Hampden Single Cask by Thompson Bros. and Bar Tre Hiroshima, 2000 (17 years)
Background: I spotted this bottle among the liquor shelves of the Takashimaya departmental store in Namba, Osaka. An IB single-cask Hampden? My interest was piqued. Then I saw "Bar Tre Hiroshima". One of the bars I have always wanted to visit. I heard these people, like many whisky bar proprietors in Japan, have very good tastes in spirits. A cursory (and obligatory, considering the bottle costs ~US$140) Google search tells me the Thompson Brothers has a close to impeccable track record in their rum bottlings. Sounds like a match made in heaven: what could go wrong?
Nose: sweet papayas; mangoes; whipped cream on bananas; floral perfume; barley notes associated with new-make malt whiskies; dirty and oily (think machine oil, WD-40) underneath.
Palate: almost mirrors the nose; papayas and mangoes; banana milk; yoghurt; cheese tart; sour barley; the palate maintains a brininess that recalls olives and anchovies, topped with a modicum of savoury spices.
Finish: more brininess; a combination of sugar cane and bananas and cream -- or perhaps we can replace cream with the creamiest mango we can find -- that stays for a long time, and fades extremely gradually; the tongue-coating intensity of the finish is unlike anything I have experienced.
Conclusion: This is my second encounter with Hampden. I had a teaspoon of a 19-year-old Hampden bottled by Vom Fass, a few years ago. Even then, with the substantial dilution (the Vom Fass was 40% abv.), the Hampden profile struck this whisky-drinker as singular. What this bottling offers on top of that, is a rare consistency of nose, palate and finish, that brings to mind one word, "purity". How Japanese is that?
Score (assuming a normal distribution with mean 50): 88/100
Image Courtesy of u/zoorado.
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