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Rum Reviews

Hampden Great House 2023


Has it been five years already? Hot damn! I still recall when Hampden had first released their inaugural Great House Edition in 2019, which at the time didn't seem to indicate that it was ever going to be an annual expression - I suppose as Hampden got more popular, it seemed only fun to give these battle worn collectors one more thing to sweat over.

Isn't that all of the fun of being a distillery after all? Soon we'll be making folks do a makeshift decathlon before we give them a lottery ballot.


The Hampden Great House. 


One aspect that's been particularly alluring for the aesthetically attuned fan is how the Great House label has largely been kept the same except for the color of the text and rendering of Hampden's estate - it's become a real rainbow collecting frenzy, each year a new colour gets debuted. It sort of reminds me of Pantone.

In any case the Great House expression is supposed to be a sort of distillery blend (of various marks and ages) that goes by the vintage that I guess reflects the vibe of the Jamaican estate that year. The house style for that year I suppose.

Well this year's colour is black - very nice selection, going by my personal opinion - and as for the blend components, it's undisclosed what this year's mix is, I'll let you guys know when Hampden stops blue-ticking me.

In any case, let's give it a go! 

Hampden Great House 2023 - Review


Tasting Notes

Aroma: Really high pitched green bananas, diesel, green olive brine - super high ester, bright green vegetal notes. With some time it settles down to a richer, sweeter hit of brown sugar syrup and fresh banana bread.

Taste: Very sharp and acute right off the bat with lots of those high octane diesel fumes, varnish, freshly laid hot asphalt. And right behind it is a bullet train of overripe bananas - big hit of black pepper - before finally it calms down to a more friendly base of brown sugar. 

It’s funky and vegetal as hell at the start but as it moves into the finish it mellows down significantly.

Finish: More savoury notes show up here - black olives this time, but also backed up by sweeter notes of brown sugar and banana bread.


My Thoughts

Phew! This was a doozy! When you first get into it, boy, are you in for a ride. It’s like a screeching flaming punk rock blasting truck on overdrive - felt like I was hanging on for my life. You ever see that movie Mad Max Fury Road?

But get into the mid palate and before you notice it, it calms down dramatically and seamlessly into a really thick and mellow base of brown sugars and banana bread. What in the world?!

So what’s the verdict: Goddamn I really enjoyed it! While the start was quite a wild ride (which made it feel alittle young and hot), it mellowed out beautifully and gave intense sweet bready fruitiness that was just absolutely delicious. I think I crave the drama…

I got to try this at the recent Whisky Live Singapore, which was a real treat because this year seemed to have a huge rum focus, but also a great assortment of spirits that's free flow - trust me there's more than you can (un) safely consume. Next year's instalment will again be at the Singapore Flyer I'm told, with dates being 23/24 November 2024. Wonder what next year's Hampden colour's going to be... 


My Rating: 7/10


Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.