Silver Seal Hampden 1993 (22 years)
Image credit to /u/sirabra.
Background: so I visited a rum tasting event which offered some rare pours for reasonable prices. I tried, among others, the Samaroli Hampden 1992 Cask 11 (an interesting one, felt like a combination of Hampden, clairins and Port Mourant distillate), the Velier Port Mourant 1974 (too woody and one-dimensional for my tastes), and the Uitvlugt 1996 Modified GS (meh). On a separate day at the event, someone shared his bottle of Samaroli Hampden 1993 (the legendary full-proof bottling). Alas, it was an impromptu sharing and I couldn’t be there. Stricken with a bad case of FOMO, I quickly ordered a sample of the next best thing I could find (and afford), the 22-year-old Silver Seal Hampden 1993.
Nose: very fresh -- lots of tropical fruits, much less death and decay; mango; canned pineapple; a basket of oranges; stewed apple; mangosteen; grape bubblegum; a forest of conifer trees; freshly cut grass; cherry tomato; sugarcane juice; balsamic vinegar; talcum powder; sandalwood; after a sufficiently long exposure to air, earthy elements begin to emerge; petrichor; potting soil; burnt plastic; hummus in pomegranate reduction, with a sprinkle of nuts powder; liquorice and dark chocolate make up the base notes.
Palate: mouthfeel is satisfactory considering the reduction, but I wonder how much better it can get at full proof; pineapple juice; mango sorbet; green papaya; stewed apple; strawberry lassi; it turns more astringent from the mid-palate onwards; charred wood; Yemen mocha matari, brewed; berries kompot; grape bubblegum; some earthiness at the back-palate; hummus with rice crackers; tapenade with an excess of black olives.
Finish: shorter than I am used to, as far as continental-aged Hampdens go; banana split; mango ice cream; coconut shavings; tobacco; liquorice; milk chocolate with vanilla flavouring; an aftertaste of grass jelly, honey, black milk tea with a dash of fresh goat’s milk, and liquorice.
Conclusion: this is almost the quintessential Hampden rum, fruity funk with a woody transition into the earthier elements. However, it is missing some of the most attractive aspects of the superlative Hampdens, such as the notes of by-products of heavy fermentation, fried carbohydrates, fish brine, or Port-Mourant-esque "greenness". Would this be the first thing that comes to mind when I feel the need to affirm my love for rum (not that it ever happened to me)? Probably not. But is it immensely enjoyable? Hell, yes, in a way that feels almost effortless.
Score (assuming a normal distribution with mean 50): 88/100
Image Courtesy of u/zoorado.
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