Utter the word Hampden whilst in Scotland and evocative memories of the road to glory or a heartbreaking defeat will spring to mind. The oddity of Queens Park playing at home to the national stadium, or your own beloved team finally achieving something on a wider stage. That’s what Hampden ultimately means and what exists today is the 3rd incarnation of a stadium to bear its name.
Far removed from the illustrious turf, the saliva-inducing Scotch pie aromas, gallons of Irn Bru and rivers of Tennent’s lager. Hampden stands for something else. Bizarrely a rum distillery of all things. Hampden distillery was established in the late 1700’s by a Scotsman. Ahead of the game – football came much later – although both retain an air of mystery. For the stadium, the original site was lost for generations despite being the 1st international football stadium. Rediscovered and celebrated it’s such a shame Scotland hasn’t had much of a team to send out onto the pitch. Whereas for Archibald, born in 1710, he left Scotland for warmer shores and to make his own fortune. Having had some financial success, the lure of his homeland proved too strong and he returned in 1748. His brothers from the chronicles of history stayed in Jamaica for whatever reason, given the wonderful beaches already present in Ayrshire.
James and Robert Archibald were onto a good thing, given the abundance of sugar cane and the thirst for rum. It’s popularity amongst the local population and the fleet ensured a profitable business. Hampden started life in 1757, just a few years later James had decided to sell his stake in the business for an annuity, leaving Robert in command. The 3500-acre estate and its assets including the distillery remained in family hands, with Archibald assuming control until his own passing.
It’d be too much of a leap of faith to suggest that Scotland not only brought whisky into the world but also rum.
Remember we like to have a laugh here at Malt.
The thought did cross my mind briefly, but more reasonable would be the assumption that a strong drink was a necessary relief during these hard times. Utilising the local resources would be a firm foundation. Hampden is today known for its fermentation times as my esteemed co-editor tapped into during our recent 17 year old review. It’s also the sole Jamaican exponent of the dunder heavy pot still rum style. What’s dunder? Good question. Effectively its the remnants of the previous distillation languishing at the bottom of the still. A by-product of sugar distillation. Rather than tossing this into a nearby water resource or feeding it to the local cattle, its pumped into the next fermentation. Esters are steroid-charged and certain flavour compounds increased. The result is a style that Hampden is synonymous for and capable of producing to varying degrees of ester intensity.
All of this brings us to the rum at hand. It’s another exclusive for the Whisky Barrel who actually just released another slightly older 17 year old Hampden Berry Bros. which we reviewed recently. Both Mark and I approved. It does seem slightly odd that we’re faced with another exclusive from the same website and distillery so soon. However, the bottler is different in the form of Hunter Laing’s Kill Devil range. Generally, these are very good if slightly more expensive rums, wrapped up with an eye-catching design and who doesn’t like something that proclaims kill and devil on the same label? Frankly, it’s the same as Iggy and the Stooges and potentially just as raw!
This release is currently available for £52.51 and is bottled at an eye-watering 64.1% strength. An outturn of 290 bottles was extracted from the cask. Our thanks to the Whisky Barrel once again for the samples, which enables us to bring you a joint review from the corridors of Malt power. There are no commission links within this review, just our honest opinions. Free samples don’t necessarily result in good reviews as the Bladnoch Bicentennial Release confirms. This one is for Hampden in all its guises.
Kill Devil Hampden 2007 10 year old – review
Colour: apple peelings
On the nose: as soon as this was poured, the room was dominated by a distinctively pungent banana solvent. Candy floss, candied strawberry, pineapple, melon and sugar cubes. Boy, does this have character. All-spice, tablet, cooking apples, hickory, lime juice and on the edge some herbal funk. Water, well let me say initially it fights off the water – it can certainly take a shed load. When it settles there’s more coarse vanilla, honeysuckle and an oily varnish quality.
In the mouth: it’s sweeter than expected almost floral, but the kicker is the strength which almost stops you in your tracks. Palm sugar, green bananas, coconut, more lime juice and a really luscious oozing texture. With water, texture becomes more oily and resilient. Flavours of cinder toffee, honey, solvent and tarragon come through.
Colour: pale straw.
On the nose: a massive waft of banana milkshake. It’s unexpected to say the least. Solventy, with some extreme feints on show: plastic, rubbery, yeasty, sweaty – glue? (Not that I’d encourage sniffing glue.) Just needs to calm down a bit. It’s highly sugared and tropical: mango smoothies, pineapple juice, golden syrup, vanilla. Pear drops and some hints of soured sweets. Funk doesn’t quite do this justice, but water manages to kill off that weirdness.
In the mouth: highly unapproachable without water – this does need water. A stack of high-note sweetness, with vanilla, boiled sweets, pineapple again, some grapefruit-like acidity, but then the funk lingers. It’s aggressively sour after a while; the water shaves off those sweeter high notes, and it doesn’t open up so much as lose a lot of complexity. Falls into a yeasty, husky, ground-almond territory, with lingering oiliness, sage and tart gooseberry.
Jason: This isn’t an everyday whisky or an experience for the casual fan. This Hampden is a potent rum offering. A real bruiser. A bottle of this should last you a decent length of time. Ultimately it’s hard to score in reality as it’s not for everyone – given several hours – I enjoyed it eventually.
Mark: It’s bat-shit crazy. I’ve enjoyed a lot of the Kill Devil rums, which are, I should say, excellent ordinarily. This is somewhere way off the spectrum though, and it highlights the kind of weird diversity that one finds in rums – which to some makes them a bit more of a wild adventure.