Rum Sixty Six 12 year old Cask Strength

What is it? Bajan Single Blended rum (pot and column still rum, from molasses, distilled at a single distillery) from the Foursquare distillery in St Philip, Barbados. This rum is one of the brands/rums produced by the Foursquare distillery and uses a recipe that was originally reserved for family members. It is named after the year of Bajan independence in 1966, hence the Sixty Six. The rum, as with most Foursquare blends, is blended after distillation and before cask fill so that the rums have the full maturation period to marry together – in this case for at least 12 years, all of which is done tropically in ex-bourbon casks. This rum is produced in small batches (100-120 casks per batch), and the rum is first matured for around 8-10 years before being sampled, selected and the chosen rums re-racked for the remainder of the maturation period. Now, the bottle does refer to this as “Cask Strength”; I don’t believe that this is truly a cask strength rum in the literal sense, but more in the message of the rum. What I mean is, it is impossible for a rum that is small batch from a 100 or so casks to come out at exactly 59% abv every single time for every single batch – the abv has either been rounded to the nearest full percent abv or (I suspect) is a slightly higher abv that has been diluted a little to take it to 59%, this way they can get the batches done and bottled at the same abv every bottling run. I may be wrong on this, just my opinion.

Not coloured, not chill filtered and bottled at a whopping 59% abv.

Sugar? No way in hell.

*No water has been added for this review, I’ve been drinking it at full whack so that’s how I’m reviewing it*

Nose: Wow. It’s big, and I don’t mean the abv, the smells are intense. Grilled coconut, roasted peanut, pecans and cashews, smoked almonds with that sticky sugar stuff on it. Dark chocolate, vanilla fudge, butterscotch, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground ginger. Big whiffs of old leather jackets, distant pipe tobacco and a salty, brine’y olive note. There is a smell of dried leaves, soil, grease and cut grass – like your hands smell when you’ve been in the garden using an old petrol mower – dirty, mucky, but wonderful. I could smell this all day long.

Palate: Full and coating, even at 59%. Hot, it’s 59% though right! Dangerously drinkable at full proof, and that’s how I’ve been drinking it. It really doesn’t need water at all but if you do add any then it swims like a fish and gets fatter, oilier and lets some of the sweeter notes come out. Basically, this is the same here as the nose, it carries through all those intense flavours well. If anything it’s more fudge’y and has extra butterscotch here, with less nuts. Mid-palate the grease, oil and olive come out with some red chillies that have been dipped in dark chocolate. There’s a lovely taste on the back end of the palate that is a mixture of camphor and the taste I expect boot polish to taste like if you could taste it, if you know what I mean.

Finish: Waaaaaaaaay long. You measure the length of the finish in parsecs, not minutes. Hot, naturally, but not unpleasantly so. Stem ginger, black peppercorns, chillies then nutty, sweet oak, coconut, caramels, maple syrup, vanilla fudge and dark, dark chocolate. There is a tiny bit of salty olive right at the end to remind you it’s also savoury and that camphor note creeps in every now and then.

Thoughts? Holy shit this is good. I’ve always felt that the “core” range of Foursquare rums played second fiddle to “everything else” they do; the Exceptional Cask Selection, Habitation Velier, other Velier collaborations etc, but not this. This is what the core range needed, a rocket up it’s arse. It is indeed exceptional rum, the intensity of flavour that is packed in here is incredible, yet it’s so easy to drink at full strength is scary, and as always with Foursquare, the balance of flavour is harmonious. I simply cannot fault it.

Let me put some perspective around this; it’s at least 12 years old, it’s tropically aged, it’s pure/undoctored rum, it’s 59% abv and it cost me £44. Yes, you read that right, £44! C’mon. I just can’t get my head around this – why would I not buy this rum?! (Rhetorical question by the way).

A rum I’ll have in my cabinet for as long as they keep making it.

 

 

Foursquare 14 year old (2001) – Kill Devil

What is it? Molasses based rum blended from rum produced on a twin column still and a pot still, at the Foursquare distillery in Barbados, making this a Single Blended Rum. As with (pretty much) all Foursquare rums, this rum was blended after distillation but before ageing and therefore the marrying and full maturation has been done in-cask. This rum is a single cask rum that was distilled in August 2001, aged for 14 years (I can’t say if this was tropically or not, as there are no details) and then bottled by Hunter Laing for their Kill Devil range of rums as one of 353 bottles produced.

Natural colour, not chill filtered and bottled at 46% abv.

Sugar? No way.

Nose: Oh, now, hang on. Very interesting indeed! Not what I was expecting at all; quite a savoury and phenolic Foursquare we have here with boot polish, smoked almonds, printer toner, warm paper straight of out said laser printer, beeswax and black olives. Under this there is that lovely Foursquare oaky toffee, smoked coconut, figs and vanilla custard. A tiny green banana and a touch of clementine (of all things) show up. Hmmm, am I sure that this is blended? There is a lot of pot still in this bad boy that’s for sure.

