Today’s (shortish) review is of another Habitation Velier offering, this time from Hampden distillery in Jamaica. It’s an unaged rum, bottled in 2018 at high proof 62.5%, which I picked up for €46 over at Excellence Rhum. It’s a 100% pot still rum with an ester count of 350gr/hlpa – this is the reason behind the tag LROK, the label Hampden attach to their distillate with an ester count of 300-400gr/hlpa and it stands for Light Rum Owen Kelly.
Owen Kelly might be a reference to one of the early sugar planters of Hampden Great House, a Dermot Owen Kelly-Lawson who became its owner around 1827.
It’s worth noting that the highest ester marque produced by Hampden (indeed, the highest count allowed for export at 1600gr/hlpa) is DOK – Dermot Owen Kelly-Lawson. More on Hampden (and Jamaica’s MANY other fantastic distilleries) another time.
Presentation – A round, clear bottle with a yellow topped stopper and the solid Velier information on the label with a cute rendering of the double-retort pot still used. The embossed ‘HABITATION VELIER’ on the side adds a nice elegant touch to this weighty bottle. No box with this bottle.
Nose – As I type this, my dram sits in a tasting glass about a foot away from me. I can easily smell the aroma from here. This is a PUNGENT rum, make no doubt. Immediately, I smell ripe and old bananas, some nutty macadamia nut creaminess and a sharp sour note like fresh cut papaya and passion fruit tinged with nail varnish – i’ll admit nosing it initially makes my eyes water a little. This is not your granddad’s Bacardi.
Palate – Some citrus up front surprisingly, with some damp, brown bananas shifting into a herbal note on the back of the mouth. Grassy, dry finish neat but less of a burn than I expected at 62.5%. This is fruity, funky deliciousness.
+water – Does a little to open up this rum. That citrus is still there up front, the banana has morphed into allspice with a stronger herbal, medicinal component. I think I prefer it punchier though, at the original strength.
Finish – Long and fruity, like (and don’t judge me for this) Fanta or orange Chewits, with that herbal note.
Scores on the door:
Value for money: 5/5
Notes: This is a bloody awesome rum. I would recommend this to anyone who says white rums don’t have character. It’s full of flavour and I’ll be trying it in a Mai Tai as soon as my orgeat is ready. I will 100% be buying another bottle of this come next bottle buying day.
How the rating system works:
It’s entirely arbitrary but I’ve weighted it towards the things that matter most to me when looking to buy a new bottle. Hence, the greater emphasis on taste say, compared with presentation.