How many new whiskies are released in our current climate? Pluck out some numbers. Break that down into weeks, days, minutes or even seconds and plot it onto a graph. I’m sure the outcome would be a spike that is increasing in velocity and a dramatic upwards curve. These are heady days and things are in danger of spiralling out of control.
Whisky can be all-encompassing. Many just dip their toe into the shallow end and are satisfied by the calm breaking of the surface water. Others step in and wallow at waist height. Then there are the few that really delve into the depths and explore. My brothers and sisters. I’ve been down right at the bottom. Another realm exists within the murky depths that can become an intoxicating way of life. Except at times you should kick and head for the surface. Break free and seek out other liquid pleasures that not only expand your horizons but your appreciation of your first love.
Mezcal is a growing interest of mine, but have you seen the prices? Handcrafted and growing in cost. The good stuff is very good indeed and difficult to source. My wallet only has enough cash and most of that is destined for whisky, or Cadenheads if we’re being specific here. This shouldn’t stop us from exploring new realms now and again at MALT and rum is of interest to many of the team.
On this topic, a good friend dismissed rum as being too sweet for their palate. I, or we can understand this. The commercial rums or those that exist on the mainstream supermarket shelves are laced to ramp up the sweetness. A good cask strength rum that hasn’t been tampered with can be a beautiful thing. Yes, some edge onto that sugary sweetness spectrum while there are others that take you to new realms. I also appreciate breaking free from the shackles of scotch. Experiencing new flavours and characteristics that normally don’t exist in yet another Speyside or Islay release. Change is good. Variety is good for the soul.
Such are the journeys I’m beginning to appreciate with rums from the Hampden distillery. The 2000 17 year old release from the Whisky Barrel was most agreeable to Mark and I, then there was the other Hampden. A solvent gun of a rum that divided opinion. A sledgehammer or as Mark succinctly stated bat-shit crazy. Yes, we’re talking about that Kill Devil Hampden 2007 10 year old. Not a whisky monster, but a rum monster of an experience.
I love the extremities of whisky and the symmetry with rum. The places many fear to tread. That Boutique-y Whisky Company Willowbank 17 Year Old is such an example. Divisive. A heavily sherried Ben Nevis. A Jura. Any bloody Jura. We’ve all had them at one time. Each represents a moment to remember whether good or bad.
Are we ready for another visit to rum crazy town?
This Hampden is exclusive to the Whisky Barrel and will set you back the round figure of £78.08. It is bottled at a pleasing 60.7% by Hunter Laing & Co. for their Kill Devil series. A single cask release this resulted in an outturn of 265 bottles.
Kill Devil Hampden 2001 16 year old – review
Colour: white grapes
On the nose: surprisingly pleasant and approachable for the Hampden’s we’ve experienced previously. There’s an apple sweetness that marries with a solvent aspect nicely, flushed with apples, crushed grapes, melon and all-spice. Glucose or a decadent syrup and resin highlight an oozing quality to this rum potentially. Palm sugar, a tropical fruitiness bursting through. Water brings calmness and tranquillity. A creaminess, in fact, honey and butternut squash.
In the mouth: initially a sugary greenness and then a touch of solvent before it goes back to an olive induced mango sorbet. I know that doesn’t make any sense but you can taste it. Black liquorice on the finish that lingers for an eternity. I prefer it without water truth be told. Hampden shouldn’t be watered down.
Clearly, this is Hampden but it lacks that extra layer of madness. Still very interesting, and we cannot say that about every whisky nowadays can we? There are depths to explore here, moments to relish and an experience.