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  • Writer's pictureStuart Pearce

Velier Pagos & Papalin Review

Updated: Jul 17, 2022

Time to review a few much anticipated recent releases from Velier ("The Tropical Dependent Bottler").

Anything released by Velier, in it's distinctive black bottles, comes with an associated reverence and inaccessibility! So I was very happy to pick up bottles of these to open and share at the secret rum bar :-)

What have what we got here? Three limited release, ground breaking, experimental rums!

The two Papalin are a blend of 7 year tropically aged rums from Worthy Park and Hampden. As far as I know this is the first 100% distillery aged blended bottling of Hampden and Worthy Park. A Jamaican treat.

And Pagos - the first Hampden rum to be aged at the distillery in barrels previously used to age high quality Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherry.

As you would expect, both the Hampden and Worthy Park elements of these rums are molasses based, pot stilled, unsweetened, uncoloured, ester forward traditional Jamaican rums.

30ml of each, left to open up for 25 mins, nosed first, then tasted, in increasing abv order. Assisted today by ... erm ... the tour de france :-)

Left to right - Papalin 47, Pagos, Papalin 57

Velier Papalin 7 year, blue label, 47%, 6000 btls, £50

80% Worthy Park (not clear which mark), 10% Hampden HLCF (ex-bourbon), 10% Hampden HLCF (ex-sherry)

Nose: Hello Jamaica! It's fresh, with loads of fruit. Zesty, minty and decent splash of sweet, buttery esters. Not wild but really inviting. Some acetone and polish. The 20% Hampden is making itself known from the word go.

I find this well balanced, and very enjoyable to nose. Burnt pineapple, black bananas, everything you'd expect from these two incredible distilleries.

Think Hampden lead with a full orchestra of Worthy Park in support. Very approachable. It works!

Mouth: Palate starts thin but quickly picks up depth and oiliness, and runs to good length. Zesty, buttery, with a good zing of candied pineapple. The wood influence is there although not enough for me. Overall taste is comparable to a decent, mid aged, Worthy Park with a little something extra from the Hampden. A good long finish. At £50/ €50 this is great rum. [bonus comparison to Hampden Estate bottling 8yr 46% and Worthy Park Estate bottling 45% - both similarly priced ... the blend is interesting, and similar quality level to the pure WP. A touch better than the Hampden.] A great value new bottling! Recommended [84pts]

Hampden Pagos, 100% Ex-Sherry Cask, 52%, 1200 btls, £85

As with all Hampden rums - wild fermented, using local spring water and dunder. Distilled in Hampden's distinctive high ester style.

Aging unknown (I've seen guesses online of 3-4 years, which seems reasonable to me). Mark - sadly also unknown!

I'm a big fan of sherry aged rum so looking forward this.

Nose: Wow - it's Hampden, but not as you know it! Sweet honeyed esters right upfront, vegetal olives and wood polish immediately behind. With a beautiful warm raisined depth creating a lovely backdrop.

Quite spicy, really well integrated. Some butter and chocolate. The furniture polish keeps popping back up. And a little smokiness. A lot going on but seems to work and look forward to a taste.

Mouth: On the palate the proceedings are reversed. Sherry forward, followed by the sweet honeyed Hampden esters and vegetal olive notes rounding it off.

More strawberry than Hampden usually offers - reminds me a little of the Savanna HERR strawberry funk. The sherry is working well here - offering a new rum experience. Rounded, complex and interesting. It's not without it's faults - the finish has rough edges, in fact, overall it's not too 'clean' but a really enjoyable new rum, and a great sign off interesting things to come. [85+pts]

Velier Papalin 7 year, red label, 57.18%, 1200 btls, £60

80% Worthy Park (not clear which mark), 10% Hampden HLCF (ex-bourbon), 10% Hampden HLCF (ex-sherry).

Nose: Compared to the blue label 47%, this is much more Worthy Park forward. The alcohol is quite aggressive and not too well integrated. I love Worthy Park so this is offering very familiar and tasty banana notes but overall it's not working that well for me.

A heady young Worthy Park with a little mid ester Hampden popping in and out. Quite a lot of young green apple and other under-ripe fruit. [calmed down after an hour+ in the glass. It's a young punchy rum!]

Mouth: Less accessible than the 47%. I'm usually a fan of higher abv rums but occasionally they're just too closed. And that's the case today. This blend is not a patch on other WP heavy blends (like Tiger Shark). The Worthy Park banana notes are there with a little acetone and some Hampden glue. But the flavours are hard to find - and the alcohol very aggressive and poorly integrated. Too young maybe? I suggest you buy the cheaper and more balanced 47% version. [82pts]

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