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Rum Reviews

Two Classic Hampden Estate Bottlings – Hampden Estate 8 Year Old Pure Single Jamaican Rum and Hampden Estate Overproof (HLCF Classic)

 

You haven’t fully explored the world of rum until you’ve tried a Hampden.

We’ve tasted, reviewed, and raved about our fair share of Hampden bottlings here at 88 Bamboo over the last few years. The Hampdens that we’re looking at this time are the two classic flagship bottlings from the legendary Hampden Estate, the Hampden Estate Pure Jamaican Rum as well as the Overproof label. Hampden Estate’s flagship bottlings are arguably the most accessible and easiest to get your hands on, but don’t take this as a backhanded comment to their classic bottlings in any way at all. Rather, the distillery’s two flagship labels are a fantastic gateway into the Jamaican rum world of esters, funk, and terroir. You just can’t go wrong with Hampden!

| Read: [Distillery DeepDive] A Spirit So Funky, So Fierce, You Cannot Ignore: Hampden Estate Rum

 

The Hampden Estate.

 

We’ve gotten quite accustomed to seeing aged Hampden original bottlings straight from the distillery itself. Aged Hampden Estate rums are so iconic today that we almost forget that it was only in 2009 that the rum maker started to age its own Pure Single Rums. Before that, pretty much any aged Hampden rum you could get your hands on likely came from an independent bottler that acquired the unaged rums from Hampden Estate, then proceeded to age and bottle them separately.

An unaged Hampden white rum, like the Rum Fire for example, is a delicious and fruity ester bomb that makes for a smashing daiquiri. Take a white rum and cask age it, and you’ve turned a national athlete into an Olympian.

 

HAMPDEN Estate Rum Fire 1Hampden Estate's Rum Fire (Image Source: Hampden Estate)

 

As the transparent white rum turns to amber gold with cask ageing, its taste profile evolves to take on a deeper and more nuanced character as it absorbs the flavours from the ex-bourbon casks. Take that ester-y funkiness of this high-quality pure Jamaican rum and immerse it in the gusto of the ex-bourbon casks and voila, you’ve got the best of both worlds in intensity and complexity.

Hampden Pure Single Jamaican Rum 8 Year 46% ABV - Review

The Hampden Estate Pure Single Jamaican Rum is aged for 8 years in the tropical climate of Jamaica and is made from original rum-making techniques that have remained unchanged for over 250 years. Just look at pictures of Hampden Estate today and you’ll know they’re not playing around when they say unchanged. The rum-making facility itself is like a step back into 1753, with most of the original distillery remaining unchanged since almost 300 years ago. For many, this lower-proof expression at 46% ABV marks the first entry point into the world of Hampden and is a great representative of what you can expect from the classic Hampden style.

 

Tasting Notes

Aroma: Ripe bananas, tropical fruits, banana bread.

Taste: Bananas, tropical fruit, pineapples, banana bread, vanillic notes, caramelised apples, slight savouriness, light spice.

Finish: Savoury finish, light vegetal note.

My Thoughts

Hampden’s standard classic aged Jamaican rum makes for a good introduction to the distinct ester-y, funky profile of Jamaican rums. The lower-proof, 46% ABV Jamaican rum is great for both the uninitiated and the seasoned rum drinker.

While the funkiness typical to the Jamaican rum profile may not be as pronounced in this expression compared to other higher ABV overproof bottlings, you’re definitely getting a good primer as to what you could expect from spirits of this region. This rum makes me imagine arriving on the shores of the Jamaica, and would no doubt make for a fantastic daiquiri base.

Hampden Pure Single Jamaican Rum Overproof 8 Year 60% ABV

We’re moving deeper into the thick and syrupy humidity of the tropics with Hampden Estate’s Pure Single Jamaican Rum Overproof, which is bottled at 60% ABV. From what we can tell, the Pure Single Jamaican Rum Overproof is made from a blend of marques (of which we can only wonder). Sadly, as of today in 2024 Hampden Estate no longer distributes the original Overproof Rum expression as part of their classic flagship bottlings.

 

 

This label has been replaced with a similar-looking high-proof 60% ABV aged rum called the HLCF Classic Overproof, and the marques used to create this rum have been narrowed just the HLCF, which Hampden Estate says should have very similar flavour profiles to the original overproof.

 

Hampden Estate HLCF Classic 3
The updated Hampden HLCF Classic Overproof (Image Source: Hampden Estate)

Tasting Notes

Aroma: Vanilla notes, oak woodiness, overripe bananas, lighter fluid.

Taste: Banana, caramel, vanilla, spice, cinnamon, glue.

Finish: Savouriness, dried fruits, roasted meats.

My Thoughts

This overproof label kicks the classic Jamaican profile of the previous standard bottling into high gear! The funkiness of overripe bananas and hints of diesel fuel punched me in the face with a fervent oomph and I loved every minute of it. The influence of the ex-bourbon casks reveals itself to a greater degree in this overproof version as the woodier and more vanillic flavour profile really comes through here.

If you’re a lover of intense encounters like I am, you’d probably thoroughly enjoy the lush adventure the nose, palate and finish of this rum would take you on. Imagine going deeper into the jungles of the tropics, where the humidity is thick, and the saccharine sweetness of the fruits lingers on your tongue. Hampden’s overproof Jamaican rum also makes for a great slow-sipping experience as the nuance of the drink opens as it sits with time.

Between The Two

Compared to the 8 Year Old, the Overproof trades off some of that softer banana bread and brown sugar for a more savoury intensity, it's alittle less fruity than the classic 8 Year Old but does offer more satisfying intensity and meatiness. Both are still great to sip on neat, with the classic 8 Year Old being edging the Overproof out on making a more rounded daiquiri, but the Overproof being more robust and vibrant on its own.

The Last Word

Tasting a flight of Hampden Estate rums, or these two classic flagship bottlings for example, feels almost like taking an epicurean trip further into the tropics of Jamaica. For those with an interest in terroir, you’re bound to get that kind of immersive tasting experience with Hampden Estate’s aged expressions, which are fully matured in the thick and humid tropics.

If you're just trying to get a sense of what's this Jamaican rum profile that everyones talks about as being so iconic - the classic 8 Year Old is the perfect introduction. For the already seasoned rum-drinker, the Overproof might do the trick better, kicking things up a notch. But personally, I think it's best when you try them both side by side and you'll really get to appreciate the nuances better.

 

The wild fermentation that happens at Hampden Estate's operations (Image Source: La Maison & Velier)

 

Take the Hampden’s approach to wild fermentation that opens the rum to absorb the raw environment, tropical ageing, and its devotion to pure rum with no additives – and you’ve got the spirit of Jamaica. Perhaps there’s a double entendre in the word spirit – this is the essence of Jamaica captured and revelling itself in a bottle of Hampden Estate Pure Single Jamaican Rum.

 

Till the next time, happy sipping!

@ChopstickPride