Jamaican Rum Masterclass with Luca Gargano

From the archives, as part of my countdown to two weekends of whiskies – Paris Whisky Live 2022 and London Whisky Show 2022,

And what is this about? From Singapore Whisky Live 2018, I stumbled across a partially drafted post about a fabulous and fascinating masterclass with Luca Gargano on Jamaican Rum. While my flight back Sunday prevents me from joining his Paris Whisky Live 2022 masterclass, I would strongly recommend joining such a session with Luca – both to increase knowledge on rums and entertainment!

Our Jamaican Rum Masterclass with Luca explored five rums… of which notes for the following seem to have been lost in my old whisky tasting book…

  • Hampden Estate Overproof 60%
  • Long Pond’s Vale Royal VRW 2006 62.5%
  • Long Pond’s Cambridge STCE 2005 62.5%

However, I do have teasingly brief notes of two rums… alas without Luca’s colorful stories!

Worthy Park Single Estate Reserve 45%

  • Nose – Rich raisins, currents, very sweet, tight berries, tropical fruits, marigold or chrysanthemum, after some time muted apples
  • Palate – A bit of spice, slightly sour too, yet quite appealing, more of those rich raisins rolling around on the palate

Luca shared it is a new release and 1st edition, pot still, around 8 years, aging from 2009/10 then a blend…

Hampden Estate 46%

  • Nose – Quite aromatic, sweet sugars, almost cognac-like, vanilla, then quite tropical, burnt toast, caramel
  • Palate – Smooth, accessible, load of juicy fermented fruits, sweet and sour, well rounded

Luca noted it is around 8 years, aging from 2009/10…

Yup – that’s it! Not much however it reminds me of the value of taking good notes and writing up what is interesting immediately…. even if the posts are published much later. ūüėČ

And as a round up, here are more rums which I sampled with Luca earlier in the day in the VIP room:

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Jamaican Pure Single Rum – Hampden 2010 HLCF 68.5%

At the 2016 Whisky Live Singapore one of the most interesting Master Class was the¬†‚ÄúVelier Master Class: Pure Single‚Ķ‚ÄĚ with Luca Gargano and Dave Broom,¬†putting pure single rum head-to-head with single malts.

After experiencing the Hampden 2010, I was dying to share the unique experience with our Whisky Ladies! Luca was kind enough to indulge my wish and this bottle came back to Bombay with his compliments.

We sampled it completely blind, with no hint of what it was, coming after our “contributors choice” evening with Old Pulteney 21 year, Benromach 100¬į Proof¬†and¬†Bowmore Black Rock.


Hampden 2010 HLCF 68.5%

  • Nose – Mustard, licorice, varnish, egg nog, butterscotch, sweet maple, fig, nutmeg, milk then cheese, berries shifting into ripe grapes, over-ripe apples just before turning rotten, the¬†South African cream liquor Amarula, fruit & cream, nuts, shifting into ripe tropical fruits, sweet toffee banana, some cinnamon spice, pear drops, a bit of balsam wood sap
  • Palate – Very unexpected… a complete flavour explosion. Spicy, buttery, oily… lots of warm heat, toffee, lemon candy
  • Finish – Strong, heavy, more of the Amarula cream
  • Water – Smooths it out, all the wonderful flavours are still there but now more accessible and not so overpowering

The overall verdict was “Wow!” It was clear there was something distinctive, remarkable and very unique about what we were sipping.

One lady mentioned it was a bit like wasabi peas – the spice hits you and initially you may not entirely like it, but then you get past the ‘pain’ threshold and start to love it, unable to help yourself¬†from¬†eating more and more.

All shared they had never tasted anything quite like it.

I encouraged adding water – not a drop or two but instead a very generous pour of water. Much discussion ensued about its character. Some absolutely loved it, some found it extraordinary but peculiar.

The reveal was a complete surprise. Rum? Seriously rum?


There are a few spirits made with such craft that they achieve the calibre of a good single malt. Without a doubt, the Hampden achieves this. Similarly, the Tapatio Excelencia Gran Reserva Extra Anejo Tequila goes well beyond the standard tequila and could appeal to some whisky aficionados.

PS I did also share it with the gentlemen after our evening with Ghosted Reserve 21 year, Berrys’ Speyside & Islay... let’s just say they couldn’t wrap their palates around it.

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