Kill Devil Hampden 10 Year Old 2007 Cask Strength – The Whisky Barrel Exclusive

This review marks another Cask Strength Hampden Release from the Hunter Laing Kill Devil range exclusive to The Whisky Barrel…..my second review of a Whisky Barrel Exclusive Hampden this week! There was a previous Hampden 10 year TWB exclusive released earlier this year….in March…and another 16 year released to coincide with this 10 year. Hampden of course specialise in heavy 100% pot still rums harking back to Rum production of days gone by with the Plantation tracing its roots back to 1753. I have previously written about Hampden Estates own releases here, a 17 year Kill Devil Hampden release here and the recent 16 year Hampden Whisky Barrel Exclusive release here.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Kill Devil Hampden 2007 Cask Strength – TWB Exclusive – 62.5% abv – Pure single Rum

This 10-year-old Rum is from a 2007 distillation and it has only Continental maturation. Presented at a cask strength of 62.5% it has no caramel colour and has not been chill filtered. With so many marques available with varying ester levels, it’d be interesting to find out what marque this is….without that information to hand, we’ll just have to try it.

Tasting Notes

Nose: With glass sitting on a table next to me this rum is so powerful that it feels like it’s beneath my nose. Very creamy. Lots of ethyl acetate. Sweet overripe banana, chargrilled pineapple and sharp cranberries. Again, very ripe juicy strawberries. Something acidic lurks like cider vinegar. Brine. Preserved lemons. Pickled cornichons with mustard seeds. Pink grapefruit rind. Molasses. Warm tires. Melting plastic. Light barrel notes. Sappy wood and eucalyptus. Beautifully vibrant.

Mouth: Neat it is very intense. Initially very sweet with bright fruit. This becomes quite acidic and then very dry very very quickly. Almost disappearing. I’ve only felt that to this length before with unaged DOK. Well stewed breakfast tea develops. The overriding taste is burnt toast with lots of butter…..making this rum an instant favourite as I use the smoke alarm to tell me when my toast is ready! With water it’s slightly more approachable, but still hellishly intense. The opening is slightly sweet and creamy and is all about beautiful Bajan Banana Jam….the best jam that I’ve ever tasted. Candied pineapple. Quite a bit of spice in the form of ginger, cinnamon bark and an earthy turmeric. The oak maturation displays itself more here…and it drags the fruit and spice onto the dry, oak led mid palate. Quite oily and tarry with a real dry spice note. Molasses. The finish, which is frankly sublime is initially fruity with that banana jam and pineapple before the cider vinegar and cornichon appears. Burnt, buttery toast is a real theme here and it marks an earthy return of the turmeric. Bonfire embers, molasses and burnt rubber round things out. The finish is a little short in the end. Perhaps due to the marque. It’s akin to trying pot still rum straight off the still…..initially intense and it then disperses far too quickly. Though the molasses is still with me.

4.5 / 5

It’s again a very very good rum, and all told, I prefer it’s youthful abandon to the slightly more refined 16 year. Both warrant your money though. To buy one however, I’d buy this.

© 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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Kill Devil Hampden 16 Year Old 2001 Cask Strength – The Whisky Barrel Exclusive

Specialist online retailer The Whisky Barrel always seem to be commissioning something interesting, whether whisky or rum….fortunately for us, but not our wallets, they seem to be upping the ante when it comes to their rum releases with a few solid Berry Bros. and Hunter Laing offerings.

There have been a few Cask Strength Hampden Kill Devil releases by Hunter Laing of late, this 2001 marks another to be released as an exclusive for The Whisky Barrel. This 16 year hails from a sister cask to the previous 2001 TWB exclusive released in July of this year. There is also 10 year 2007 to accompany this release which is again the second 10 year TWB exclusive to be released this year. Hampden of course specialise in heavy 100% pot still rums harking back to days gone by with the Plantation tracing its roots back to 1753. I have previously written about Hampden Estates own releases here, a 17 year Kill Devil Hampden release here and a previous Whisky Barrel Exclusive release here.

