Hampden Estate is a rum distllery based in the Trelawny Parish in the northwest of Jamaica. It is one of the oldest sugar estates in the country dating back as far as 1753. However, it has only been distilling rum since 2010.
The Hampden Estate is the only distillery in Jamaica that specialises exclusively in the making of heavy pot still rums.
Hampden rums are synonymous with punchy fruity notes such as pears and bananas produced by esters during fermentation. There are also hints of warming oak spice and creamy vanilla.
In 1753 Hampden Estate operated as a sugar plantation. The distillery has maintained the same production methods and techniques for the last two centuries. These are using its own spring water, prolonged fermentation time with natural yeasts, distillation exclusively in pot stills, tropical ageing, and no added colourants and sugar.
Hampden Estate grows their own sugar cane without using chemicals. Their pure single rum is produced from molasses.
Fermentation is the most important part of the production process. It lasts for two weeks and uses natural yeast. There is a claim that the use of Dunder in fermentation may have begun at Hampden. It is stillage - waste from the still after distillation. Dunder is then produced into muck - a combination of cane juice, dunder, cane solids, molasses, and water. Usually 7 parts Dunder will be added to 11 parts fermented Molasses before distilling. This contributes to the super-flavourful, high-ester rums with ester content at 1,600 mg/l.
Hampden is renowned for pot still rums. There are four pot stills at the distillery. The oldest is a John Dore, which was installed in 1960 and can contain 7,560 litres. The Vendome, installed in 1994, can contain 18,900 litres. The Forsyth still came into operation in 2010, with a capacity of more than 22,000 litres. This still type is popular in the whisky industry. In 2016 the fourth pot still was installed by the South African firm TNT and has the same capacity as Forsyth.
Spirits are then filled into casks and aged in a tropical climate for at least 7 years.
Hampden only produces two rums under their own name: Hampden Rum Fire - White Overproof Rum and Hampden Estate Gold.
Hampden also supplies rums in bulk to many other blenders all over the world such as Smith & Cross, and Duppy Share.
Hampden operated as a large sugar plantation in 1753 under the ownership of Mr. Archibald Stirling of Scotland.
In 1779 Mr. Sterling built the Hampden Great House of which the ground floor served as a rum store until the early 1900s.
Post 1827 the estate came into the ownership of D.O. Kelly-Lawson who became Custos of St. James in 1875 and Justice Of The Peace of Trelawny.
During World War 1, Hampden constructed the Hampden Wharf in Falmouth for shipment of its sugar and rums. Today this is a major entry port for some of the world’s largest cruise ships. Additionally, the wharf facilities currently serve now as a major tourist hub.
In 1955, the old boiler house from Gales Valley on the Estate was donated by the owners of Hampden to Her Royal Highness Princess Alice. She arranged for it to be dismantled, block by block. Each building stone was accurately numbered, then transported to the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus and reassembled. This took around three years to complete. Today, the beautiful Georgian building from Hampden Estate stands as the University Chapel.
In 2009, Everglades Farms Ltd. Owned by the Hussey family, purchased the Hampden Estate. Since then, they have invested heavily in the estates. This has created jobs within Trelawny, improved the infrastructure, and provided considerable financial support for over 17 local communities and schools. The Hussey family are committed to the preservation of the great Hampden traditions as well as the preservation of old family business values.