Hampden 15 year old (2000) – Adelphi Single cask

What is it? Pure Single Rum (100% pot still, from molasses and a single distillery) from Jamaica. This rum was distilled at the Hampden distillery in Trelawney. It was distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2016 at 15 years old by Independent bottler Adelphi, after undergoing a finishing period (for an undisclosed amount of time) in ex-Sherry casks.

Hampden use dunder in their fermentation process and will ferment the rum from 2 weeks and up to 1 month for esterification to take place, depending on the marque of rum they are aiming to produce. They produce 7 marques of rum and you can read more about them at this link, which has been posted recently by Wes at TheFatRumPirate and was written by Marius Elder at SingleCaskRum; clicky click.

The only indication of cask on this bottle is “JM1” which is not one of the Hampdent marques, and I believe stands for “Jamaica Main”. In terms of esters, that’s not very helpful, but using the information provided by Marius it appears that 2000 vintage export from Hampden was from marque LROK, which is a lower ester level and comes in at 200-400g/hlaa. Now I say “lower”, that’s in terms of Hampdens, in terms of most other rums that’s still pretty damn high; most rums come in at around 50g/hlaa….

This is a single cask rum and only 346 bottles were produced from the cask.

It is not coloured, not chill filtered and bottled at full cask strength of 54.3% abv.

Sugar? No

Nose: Hello! It’s a pungent little devil alright! The rum literally jumps out of the glass and punches you in the nose. We’re all bananas at the start, but gooey black ones, baked ones, bananas pan fried in butter and banana & walnut loaf. Very overripe pineapple slices, yellow stone fruits (nectarine mostly) and some fig. Then come deeper notes of raisins, fig jam, warm leather, cloves – all of which I presume are from the sherry cask. Finally, notes of hot sandy beach coves, raw shellfish, charcoal, a touch of beewax and a really interesting meaty note that reminds me a lot of home-made honey glazed ham.

Palate: Thick and full mouth, oily in texture. Hot entry – well, it’s 54.3% – bags of bananas again, crushed walnuts and peanuts, baked banana cream pie, banoffee even maybe, salted butter and a brioche with Creme Anglaise over the top. There’s a smoky note of BBQ pineapple, that meaty glazed ham is here too, or a pulled pork, varnished oak and some rubber tyres. As the palate ends there is a zippy citrus and metallic twang like licking your fingers after holding copper coins…..don’t do that, you don’t know where they’ve been 🙂

Finish:  Long, very long. Still dominated by banana and pineapple baked into a cake, but it’s joined by dry leather, spices from the cask and a slight sweetness of raisin from the nose. A touch of smoked lime zest keeps it lively and rubber bands as it tails off.

Thoughts? I need a sit down after that. Absolutely incredible. Easily one of the best rums I’ve drunk so far. The first and only thing I said to my wife when I drank this for the first time was “wow!”, and that pretty much still sums it up.

I’ve lost count of how many different bottles of spirits I’ve drunk over the years, hundreds easily, but I can tell you now that I’ll remember this one for a very long time indeed.

Now I picked this up for £80 in November 2016, which after tasting it, feels like I’ve nicked it. You’re not going to be able to find a bottle of this now, sadly, unless you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a bottle at auction. Another one where I should have bought a case of the stuff at the time, dammit!

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Foursquare Premise

About time I got round to the Foursquare Premise review!

What is it? Single Blended Rum (Molasses based Pot and Column still from the same distillery) from the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. The rums are distilled in their various stills and blended at new make spirit, prior to ageing. This allows the distillery to chose the type of rum they want to end up with, flavour profile wise, before ageing it. The resultant blend is then put into ex-bourbon casks for 3 years, after which it is moved into ex-sherry casks for 7 years, giving a total age of 10 years old. All ageing is done tropically.

The rum is limited to 15,000 bottles and makes Mark 8 of the Exceptional Cask Selection rums from Foursquare. Reviews of the other Exceptional Cask Selection rums can be found on my Rum Reviews page here.

The rum is coloured, chill-filtered and bottled at 46% abv.