Kill Devil Hampden 16 Year Old 2001 Cask Strength – TWB Exclusive – 61.2% abv – Pure single Rum

This 156 bottle run of a 16-year-old Rum is from a 2001 distillation and it has only Continental maturation. Presented at a cask strength of 61.2% it has no caramel colour and has not been chill filtered. The 2001 distillation date hints that it may be the <>H marque as mentioned in the Hampden section of the Single Cask Rum website. The official Velier 70th Anniversary release of the Hampden <>H, a 2010 distillation of that marque with a full 7 years tropical maturation is a bottle that evaded me upon launch and still evades me to this day. I have however tried it as a result of the generosity of a sample from a friend…..it left me wanting more though.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Astringent varnish. Furniture polish. A freshly opened tin of gloss paint. Intense pear drop acetone but with a really fruity and sharp nose. Overripe banana. Caramelised pineapple. Haribo strawberry sweets. There’s real depth to the fruit and a stewed plum and prune quality…Still quite sharp though. A little time in the glass brings freshly sliced ginger, an almost fragrant floral coriander seed. Toasted coconut. Pencil shavings. Freshly sawn wood. Peppery. Growing oak presence. It starts to become quite smoke driven, well, more burnt splints from Chemistry lessons, and for a while that dominates. Coming back to it, quite salty. Olives. Brine. Light menthol character. Pine air freshener. Intense stuff

Mouth: With no water…..Warming, hot, spicy entry. Salty, zestly lemon and olives. Black Forest ham. Heavy molasses. Dry dry dry oak. With water….Still spicy, still hot…but fruitier too. Caramelised pineapple that’s just caught…it gives rise to a bittersweet treacle. Burnt banana loaf. A nice backbone of oak carries things along. Strawberries, very similar to the Rum Fire Velvet….Citrus peel. The mid palate is dominated by spicy, grippy oak. Cinnamon (bark not powdered), ginger. Strong building site cabin tea. Soft liquorice and sugar-coated liquorice torpedoes develop. The finish, which is measured in tens of minutes starts off with salty liquorice and a touch of black olive before the cooked burnt fruit kicks it’s way in…Pineapple, banana and then a bitter lemon zest. Quite tangy. Very well-integrated musty oak coated in molasses rounds things out.

Well balanced, poised and multi-faceted. Depth of flavour and aroma that others would kill for. Hampden fares better than most when it comes to continental maturation, which is a bonus as it’s all that we’ve had from them for a while as far as aged stock goes…..at least up until the Habitation Velier releases were unleashed….and now their own Estate bottlings which will be on these pages soon. This is a very good example of a very good distilleries output at a bit of a bargain price…..though the previous release was a few quid cheaper!

4.5 / 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.

The Barbados GI & Why It Will NOT Threaten Diversity & Innovation

There has been talk within Rum circles and Facebook Forums about the proposed Barbados and recently completed Jamaican GI, and how there are concerns that this may stifle innovation and quell diversity. The following is the ‘as written’ response to this fallacy by Richard Seale which he has kindly agreed to allow me to publish in its entirety….and it is the best thing that you’ll read on the subject. Enjoy.

THE PROTECTION OF BARBADOS RUM

As Jamaica has completed their Geographical Indication for “Jamaican Rum” and Barbados moves to completion of their GI, it becomes increasingly important to dispel the canards around this important process.

With rum we have many canards – rum has no rules – rum is diverse and varied because of this wonderful lack of rules. Unlike other spirits, we are told Rum has no “global rules”. And that there are efforts to have a global rule which will crush our diversity.

See my takedown of this here – https://cocktailwonk.com/2017/08/richard-seales-epic-takedown-rum-no-rules.html

A recent canard is that a GI (a registered intellectual property) is a further threat to this diversity and a threat to “innovation”.

The irony of this situation is that a GI seeks to preserve and protect this diversity. It is the essential tool by which this is accomplished. And the dreaded fear of selling rum under one “unified” rule is EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS NOW AND IS PRECISELY WHAT A GI WILL SOLVE.

