Down Island Jamaica HD 2012


Down Island arrived on the American independent bottling scene in 2022 with four single cask rums, among which was their “HD 2012.” Thorough analysis of the rum’s extremely cryptic title reveals that it was made at Hampden Distillery, where it was aged for three years in American oak. It was then shipped to the UK and aged for an additional seven years before being bottled at 60%.


On the nose, I get cola (more Fentiman’s than Coca-Cola), mushrooms, campfire, moss, black pepper, and green cardamom pods. I might have a hard time identifying this as Hampden in a blind, but the cola note is a good hint.

The palate presents much more like Hampden than the nose initially did. Cola and mushrooms rule, with plenty of black pepper cracked on top. There’s some pineapple, too, but it’s more like pineapple upside-down cake than fresh fruit. I also get some… grilled watermelon? A quick Google search reveals that’s a thing, so I’m sticking with it! The oak is on the lighter side and well integrated. This is definitely on the lower end of the ester spectrum, but Hampden still rocks down there.


My expectations were unreasonably low going in to this one; maybe it was the lack of trust in a new independent bottler, maybe it was the knowledge that this might be OWH, Hampden’s lowest ester marque. Regardless, this exceeded my expectations. Even if it is OWH, it’s still packed with flavor and very fun to drink. I really appreciate its restrained oak influence, which is a commendation I can’t necessarily give to the older tropically aged Hampdens I’ve had. I think I would still choose the original Overproof over the Down Island, but I’m nonetheless impressed. Another great Hampden, and a great first showing from a new IB. I’m rooting for you, Down Island! (7/10)