Cost at Time of Purchase: £90
Type of Rum: Pure Single Rum
– P * (See End)
Hampden Estate Pagos – the first 100% ex-Sherry Cask-aged rum.
A lot has happened since I visited Hampden Estate Distillery back in 2016. The name and brand has been elevated far above what it was just six years ago and is now, quite rightly in my opinion, well known and revered as a producer of fine traditional Jamaican rums.
That said, I am not a rum geek chasing esters to an ever higher level. For those that don’t know, Hampden Estate, distils rums with very high esters. Esters being the result of a chemical reaction during fermentation when the molasses and yeast react. The result is what is often referred to as “Funk” or more specifically “Jamaican Funk” in the case of Hampden Estate and Worthy Park – the aroma and flavour compounds synonymous with high levels of esters giving rise to tropical/exotic fruit and varnish-type notes.
Nor do I crave rums of such a high ABV that they melt your taste buds as the first drop enters your mouth.
So, sometimes, I do not always jump on the bandwagon when a new Hampden rum is released – not that I do not appreciate its artisanal nature (I do) but it is sometimes a bit too geeky, funky and high ABV to actually enjoy.
That brings me nicely to June 2022 and something that instantly initiated the “I must get a bottle” obsession that sometimes afflicts me (well, way too often actually). The first rum entirely aged in ex-Sherry casks, 52% ABV and Hampden Estate – “Pagos” ticks so many of my boxes.
500 litre ex-Olorosso and ex-Pedro Ximénez barrels from the Andelucian Bodega of Lustau were used to tropically age this rum. “Pagos” is the word for “cru” in Jerez, Spain – it could be interpreted as like a terroir or a specific area/plot within a vineyard. There is no official age statement but based on an interview with Luca Gargano at Velier (see link at the end), the rum was probably put into the ex-Sherry casks in 2018 and so we have three to four years of tropical ageing. As with all Hampden rums, they are molasses-based and use a wild yeast and very long fermentation, their own spring water and the rum is entirely from a batch/pot still distillation. For the rum geeks, the congeners are officially stated as 1,603.5 Gr / Hlpa and esters 394 gr / Hlpa and Pagos is limited to 1,200 bottles.
Hampden Estate Pagos is a Pure Single Rum:
100% Pot Still from a single distillery.
As with all proper Jamaican rums, there are no added sugars or wines etc. Hampden Estate Pagos measured 52% with my hydrometer, implying no added sugars/wines etc. are present.
Here is a link to all of my hydrometer tests:
RumShopBoy Hydrometer Test
Medium amber to bronze in the glass.
Tropical fruits aplenty on the nose, notably pineapple. Dried fruits, ripe red cherries, caramel, spices – star anise and cloves and a slightly medicinal note.
Warming, sweet entry to the mouth with candied fruits and caramel with subtle chocolate developing in the mid-palate. Dried and tropical fruits, spice builds with bitter hay/grass in the background. The richness grows as does the spice with black pepper, cloves and star anise. Towards the rear, the sweet caramel from the nose becomes more of a bitter flavour. The fruit notes linger, becoming more citrus in nature. Chocolate dampens the ever-increasing peppery-warmth leading to a medium-long finish showing a fiery ginger sting in the tail.
Total Mark: 84 (Out of 100)
This is a great balance between a fine pot still rum and a Jamaican Funk bomb. The ABV is not too high to blow you away, yet at 52%, there is enough power to keep things interesting. The short period spent entirely in ex-Sherry casks has paid quick dividends, rewarding the drinker with a fine experience.
This would make a fine introduction for those connoisseurs exploring some of the funky Jamaican rums, but this will not deter drinkers from exploring further, such is the nature of this rum – the balance between warmth and power with fruitiness and chocolate is pleasing indeed.
If this is a taste of things to come, then bring it on. What will Pagos Mark II taste like in the coming years after additional time spent in ex-Sherry barrels? Only time will tell, but I think the future of Hampden rum is becoming ever-more exciting.
A three-to-four year old rum at £90 seems a bit pricey, although the official retail price is around the £80 mark. I can spend £35 on Appleton 12 year old Rare Blend and get three to four times the tropical ageing, but I would not get the full-on Jamaican Funk nor uniqueness of the ex-Sherry cask-ageing.
As always with spirits, fine, artisanal products take time and cost money to produce. Add on the fact that anything bearing Luca Gargano or Velier’s name attracts an instant +100% price premium.
This is a fine tipple, but it is a bit pricey also. I notice that many of them have appeared on secondary markets already – I hope they are being bought to drink and enjoy!
Links / Notes:
Click here to read a Velier interview with Luca Gargano about the creation of Hampden Pagos.
Thank you for reading and for your support.
Review No: 174
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.
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