‘farm yard’ with notes of hay.

Mouth: Very heated entry with a dominant peppery note gives way to a growing sweetness once the initial alcohol shock has subsided. Light cocoa and milky hot chocolate. It becomes quite salty too….salted liquorice. That trademark overripe banana appears and brings with it caramelised sugar and syrupy pineapple. Tropical fruit topped flapjacks. Quite drying on the mid palate which is where the molasses takes hold. Light nuttiness and a lot of spice….think nutmeg and fennel seeds. There’s a slight metallic tang to the rum and it sits off the back of the molasses notes that feels like licking treacle off a spoon….in fact I’ve previously described this rum as being like licking treacle off a spoon whilst someone flambes bananas in the next room. It’s youth remains very apparent throughout and the alcohol is not as well-integrated as I would like and as well-integrated as some of the unaged Worthy Park that I’ve tried, but sometimes that doesn’t ruin the experience….and this is one of those times. Olives, vibrant cane and floral notes nestle in the resultant vapours at the back of your throat. The finish is a long one, resplendent with those caramelised mushy bananas, molasses and salty brine. Growing peppery dryness and those acetone vapours keep you company for a good while.

It’s a very good rum. I purchased my second bottle the day after my first sip of this bottle. It sits on an almost 50/50 split of tropical and continental maturation and is a very good example of that practice. Sure it’s not as impressive as some of the Habitation Velier releases or their own Single Estate Reserve Cask Strength and the alcohol integration issues could be off-putting, but it just works for me. I love the stuff. Makes a killer daiquiri too.

4 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Admiral Rodney St Lucia Rum Collection

Yes you read that right…..collection. You see, one of the best examples of 100% Coffey Column Rum is soon to gain a younger and an older sibling. Part of the new strategy from the new owners of St Lucia Distillers, Groupe Bernard Hayot (also owners of Rhum Clement and Rhum JM) is to introduce a shake up of the current ranges from the distillery and to breathe new life into the distillates from their amazing collection of stills. The Bounty range seems to be getting a push outside of St Lucia, the 1931 releases are becoming part of the Chairman’s Reserve brand and the Admiral Rodney range gains two new expressions and a rebrand of the original. I’ve written extensively about St Lucian rums here, about the Chairman’s Reserve range here, and more importantly about Admiral Rodney here.

But allow me to elaborate with a bit of marketing bumf and the story of Admiral Rodney.

Admiral George B. Rodney, 1st Baron Rodney KB (1718-1792) was a famed and brilliant naval strategist. A gambler and a collector of the spoils of war. He will historically be remembered as the Admiral who broke the French line at the Battle of the Saints thus ensuring the British domination of the Caribbean.

It’s nice to see the range expanding and to also see how the range is has been renamed. The original Admiral Rodney will renamed as HMS Royal Oak whilst the two new additions will be HMS Princessa and HMS Formidable. Due to a stroke of good fortune, I have a small sample of each to review today. So without further ado, let’s dig in.

Admiral Rodney HMS Princessa – 40% abv- Traditional Rum

HMS Princessa was originally a Spanish vessel but was captured by the British in 1780 at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. Captained by Charles Knatchbull with Rear Admiral Francis Samuel Drake aboard, this 70 gun ship of the line was one of the first ships to engage the French in the Battle of the Saints.

The rum itself is as alluded to earlier, the product of the Coffey Column at St Lucia Distillers. The still which was commissioned in 1984 has 45 plates. The Rums set down to mature for the Admiral Rodney Range are taken from the lower plates of the still. The distillates are matured in ex bourbon oak and are aged between 5 and 9 years prior to blending.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Light oak. Vanilla. A fair dose of astringency and pepper. Light creme patissiere on a buttery vanilla slice. Vague hints of banana chips and honey. Quite soft. Maybe the lightest drop of almond. Really well-balanced.