If Caribbean producers sell rum into the US, it is not the standards of identity (“the rules”) of Jamaica, Martinique or Barbados that apply. It is the rules of the United States TTB that apply. That is right, despite being from three very different and diverse rum producing countries, they will be sold in the US under the same ONE rule. This means that although AGAINST THE LAW OF JAMAICA to add anything to rum besides caramel a Jamaica Rum can be sold in the US with added flavours including sugar (and labeled as Jamaican Rum) because the generic rule for Rum sold in the US allows blenders to be added to any rum.

But the situation is very different for the spirits produced by developed countries. The United States TTB will enforce the rules of Scotland for a Scotch Whisky sold in the US. The United States TTB will enforce the rules of Cognac for a Cognac sold in the US. The US will not protect a Jamaican Rum or a Barbadian Rum from adulteration in the US. The US does not control the use of the word ‘Agricole’ in the US market leading to all sorts of hideous products, not remotely consistent with the standards of ‘Agricole’ being legally labeled as Agricole

Now the US does not directly recognise GIs so creating a GI alone will not be enough to solve this issue in the US but the US illustrates the challenge of protecting our diversity very well and the GI will be the necessary first step.

The same situation applies in the EU save for the fact that the EU does recognise some GIs at this point (for example the word Agricole is protected) and it is hoped that they will recognise the GIs of Jamaican and Barbados in due course. At the moment, a Jamaica Rum and a Barbados Rum are sold in the EU under one and the same EU rule. If the EU recognises our individual GIs, it means that a Barbados Rum sold in the EU will need to meet “Barbados Rules” and a Jamaica Rum will need to meet “Jamaica Rules”. That diversity everyone wants will be protected – that dreaded ‘global rule’ for rum, avoided.

Because the EU recognises the GI for Scotch Whisky, the additional requirements to meet the standards of identity for Scotch Whisky over the EU generic standard for whisky are recognised and the label “Scotch Whisky” is protected throughout the EU. The GI for Jamaica Rum and the draft GI for Barbados pose additional requirements, over and above the generic EU definition of Rum (the “one” rule) to protect and preserve the characteristic identity of these rums. The GI is the tool by which we will protect our diversity. The GI is the tool by which we avoid having to produce under one “global rule”.

What of the claim that a GI stifles innovation?

Lets be clear as to what exactly is innovation. Marketing gimmicks that do not add value are not innovations. Changing the elements of repute in a Jamaica Rum or a Barbados Rum is not innovation. A GI is not a legal restraint on a producer. All producers continue to operate under the existing laws. A GI is a piece of intellectual property protecting how a type of “trademark” can be used – it places no law whatsoever on production. It constrains no one from producing as they please. It constrains them from labeling as they please. A Jamaican musician can play any tune just do not expect it to be called reggae unless it sounds like reggae.

So what are these innovation stifling constraints in the Barbados and Jamaica GIs:

– Barbadian trained operators

– fermented and distilled in Barbados/Jamaica

– Saccharomyces types only for yeast

– local water source only

– free of additives except caramel which must only be used for colour (Barbados draft GI has a quantitative albeit generous limit on caramel) – the same restriction in Scotch

– minimum ester levels for Jamaica rum (by marque)

– aged in oak (“small” is the Jamaica requirement, 700 litres maximum for Barbados)

– aged entirely in Jamaica (a min of two years in Barbados).

– Jamaica rum must pass an organoleptic test

I will address the wisdom of “restricting to oak” in another post, save to say that is hardly onerous and Scotch Whisky has the same “restriction”. There is a plethora of excellent oak casks available for “innovation”. One obvious point is that it keeps a point of difference between rum and cachaca and preserves an important distinction in our social and economic history.

Aging is Europe is a product of the colonial way of doing business where only limited value was earned in the colonies and product whether it be sugar, rum or bauxite was to be shipped at the lowest commodity value. Bulk brown sugar would leave the Caribbean in the ship’s hold but arrive on the supermarket shelf as branded granulated sugar. Bulk molasses sold as branded ‘treacle” once on the shelf.