Palate: Perfect mouth feel, oily and juicy. Mirrors the nose and starts off with extra virgin olive oil, a licked stamp, marzipan and candle wax. Then comes the spicy oak, but the sweet notes are dirty sweet, if that makes sense; tobacco toffee, salted vanilla cream, spiced coconut oil, it’s almost got this Umami taste to it. The back of the palate has that little green banana, but it’s ripened a little more and there is that lovely lift of clementine zing and orange caramel at the end.

Finish: Long, glorious, salty, sweet, phenolic, chewy – all things that don’t go together but put them together and they sing – like sweet and salted popcorn or a smoked citrus fruit. There are drying tannins and a bizarre Earl Grey/Lapsang Souchong love-child of a tea. Again right at the end there is this lemon’y, orange’y caramel fudge note that is beautiful. I’ve struggled to cover off all the flavours of the palate and finish here, there is simply too much going on for my brain to comprehend. It’s exactly like Umami, you can’t explain to someone what it is or what it tastes like, but you taste it and you know.

Thoughts? Crickey, now this shows how damn good Foursquare rums really are. Take a single cask from anywhere else, get a mix of cask, oily savoury and sweet flavours, and have it all blend harmoniously – go on, I dare you, find me one. This is a single cask. How the hell are all these flavours in here and blending so well. Most distilleries would struggle to produce something like this from a massive blend of casks and here we are with 1 single cask of Foursquare. The ability of Richard Seale to produce rums like this, blend the rums before they go into the wood, and get a result like this is astonishing. The guy is a wizard.

I’m putting my head above the parapet here, but this is one of my favourite Foursquare rums, it beats a lot of the official bottlings for me, and that says something. Now, it’s not going to be to everyone’s tastes and it’s not the “classic” Foursquare you’d expect, but as a rum is brilliant.

£55?!? That’s all that this cost me? Take all my money, please, just take it.

Foursquare Dominus

What is it? Single Blended rum from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados, so pot and column still rum that has been produced from molasses and distilled at one distillery, then blended. This bottle is release number 7 from the Exception Cask Selection, and as with the previous Foursquare Exception Cask Selection bottles, this rum is blended after distillation and before ageing so that the entire blend is aged together – the pot and column still rums are not aged separately and blended at the end. In terms of maturation, this rum spent 3 years maturing in ex-bourbon casks before being moved over to ex-Cognac casks for a further 7 years, giving a total of 10 years maturation; all of which was done tropically, so around 20 or so years European equivalent, and was bottled in January 2018 as part of a limited run of 6000 bottles in Europe.

Not chill filtered, but coloured, and bottled at 56% abv.

Nose: Lots of oak at the start, cinnamon, clove and ginger. The usual Bajan honeycomb, vanilla and thin golden syrup come along, a touch of orange oil, spiced caramel and some red chillies. There are some deeper phenolic notes under this with WD40, engine oil, olives and a little brine, but the oak dominates over all.

Palate: Perfect weight, oily full mouth but not cloying. Hot and spicy at first with peppercorns, chillies and clove. Some spiced toffee, caramel sauce, vanilla pod and chilli infused milk chocolate mid-palate. The oily, briney note carries through here, a little tar, some candle wax and rubber gloves. Still spicy, right to the finish.

Finish: Very long. Hot and spicy. More chocolate here as the spices die off, a little liquorice candy (Pontefract cakes), black unsweetened coffee, honey on burnt toast and a little raisin note at the end. The spices never really leave though, the buzz stays on your tongue right to the very end and gets slightly bitter.

Thoughts? Another cracking rum form Foursquare. This is better, in my opinion, than the Premise but not as good as the Criterion. The thing with Cognac casks is that they are made from Limousin oak, and the thing with Limousin oak is that it’s bloody spicy, tight grained and can really dominate spirits. It gets blended out in Cognac as they use Eau De Vie from lots of different years and massive batches, but here it has a full 7 tropical years to muscle the rum about and it’s frankly too much really. The Habitation Velier 2013 was maturated in ex-Cognac but that was only for 2 tropical years and that was perfect, whereas this has seen too much time. It’s too spicy and as a result the rum looses the usually perfect balance that Foursquare brings……

….still, it’s a really, really good rum by anyone’s standards and it was a bargain for the £55 it cost. Yes. I certainly would buy it again.

 

Foursquare Premise

About time I got round to the Foursquare Premise review!

What is it? Single Blended Rum (Molasses based Pot and Column still from the same distillery) from the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. The rums are distilled in their various stills and blended at new make spirit, prior to ageing. This allows the distillery to chose the type of rum they want to end up with, flavour profile wise, before ageing it. The resultant blend is then put into ex-bourbon casks for 3 years, after which it is moved into ex-sherry casks for 7 years, giving a total age of 10 years old. All ageing is done tropically.

The rum is limited to 15,000 bottles and makes Mark 8 of the Exceptional Cask Selection rums from Foursquare. Reviews of the other Exceptional Cask Selection rums can be found on my Rum Reviews page here.

The rum is coloured, chill-filtered and bottled at 46% abv.

Sugar? Don’t be daft.

