Ah, Rum Fire. Originally released by Hampden Estate for the domestic Jamaican market with a cheap looking bottle, amazingly tacky 80’s vibe and MS paint-looking label and a name that doesn’t exactly scream drink me to the general public outside of the Jamaican scene. It has since then grown to (as almost everything form the Hampden Estate) cult status. And rightly so
Rum Fire is the last of the Big Three of Jamaican unaged overproof rums (Here’s a great overview of all three), and it seems to be fitting that this is the one to round of the trio. First we had the J. Wray and Nephews with its pot and column blended overproof, this began as a fringe rum only to be used if you want to set something on fire in a tiki bar. Luckily it became recognized as the quality rum it really is and it is now unmissable in any bar which takes its rum selection somewhat seriously.
Later on came the Rum Bar overproof from Worthy Park. Purely Pot still and funkier than Uncle Wray, this rum is still approachable to most people but it gets the Ester-geeks going a bit more. With its buttery and fruity taste it is a great rum for daiquiris, snaquiris and straight drinking alike.
Now we FINALLY have the ultimate evolution of Jamaican Unaged Overproof rum, the Charizard of the three. Evolved from the relatively low-heat Charmander of Wray and Nephews, to the medium-heat Charmeleon of Rum Bar and finally to the intense Rum Fire Charizard (this one’s for all you Pokémon lovers)
Rum Fire is produced at Hampden Estate Distillery and is a continuation of the tradition of siphoning unaged rum of questionable strength for own use. Since in the past most of the rum produced by Hampden and most Jamaican distilleries was used for export and blending, this illegal white rum was used on the island to fuel parties, make rum cake, fight illness and many more purposes.
It’s made in much the same way as the other Hampden releases, with a 10-14 day open air, wild yeast fermentation, dunder and muck added for extra bacterial and acidic supercharging. Pot still distillation and reduced to the standardized 63% before bottling.
Okay, enough build-up, let’s get into this bad boy
So see-through, it may look so uninteresting and gentle to the untrained eye. But we rum-nerds know better, proper unaged rums are beasts.
Well, my room will be smelling like Rum Fire for the next couple of hours… and I love it! Honestly if someone were to be able to make a candle or fragrance that smells like this, hit me up!
The smell is truly room-filling. Even as I’m writing, the glass is a bit away from me and the smell still tickles my nose. Apart from making my spidey-senses tingle, let’s get some actual tasting notes. The first hit is fat and buttery, very much like the Rum Bar on steroids. It’s very pungent, the alcoholic sensation you normally get from nosing a spirit from closeby is now almost constantly present, but it’s more ‘freshly baked cartoon pie on the windowsill dragging me in through my nose’ vibes. The alcohol isn’t sharp or disruptive, it’s full and drawing me in.
After leaving the dram breath for a while, the fruit starts coming through. It’s such a smooth transition. First bananas, then pineapple, coconut and other tropical fruits. After a considerable amount of time I’ve forgotten all about the butter and I’m now in Jamaica surrounded by heaps of fruit, the bananas are starting to rot a bit, nice. Also there are a bit of briny olives on the side
Noticeable absences are the notes of varnish and paint-stripper. This makes the rum fuller and fruitier.
The first sip as expected is a bomb of atomic proportions. First of all the 63% ABV hits at first, but gives way to a tidal wave of fruit which is then quickly replaced by a buttery blast to then again subside to a lasting fruity flavour. I haven’t taken another sip yet, so it’s safe to say this rum is something else.
Sip 2, here we go. Yep, still good. The alcohol is still present and it’s still warming and filling instead of off-putting and sharp, it translates into a warming pepper-y spice. It’s also dry as hell and even a bit acidic (if I can believe those diagrams which show the flavour receptors on the tongue).
On the palate I do get a bit of varnish, but it’s very fruity and not what I’m used to in Hampden’s it seems like this is the only toned down aspect in this belter of a rum. Other notes are of course the typical fruit bouquet (pineapple, banana, other tropical fruits), and again that fatter butter pops up, but it’s lessening with each sip. The briny olives are almost meaty and my mouth is nearly numbing in a delicious punch.
The finish is everlasting and I really don’t want it to end. I kind of don’t want to clean my teeth ever again, like you don’t really want to wash your hand after shaking it with a celebrity.
Tastewise, the finish is spicy, slightly hot, fruity and dry.
I’m taking another sip, let’s do this again.
Rum Fire. Jamaicans know what’s up. Not only with this but also the Rum Bar and Wray and Nephew’s (reviews of these will be coming). The rum fire is an experience, that’s the least you can say about it. It’s a more well-balanced rum than, say a River Antoine. The room-filling aromas and explosive flavours are enough to make you dream about it for weeks.
On the one hand this rum is so special and good, I can’t believe this rum isn’t drunk everywhere. On the other hand, I can believe that only a very select group of people (including Jamaicans, ester-geeks, and experienced rum drinkers) will enjoy this, there is no way a newcomer in rum will like this, even be able to keep it in. 90% of people will think this’ll kill them instantly, and that’s okay for me (that means there’s more for us)
Unsurprisingly this also works amazing in cocktails: Rum Fire & Ting, nuclear daiquiri, or even a supercharged zombie just to name a few.
Rum fire simply is the best unaged(not even solely Jamaican) rum *Jeremy Clarkson voice* in the world.