Sugar? Don’t be daft.

Nose: Yep, I’ve definitely poured a Foursquare product into my glass, no doubt about that! Quite oaky at first and a lot of bourbon cask influence initially with coconut, vanilla, caramel and clove. Once accustomed it’s easy to pick out the sherry wood; soft, warm leather, figs, raisins and black plums. There is a hint of orange rind, some black peppercorns and fresh liquorice root in there too. Right on the back end of the nose I’m picking up varnished wooden furniture and the smell you get on your hands after reading an old book. A few musty cardboard boxes appear too – it’s a good smell, they’re not too musty and just add a further depth of age to the nose.

Palate: Really good weight in the mouth. Spicy, a lot more so than I was expecting actually, and very very dry and tannic. Immediate sherry notes here, dry roasted peanuts, very dark chocolate (90% stuff), cold tea, dates and currants (the small and slightly bitter ones). A little engine oil type note, the taste of licking the back of an envelope or stamp, ink and old leather. A quick grind of black pepper just to finish off.

Finish: Medium, shorter than I was hoping for. Spicy here too! Again very dry indeed, tannic with breakfast tea, that dark chocolate again and a chewed pencil (lead included). Not really much to add to from the palate notes and carries the sherried dried fruits into the finish with the figs, raisins and plums. Bone dry as it goes on.

Thoughts? Another great rum from Foursquare, it reminds me a lot of Rum SixtySix actually but with a concentrated dark fruit element, which certainly aint no bad thing. The sherry casks work well with the Foursquare profile, which I’m assuming was a dry sherry such as Oloroso. If you don’t mind a very dry rum then it’s easy to drink and quite complex. If you prefer a sweeter style than this one may not be for you and will be a step too far.

Personally, I don’t find this rum as good as the Criterion – but then that was incredible and a much higher abv – it’s unlikely it was ever planned as a contender for it. The Premise sits easily on a par with the Port Cask from 2015. If I was picking at anything then I’d rather have a bit less oak and a bit more fruit, but there really are minor details.

£45? Yes please!

 

Monymusk 9 year old (2007) – Kill Devil

What is it? This is a pot still rum distilled at the “Monymusk Distillery” in Jamaica, so Pure Single Rum, distilled in March 2007 and then aged for 9 years (I assume in Europe) and bottled as a single cask by Hunter Laing for their Kill Devil rum range. One of 303 bottles from the cask.

Now I say “Monymusk Distillery” because that’s what it says on the bottle, however, there is no such distillery – hence the “quotes”. Monymusk as actually a rum brand not a distillery. The largest rum maker in Jamaica is Clarendon, producing around 40 million bottles (75cl) of rum every year, and is owned by 4 different interests: DDL of Guyana (those El Dorado peeps) Goddard Enterprises (who also own W.I.R.D in Barbados, amongst others), the Jamaican government and Diageo. The first 3 form a organisation known as NRJ (National Rums of Jamaica) and the 4th is the massive multi-national conglomerate.

Of all the rum produced by Clarendon, 90% of it goes to Diageo for their Captain Morgan blend sold in Europe (US Captain Morgan is mostly from St Croix in the Virgin Islands). Very little of the rum produced at Clarendon (less than 10%) is destined for the Monymusk brand.

Clarendon produce 2 types of pot still rum; light/low ester rum that undergoes a quick 24 hour fermentation in steel tanks and a heavy/high ester rum that is fermented for up to a month in wood tuns. The esterification is controlled by yeast strains and dunder is not used here. The lions share of rum from Clarendon comes via column still, but only pot still is used for Monymusk.

…..anyway, enough of that, on to the review:

Not coloured, not chill-filtered and bottled a 46% abv.

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Delicious! A lower ester rum than I was expecting, well, compared to the likes of Hampden or Long Pond that is. Still a funky hogo with plenty of banana and some pineapple cubes, but just softer and less in your face. Some tarry ropes, brine’y sea spray, a little liquorice and maybe green olives in there too. Fresh fruit keeps it lively with ripe pears, lime zest and a little strawberry. There is quite a decadent, richness to the nose too with golden syrup, chewy toffee or maybe butterscotch and a light vanilla. Not one smell dominates, one minute you get fruits, the next you get sweet and go back again to savoury. Really lovely.

