Some time ago my friend Thomas from Rumboom sent me (and a few other guys) two blind samples. Of course I do not want to withhold my notes from you. Motivated by him, I will try to do this more often from now on. The additional samples come from an earlier blind tasting by Eric. Thanks a lot! By the way, I’ve sent Thomas a few blind samples myself. You can find his notes here.
Just in case you do not know about blind tastings, here is how it goes. Someone sends you a couple of samples with solely a number on them (e.g. 1-5). Not knowing what’s inside the sample bottle, you have to guess what country and distillery the rum is from, how long it has been in the barrel, what’s its abv and whether it has a special finish. Finally, you guess what the actual bottling might be. For our purpose we will limit it to my original notes, however. You will find out that these might be a bit unusual and more analytical in the sense that I try to find out what I am tasting.
Transcontinental Rum Line Hampden 2000 16YO (Jamaica, 52,4%): Amber/ deep gold. Thick pearls stick to the rim of the glass. This is familiar territory. I smell faint esters in the form of pineapple and banana. There are also some cherries in the background as well as something nutty. The alcohol initially tickles my tongue, then I can taste the pineapple. The esters a now more prominent. The rum is relatively sour and the nuts are moving more and more to the background. At the back-end I can taste a few medical herbs and thyme, the fruity character is always the dominating note, however. Perhaps some pepperonis. The finish is sour and lasting impressions are pineapple and herbs. Verdict: A good rum that is lacking some power in the nose. Its profile is clearly a Wedderburn Jamaican. The sourness tastes like Hampden but its profile is much closer to a 2000 Long Pond.
Inverroche 7YO (South Africa, 43%): Deep copper, polished brass. Thin streaks inside the glass. Oops, what’s going on? There’s not much in here that I recognise. I can smell Calvados, rotten apples as well as fresh grain and hay. On the spice-side there is nutmeg to be found and there is something slightly salty to it. At the palate I get the calvados but this time combined with fresh, ripe apples. The grain is in the mix as well. Now I taste pears and the rum is much fruitier than the nose suggests. The finish is not too long and quite dry with aromas of nuts and wood glue. It reminds me of an aged agricole but the taste only tolerates this conclusion to a certain extent. That’s why I have put the rum to Mauritius, but it might have been any other country that is producing from both, molasses and cane juice (La Réunion and Guadeloupe were other considerations). The rum isn’t bad but I am not particularly fond of this quite unique style either.
HSE Extra Vieux (Pedro Ximenez) Sherry Finish (Marinique, 46%): Before we start, let me tell you that I did not find the finish blindly. In the nose I got wood glue, fresh apples and pears as well as a field of flowers. Then something woody and nutty, i.e. a walnut tree. There are some fermented aromas as well. Palate: Very dry. Plenty of glue, but it is not unpleasant. I taste almost no fruits but (wal)nuts again. At the back end lots and lots of cloves. The finish is moderate, dry and nutty. Some spices and glue join after a while. End the end only wood remains. The rum is very mild and well-balanced. It’s easily recognisable as an agricole but the grassy character doesn’t get the chance to break through (probably because of the finish). That’s why I couldn’t really decide between Martinique and Guadeloupe.
Samaroli Hampden 1993 22YO (Jamaica, 45%): This one is immediately recognisable as a Hampden rum from Jamaica, there is no doubt. Even far away from the glass I can smell fruits and nail polish remover. Then fresh pineapple, sour apples, olives and mild chili as well as anise and mint. A bit later we get plenty of ripe pears. At the palate, this is how Asterix’ magic potion must have tasted, perhaps the light version of it. The ingredients are pineapple, anise, mint, pears, cherries, bubblegum, fine salami, acetone and glue. The cask wasn’t very active. There isn’t a lot of wood and the rum’s body is very light. It didn’t really like the dilution. The finish is not very long and bitter with some wood and herbs. It is an awesome rum with a few minor flaws. The cask was not worthy of the rum’s quality and the dilution is a kick in the teeth. It could have been so much more…
Verdict & Addendum
Blindly, the Transcontinental Rum Line Hampden was clearly a Long Pond when I tasted it. That said, it is definitely one of the more flavourful and best 2000 Hampdens if you ask me. In the overall context, it is a good rum but nothing more. The vintage is just not as good as the others and feels a bit misplaced. It is perfect for introducing newbies to the world of Jamaican rum though. More or less the opposite is true for the Samaroli Jamaica 1993. It is extremely flavourful with plenty of esters but it has been diluted too much and is among the lesser bottlings from that vintage. Even worse, the alcohol is not very well-integrated into the rum. The Inverroche was a nice experience but I doubt it will ever be among my favorites. It is placed somewhat oddly between molasses and cane juice rums. Speaking of cane juice, the HSE didn’t have the mouthfeel of your typical agricole thanks to its finish. The flavour palate is pretty standard however. Again, this might be a nice entry-rhum into that category.
If you want to see more or participate yourself, let me refer you to Der Rum-Club once again. On Thursday we will take a trip to Fiji! Till then, have a nice week!