Kill Devil Hampden 16yo
Pure Single Rum – 100% Pot Still
ABV Hydrometer Test: 46% ABV @ 20°
Hunter Laing & Co. Ltd’s rum division “Kill Devil” – another Scottish Whisky producer that has branched out into fine single cask rums.
For those that do not already know “Kill Devil” is a term that used to refer to rum!
The rum I am tasting today is from one of my favourite producers, Hampden from Trelawny in Jamaica. This particular rum has been aged for 16 years, although most of it will have been in Scotland rather than Jamaica.
All Hampden’s rums are 100% pot still, so therefore, under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Pure Single Rum” – 100% Pot Still. Whilst I do not want to be insulting towards Hampden and Kill Devil, I have dangled my hydrometers in this rum and can confirm the ABV matches what it says on the bottle i.e. no additives.
A very distinctive standout design adorns the Kill Devil range. There is a black Kill Devil branded tin with a label attached showing which specific rum is contained within. It is reminiscent of Bristol Rums.
The label shows that there are 316 bottles, that this was distilled in “12-98” and that it is 46% ABV.
A little more info on the production and ageing process would be welcome though.
This rum is very pale, straw-like. The colour is what I would expect a natural rum to be but not necessarily after 16 years of ageing. It just proves how colour really does not give any clear indication about the rum, whether talking about its age, strength or any other kind of profiling. There are medium to heavy density legs that fall at a moderate speed down the sides of the glass.
The aroma, as with all Hampden rums, is unmistakably unique and it hits you when your nose is some distance from the glass. As I often find with powerful pot still rums, a few minutes on its own in the glass allows it to breathe like a fine red wine, and helps to soften the alcoholic aromas whilst releasing the true profile of the rum.
It is overpowering, but also full of a variety of aromas…citrus, oak, spices, fusel oil, banana, mango, polish, pineapple and dried orange peel.
Taste, Initial-middle 36/40
Right from the start, this rum hits you with full power and vigour in exactly the way that only a Hampden rum can. The aromas translate into flavours, notably citrus and peppery spice. A hint of fruit is present…pineapple and banana. There is also some cinnamon and a very buttery feel to this.
Taste, Middle/Throat 38/40
As one would expect from a Hampden rum, there is fire in this, but although the initial tasting is full on flavour, when the rum reaches your mid-palate, it literally explodes. The citrus bursts into life with oak and cinnamon becoming prominent. There is also a slight nuttiness to the rum. With multiple sips, the rum coats the top of your mouth creating tannins and an astringent feel. But rather than take away from the experience, this mouth-feel actually enhances the rum. The best word I have ever encountered to describe Jamaican, and especially Hampden rums, is funky. Imagine Earth, Wind & Fire mixed with Kool & The Gang, add a bit of Stevie Wonder and sprinkle a little of the Jacksons and that is a musical analogy of what this rum tastes like!
The burn is softer than I would have expected given the preceding tasting, but that could just be that your mouth and throat have become accustomed to the feeling of this rum. The finish is a medium length but it does leave behind some lovely tropical fruit notes of pineapple, mango and banana.
At 46% the burn is plenty, but I imagine if this was 50+ or even approaching 60% ABV, it would literally blow your taste-buds away.
Morning After Aroma
As is always the case with a Hampden rum, the next morning the glass smells as if it is still full. Wow, it is amazing. All the fruit and citrus is as fresh as ever.
This rum is not one for the feint hearted nor for the novice rum drinker. If you like Jamaican rums, pot stills and especially those funky vibes that come from Trelawny, you will be in heaven with this rum.
At over £60 for a bottle, it is not cheap, but given the nature of the rum both in terms of the purity, traditional artesenal methods of production and length of ageing, it is actually a bargain. This is especially true if you compare it to many rums that are purported to be “premium.”
The rum packs a punch, but also is full of a wonderful variety of flavours and aromas that will keep you coming back for more. There is something special and unique about rums from Hampden, so let’s spread the word about top quality pure rums to ensure they have a future in the rum world.
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