The advent of continental aging therefore had nothing whatsoever to do with product quality and it is absurd as ageing Scotch Whisky in southern Spain. It simply steals value from the local producers leaving rich European brands and decrepit local operations. The Barbados GI arguably does not go far enough. Bravo to Jamaica – this “restraint” is worth millions in forex earnings. A greater share of what you pay for that bottle of rum ends up in the Caribbean with “restraints” like this.

Conforming Rums must (may?) use the words “certified Geographical Indication” on all documents including labels. Non conforming rums can be made but they will not be able to simply state “Jamaican Rum” or “Barbados Rum” and most importantly – “the use of any indication or sign which may cause a buyer to believe that a rum has the right to use the protected Geographical Indication “Jamaica Rum”, although it does not satisfy all the conditions defined in the present decree will be prosecuted”.

You cannot sell your product under another’s brand because of trademark law and you cannot sell your product under another’s protected origin because of intellectual property law. You add something to Jamaica Rum – it is no longer Jamaican Rum – that is the law of the land of Jamaica. A recognised Jamaican GI means you cannot avoid Jamaican law by selling in Europe. No more selling pure rum as “dry style rum” and sweetened rum as “rum”. In Jamaica and Barbados, rum without added sweetener is just known as rum. I have never in my life heard any Jamaican or Barbadian call it “dry style” rum. Would I dare go to Scotland and call all whiskies “dry style”? Who am I to dictate that.

So you can continue to flavour Jamaica Rum you just cannot label it in a way that may cause confusion to the buyer that they have purchased certified Jamaica Rum. The diversity and identity, created by Jamaicans, will now be protected.

Europeans created the concept of protected origins and it is used extensively by developed countries to develop and protect the intrinsic value of their products in export markets. Our time is now.

We and fellow Barbadian owned producer St Nicholas Abbey are on the record as supporting the Barbados GI as drafted.

The EU generic rule for Rum for which all Rums need to comply

The generic US TTB rule for Rum for which all Rums irrespective of origin need to comply

The US recognises and applies different rules for different types of Whisky. No such recognition for Rum – so a Rum labeled Agricole in the US need not even be from fresh juice

The US TTB will enforce the rules of different origins for different spirits but not for Rum. Even Canadian Whisky is protected.

A GI is a form of Intellectual Property – it is not a law constraining how Rum can be made

The EU will recognise GIs – they must then comply with the rules they submit through their technical file

The EU will protect a registered GI. Scotch is a GI and so Scotch sold in the EU must match the rules in the Scotch technical file, it is not enough to conform to the generic EU rule for whisky

The EU does protect some GIs for Rum. We hope to add Barbados and Jamaica to this list

An example of Cognac applying to New Zealand to say protect our origin. We need to do the same for Rum and the GI is the first step. Diversity can then be protected.

The Scotch Whisky technical file details the difference between the rules of Scotch and the generic whisky rule of the EU. They add further detail to this page.

To gain a recognised GI in the EU, a technical file must be submitted.

Jamaica has an organoleptic test requirement for its GI

I personally find it hard to understand why anyone that has an interest in the future and protection of the Rums and the people of Barbados would ever not think that the Barbados GI is an essential thing.

© 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.

Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’

Plantation as a brand will be familiar to pretty much everyone reading this. No real explanation is required. Xaymaca however will need a little explanation. It is the name given to the island of Jamaica by its first inhabitants, the Arawaks. With their purchase of the West Indies Rum Distillery (W.I.R.D) in Barbados, Maison Ferrand also gained a third share in National Rums of Jamaica (NRJ). This gives them a share of Long Pond and Clarendon Distilleries. There are pot stills available at those distilleries. Long Pond has a John Dore Pot Still and Clarendon has a Vendome Pot Still. With access to the distilleries came improved access to stock. Hence, the Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ was born.

The release of the new Plantation Xaymaca has been accompanied by much fanfare in Rum circles. It speaks of a revival! Their own website marketing information states that the Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ will:

“revive the quintessential Jamaican-style, 100% pot still rums of the 19th century with an expression of intense flavors that reveal the traditional, legendary « Rum Funk » : aromas and flavours of black banana and flambéed pineapple, locally called “Hogo,” an Anglicization of the French term “Haut Goût” (high taste).”

Quite the claim.