Mouth: Initial sweetness. A touch of tannic oak. Quite a pleasant bite of alcohol. White pepper teases the tongue as the oak encourages you to chew the rum. A beautiful dryness with a hint of tobacco. Banana yoghurt. Light custard with caramelised brown sugar. A well-balanced finish that shows great integration of all components but it is all butterscotch, green apple and pepper underpinned with a drying oak

4 / 5

Admiral Rodney HMS Royal Oak – 40% abv- Traditional Rum

HMS Royal Oak was in the vanguard of ships to engage the French in the Battle of the Saints. Captained by Thomas Burnett, the Royal Oak manoeuvred skilfully and brought to bear all of her 74 guns on the enemy for the duration of the battle. With 8 men lost and 20 wounded, Royal Oak played an integral role in the first skirmishes of the battle.

Again taken from the lower plates of the Coffey Column, the distillates are matured in ex bourbon oak and are aged between 7 and 12 years prior to blending.

Tasting Notes

Nose: That delightful Admiral Rodney toasted coconut and oak leads things. Savoury vanilla leads into Cherry. Christmas mince pies. A hint of Nutmeg. Powdery cocoa. Roasted peanuts and Bourbon oak. A touch leathery. Chocolate coated peanuts

Mouth: Again there is an initial sweetness before the drying oak forces itself in. Better mouthfeel than I remember. Feels a lot fuller. Some Stewed stone fruit sweetness but this is definitely spice and spicy oak driven. Nutmeg. Pepper. Chocolate coated peanuts. Saliva inducing dryness rolling across the tongue. Mild vanilla and banana. The finish is of a medium length with a touch of sweetness courtesy of caramel and raisins before the spicy, peppery oak barges through and takes over

4 / 5

Admiral Rodney HMS Formidable – 40% abv- Traditional Rum

Launched in August 1777, HMS Formidable was Admiral Rodney’s flagship in the Battle of the Saints. Formidable was in the centre of the British fleet and took advantage of a sudden change of wind to break the line and sail into the French fleet unleashing her 98 guns on Admiral de Grasse’s ships.

This time the distillates are aged for between 9 and 12 years prior to blending.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Really really intense. More of everything. Properly cutting and nose tingling acetone takes you by surprise. Based on the first sniff I’d question whether this had a touch of pot still but I know it’s 100% Coffey Column. Crazy good. A beautifully intense oak and spice driven nose. Honey. Raisins and dried tropical fruit. Such a big oaky nose. Toasted coconut. Tobacco. Chocolate. Heavy bourbon cherry. Mixed roasted peanuts and hazelnuts. Pear drops….really. Furniture polish. Creosote. This is properly impressive

Mouth: Quite a gentle well-balanced entry. Pear drops. Astringent oak. An underlying sweetness being kept at bay by the crushing power of the oak influence. This has plenty going on. Puff pastry mince tarts. Mixed candied fruit peel. A little citrus oil. Milky, sweet coffee. Hot chocolate with marshmallows. Candied warm peanuts. A light smoke. There’s so much depth and complexity to this Rum…..you have to remind yourself that it’s a Coffey Column spirit. Beautifully long and chewy finish full of cutting, drying oak. That furniture polish and nail varnish lingers in the vapours. Warm peanuts, raisins and more of that coffee carries through but the oaken influence is the star. Very very good rum

4.5 / 5

The new additions really do step things up a notch. The youthfulness of the HMS Princessa makes it a really intriguing addition to the range and one that I really do rather like. HMS Royal Oak is the solid performer and it feels as though the blend has been tweaked slightly for the better. But the real star of the show is HMS Formidable. It just in possession of so much complexity it really shows how good a tool the Coffey Column still is. So fully of complexity and enjoyment.

Yes I’d love to experience all of the range at between 43 and 46% and I really do believe that this is something that should be investigated for the range in the future….even as special releases. The market that is interested in Admiral Rodney as a product really does demand it.

