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 was 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.

R L Seale’s 10 year old

What is it? Single Blended Rum from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados, so a blend of Pot still and Column still rums produced at the same distillery. Molasses based, the rum is distilled in the respective stills with the resultant spirits being blended together according the recipe for Seale’s 10, the blend is then put into ex-bourbon casks to mature, tropically, for a minimum of 10 years. Note, this isn’t a case of column still and pot still rums being aged separately and then blended at the end, these are blended first before maturation.

Incidentally, this rum is named after Richard Seale’s great-grandfather and founder of Foursquare distillery, Reginald Leon Seale.

Coloured, chill filtered and bottled at 46% abv

Nose: Quite understated and shy on the nose, you really need to get your face into the glass if you want to find the deeper flavours. Plenty of coconut, almond and oak at first, followed by the expected caramels, nutmeg, butter toffee, cloves and cinnamon. There is a little banana, some salted butter, and a touch of vanilla showing up as things move along and also a really nice orange honey cake smell deeper down. All very easy, sweet and unoffensive, however, as you think things are moving along merrily you start to find grease, olive oil, paper that has come straight out of a lazer printer, new leather and pen ink. You know, just to keep you on your toes!

Palate: Full mouth feel, perfect weight. Dry delivery but with sweet identifiable flavours; caramel, vanilla and toffee pennies again, toasted brioch with salted butter, that orange cake from the nose, grated coconut and a whoosh of white pepper. It’s not spicy but it does have some heat to it certainly. There are the savoury notes too with olive oil, vaseline and an almost herby dried banana that is more salty than sweet (it’s really hard to explain), as things move to the finish it does pep up a bit with some chilli infused dark chocolate and salt & pepper cashew nuts.

Finish: Medium and very dry. This is where it gets spicier now; salted chillies, spiced black tea, 90% cocoa dark chocolate and a black pepper infused caramel. A little lift of apple….well, maybe mulled cider I guess, marzipan, coconut and plenty of gripping oak.

Thoughts? A real proper rum. If someone asked me for an example of a “real” aged golden rum then I’d name this. It’s got approachable sweet notes without actually being sweet and good depth/complexity with the savoury side to give that little extra. The balance between the two is, as always with Foursquare, excellent. I just find it a little shy and lacking a bit of whollop; you really need to spend time with it and go hunting for the flavours, they don’t come to you.

Once again though, I find myself looking at the Exception Cask releases, at how incredible they are and then feel disappointed with what’s in my glass.

Ok, let’s not nitpick here though, it’s bloody good rum and at £35 anyone who is into rum should have a bottle of this in the house.

Would I buy again? 100%.