Since my readers must now be well fed by reviews of Velier-products, I have turned my focus towards a different Italian indie-bottler today. Samaroli.
A while back I tried a recent Bajan rum of theirs, so today I will be going for something completely different: The Samaroli 1993 Jamaica Rum.
Made on a pot still at the legendary Hampden Estate, this single cask offering was bottled in 2015 making it a massive 22 years old. Those years were spent split between Jamaica and Scotland, resulting in a combination of both tropical and continental ageing.
Only 360 bottles of 45% juice made it to the finish line. The one I’m enjoying today is number 188.
I’m not going very much into the history behind the maker. Perhaps I will someday, but for now it is all about the rum it self.
Having only written about one Hampden rum before, I’m looking very much forward to trying another. So, on to the interesting stuff.
Reaching for the glow-in-the-dark-ish orange cardboard box, I had to close my eyes a bit to avoid being blinded. It was however pretty easy to make out on the shelf.
The cardboard is fairly sturdy, and it has a weird window on the front.
Through the window you can see a bit of what is inside. But not really enough to properly make out what it is. It doesn’t seem to fit together at all.
I hate sloppy box work. They spent more time deciding to make a slightly swerve-y cut out, than what to actually see through the cut out part.
The box contains no details about anything at all apart from the Samaroli name.
The bottle on the other hand makes a bit more sense.
A black barroom style bottle, with a big, stylish label on it. Made in pale colours it has a new feel to it when compared to the massive amounts of old style pirates and boats and parrots and script fonts.
The label has all the most important information about the rum and on the back we find a similarly big label, with a lot more details on it. Actually a great effort.
But then. A tin foil screw cap. But why?!?!
Well, I never really likes those. And especially not on my €200 rums. I just expect more luxury than that. But searching for clues to this idiotic decision, a professional actually told me that Samaroli had been doing tests and had found that the metal screw caps actually made for a better seal than the typical cork. The rum avoided going stale longer when using the screw cap.
I haven’t seen the research and I am in no way able to question that claim. If it is real enough, then by all means stop using corks! I like my rums not-stale for very long periods of time.
When twirled it leaves a thin film on the inside of the glass, and quickly a lot of thin legs starts to crawl down the glass.
Beautiful light straw colour, with an almost yellow hue.
Super pungent. Very clearly a Jamaican rum.
Starts out with a oaken kick in the face.
As it airs out a bit, the concentrated fruits underneath ascend and starts gently massaging the inside of my nostrils.
Lots of green apples, with a splash of stale cola and a drizzle of vanilla.
There is also a lot of juicy pineapples and overripe bananas in the mix.
The pungent, fruity nature of the rum makes for a very strong and forceful approach. But at the same time it feels like the very dominating parts are suppressing a lot of more gentle elements.
The first sip brings along a sensation I haven’t quite seen before.
First is bombarded my palate with loads of flavours so intense, that my mind refused to identify anything. Secondly it introduced a very fast and intense drying effect.
It feel quite spicy from the beginning with a good, strong mixture of oaks, salt and pepper, star anise and a little smoke.
The fruits has taken more of a secondary role on the palate.
As the fruits finally does emerge, the first reference is banana split. Baked bananas, caramel and vanilla ice cream.
In the background the pineapple and green apples run around unable to find their rightful place among the other, stronger elements.
Overall it is super yummy. Perhaps a bit too spiced for some and perhaps too fruity for others.
It feels a bit layered, and I could have wished for at bit better integration between the elements.
And in the end it is over very fast. The drying effect keeps working until your mouth is squeaky clean. And then your saliva production goes nuts, and starts demanding more of this tasty treat.
In the end you are left with a faint taste of baked banana and nothing else. A perfect underlining of the fruity nature of this rum.
Rating and final thoughts
Oh, how I love Hampden. The insane Jamaican funk. The extreme fruits.
It seems to keep exciting me every time I visit one of these rums.
In this case the nose and the palate wasn’t perfectly in tune. The dominating part of the nose, took the back seat on the palate, and vice versa. A funny little trickery of pot still funk.
However the massive funk also brings a couple of edges and a couple of things witch goes far off the reservation. And even though it makes everything very exciting, it also leaves a couple of things to be desired. Better balance, better integration between flavours, a longer farewell. Just to name a few.
It is still a great rum mind you. It tastes great and I would happily introduced it to anybody as a very good rum.
The flavours aren’t the only things which turns loopy. The price is unfortunately also quite crazy.
Going for somewhere around €270 in my location, I find it hard to justify buying this over some of the other great offerings out there. Again: If you can find two bottles of Velier Demerara, you could get those. Even the Silver Seal 22 y.o. Hampden also from 1993, is available for cheaper.
Not to mention the entire Compagnie des Indes Single Casks for Denmark series, which are averaging around half the price of the Samaroli.
Unless this is the only Hampden you miss to complete your collection, I wouldn’t recommend buying it. There is many alternatives and many of them are even better.
Never the less, this is a very good drink, and it lands a solid…