Nose: Yep, I’ve definitely poured a Foursquare product into my glass, no doubt about that! Quite oaky at first and a lot of bourbon cask influence initially with coconut, vanilla, caramel and clove. Once accustomed it’s easy to pick out the sherry wood; soft, warm leather, figs, raisins and black plums. There is a hint of orange rind, some black peppercorns and fresh liquorice root in there too. Right on the back end of the nose I’m picking up varnished wooden furniture and the smell you get on your hands after reading an old book. A few musty cardboard boxes appear too – it’s a good smell, they’re not too musty and just add a further depth of age to the nose.

Palate: Really good weight in the mouth. Spicy, a lot more so than I was expecting actually, and very very dry and tannic. Immediate sherry notes here, dry roasted peanuts, very dark chocolate (90% stuff), cold tea, dates and currants (the small and slightly bitter ones). A little engine oil type note, the taste of licking the back of an envelope or stamp, ink and old leather. A quick grind of black pepper just to finish off.

Finish: Medium, shorter than I was hoping for. Spicy here too! Again very dry indeed, tannic with breakfast tea, that dark chocolate again and a chewed pencil (lead included). Not really much to add to from the palate notes and carries the sherried dried fruits into the finish with the figs, raisins and plums. Bone dry as it goes on.

Thoughts? Another great rum from Foursquare, it reminds me a lot of Rum SixtySix actually but with a concentrated dark fruit element, which certainly aint no bad thing. The sherry casks work well with the Foursquare profile, which I’m assuming was a dry sherry such as Oloroso. If you don’t mind a very dry rum then it’s easy to drink and quite complex. If you prefer a sweeter style than this one may not be for you and will be a step too far.

Personally, I don’t find this rum as good as the Criterion – but then that was incredible and a much higher abv – it’s unlikely it was ever planned as a contender for it. The Premise sits easily on a par with the Port Cask from 2015. If I was picking at anything then I’d rather have a bit less oak and a bit more fruit, but they really are minor details.

£45? Yes please!

 

Foursquare 2004 Cask Strength (11 year old)

With the recent release of the new Foursquare Exceptional Casks, specifically the 2005 Cask Strength, I thought I’d check my notes on the 2004. Imagine my surprise when I released I’ve not actually posted a review for the 2004 Cask Strength yet! What the hell happened there then?! Too much rum, too many pieces of paper and a brain that has been turned to jelly by having kids, that’s what. So better late (2 years) than never as they say:

What is it? The Third bottling in the Foursquare Exception Cask series. It’s molasses based rum produced on both Pot stills and twin column stills at the same distillery, Foursquare in St. Philip, Barbados – so a Bajan Single Blended Rum. The distillate from both still types is blended when it’s raw spirit and then put into ex-bourbon casks to age tropically, in this case for 11 years. The rum was distilled in 2004 (hence the name) and bottled in September 2015.

As far as I’m aware the rum does have some colouring in it. There are no details about chill-filtration but the rum does go slightly cloudy with water so any filtering has been minimal. Bottled at full cask strength of 59% abv.

Sugar? Not a cat in Hell’s chance.

For the purpose of this review I’ve taken the rum down to around 55% abv.

Nose: Ok, this is pretty damn awesome……pretty oaky as you’d expect, a lot of bourbon influence with vanilla, warm wood, smoked coconut, gingerbread, light rolling tobacco and pecans. There’s a lovely biscuit’y note that reminds me a lot of Digestive biscuits and brown sugar that has been melted with butter in a pan as if you were making a cheesecake base or something. There are some fresh cane notes too, that I wasn’t expecting, hay, and the odd green banana. Under all this there are some meaty savoury notes of fresh liquorice root, tar, engine oil, sea water, dusty dry soil blowing about in the wind and very good olive oil.

Palate: Surprisingly not as hot as you’d expect, good full mouthfeel and very dry. Really quite savoury at the start with salty green olives, salted and smoked lemons, tar, creosote and wasabi. The savoury dies off a little leaving dark chocolate, roasted pecans in a salted caramel, donuts but without the sugar (just the batter) and ginger biscuits. There are some lovely lifting grassy cane notes again part way through that keep it fresh as the sweeter side starts to settle in.

Finish: Long, very long. Oaky and bitter dark chocolate, vanilla, coconut – we’re back to the nose again – a little touch of orange maybe or marmalade that creeps in and whilst it’s certainly not sweet the sweeter notes dominate over the savoury side here, but it’s dry and puckering at the same time.

Thoughts? Fabulous stuff. Really. What a beautiful rum; it’s got everything you could want in it and it takes water like a fish. I dropped it down to 40% abv for a trial and all the flavours were still great. What’s worrying about this is that even at 59% it’s dangerously drinkable, but I’ve found the sweet spot is at about 55% (which is why I’ve reviewed it at that), and there it really allows that perfect Foursquare balance to show off.

So I bought this so long ago I don’t even remember how much I paid for it, I think it was about £45!! Absolute no brainer, and what’s even better is that it’s still available to buy (at the time of publish). So if you’re thinking about picking up a 2005 Cask Strength I urge you to pick up this 2004 also and compare the two. You will not be disappointed.