Palate: Full and oily, the legs running down the glass hardly move they are that thick. Great mouth feel and weight. Savoury start, olive brine, fennel, tar, and rubber bands. Some surprising wood spice with cloves, grated horseradish and black pepper – gets a little hot in the middle. There is some sweetness in here too with baked pears with a light toffee glaze, but it’s fleeting and hard to keep hold of. A little lift of lime juice as it moves to the finish.

Finish: Medium. Creamy here actually, I mean there is still some heat and pepper but it’s a weird creamy pepper, maybe like horseradish cream. More of the sweet notes come through with time than they do on the palate with golden syrup poured over porridge oats, honey on toast, pear compote and even the faintest hint of sweet pipe tobacco right at the end.

Thoughts? It’s quite a heavy rum but not huge in esters which produces a very noticeable Jamaican but is softer and richer. When I first opened this it was much sweeter tasting but after a third of a bottle it’s morphed and is starting to get more and more savoury.

This is a lovey rum for someone who wants to try a natural Jamaican pot still but may be put off by the massive ester stuff, it’s certainly not an easy rum by any means but would be a great stepping stone into the Jamaican style and it’s fairly approachable.

£45 this cost me, which is a fair bit for a European aged 9 year old rum, but I think it’s got a lot to give and a lot of flavour. One that I’d certainly buy again – if there were any left!

 

Flor De Cana 12

What is it? Molasses based, multi-column distilled rum from Compania Locorera de Nicaragua (CLN), in Nicaragua, and bottled under the Flor De Cana (Cane Flower) rum brand. Molasses comes from local sugar and is produced at the Ingenio San Antonio sugar mill which is part of the same company as CLN and undergoes a 36 hour fermentation. The is the bottling of the “12”, this does not mean 12 years old; in recent years the packaging has changed and where it used to say “12 anos” on the bottle it now just states “12 slow aged”. They also produce a “7”, “18” and “25” – none of which are the age of the number on the bottle. I really don’t like this misleading labelling that is often used in rum, which allows the consumer to believe they are buying a product of a certain age but in fact that are not, they may was well call their line-up “Flor De Cana 1, 2, 3 and 4” for all the difference it makes.

Chill filtered, coloured and bottled at 40% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Quite oaky at first, a good sign – maybe it has actually seen some aging after all! Pecans, walnuts and syrup; think Tracker Bars (nutty snack bar things in the UK). Vanilla, some cinnamon, light brown sugar and Werthers Original sweets. There isn’t much fruit on display here, a little red apple perhaps, that’s been caramelised as if to make a Tart Tatin and a little dried papaya, but other than that it’s really cask smells. With some time I can pick up the faintest floral note, almost of Peonies.

Palate: Medium mouth feel, quite coating actually. We’re in the same place as the nose really, it’s a bit more buttery, cinnamon certainly, vanilla and Allspice. Hints of warm oak, caramels, burnt sugar and pecans again. No floral notes here but a toffee apple sweetness, which again is the only real fruit. Tanic as it moves to the finish.

Finish: Short. Tanic, starting to bitter. Burnt toast with butter and honey on top, some toffee and that’s about it. Hmmm, not the best finish really.

Thoughts? Not bad, but not good either. It’s a very run-of-the-mill rum and all a little pointless. I’m not really sure who this rum is aimed at; your casual drinker will find it too dry and bitter whereas your seasoned rum drinker is unlikely to find it complex or interesting enough and all a bit dull. Maybe it’s aimed at whisky drinkers, who knows. I’ve started going to this bottle when my palate is having an off day, it still tastes ok but I don’t feel guilty about wasting a decent rum when I can’t taste too well.

So, £35……now that seems ok but there are a hell of a lot of better rums out there for that price…. not one I’ll be buying again.