Information provided by Plantation is as follows:

  • Alc./Vol. : 43%
  • Origin : Jamaica
  • Distilleries : Clarendon and Long Pond
  • Raw material : Molasses
  • Fermentation : 1 and 3 weeks
  • Distillation : Pot Still (Vendome) from Clarendon Distillery / Pot Still (John Dore) from Long Pond Distillery
  • Tropical ageing : 1 to 3 y.o. in ex-Bourbon casks
  • Continental ageing, elevage : 1 year in ex-Cognac casks
  • Volatile Substances : 312 g/hL AA
  • Esters : 156g/hL AA
  • Marques : Clarendon EMB & MLC marks / Long Pond VRW & STC^E marks
  • Classification : Plummer
  • Dosage : 0 g/L

Digging deeper, as Matt over at Cocktail Wonk has, more information can be gained from those marques. I urge you to view his article but I will also break it down further below utilising the detailed information that Matt obtained on his trip to Maison Ferrand.

Plantation Xaymaca ‘Special Dry’ – 43% abv – Pot Still Rum

As mentioned above, the marques used in the Xaymaca are as follows:

  • Long Pond – VRW (Vale Royal Wedderburn) from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester range between 150-250 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Long Pond – STC^E (Simon Thompson Cambridge Estate) from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester range between 550-650 g/hL AA. 8 years Tropical maturation & 1 year Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Clarendon – EMB from the Vendome Pot Still with an ester range between 125-175 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks
  • Clarendon – MLC (Monymusk Light Continental) from the Vendome Pot Still with an ester range between 500-600 g/hL AA. Less than 1 year Tropical maturation & between 1 and 2 years Continental maturation in ex-cognac casks

Now there is way more information including specific distillate fermentation periods and abv prior to blending in the linked article.

The article linked to will also tell you that this initial release has another marque in the blend that could be permanent, may not be permanent, may be replaced or may be replaced repeatedly. It’s currently an unknown, but given the age of the marque,its doubtful that it will be available in enough quantities to be permanent.

Missing Marque:

  • Long Pond – ITP from the John Dore Pot Still with an ester level of 280 g/hL AA. 17 years predominantly Tropical maturation

The final Xaymaca noted ester level of 156 g/hL AA, putting it at the bottom end of the Plummer range of 150-200 g/hL AA lets you know that the VRW and the EMB marques are the predominant components of the blend. But, as with Hampdens DOK marque, a little higher ester goes a long way. So let’s have a look at how it tastes.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Candied fruit sweetness. Bright acidic fruit as I would expect with a Long Pond component. Orange peel. Warm Pineapple chunks. Overripe banana. The nip of young alcohol. Light oak. Quite subdued.

Mouth: Sweet warming entry. Thinner mouthfeel than I was expecting but it’s not overly watery. Quite a bit of spice and a more apparent wood influence that wasn’t present on the nose. Fresh ginger. Mild raisin. Faint milk chocolate. The mildest note of pear drop sweets is present if you really concentrate. Mid palate is warming and has hints of toffee. It’s very much Jamaica-lite….but too lite for me. More multi island blend. The finish is surprisingly short with watery wood and weak butterscotch. Pretty dull on the palate, especially when considering how promising the nose was. I would also note that it feels as if it may have an element of column Rum in the blend, even though not noted as such.

For a product that makes a big deal about “hogo”, “Rum Funk”, and “reviving the quintessential Jamaican style 100% pot still rums of the 19th Century”……even getting so geeky as to give a list of the marques used in the blend and giving Ester and Volatile Compound levels, I find that the message being pushed runs at odds with the liquid in the bottle. I’m also not sure who it is aimed at. It can’t be current Plantation fans as they have no issue with the additions anyway. It’s not aimed at geeks as although it has the info, it’s just not interesting enough. It seems to be tagged as a good “beginners” Jamaican Rum in a lot of reviews that I have seen post note writing. If I was new to Jamaican Rum and this was my first bottle, it wouldn’t excite me enough to make me want to know more. Beginners want approachable, not uninteresting. Much has also been made of the lack of ’dosage’. In fact, the lack of ‘dosage’ is stated on the label. Great move, but it only has meaning if you also state on the bottle label when you HAVE added something. Please correct me if this happens with the bottles that have high levels of “dosage” as I’ve not seen it. Website data, Bacardi and Diplomatico do it too, but it means nothing if you’re choosing when to disclose on the label and when not to. Small step, and one to be noted….but we’re not in the promised land yet.

