The Hampden Great House Series, Ranked

Welcome to one of the best series in rum from one of the best distilleries in rum. Now on its fourth consecutive annual release, rum reviewers now have enough entries to properly rank the series, and rank they have. Being the extremely serious reviewer I am, it’s a matter of personal responsibility that I offer my thoughts.

No 2019, sorry. This release was exclusive to Europe, and it’s pretty hard to come by these days. 2020 contains the same blend of marques, so don’t feel as though you’re missing out too badly if you aren’t able to try this one.

Hampden Great House Edition 2020 (80% OWH / 20% <>H, ABV 59%)

On the nose, I get black licorice, wet leaves, cola, sweet dark cherries and cherry pits, and vanilla. On the palate, Fentiman’s cola takes the lead, followed by mixed berry preserves, cinnamon, clove, allspice, and black pepper. 

Though this feels to me like the oldest and most well-behaved of the bunch, it’s still full of character and complexity. If there’s a bottle of this collecting dust on your local store’s shelf, stop reading this and buy it now. (8/10)

Hampden Great House Edition 2021 (50% LFCH / 50% <>H, ABV 55%)

The nose here is more fruity than the ’20. I get Red Vines candy, sour cherries, pineapple, sawdust, orange peel, and caramel. On the palate, the Fentiman’s cola from ’20 has turned into syrupy cherry Coca-Cola. There’s more Red Vines, more pineapple, some baking spices, and a little super glue starting to creep in.

This is situated between the ’20 and ’22 both in chronology and character; it’s more youthful and lively than the former, yet less so than the latter. It’s a nice compromise. The via media of Hampden, for all my Anglicans out there. (8/10)

Hampden Great House Edition 2022 (74% HGML / 26% LFCH, ABV 55%)

On the nose, I get glue, pineapple, fresh mint, menthol cough drops, and wet cardboard. Going for a sip, I taste the cherry cola from before, now mixed with Dr. Pepper. There’s more pineapple and sour cherries, but also passionfruit and butterscotch.

This is definitely the funkiest of the bunch and perhaps the most difficult to describe. Returning to the ’20 after the ’22 is jarring, as it comes across so much more polite and cask driven. The Great Houses are clearly getting funkier and younger throughout the years, and if you ask me, they’re getting better. (8/10)

Final Ranking

So who wins? I do, because I get to drink all of this rum.

But which Great House do I like most? It’s a tough call. All three are consistently excellent yet very different from each other. As revealed by a blind side-by-side tasting I did of all three, they’re unique enough to easily be distinguished from one another. It’s close, but…

2022 > 2021 > 2020