St Lucia Distillers have really stepped up their game and given the array of Rums that they have in their warehouses, maturation in differing casks and the complex array of available Rums from their wonderful stills at their fingertips, St Lucia is definitely my third favourite Rum producing Island!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Marigot Bay Bar & Cafe

*Press Release*

New Caribbean Inspired Bar and Café to Open in South Manchester

#BeInspired
A new Caribbean inspired venue is to open within King’s Court of Altrincham, South Manchester on July 20th, 2018. Dave Marsland of Drinks Enthusiast Ltd has chosen the attractive leisure and office complex of King’s Court and its secluded courtyard off one of the main streets of the Cheshire town as the home of his first bar and café. Marigot Bay Bar & Café, named after Marigot Bay of St Lucia in the Caribbean, is the creation of several years of inspiration and experiences, finally coming together to offer South Manchester a bar and café that takes you through the many tropical islands via chilled island beers, tropical cocktails and some of the finest Caribbean coffee and cocoa available.
With the walls adorned with memorabilia picked up from Dave’s travels to the Caribbean, including Marigot Bay itself, Marigot Bay Bar & Café re-creates the tranquil, relaxing experience of the bay, located on the western coast of Saint Lucia and surrounded on three sides by steep, forested hills with the inland portion of the bay forming a hurricane hole used to shelter boats from hurricanes. It’s here that it’s famous for its calming waters and palm tree-lined beaches that offer a quiet escape from the hustle of city life. It’s this that Dave has re-created, meaning low ambient and traditional Caribbean radio, a focus on traditional drink serves and attentive table service.
Marigot Bay Bar & Café has a capacity of 30 seating, with a first-come-first-serve policy during its hours of operation. Open from Wednesday to Sunday, Marigot Bay Bar & Café focuses on Caribbean origins, including a selection of beers such as Banks of Barbados and Carib of Trinidad and Tobago, coffee sourced from the famous Blue Mountain region of Jamaica and a selection of rum and rhums from across the Caribbean islands, including Chairman’s Reserve of St Lucia, Foursquare of Barbados, Appleton Estate of Jamaica, Havana Club of Cuba and Rhum Clément of Martinique.
There’s also a focus on the traditional rum serves found on the islands themselves, including the Pusser’s Painkiller, known as the “Official Cocktail of the British Virgin Islands”, Havana Club’s original Cuban Mojito and Gosling’s Black Seal, the tempest in Bermuda’s favourite cocktail the Dark ‘n Stormy. The menu is coupled with a selection of non-rum favourites that can be found on the bars across the Caribbean too, as well as mixers such as fresh coconut water and Ting, the sparkling Jamaican grapefruit juice.
Marigot Bay itself is a historic landmark, having been the site of several battles between the French and British navies, meaning a great opportunity to focus on some of the islands favourite rums that honour the naval history of St Lucia. Expressions from the recent released Admiral Rodney range will be available to experience in special guided tutorials that focus on the aromas and flavour perception of each.
With tribute to Meimi Sanchez, Global Brand Ambassador for Havana Club and her sensory masterclass technique, Marigot Bay Bar & Café has ruled out the usual live music element seen in most venues, instead opting for low-level background music from traditional Caribbean radio stations, producing a calmer experience for all customers and releasing optimum emotions when enjoying a tipple of choice.
Opening Hours;
Wednesday-Friday from 5pm to late and from 12noon to late on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Address; Marigot Bay Bar & Café, 6 King’s Court, Railway Street, Altrincham, WA142RD
Dave himself has over a decade of experience within the drinks industry, creating brand agency Drinks Enthusiast in 2011, Manchester Rum Festival in 2017, Bassano Bar @ PizzaExpress in 2017, co-owner of spirits retail business Riddles Emporium in Altrincham and a national social media and publication presence as a drinks journalist.
*End*
Even better for me is the fact that its actually opening somewhere not too far away from me so I for one will be sure to visit!
© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve – Velier 70th Anniversary Edition

This review is kind of an extension to my overview of all three of the Worthy Park Signature Range which you can read all about here. I had no idea that this Worthy Park release was even a thing. One day whilst browsing the pages of an Italian spirits site, this release jumped out towards me. A 57% abv version of the quite fabulous 45% Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve. After a little chat with Zan, it was added to my basket and duly purchased. Eventually (following a little incident with 24 bottles of Ginger Beer), it arrived.

Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve – Velier 70th Anniversary Edition – 57% abv – Pure Single Rum

As with the 45% release, this Rum is tropically aged for between 6 to 10 years. It is made up of 100% WPL Marque (60-119 gr/laa). As with the 45% release, this has caramel colour but has not been chill-filtered. Let’s get to it then.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Beautifully oily. A huge nose. A fair bite and sting of alcohol given its abv. A little air and time allows the goodness to push through. Intense Worthy Park banana. Thick, gloopy molasses….think dipping a spoon into a tin of treacle. Shortcrust pastry mincemeat tarts with a spoonful of stewed apples laced with cinnamon. Black tea and buttered spice bun. Vanilla and a solid undercurrent of oak. Salty olives and preserved lemons. Acetone but not a dominant note. A little kola nut on the back-end. 5 or 6 drops of water opens up a basket of fresh tropical fruit and a gentle creamy custard tart. It also evokes the molasses aroma from a hot distillery tour.

Mouth: Big. Fat. Oily. Very hot initially. It takes over your mouth entirely. You’re powerless to resist. A strong spike of black pepper initially gives way to a drying, moisture sapping oak that grabs your tongue and won’t let go. Salty brine and preserved lemons. Citrus oil drips over the edges of your tongue. The mid-palate is where this rum shines. Flambé banana. A freshly open pack of dried tropical fruit. The bitterness of molasses and soft liquorice. It’s a chewy rum full of chocolate coated banana chips and toffee-like dates. Buttery slices of malt loaf….the kind that sticks to your teeth. Rum and Raisin fudge stuffed into a banana and warmed on the bbq. Added water (bringing it down to about 52-53%) affords you the ability to enjoy a less heated sip that brings the addition of date and walnut cake, lighter molasses and banana pancakes.

I had a slight issue with the finish on the 45%….enough to mark it with the same 4.5 stars as the Marsala Cask Finish as I thought that the Oloroso finish trumped them both. No such issues here. It’s everything that I needed from the 45% and so much more. Very long, warming and peppery. Dry oak, a little cigar leaf. A full spoonful of molasses, liquorice root, walnut and the merest hint of fudge. It just goes on and on. A really beautiful finish for a really beautiful rum.

5 / 5

Worthy Park are pretty much nailing it release after release. It’s all there in this bottle. Including heaps of the trademark Worthy Park banana…..to quote a man far more eloquent than me…..“nobody does banana better than WP which of course is a very good thing because who the fu*k does not love banana”

It’s an exciting (and expensive) time to be embedded in the rum universe.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

JAH45 Silver Jamaican Rum

A new range from a familiar stable. JAH45 is the brainchild of the newly formed Hellshire Club….or more specifically its CEO Carl Stephenson. Carl, a former executive of J Wray & Nephew is also the guy behind the excellent Elements 8 Range and their Republica Rum was reviewed here. But this article is all about JAH45 Jamaican Rum. Origin wise the whole marketing side of things links nicely to the Rum in the bottle. JAH being Rastafarian for God, though in this instance it is being used as a reference to Jamaica. 45 as you will have worked out relates to 45 RPM speed on a turntable. JAH45 draws its origins from the revolutionary sound systems in Kingston during the 1950’s that provided affordable entertainment that was subsequently used by liquor stores to entice customers in to buy Rum. Huge speakers would be set up and DJs would set up turntables and bang out local music. For me it calls to mind artists like U-Roy and Toots & the Maytals. 

Anyhow, onto the Rum. The range itself will comprise 5 bottlings. The Silver being reviewed today, Gold, Dark, Spiced and Overproof. Again, not too enamored with the use of colour as a classification but given the target market for the bottlings and their insane pricing levels it’s probably the right approach. Insane pricing because the bottles range from £20 to £27 which is priced to sell and be affordable to those wanting to take a trip into the unknown. Initially the company approach is the get the Rums into the on-trade and they have already been picked up by the Las Iguanas restaurant group.

JAH45 Silver Jamaican Rum – 40% abv 

The liquid in the bottle is a blend of unaged Pot and Column distilled Rums from Hampden, New Yarmouth and Clarendon. New Yarmouth is the distillery that produces W&N Overproof and Clarendon is the distillery that produces Monymusk. Hampden is the distillery that produces pure magic and the stuff of dreams.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Fresh, vibrant, grassy sugarcane. Powdered sugar. The heady intoxicating molasses aroma that permeates a distillery. Light astringency. There is a definite light punch of pot still that is tempered by the column component to merely a gentle slap. Funk….but really accessible funk. Pineapple syrup. Foam bananas. A little menthol nose. Pear drops. Wet cardboard. Really pleasant and whilst it has that magical Jamaican edge that we crave, it’s not at all scary for those new to Jamaican Rum.

