What is it? Bajan rum, distilled, matured and bottled at the Foursquare distillery using molasses via a combination of column (Coffey) and pot stills. No details on the blend ratio is provided, as I suspect it changes with each batch based on taste profile. This is small batch rum, usually made up of around 112 casks per batch, which are 100% white American oak ex-bourbon casks (mainly from Jack Daniels). The rum is a minimum of 12 years old, all of which is tropically done; the casks are aged for around 8 years in the first maturation phase, where the spirit used is at 65% abv*. Once the first phase is done, casks are selected based on merit and potential, the spirit brought down to near bottling strength and casks refilled and matured for a further 4 years – this reduction in abv slows cask interaction and is a nice trick to stop tropically aged spirits from becoming wood soup.
Coloured, filtered and bottled at 40% abv.
*this is around the same abv that Scotch is filled at and it’s believed to be the most efficient abv for cask interaction – below 60% you get more water soluble compounds extracted from the cask, such as sugars in the form of hemicellulose (a spirit at 55% abv will extract twice the sugars of a spirit casked at 70% abv). Above 65% abv and you get more ethanol soluble compounds extracted from the cask, such as lignin (wood notes).
Sugar? Nope. No additives at all.
Nose: Caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, almonds and quite a lot of coconut; very big bourbon influence. Charred oak, burnt fruit toast (or teacake), smoke….or maybe the smoking of distant tobacco, old sun-baked leather. There is a little WD40 and black boot polish which makes it a big grubby (that’s good by the way!). Faintest suggestion of flowers, maybe an English hedgerow in summer.
Palate: Thick, coating and quite a sweet delivery actually. Rinse and repeat of the nose; vanilla, caramel, coconut and a bit of honey creeping in. After the delivery and initial taste it dries up fast and gets quite oaky, charred and spicy with ginger, cloves and nutmeg.
Finish: Mid to long and spiced. It gets very dry and quite hot on the finish. The mouth remains coated from the palate and the spice is cut by an intriguing smoked maple syrup like sweetness (can you smoke maple syrup?). There is a little oil or tar that I found on the nose too as it ends, just keeping it interesting.
Thoughts? To me, I find this “better” than Doorly’s 12 year old but not as “good” as the Exceptional Cask bottles that have been put out. It’s got a lovely mouth-feel, it’s not all sweet as the savoury notes balance it out well. Now this is the problem I have, and keep having with Foursquare core bottles; They put out incredible bottles in their Exceptional Cask range, these are not far from the same price as the core bottles but are vastly superior rums. Why would I buy a core bottling when I can grab a Port, or Zinfandel cask for the same price, or even a full proof 2004 for £5 more?! The rum is there, just put it in bottles please.
……saying that, the Exceptional Casks are limited run bottles, so if they all went then I’d buy this again for what I paid, which is anywhere between £35 and £40. I find it above average, but not at the level of greatness. I’d say a very good rum for someone who is into their bourbon.