Faultline Jamaica Rum (Hampden) 14 Year vs 16 Year

Faultline Jamaica Rum (Hampden) 14 Year vs 16 Year

I was fortunate enough to be sent a sample of the Faultline 16 year old Hampden from a fellow r/rum Reddit companion so I thought it would be fun to do a comparison of it to my 14 year old Faultline/Hampden. Here we go!

*****

Faultline Jamaica Rum (Hampden) 14 Year – 50%

Stats: This was a K&L Wine barrel pick from a few years back. The distillate comes from Hampden but I do not know which mark it is. It was aged 14 years in oak (presumably ex-bourbon) and is very light in color so presumably spent it’s whole life in Europe before being bottled at 100 proof and sent to California, eventually landing in Austin, TX.

Conditions: 1 ounce poor sipped neat in a Glencairn over the course of about an hour.

Nose: Initially get a heavy dose of harsh ethyl alcohol/varnish and even some chlorine notes that I wouldn’t expect from a moderately low proof spirit that spent so much time in wood. Hidden beyond that is Rice Krispie Treats, Cinnamon, nutmeg, papaya, green banana, sea mist. After a bit of time resting the harshness completely dissipates and a waft from a sweet shop appears. Then mysteriously a salty, musky, peaty quality comes out to play. Pencil shavings. Ripe pineapple. Chalk.

Mouth: Very thin, oily, sour. Overripe pineapple. Dirty gym socks meet two day old trash. Some pineapple presents itself. Old wood lingers along with a salty/umami thing. There’s next to no heat here, and sadly, not a lot of excitement either.

Final Thoughts: This was one of my prized bottles for a while. I think I was blown away by it when I first got it cuz I had no real basis for comparison. I really didn’t know what Hampden was a few years back and outside of Smith & Cross I don’t think I’d tried much from the distillery. This one just seemed so unique and bonkers compared to say… Appleton, But today it falls a little flat. Perhaps this is just a low mark and the long aging took away some of the character of the distillate. Or perhaps oxidation is at play here. The original cork disintegrated and I replaced it with what seemed an airtight stopper. The bottle is less than half full and several years old so maybe the air has done something to it because I remember it being more enjoyable.

My Score: 3

My Scale:
1 – I don’t want this in my mouth ever again
2 – Best used for mixing
3 – Decent sipper
4 – Very enjoyable
5 – I’m buying a back up bottle

*****

Faultline Jamaica Rum (Hampden) 16 Year – 62.5%

Stats: Similar to the above, there isn’t a whole lot of info on this one. I’d love to know what marks they are but the only information presented is the age and ABV. This has not only two extra years but an extra 25 proof!

Conditions: Same.

Nose: Brighter fruit notes. Less harsh “alcohol” notes despite the higher proof. Cinnamon covered pineapple on the grill. Green apple. Menthol. Confectioners shop, powdered sugar, vanilla frosting. With time the vanilla essence is magnified. Still getting that apple note that I associate more with whiskey than rum. Overall not extremely expressive or impressive.

Mouth: Super duper oaky. Lots of spice. Some rotten fruit and vegetable notes. Humidor. Some savory/umami. There’s a peat-like scotchiness that I got mildly with the 14 that’s more prevalent here. It has a medium mouthfeel with a small amount of burn that presents some overall but unidentifiable sweetness. The wood hangs around forever.

Final Thoughts: This somehow feels more like a scotch than a funky Jamaican rum. Tons of wood influence and the underlying distillate is more akin to a peat-fired barley liquor than a long fermented molasses based one. I enjoyed this more than the 14 by a small margin, but it’s nowhere near my favorite Hampden.

My Score: 3+

See scale above.

*****

Takeaway: Hampden produces some of the most interesting rum on the planet and is among my top three favorite distilleries. However, neither of these expressions seem essential to me at this point in my rum journey. Glad to try them.

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