Mouth: A near perfect translation from nose to mouth. Sweet entry. Oilier than expected. Light tropical fruit. Pineapple, guava, mango. Fresh banana. A touch of liquorice. Something vaguely herbal. It has way more going for it than a £20 bottle should do, and it packs way more authentic and true flavour than a lot of Rums twice its price.

Now obviously you won’t be drinking this neat, though that’s how I managed to clear close to a quarter of the bottle….getting to know it. I know for a fact that when thrown into a Daiquiri with a drop of Banane du Brésil, greatness ensues. But I’ve been enjoying it as a long drink with Ting. No measures, just feel it. Makes a banging drink.

I want to taste more pot still…but its a double-edged sword. More pot still would equal greater expense and that is not the intention here. There is enough interest here to hold my gaze for a while and really with all of the super premium fancy bottled stuff being hawked to consumers for extortionate prices, what the Rum world needs is accessible true, interesting Jamaican rums that have not been messed with. Yes you have the Appleton range but whilst relatively inexpensive are a little light on the vibrant pot components. This isn’t. This has just enough pot still to lift it above the close competition. I’d love to see these Rums with supermarket availability.

4 / 5

I see its direct competitor as Appleton White, and in my opinion the JAH45 Silver kills it. For £20, this much flavour, honest origins, and no funny business…..its a must buy.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Kill Devil Hampden 17

Now we have the basis laid down for Hampden Estate with its own bottlings here, we can look to explore some independent releases….of which there are plenty. Kill Devil seem to be in possession of plenty of Hampden Rum as their releases from the distillery are growing in number….particularly on the Cask Strength side with a 24-year-old (which I’ve never tasted), a very small release of less than 60 bottles of a 9-year-old Cask Strength rum which will be coming to this site and a limited edition bottling of a Cask Strength 10-year-old for The Whisky Barrel….which I have on order as I write this. Kill Devil are the Rum arm (Golden Devil in the U.S) of Hunter Laing, specialist blenders and bottlers of single malt whisky. They bottle either at 46% (50% as standard in the U.S with no Cask Strength releases) or at natural Cask Strength….un-chill filtered and with no additions or colouring. They apply their whisky principles to their Rum releases. They really are true single cask releases. The Kill Devil range is Hunter Laing’s showcase of the quality and diversity of rum available in the Caribbean and from further afield.  So without further fuss…let’s dig into this bottle.

Kill Devil Hampden 17 – 46% – Pure Single Rum

Distilled in the traditional twin retort pot still at Hampden Distillery in December 1998, some 11 years prior to the current ownership taking over and 5 years prior to it being subject to a government takeover, this Rum was bottled in 2016 giving it over a full 17 years of maturation. There is an 18-year-old bottling from the same distillation date of December 1998 which I will look at in time.

Tasting Notes

Glass: The pale white wine coloured liquid has one hell of a nose. Even at 46% this is bursting from the glass. Huge. Pungent and typically Hampden….but also a touch Long Pond too in its fruity delivery. Esters esters esters. Acetone. Varnish. Buckets of fruit both ripe and overripe. A clear and definite menthol note. Sweet Victoria pineapples. Ripe strawberry sweetness. Almost perfumed. Pineapple mint. Overripe bananas. Guava juice. Sugared almonds. Olives. Smoked cheese. This is a joy to sit and nose. It just keeps on giving. Beautiful fruit, confectionery, fresh mint and sappy pine notes. Not the funkiest Hampden that I’ve tried, but it’s massively pungent.

