What is it? Single Blended Rum (molasses based, column and pot still, single distillery) from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados. This is from the Foursquare Exceptional Cask Selection and we’re up to issue number 16 now with the rum named Shibboleth; I’m not going to go into details on the name and what it means, you can find that elsewhere as I guess part of the fun these days with Foursquare ECS releases is trying to figure out what the Hell the name means, and I don’t want to take that away from you! The rum is 16 years old and fully matured in Barbados (as well as being fully fermented and distilled there too). That’s a long old time in the tropics for aging when you start to look at the fact it can be up to 3 times more interactive than European aged spirits, so you’re looking at somewhere between 32 and and 48 years old European equivalent! The rum was matured solely in ex-bourbon casks so there’s no double maturation or finishing going on here, just like with the Nobiliary.
I don’t know how many bottles were in the release of this, not a lot, usually with something like this it’s around 6000 per region (US and Europe) so around 12,000 in total. We’re probably in that ballpark again.
Bottled at 56% abv, not coloured and not chill filtered.
Nose: It immediately smells old; loads of varnished wood, old bookcases, beeswax and well worn leather. There’s some lighter cask notes with coconut, real vanilla, and some thinner caramels. Prickles of spice from nutmeg and clove but it’s fairly restrained, well tempered and actually quite “easy”. We’ve a few salty olive notes and a bit of grease thrown in for good measure if we go looking for it, but it’s hidden under the weight of the oak. The odd red apple and occasional raisin turns up every now and then towards the end.
Palate: Nice and fat in the mouth, really good weight. Very easy entry with little heat for the abv – ok, I’m used to drinking rum at this strength, I do admit. Oaks again, fresh cut wood at first and then on to the varnish, polish, beeswax. Roasted nuts here now, leather and a touch of golden syrup. Lighter vanillas and coconut mid way, cloves towards the end and a touch of that red apple from the nose.
Finish: Very long. We’re getting the same as the palate and nose here without much more so I’m not just going to rinse and repeat….
Thoughts? Sigh. Ok, let’s start with the good news; it’s excellent rum, really easy to drink and tastes really old. Now for the not so good news; not much more other than lots of oak. I was really hoping for more fruit and phenols to sit amongst the oaks, and there are certainly some hidden away but it’s really hard work to find them and when you do they’re just “there” without really integrating. I’ve naturally seen quite a few reviews of this rum and I’m sure many people will disagree with me but I’m not getting much more depth here and that’s a shame. Now I don’t want this to come across as a negative review as this is about as far away from bad rum as you can get, it’s awesome, but there’s something missing here for me. Maybe the problem is that we’ve got the Nobiliary in our memory and that was just so damn good that it’s overshadowing what is coming along next.
£85? Of course it’s worth it and of course I’d get another bottle if it were possible, but I just wanted more from this than it was able to give me.