I wanted to enjoy this Rum. It should be a winner on paper. 100% pot. Proper marques being used. Loads of label clarity. But it’s like a jigsaw, with all of the right pieces arranged to make the wrong picture. With those marques, it should be impossible to make a boring blend….but thats what I believe the Xaymaca is. Maybe the secondary age dulled it’s vibrancy. It would’ve maybe been better presented as the distillates blended without the “elevage”, as it has definitely not added value. Could’ve and should’ve been so much more.

2 / 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.

Rum Tasting of the Century & Hampden Estate Rum Launch

Sometimes in life, things happen that totally blow your mind. I have often looked on with extreme jealousy when I have seen amazing events playing out whilst I’ve been at home on the sofa…..but not this time! You see, I was one of the fortunate few to be invited by Luca Gargano to what was being called “The Rum Tasting of the Century”. This event had been arranged to celebrate the launch of the La Maison and Velier distributed Hampden Estate Rums. Luca also pointed out that these Hampden Estate releases celebrate the end of the colonial era in the Rum world after 265 years as Hampden Estate are bottling their own tropically aged Trelawny Rums. Now being invited to the Four Seasons Hotel to celebrate the launch of the Hampden Rums would’ve been a great experience, but the Rum Tasting of the Century was close on panic attack inducing. Imagine if you will, every toy that you ever wanted as a child, then the joy that spreads over you like a wave of euphoria when you see that ‘Santa has been’…..and he has delivered them all!

When I received the invitation, I also received the list of Rums that we would be tasting during the evening. You often see Rums and think to yourself, “I would love to try even the smallest drop of that”. For me those Rums include Skeldon 1973 & 1978, UF30E 1985, Albion 1983 & 1994, Blairmont 1991, La Bonne Intention 1998, Rhum Clement 1952, Saint James 250th Anniversary, Rhum JM 1987, Harewood House 1780, Barbados 1985, Bally 1929, Enmore 1995, Wray & Nephew 17….and the list goes on! You resign yourself to living in the land of make-believe with some of those Rums, imagine my joy when I saw the invitation and it announced that the Rums we’d be trying were:

Harewood 1780 – Barbados The oldest dated Rum in existence

Saint James 1885 – Martinique One of the oldest Rums ever sold

Bally 1924 – Martinique The first vintage in the Rhum Agricole world

Skeldon 1978 – Guyana A legendary bottling from Velier

Hampden Estate – Jamaica The new aged releases from one of the best distilleries in the world

We assembled in the beautifully decorated bar at The Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square. Anticipation built and I was able to meet up again with old Rum friends in Wes Burgin, Peter Holland, Tatu Kaarlas, John Gibbons and Matt Pietrek and I also had a first face to face meeting with old Rum friends in Lance Surujbaly and Gregers Nielsen. We briefly spoke to Luca before being ushered into a private lift up to Apartment 17 on the 7th floor. We milled around next to the bar surrounded by members of the press from such publications and The New York Times, Le Monde and Imbibe. I had the opportunity to chat with Andrew Hussey of Everglade Farms Ltd, owners of Hampden Estate and the Long Pond Sugar Factory. We were then ushered into a large room at the end of the corridor, sliding glass partitions  to two elevations affording beautiful early evening views of Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, The Gherkin and the Shard. Sadly I only took a photograph after dark….but still…what a view

We also had our first view (and touch) of the amazing line up of bottles that we would be tasting…….Rum making spanning four centuries

We sat in our predefined places and awaiting the evenings events.

There was a beautiful introduction to the evening and a really passionate speech from Luca about the gathering and his delight at the new Hampden releases. We also received a detailed description of the Rums that we would be tasting and why they are special his opinion. The anticipation that had been built was clear for all to see as the tasting began.