Mouth: Sweetness is the vibe initially backed with an amazingly medicinal quality of acetone, varnish and a little pine. The sweetness fades relatively quickly but whilst its there the initial overwhelming note is Pineapple….a lot of pineapple. Grilled and sticky sweet. The fade brings a slightly bitter or more likely sour note…like fizzy sour sweets or a past its best fermenting pineapple. Further refreshers reveal more of that base sweetness….green apples, ginger syrup and a light vanilla. Kola Kubes. Pear drops. The sweet / sour interplay of a ruby grapefruit. Citrus oil appears along with that beautiful sweet and menthol pineapple mint interplay that was present on the nose. There is a lack of any real oak influence in this which probably assists in allowing the fruit to shine through. Savoury notes of olives and brine are present as expected but are nowhere near the dominating flavours. At the back-end I found the finish to be of a medium length and as the sweetness of that pineapple fades it boosts the menthol and pine quality to the fore. White wine. Pomelo with a sprinkling of black pepper and a little clove oil. Surprisingly whisky like too. The finish for me after such a flavour and aroma explosion was quite disappointing and by far the weak link here…..thats because it was so vibrant and giving at the front end. But if you carry on refilling your glass…..you always maintain the sweet spot of those aromas and flavours.

4 / 5

An amazing Rum that for me was a little bit of a let down at the finish line. A more vibrant finish would’ve seen an extra half mark on the score. But if you see this, you should buy it. Money well spent.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Hampden Estate – Hampden Gold and Rum Fire Velvet

Amazingly this will mark only the second and third rums from Hampden Estate to feature in the site, the first being the quite excellent Excellence Rhum Collection release. I thought it useful to gather some information and give a little background on the Hampden Estate and their history.

Hampden Estate, known for their incredibly pungent pot still output lies in the northwest parish of Trelawny in the Queen of Spain valley and first operated as a large sugar plantation in around 1753. At this time it was owned by a Scotsman by the name of Mr Archibald Sterling. In 1779 the Hampden Great House was built on the Estate with the large ground floor functioning as a rum store until the early 1900’s. 20 years later in 1799 the upper residential level of the Great House was added.

Hampden Estate Great House

Solidly embedded in Jamaican history, Hampden Estate established the Hampden Presbyterian Church in around 1824 making it the first church of that denomination in Jamaica. Under the ownership of Mr Archibald Sterling up until circa 1827, the Estate then came into the ownership of Dermot Owen Kelly-Lawson, Justice of the Peace of Trelawny. Ena Kelly-Lawson, his daughter, married a Mr Farquharson who upon her death inherited Hampden Estate. The Farquharson’s owned and operated the estate as a sugar and rum production facility until financial difficulties in 2003 saw the government operated Jamaica Sugar Company take ownership . So essentially during a 250 year period spanning 1753-2003, the Estate was owned and operated by only two families. The government ownership was also accompanied by the shouldering of an element of debt to help protect local employment. At one time the Estate was renowned to be in possession of some of the best Cane yield lands in Jamaica and boasted the highest tonne of sugar from tonne of cane milled. But due to a perceived lack of investment from the previous owners it was deemed that the estate had become archaic, therefore inefficient and subsequently unprofitable. In 2009 following a legal dispute relating to the estates previous owners, Everglade Farms Limited owned by the Hussey Family acquired the Estate via public auction as a result of a divestment of assets by the Jamaica Sugar Company. A commitment was made by Everglade Farms to invest $6.2 million into Hampden Estate and Long Pond Sugar Factory (not distillery) and this brought with it an element of stability to the Trelawny economy.

As far as the Rum itself goes….Hampden is a treasure trove of goodness. They specialise in the making of heavy Pot Still rums and have in-depth knowledge in the art of making High Ester Rums that can only be gained from experience handed down from generation to generation. Hampden do not use commercial yeast.  They culture, suspend and regenerate their own. They also use that most mythical of creatures….the dunder pit. They’re also still using fermenters made more than 100 years ago. This is centuries old traditional Rum making at its best…..a place that I’d love to visit.

Hampden make a variety of marques ranging from 50 to 1600 Esters. The higher the ester range, the more intense the aroma of the rum. Their rums are used extensively in the blending of other rums throughout the world and their higher ester rums are used by the food, flavoring and perfume industries. Familiar known marque names will be LROK, HLCF, <>H and DOK but there are many more.

Although certain marques are set aside for ageing, the majority of Hampden’s business comes from bulk Rum sales to the likes of E & A Scheer in Holland.

