Hmpdn, Foursquare, Caroni, New Yarmouth (Swell de Spirits)

Hmpdn, Foursquare, Caroni, New Yarmouth (Swell de Spirits)

Some sessions grow bigger once I get started. I planned to have three samples of recent rum releases from Swell de Spirits. But then I discovered a leftover samples from the same bottler, and then another one, and then more. I’m not a very organised person but now I understand what people mean with this feeling of a ‘clean desk’.


HMPDN 2012 – Low Esters (59,1%, Swell de Spirits ‘Pop’ for Inter Caves France 2023, ex-bourbon cask, 310 btl.)

Nose: mild but still recognizable as (basically estery) Hampden. You get nice mashed bananas and ripe pineapples, maybe papaya. Then light honey, almonds, cashew nuts and cardamom, as well as light mint and vanilla. Faint hints of ink, olive oil, concrete and new car interior, in Jamaica that’s probably a Toyota.

Mouth: rounder than what we’re used to from Hmpden, but definitely estery. Peaches and lightly fermented pineapples but also fresh citrus, dried mint and some pine resin and candle wax. Walnuts, olives and some tannins after a while, becoming slightly thinner and tangy.

Finish: a bit short and narrow, falling a bit flat. Some flints and salt, lemons and herbs.

Nice to see this waxier, less ester-forward side of Hampden. Highly drinkable, so we’ll forgive the fact that it doesn’t hold strong until the very end. Nice release.



Foursquare 2006 (59%, Swell de Spirits ‘Private Garden’ for Cave Versus 2023, bourbon cask, 281 btl.)

Foursquare 2006 - Cave Versus - Swell de Spirits Nose: rich molasses, brown sugar, with caramelized coconut and a nice dose of glue and oak varnish. Subtle hints of pine needles and aromatic thyme or even whiffs of jasmine. Just a hint of popcorn. Dried mango underneath. Really good.

Mouth: quite fierce, with green pepper and toasted wood, alongside caramel and chocolate. The coconut is back, with pineapple (syrup) and lemon. The woodiness is strong but provides a nice counterweight for the sweetness. A very gourmand selection, though perhaps a tad hot and spirity.

Finish: very long, with the right balance between sweet woodiness and and a fresher, citrusy element. A sharp, herbal edge in the end.

I’m usually not the biggest fan of this coconut-caramel-wood profile but here it works out really well. Foursquare often gets stuck at 86-87 points in my book, but this exceeds expectations. Exclusive to Cave Versus. Score: 88/100


Next up: Caroni 1998. Swell de Spirits already bottled a ‘Private Garden’ cask for Clos des Spiritueux but this one is for another retailer Intercaves Limoges.


Caroni 25 yo 1998 HTR (59,2%, Swell de Spirits ‘Private Garden’ for Intercaves Limoges 2023, bourbon + recycled rum cask, 140 btl.)

Caroni 1998 rum - Inter Caves Limoges - Swell de Spirits Nose: burnt caramel mixed with chocolate notes and bananas flambéed. Then hints of tweed, some menthol, shoe polish and wood spice. In the background I’m getting gunpowder, vegetal notes and light rubber, giving this one a dirty character. Old paint and hints of petrol too.

Mouth: nicely industrial. There’s tar and coffee, motor oil and green olives in brine. Also herbal essence, pine resin and liquorice. Quite tense and medicinal. Then also salty notes. Lacking some of the caramel notes perhaps, focusing more on the herbal sharpness.

Finish: very long, rather woody and spicy. Tarry notes in the end, along with flashes of pineapple.

Funkier than the other one, perhaps more typically Caroni because of this. Really good but very extractive. Exclusive to Inter Caves Limoges. Score: 88/100


We’ll thrown in two more rums from Swell de Spirits, bottled a while ago.


New Yarmouth 27 yo 1994 (66,7%, Swell de Spirits ‘Flashback #2’ 2022, barrel #435058, 359 btl.)

New Yarmouth 1994 - Swell de Spirits Flashback Nose: fairly round and accessible, with coconut scents, leather and maple syrup. Reminiscent of some American whiskey in a way. Then solventy wood, cake and fruits, like overripe orange and lemon grass. Hints of banana bread.

Mouth: still this bourbon vibe. Really active wood, mixed with molasses or even corn syrup and leather. Then honey and lime cordial, coconut shavings, burnt sugar and hints of nougat. Vanilla coating and ginger cake towards the finish.

Finish: long, with more cake and caramel, some metal polish, nutty notes and ginger.

We’ve had plenty of New Yarmouth 1994 lately, including a couple of sister casks. This is perfectly in line, having a lot of American wood influence and a fierce strength. Score: 87/100



HMPDN 9 yo 2013 <>H (66,3%, Swell de Spirits ‘Anniversary Cuvée’ 2023, New Yarmouth finish, cask #05086, 150 btl.)

Hampden 2013 rum - Swell de Spirits - Anniversary Cuvee Nose: an exuberant ester bomb. Lots of green olives in brine, varnishes, sour buttery notes, Loctite and benzine. Then truckloads of fermenting bananas, hints of vinegar, candied pineapple and graphite. Hints of tamarind and lemongrass too.

Mouth: very powerful, with more synthetic banana and pineapple flavours, acetone and brine. Hints of unripe mango. Then salted black olive, glue, a numbing rubbery dryness and petrol. A vaguely sweet metallic edge in the end.

Finish: very long and warming, on liquorice, echoes of banana and vanilla, with rubber and tea.

Love this. The fruits, the esters, the industrial hints. Maybe also the NY influence? Wicked rum, quite excellent. I’m not sure we had <>H from 2013 before, but it does leave a great impression. Score: 90/100



HMPDN 10 yo 2011 <>H (67,4%, Swell de Spirits ‘Wonders of the World’ 2021, cask #05086, 392 btl.)

Hampden 2011 - Swell de Spirits Nose: very similar, although it’s slightly less exuberant, perhaps the ABV is blocking some of it. Varnish and glue stands out, with diesel and brine. Hints of lemon zest, marmalade, rubber and marzipan too. I’m getting a faint coastal edge as well.

Mouth: rather extreme. I’m getting a bit more rubber, tar and this numbing dryness here, with less fruits than in the 2013. Still some mashed banana (or banana ice cream) though. Spicy wood, black olives and a hint of caramelised sugars later on, leaving a slightly sweeter impression in the end. Leathery dryness too.

Finish: long and sweeter, with vanilla, liquorice, black olive tapenade and almond.

Another strong personality.  In this line-up though, the anniversary cuvée has an edge for me. Not entirely unexpected for an anniversary bottling, right? Score: 89/100