The Rum Tasting of the Century

I managed to take tasting notes for each of the Rums and given the brief time with them I will present my notes as written with no elaboration. Purely first impressions.

Harewood House 1780 – Barbados – circa 69% abv (Light)

Sukhinder Singh of The Whisky Exchange was given the honour of opening the bottle. This was quite possibly one of the most amazing things that I have experienced in my Rum life. As you will hear in the video, there were approaching three dozen bottles found at Harewood House (you can read more here), some were full, some part full. The Rum was decanted, checked and re-bottled in the existing bottles, re-corked and wax sealed. There were 28 bottles released to auction in two batches. You can view the bottle opening video below:

Tasting Notes

Nose: Pears. Quite Acidic. Clean. Very little wood influence. Putty. Grape. Very astringent.

Mouth: Very dry. Way more barrel influence. Fortified wine. Crisp apple / pear. Tobacco notes. Fino sherry at back-end. Earthy. Dirt / Soil. Chewy.

This was quite the thing to try. To be nosing and tasting a Rum distilled over 238 years ago. To nose the Rum, you would have said that it was a cane juice distillate. I didn’t feel like it had much age on it. Maybe just the age that it gained on the journey from Barbados to the UK. The fortified wine notes could also be down to the barrels that it was transported in. Richard Seale often talks about Rums traditionally being transported in the barrels that had just delivered Port and Madeira with ex-bourbon being a modern practice. I also spoke to Richard regarding the cane juice feel of the Rum and he advised that in those days the Rums had cane juice from skimmings from ‘rum canes’ that had low sucrose content. The molasses would’ve also been very dilute which would have led to a less distinct caramelised molasses flavour. This was well and truly the experience of a lifetime. Amazingly, re-visiting the empty glass, any hint of the Rum has been replaced by  a very weak window putty aroma. This puts to bed the notion that the rum of the past was a horrific concoction.

Saint James 1885 – Martinique 

Tasting Notes

Nose: 100% Demerara nose. Dates. Walnuts. PX sweetness. Bitter raisins. Cream. Heavy. Thick. Coconut. Cough Medicine. Herbal Tablets. Lion Ointment.

Mouth: Medicinal. Emulsion paint. Ralgex vapours. Agricole oak notes. French oak. Molasses. Fruit cake. Treacle toffee.

This had by far my favourite nose of the night. In fact, blind tasted you would swear the Saint James was Demerara Rum and the Harewood House was a light cane juice Rum.

Rhum J. Bally 1924 – Martinique – 45% abv

Tasting Notes

Nose: Crisp ripe pears. Tinned pears. Astringent. Acetone. Pear drops. Clearly agricole. Real depth. Foam bananas.

Mouth: Very obvious French oak. Very dry. Really fruity. Celery.

The Bally 1924 was an absolute delight. One of my favourites from the evening.

Skeldon 1978 – Guyana – 60.4% abv

Tasting Notes

Nose: Raisins. Liquorice. Dates. Rose water. Fruit cake. PX sherry. Honey. Walnuts. Prunes. Stone fruit. Victoria plums. Uncut tobacco.

Mouth: Warm fruit compote. Christmas pudding. Cough sweets. Treacle. Walnuts. Walnut and Date cake.

Beautiful stuff.

Next up we tried the new Hampden Estate pairing but I will be covering these in a separate review at a later date.

We were also very fortunate in the fact that we were able to try both Unaged and Tropically aged Hampden DOK marque. The unaged was so unbelievably pungent and fruity, the aged was more approachable yet still an absolute bruiser.

We cleared the tables and chatted over a few glasses of Hampden as the meal was prepared and served. The food was unbelievably beautiful and the meal was concluded with Baba au Rhum utilising the new Hampden Estate 46%. What an amazingly beautifully presented and tasty treat. We also added a little unaged DOK to one of the Baba au Rhum…..Crazy stuff.

