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Three Stunning Hampden Kill Devil Rums

Updated: Jun 5

Hunter Laing is a family owned business mostly known for their blending and ageing of whisky. In 1949 Frederick Laing started the business and was joined by his son, Stewart Laing in 1964. Stewart is still at the helm of the company. Today they don’t only blend whisky, they also distill it. They have recently opened their own distillery, Ardnahoe Distillery on the Isle of Islay.


Luckily for us rum enthusiasts, Hunter Laing has bottled quite a lot of rum as well. They call it “Kill Devil”. This has provided us with excellent rums from distilleries like Hampden, Demerara Distillers, Foursquare and many others. Their releases can be bought all over the world, including Canada…surprisingly. Very recently the LCBO carried Kill Devil rums from Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica and Cuba. Naturally, prices were on the high side.


Most of the ageing of Kill Devil rums is done in Europe. This provides an excellent opportunity to compare European ageing to tropical ageing, since more and more fully tropical aged rums are entering the market.


Today I’m tasting three Kill Devil Hampden rums that were exclusively bottled for The Whisky Barrel. I received samples of them from very generous rum friends, Jeff and Meredith, who visit Toronto from the US now and then. Hampden probably doesn’t need much of an introduction anymore. Iconic Jamaican distillery, known for producing very flavourful and funky rums, using pot stills only. One of my favourite distilleries. A little more info on Hampden can be found in this article.



Facts-ish


Rum 1

Distillery: Hampden, Jamaica

Age: 10 Years, distilled 11/2007

Abv: 64.1%

Other: Total of 290 bottles


Rum 2

Distillery: Hampden, Jamaica

Age: 18 Years, distilled 12/1998

Abv: 46%

Other: Total of 381 bottles


Rum 3

Distillery: Hampden, Jamaica

Age: 11 Years, distilled 11/2007

Abv: 63.5%

Other: Total of 339 bottles


Nosing


Rum 1 - 64.1% 10 year

As a good Hampden tradition it starts off with nail polish remover, glue and mildly rotting fruit. It’s got a sweet undercurrent though with raspberries, blackberries and some pineapple. To go back to regular Hampden programming, it finishes with the lovely scent of paint thinner.


Rum 2 - 46% 18 year

It’s a lot milder, which makes sense at this lower abv. It’s woody and offers familiar scents like dried fruit, wet cardboard and pineapple. More surprisingly, crème brûlée and toffee.


Rum 3 - 63.5% 11 year

It smells like a ham sandwich in a cardboard box, followed by some strong paint fumes and mild tropical fruit. A little less going on than the other two.


The bottle's back label

Tasting


Rum 1 - 64.1% 10 year

Holy S*** this is intense. Does pineapple glue exist?! This should be trademarked. Very fruity. A few drops of water did mellow it out a little.


Rum 2 - 46% 18 year

It’s on the sweet side, with some wood, chocolate, banana, pineapple and black pepper. It’s fruity but it’s not as extreme and has a beautiful mellow woody sweetness running through it. The additional ageing has had a clear influence.









Rum 3 - 63.5% 11 year

Holy smokes, burnt rubber speeding around the bent like a formula one car. Correction, a freshly painted formula one car. Of course there is fruit as well. It’s a mouth coating experience. The finish is long and has some sweet wood in it. Absolutely love this one.


Conclusion


It’s incredible how different all these Hampdens can be. Sure, there is somewhat of a signature, but then there are such variations depending on which Hampden marque it is.


Of course rum 2 doesn’t really belong in this lineup when looking at the abv difference with the other two. To be honest, I was going through a big pile of samples and once I got to this one, I only looked at the distillery and age, not the abv. I was happy tasting it nevertheless.


Rum 1, the 10 year is the most intense fruity Hampden glue experience from the 3. It’s a nice one if that’s what you are looking for. If you want more complexity, move on. It’s a bit limited and perhaps a once a month sip for me. I bet it would make a great diaquiri though.


Rum 2 is more gentle because of the additional ageing and the lower abv. I don’t think I’d ever call a Hampden gentle, but this one comes very close to it. It’s complex, fruity and woody. I could drink this on a regular basis and be very happy.


Rum 3 is a flavour bomb. It’s intense in a good way, it coats your entire mouth in a tingling goodness like the best Demerara’s from Luca Gargano do. I’m in love with this rum and need more of it. On the Whisky Barrel website there are two different bottles shown with the same product name. I'm not sure if this is an oversight on their part. The label of the one I tasted is this one:



Scores


Hampden 10 year 64.1% - 79

Hampden 18 year 46% - 82

Hampden 11 year 63.5% - 91


Click here for info on the scoring method.

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