Compagnie des Indes Hampden 15yo
Pure Single Rum (100% Pot Still)
Hydrometer Test: 43% @ 20°
Compagnie des Indes is a French company paying homage to the historic East India [trading] Company, importing pure rums. Their intention is to showcase fine rums without additives.
This particular rum is from the Hampden distillery in Jamaica. Thanks to some useful info on the label, I can tell you it is from barrel JH46, I have bottle number 228 out of 339, it was distilled in September 2000 and bottled in April 2016 at 43% ABV (aged for 15 years). The only thing missing is a reference to the types of still used.
Having met Vivian Wisdom, Hampden’s Master Distiller, when I was at Rum University at RumFest 2016, I have been digging out some of my Hampden bottles to remind myself of how proper rum should taste…not that I am at all biased, but for me Jamaican rum is probably the best there is (Bajan, a very close second) and Vivian and his team create some amazing high-ester rums that blow your taste buds away as only Hampden rums can.
Once you’ve tried one, you know what I mean!!!
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Pure Single Rum” – 100% Pot Still.
The Compagnie des Indes branding and packaging is distinctive. There is a standard outer [flimsy, cardboard] box housing an ordinary looking bottle. On the bottle is a useful label displaying info about number of bottles, distillation and bottling dates and the barrel used. It would be nice to reference the use of pot stills. There is a basic, but welcome, cork enclosure.
My first reaction is wow, this is so pale, especially alongside the Bajan rum. My experience is usually that Jamaican rums are darker than Bajan ones. It is a very pale, straw-like colour…whilst it is not appealing, it is natural and of course helps to explain why many producers and bottlers choose to add caramel colouring. After all, we all want a drink to look what we perceive to be “right”…don’t we?
There are rich, heavy legs taking an eternity to drop down the side of the glass. The aromas are superb! Lots of rich raisins, dried fruits, spice and Jamaican funk. I feel as if a Jamaican distiller is jumping out of the glass, grabbing my nose and pulling it into the glass.
Taste, Initial-middle 34/40
Again, I am surprised by this rum. I was expecting the Jamaican who grabbed my nose to give me a mighty fiery kick in the teeth when I sipped this. But, no…this is smooth on entry to your mouth, the raisin aromas become an initially dominant and very fruity flavour. There is a subtle underlying sweetness, but I do not mean in a Spanish Ron kind of way. This is a fruity sweetness and is really enjoyable.
Taste, Middle/Throat 33/40
There is a soft fire that arouses the middle of your mouth. The initial hint of sweetness fades, replaced by dry tannins that make you want to grind your teeth together. The fruity flavours continue to dominate, once again with raisins foremost. As it touches the back of your throat, you feel the first real touch of woodiness from this rum, which complements the new found dryness.
The burn is relatively soft for a Jamaican and especially a Hampden rum. The finish is medium to long with the woodiness dominating.
Morning After Aroma
Wow…it is as if the glass is still full of rum. Those raisin aromas are as strong as they were the day before whilst there is still a subtle spice aroma. Incredible!
I think this rum is a great example of what happens when you taste something with preconceptions of it in the forefront of your mind. I was expecting lots of Jamaican funk, high esters and a fiery party in my mouth that would last all night. What I got was a more politically correct version of the party…the type where you turn the music down so as not to upset your neighbours and where everyone goes home by 10pm because they have to work in the morning.
This is a fine rum and well made. It has lovely fruity flavours and of course, is pure and natural, which is a big plus. But, I think it is lacking a little something for it to match my [high] expectations.
P Denotes the rum contains POT still distillate.
C Denotes the rum contains traditional/Coffey COLUMN still distillate.
B Denotes the rum contains a BLEND of POT and COLUMN still distillate.
M Denotes the rum contains MULTI-COLUMN still distillate or is a MODERN rum.
A Denotes the rum is an AGRICOLE i.e. from Cane Juice.
S Denotes the rum is presented in a SWEETENED style.
Bottle/Presentation Out of 3
Glass/Aroma Out of 10
Taste, Initial-middle Out of 40
Taste, Middle/Throat Out of 40
Afterburn Out of 7