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Kill Devil Hampden 16 vs Velier Hampden 2010 vs Rum Exchange Jamaica 5 Review

Tasting Hampden rums is always a joy. Actually, I often have to tell myself that I should review rum from other countries more….but it’s hard to stay away from Jamaica. I love Jamaican rum. Very recently I bought a bottle of Kill Devil Hampden 16 year. The main reason for buying it was me being curious to know what this longer continental ageing does to a lively spirit like this. Naturally, for this review I wanted to compare it to something, so I checked out my collection of samples (thank you rum friends!) and found a Velier Hampden 2010 and a Rum Exchange Trelawny, both with similar abv’s. I figured they would make an interesting comparison.

The Kill Devil brand belongs to Hunter Laing from Scotland. I've written about them here. They have provided online retailer “The Whiskey Barrel” with quite a few exclusives. The 16 year old in this article is one and these three are as well. Velier from Italy is probably even more well known than Kill Devil. I’d even ask under which rum barrel you’ve been living if you don’t know them. Get on it fast if you don't! It’s largely thanks to Velier and Luca Gargano that we have a large variety of tropically aged Hampdens to choose from. He should get a statue for that alone. Next to that, he seems to have a rather good nose and palate for deciding which rum he wants to sell under his brand. The vast majority is excellent. Rum Exchange is a relatively new company from Austria. They import various spirits, including rum. They also bottle rum under their own label. I always love it when new companies show up to provide us rum enthusiasts with more rum choices. Their rum in this review has 3 years of tropical ageing in ex bourbon barrel and then a further 2 years in Oloroso Sherry cask in Europe through Denmark's 1423 (who bottle SBS).


Facts-ish


Kill Devil Jamaica 16

Distillery: Hampden, Jamaica

Age: 16 Years, distilled 10/2001

Abv: 61.2%

Mark: <>H : 900-1000 esters

Other: Total of 156 bottles


Rum Exchange Jamaica 5

Distillery: Hampden, Jamaica

Age: 5 Years, 3 tropical years ex bourbon, 2 continental years in ex Sherry, distilled 2013

Abv: 61.5%

Other: Total of 355 bottles


Velier Hampden 2010

Distillery: Hampden, Jamaica

Age: 9 Years, distilled 2010

Abv: 62%

Mark: HGML : 1000-1100 esters


Nose


Kill Devil Jamaica 16

Wood, ashes, pineapple, olives, vanilla, paint, cardboard, burnt newspapers. Who doesn't love burnt newspapers?! It's quite a fruity affair.


Rum Exchange Jamaica 5

Winey, light sulphur, cheese, raisins, raspberry wine gums, pickles, light plastic & paint. Not as complex, I have to dig in more to find stuff


Velier Hampden 2010

Pineapple, banana, wood, raisins, mint, hint of cheese. Quite balanced. Not as super estery as I was expecting.

Kill Devil offers everything straight up, no effort needed. The Rum Exchange is quite the opposite, you have to try harder. The Velier is relatively soft, balanced and pleasant. Kill Devil wins it on the nose.


Taste


Kill Devil Jamaica 16

Pineapple, strong olives, very woody, overripe bananas, varnish. Slap in the face rum. A tad too woody for me, might have been perfect at 12/13 years.


Rum Exchange Jamaica 5

Strong sherry, some sulphur, the wine gums reappear, toffee and pineapple. The finish is fiery (which makes sense as it's quite young) with some raisins and wood.


Velier Hampden 2010

Mint, pineapple, banana, sweet wood and raisins. The finish is very long and mouth coating. It’s quite well balanced and rather good. Neither fruit or wood are overpowering.


Conclusion


I keep finding it amazing how wide the flavour spectrum of Hampden rum is, even though there is a clear signature. To me that’s a sign of quality and a sign of the people behind it clearly knowing what they are doing. With all their different marks and the different ageing locations (tropical through the distillery and Velier, continental through independent bottlers), they have a lot of variety on offer.


The Kill Devil is the only one here that hasn’t seen any tropical ageing. After sitting in a barrel in the UK for 16 years it’s become quite a woody rum. It’s slightly overpowering and takes away some of those crazy fruity Hampden notes that younger iterations have. To me that’s a downside as I like the fruitiness. The good side is that it’s quite a velvet rum, despite the high ester mark and the solid abv. It’s hard to call this type of rum "velvet", so it’s a bit of a relative term. It’s an easy going slap in the face estery, woody Hampden. There! If that doesn't clear it up, then I don't know what will! If I could choose, I’d prefer a slightly younger version of this one, perhaps at 12 or 13 years. One thing is for sure, I don't like it as much as the 11 year in my previous Kill Devil article.


As far as I can remember I’ve never had a Hampden I didn’t like. Today I found one. That makes this review a rather unique experience for me. The time spent in Sherry cask hasn’t been kind to the Rum Exchange Hampden. Sulphur is something I don’t really want to come across in rum and this one has it plenty. It’s dull for a Hampden and it’s missing quite a lot of the typical fruitiness. Sherry and sulphur, which act like a fire extinguishing blanket, have replaced some of these flavours. This one’s not for me. Fat Rum Pirate and Rum Diaries Blog liked it a lot better however.


The Velier HGML is the most balanced of the three. I’m not always looking for balance in Hampden rum. I love the craziness that goes on in a lot of them. But in this case I really enjoyed that. It has enough of the Hampden components you are looking for without going over the top. From the first moment it hits your tongue to the last second of the long finish, it is pleasant. Something you’d drink to relax (if you are used to high ester Jamaican rum). It’s the winner for me, although the Kill Devil is very close.

Scores


Kill Devil Jamaica 16 – 85

Rum Exchange Jamaica 5 – 52

Velier Hampden 2010 – 87


Click here for info on the scoring method.


Click here for the complete list of reviews.





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