There is plenty of other reading on the subject of Hampden Estate and one of the most in-depth sources can be found here

All of that brings me to the fun subject of  the two Rums that I have chosen to look at today…..Hampden Gold and Rum Fire Velvet.

Hampden Gold – 40% – Unaged – Pure Single Rum

Tasting Notes

Glass: The Rum is a completely unaged pale straw gold. Now do we see the uselessness of categorisation by colour? E150a….Spirit Caramel. In this instance they’re not doing it to dupe you, quite the opposite. It’s being done to combat your preconceptions about unaged Rum. To allow a quality distillate to be experienced by those that would otherwise write it off. They’re not hiding it, however it would be good to have some acknowledgement of this on the label. Initial aromas definitely show us that we’re in pure pot still Jamaican territory. Acetone. Pear drops. Tropical fruit….think papaya and guava. Beautiful bruised bananas. Molasses. A touch of freshly cut green apple. Light sweetness.

Mouth: The Rum has a very thin mouthfeel and carries none of the sweetness present on the nose. It’s very spirit driven. Molasses. A light vegetal, almost agricole like sugarcane note. Fresh, ice-cold apple juice. Lidl Apple Loop sweets. Mixed tropical fruit jam. Dialed down funk. Even though its very light (for a Jamaican) and has a very thin mouthfeel, I enjoy it. It doesn’t have the abv to hammer home what makes its origins great but it could be a gentle introduction to the style and at a good price to display the quality of the distillate even down at 40%. Better to nose than to drink, but solid stuff for their entry-level nonetheless. Great in a rum and coke which is where I use it.

3 / 5

Hampden Rum Fire Velvet – 63% – Unaged – Pure Single Rum

Tasting Notes

Glass: Wild. This is more like it. A huge fruity arrival. It grabs you by the scruff of the neck and screams Jamaican! They use dunder at Hampden…and it shows. Plump ripe strawberries and their fresh candied sweet aroma. Lots of citrus oil. Overripe mashed banana. Green cooking apples. Kiwi fruit. Funky as hell. Really heavy vibrant sugarcane notes. Root vegetables…earthy turnips and parsnips. Something rotten on the compost heap. Stinging acetone. A coating of varnish on a cheap cricket bat. Wax. Brine. Olives. Rather weirdly the aroma of passing the flue of the boiler that exhausts at the side of my house. Slightly metallic. Simultaneously both heavy and light. Beautiful natural sweetness. It’s the Rum equivalent of the state that Newt from Aliens was in when Ripley found her.

Mouth: An oily flavour explosion and way more approachable than I expected. That’s not to say you can dive in. You have to acclimatise. Small sips to ease yourself in. Very hot. Very peppery. Very funky. Pear drops. Acetone. Savoury leads the way with olives, brine and freshly cut fiery ginger. Quite herbal. Very agricole like in its root vegetable quality. The sweetness pushes through on the mid-palate though and its very welcome. The juice from a chewed chunk of freshly cut sugarcane. It’s quite sharp too. Cloudy apple juice and apple purée. Fleshy pears. It has a very creamy and oily mouthfeel…its also really floral. Citrus oils. A drop or two of water really helps open the Rum up and releases Guava jam. More apples. Tropical fruit. Salty crackers. Aniseed sweets. The finish is long, warming and returns to the savoury leading with anise, salty olives and vegetable crisps. Crispy seasoned lotus root. Molasses and that magical vapour that can only be fresh, vibrant Jamaican Rum allows it to finish really cleanly. It’s a brute of a Rum that needs a cautious approach….a bit like a game of Buckaroo….gently gently.

4 / 5

This is pretty much the only distillery produce available on the market in the UK with the USA getting Rum Fire which is a higher ester version of the Velvet. There is no doubting the quality and tradition that goes into the production of these Rums. Both are definitely worthy of a purchase. The aged independent stuff from Hampden Estate for me is where the real fun lies though….and it is those releases that will be getting a run out in the coming months as I’ve a wealth of releases from Habitation Velier, Velier, Adelphi, Blackadder and Kill Devil to choose from. Stay tuned.

Newt

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