We then relaxed on the terrace as Luca enthused us with passionate talk of Hampden Estate, the experience of visiting Haiti and his Distillerie de Port-au-Prince. Locations that one day I really hope to be fortunate enough to visit. Following more chat inside about the fascinating new Velier Long Pond bottlings, we retired to the Four Seasons Hotel bar. Over two bottles of Hampden we continued to talk into the night as the group of 7 became 4. We eventually saw our rooms at around 5am. What happens in the hotel bar, stays in the hotel bar.

I’m still in a daze about the event. It is one of those rare moments in time where everything falls into place and there is nowhere else that you’d rather be. Its all still a little ‘pinch yourself’. By far the greatest experience of the evening was to be present at the opening of a bottle of the Harewood House Rum. I honestly can never see that being bettered as a Rum experience. The outstanding nose of the evening was definitely the Saint James 1885 though sadly the palate did not match the excellent nose. Stand outs for me were the Bally 1924 and the Skeldon 1978. I’d find it hard to separate those two at the top of my list. The location, the people, the Rum and the event played out absolutely perfectly and I am so immensely grateful to Luca Gargano and La Maison & Velier for giving me the opportunity to be present. It was a dream come true. This Rum Tasting of the Century will live long in the memory of all attendees and will go down in the annals of Rum Tasting History.

To quote Luca, I am very very happy

© 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.

Habitation Velier Worthy Park 2007

We’re no strangers to Worthy Park here at Rum Diaries HQ, we even started up the Worthy Park Society on Facebook, which you can join by clicking here. We have also written about quite a few Worthy Park releases. Todays review focuses on another Habitation Velier bottling, but this time it actually has the Worthy Park Distillery name on the label as opposed to WP or Forsyths from the previous Habitation Velier releases…..and talking about Habitation Velier releases, my thoughts on the earlier bottlings can be found here and a little history of the Worthy Park Estate can be found hereRight back to it…..

Worthy Park 2007 – Pure Single Jamaican Rum – 59% abv – 10 years old – WPL Marque

What is different about this release apart from the name. Well, a distillation date of 2007 for a start….but it is also the WPL marque. WPL being the Worthy Park Light marque with an ester level of 60-119 gr/hL AA which we first saw in the Habitation Velier Forsyths WP 2005. It was a very impressive Rum. This too has seen a maturation period of 10 years at the Worthy Park Estate, the Vale of Lluidas in the Parish of St Catherine. It also suffered a loss of 64% to evaporation….but this release is presented at 59%. Time to dig in….

Tasting Notes

Nose: Quite a calm approach for a 59% spirit. The trademark overripe banana is clearly present, the signature of Worthy Park. Quite waxy. A nice level of astringency, not too nose destroying and not underwhelming either. Nice integration of the alcohol here. New white board marker pens. Quite a lot of cereal notes and some spicy rye. Ice cream wafers. A touch of milk chocolate with freshly shaved coconut. Black tea, a freshly opened bag of mixed nuts and a beautiful warming and slightly spicy sweet oak. Something ‘dairy’ is in there too.

Mouth: Big oily mouthfeel. A real chewy palate pleaser. Citrus notes, salty lemon rind. Sweet cure bacon. Heavy bourbon oak influence and well-integrated alcohol. You have to wait for the sweetness to join the party…..but it does. Cocoa, banana chips, biscuity cheesecake base, BBQ bananas. Sweet grain whisky. The mid palate has the fading sweetness of coconut and milk chocolate and brings forward the stewed black tea before the spicy grains and bourbon oak make another appearance. The long finish is full and spice led initially. Very oaky, drying and suitably warm. A hint of molasses bitter sweetness. A short wait brings a smoke led oaken character and lightly smoked cheese. Molasses rounds off a truly pleasurable rum. So very drinkable.

Again Worthy Park have produced a corker of a rum. The only thing that this rum suffers from for me is the fact that it’s not the exemplary 2006 WPM…..but it’s not meant to be. Different marques, different Rums. They are all 100% unmistakably Worthy Park but they are doing things slightly differently than the Hampden, Monymusk and Long Pond releases. Less bright fruit, more banana and oak influence. It works, makes them unique and I love everything that they stand for and nearly everything that they produce. Colour me smitten. It’s worth your money.

5 / 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.

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.