The Whisky Barrel Hampdens

Our small but perfectly formed rum section is fermenting nicely and we aim to keep on building this addition to our menu. Rum was predicted as being the next big thing after the gin monster gave up its crown. Except gin shows no sign of retreating with annual sales over £2 billion.

Rum is going to have to fight that little harder and it looks like it is set to knuckle down and deliver some well-timed blows. Mark will tell you all about rum thanks to his Caribbean visit and involvement with Renegade rum. An exciting venture, full of promise and local support, Renegade has our attention regardless of his employer. The fruits of such labour will take time and right now, rum does seem to be fermenting nicely.

Today’s industry news is spiced with rum stories of Steampunk launching its debut rum called Voodoo that comes spiced. The concoction is a blend of sourced of rums from the Caribbean that have been infused with vanilla, ginger and black pepper. It all sounds a little tragic and forced, which is the problem with many types of rum that don’t showcase the best features of the spirit. Bringing back memories of that awful Brown Sugar Bourbon I reviewed recently, rum much like bourbon should not be flavoured. If it’s done right then there is simply no need for additives of any persuasion.

The other rum news arrives via Glasgow with the announcement that the city will have its own distillery. The team here plan to utilise stainless steel stills. In rum, this important piece of equipment can come in all shapes, sizes and materials. A Genio still will provide the technological foundation for what the company claim will be unrivalled accuracy. Fair enough and it does sound like a Lomond still on acid. The whole presentation is diluted with a statement around meeting demand for spiced rum? You’re going to create a wonderful style of rum that’s totally harnessed and controllable and then flavour it with spices? Isn’t this much like putting your heart and soul into a painting and then chopping off the sides so it fits into that fancy wooden frame?

The best rum like whisky hasn’t been tampered with or engineered. There is no well-suited master blender, wheeled out like a puppet by the marketing team to underling the craft and heritage of the abomination. Rum at its best should be unflinching and cask strength with no additives or flavouring. No apologies offered. The best rums are memorable for these very reasons and the extremities are ripe for discovery.

My own experiences with rum are limited compared to some but one discovery is the Hampden distillery. Based in Jamaica, the distillery is the only exponent of the heavy pot style rum that was very popular during the 19th century. Essentially it is the funk that you may hear many enthusiasts refer to with its style of high ester rum which depending on our senses can translate into a forceful fruity bouquet or a full on blast of a solvent tornado. Esters are traditionally created by extending the fermentation process, some are formed during maturation and the use of retorts during distillation help maximise the ester levels.

Essentially it might be hard for some to believe, but Hampden wants their rums to be nose and taste as they do. This isn’t a botched experiment or a bad distillation. They are divisive, as confirmed by the Kill Devil Hampden 2007 10 year old that split editorial opinion. Personally, I loved its relentless no prisoners taken approach and we’ve enjoyed many Hampden rums since. And here we give you another exclusive duo, so please hold onto your hats or other paraphernalia.

Both of these Hampden’s are exclusives to the Whisky Barrel who have been harbouring some gems from this distillery in recent times. The 2007 10 year old Hampden release will set you back £75.61 and is bottled at 62.5% strength with an outturn of 270 bottles. Whereas the 2001 16 year old Hampden retails for £93.16 and despite being older still comes in at an impressive 61.2% strength. Just 156 bottles exist of this particular release and if you fancy some Hampden funk then hurry along as they don’t hang around for pleasantries.

Kill Devil Hampden 2007 10 year old – review

Colour: Lemon juice.

On the nose: UH glue funk! Tropical solvent mangoes. Kiwi fruit, sugar cubes and grapefruit. Banana chews, pineapples and juicy fruit. Italian lemons, vanilla and a touch of cheddar cheese.

In the mouth: Melon and mango. There are bananas, fudge and a sugar sweet emphasis along with green apples. It lacks the true dynamic F-U-N-K with a slight solvent taste. Rounded off by lemon, brown sugar on the finish and resin. Water is not beneficial.

Score: 5/10

Kill Devil Hampden 2001 16 year old – review

Colour: Buttered toast.

On the nose: The glue is in the mix but isn’t showboating. Banana chews, fennel and sweet cinnamon with mace and aniseed balls. Raspberry ice cream with eggshells, sandpaper, mushy apples and juicy fruit gum. It has a synthetic aspect with a chemical nature but is still intoxicating.

In the mouth: An oozing glorious texture with more aniseed balls, blackberries and mangoes. That rich solvent current is present with treacle, chewy fruit sweets and black pepper. Kiwifruit and mashed banana.

Score: 7/10


The 10 year old is surprisingly drinkable at this strength. The alcohol doesn’t come through whatsoever but it feels Hampden-lite with a weak finish. Possibly a nice warm-up if you’re wanting to explore this style of rum as it won’t scare you off. It is cool but nothing more.

The 16 year old is the more challenging and while not quite bat shit crazy, is verging upon such a status. A lovely rum and bursting full of flavour and hidden delights. Worth the extra as you’re getting more funk for your buck.

  1. Welsh Toro says:

    Don’t you just love it. The Whisky Barrel sell an exclusive Hampden 10 Single Cask (64.1%), followed a couple of months later with a Hampden 16 Single Cask (60.7%). A couple of months later they repeat the process. They might be single cask but there’s more than 1 of them. I got a couple of bottles of the first batch and love them both. The 10 is super Funky and reaks of tropical fruit and rotting, steaming, vegetal mater. The 16 is better behaved but it’s a matter of preference. The 10, especially, takes no prisoners and is challenging even for those with an open mind.

    Hampden have also just released their own distillery bottlings. One at 46% and the other at 60% in those very recognisable Velier shaped bottles. If the Kill Devil bottlings are too way out for some they might prefer the distillery offerings which offer the Hampden style but toned down a knotch.

  2. Jason says:

    Hi Welsh Toro, glad you’re enjoying the Hampden’s and what they offer. A distinctive vibe. A full on rum that isn’t for everyone, but which we love. Plenty of choice nowadays. Long may it continue. Cheers Jason.

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