I had the chance to attend a Hampden Estate rum tasting at Burlock, organised by Roger Barnes and Mischa Manderson Mill from Spirits Elite. The event was hosted by the master distiller himself, Vivian Wisdom, accompanied by Christelle Harris the Hampden marketing director of the family-owned, Hampden Estate, who joined us for the RumFest 10th Anniversary week on their “rum tour” from Jamaica.
Hampden Estate currently have Rum Fire Velvet Overproof and Hampden Gold Rum on the market. If you are not too familiar with the Hampden distillery, they are described as:
“The only distillery in Jamaica that specializes exclusively in the making of Heavy Pot Still rums. It prides itself in the Art of making High Ester Rums from knowledge handed down from generation to generation using fermenters made more than a century ago. Although utilizing the latest technology and equipments to ensure product quality, Hampden’s Master Distiller and Wash Masters pride themselves in predicting the outcome of each production run making the process an art as much as a science.”
“Hampden makes a variety of rums ranging from 50 to 1600 Esters.”
It was a pretty cool night, lots of well known rum people, and a good turn out. Richard Seale and family, Jessica, Jerry and Benoit from the Rum Embassy, Steve Remsberg who owns the world’s largest rum collection, and Alexander Kong from Worthy Park estate were also present on the night. It was a very lively crowd, and it was great to see a lot of familiar faces, which included some of the usual rum suspects, such as Pete, Keegan, Sergio & Mario, just to name a few.
When the tasting finally got started (Jamaican time), Vivian greeted us with three pot still rum blends, all bottled at cask strength (between 61 to 64% ABV), and each labelled with some cryptic batch number. The three rums were all a blend of two different marks, and all had varying ester counts.
The tasting started with the lowest ester rum and ended with the highest one, which makes sense from a tastebuds point of view, and also made it easier for us to compare the different blends.
Unfortunately I can’t give you any specific notes apart from the classic pungent Jamaican rums notes such as overripe banana, spice, and in this case, an incremental level of ‘funkiness’ as we move to the next rum. This was a very late and informal session, and let’s say that I wasn’t prepared as I did not plan to attend the tasting, but glad I did!
The three blends showcased the variations of what Hampden can do and is the direction that they are planning on going for their first tropical aged release. If this tasting is anything to go by, the release is going to be something quite special.
Vivian being passionate about describing his rums (apologies for the blurry pic)
All the blends were very flavourful and the level of esters for all of them were pretty crazy, especially with the final one being off the scale! I could still taste the esters on my tongue a few hours after the tasting!
These rums will not be available on the market in their current form. The rums are likely going to be further blended or refined into the final product. I can’t wait to try the final release, and hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for its commercial launch.
Big up to Roger, Mischa, Vivian, Christelle, plus Timmy and the Burlock team for making this happen!
Until next time, keep rumming!