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Rum Reviews

Hampden Jamaican Rum by Corman-Collins and The Auld Alliance, 1982 + 1983 (35 years)


Background: this is a dram I had at The Auld Alliance, one of the great whisky bars of the world. An old Hampden bottled in 2019 from a vat of two vintages (1982 and 1983). If we go by the weighted average, this probably has an age pushing 37. According to singlecaskrum.com, the 1983 vintage is of mark HGML.

Nose: holy smoke, mezcal! Huge, huge smoke; salted fish; preserved vegetables; human flatulence; highly watery stool; you tiao, or Chinese fried dough fritters; lard crackers; overused frying oil; the prototypical Hampden funk of rotting fruits and dairy products turned sour; there is a good synergy between the smoke and the funk -- they complement and integrate well with each other, and each seems to elevate the presence of the other; more pleasant sourness, in the form of barley drink and almond milk; the whole gamut of tropical fruits; citrus fruits; stewed apple; liquorice; musty, rotting wood; cream desserts in the vein of flan and creme brulee; butter and toast; the base notes comprise wet burp, vomitus, and steamed and roasted nuts. 

Palate: moderately rich mouthfeel; lots of smoke and hogo; foul tea and mouldy bread and rotten fruits, all with a heavy roast -- the perfect breakfast; a refreshing fruity tanginess, of starfruit and passionfruit, perhaps; honey mint lemonade; Cheetos; old Gruyere; tapenade on bread or crackers; an intense hit of burnt liquorice; fried tapioca and arrowhead chips; wet burp; pu-er tea; fresh mangoes in a soup of wood; charred french toast with maple syrup.

Finish: shorter than expected, for its age and mark; wood and cream intertwine to conjure the illusion of overbaked custard puff, or maybe custard tart would be more apt; the funk comes back and turns the custard bad; the earthy Hampden notes, uncharacteristically devoid of any brine -- like starchy roots and the soil it resides in, or the flesh of a buah keluak; dark chocolate and liquorice, like a liquorice bon-bon; as is usual for Hampden, sweet tropical fruits (papaya, mainly) accompany every note in the long finish.

Conclusion: compared to my previous Hampden, this is more complex and much more intense. Every whiff, and every sip, jolts the senses. It is not something I would drink everyday, as it can wear me out quickly, even though the fresh fruits do give the palate some reprieve. I also find it overoaked by a smidgen. If you are a funkhead with a particularly high tolerance for wood, this will be right up your alley. (EDIT: on a revisit this no longer tasted overoaked to me. I also picked up a great deal of complexity which escaped me in my first review. I have revised the notes and the score to reflect my new opinion.)

Score (assuming a normal distribution with mean 50): 92/100 (originally 90)


Image Courtesy of u/zoorado