Foursquare Redoutable

20210309_133923What is it? Single Blended Rum (molasses based, column and pot still, single distillery) from the Foursquare distillery in Barbados. This is an Exceptional Cask rum from the distillery, specifically Exceptional Cask Selection Mark 15 – Redoutable, and follows on from Détente (ECS14) and the 2008 Vintage (ECS13) – we’ve been a little late in getting this in the UK unfortunately. So what’s in the bottle this time? Well we’ve got a Madeira rum to play with here. As in usual Foursquare ECS fashion this is rum that was distilled in pot stills and column stills, blended together and then put into a variety of casks, after maturation the various rums are blended together again to get the end result. The casks used in this rum are both ex-bourbon casks and ex-Madeira casks but I don’t have details on the maturation makeup here; it may be that some of the rum was fully matured in ex-Madeira or may be that they were part matured in ex-Madeira and recasked to ex-bourbon. The total maturation time for the rums is at least 14 years, all done tropically in Barbardos – that’s a long time in the tropics, accounting for around 30-40 years worth of European aging in terms of interaction impact.

Released in limited numbers of 12,000 bottles worldwide; 6,000 in Europe and 6,000 in the US.

No coloured, not chill-filtered and bottled at cask strength of 61% abv.

Note: I’ve been drinking this rum at around 57% abv so that’s the strength I’m reviewing it at.

Sugar? Nope.

Nose: Black Forest cake soaked in cask strength Foursquare (something like a Vintage Release, 2007 or some such). Loads of dark cherries, blackberry, blackcurrant and a big dollop of dark chocolate. We’ve some black or red plums, meaty figgy notes, mushrooms and the smell of an Autumn forest floor – dropped leaves and damp soil. There are fainter smells of roasted pecans, almonds and cashews, some coconut and vanilla. Near the end there is old waxed leather, boot polish and a sharp lift with some zingy redcurrants or cranberry. Gorgeous stuff.

Palate: Full mouth, weighty stuff right here folks. Pretty easy on first contact, not really that hot at all. Big oaky notes initially with toasted oak, coconut, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Pretty drying and tannic. Then we’re on to the cherries and chocolate but with a kick, so we’re looking at some type of cherry, chocolate chunk and red chilli jam, pimentos, dark chocolate coated stem gingers, blackberry and black pepper compote. It’s a real mix of dark fruit, dry dark chocolate and just enough fragrant spice to prickle your mouth. Roasted nuts again but a bit more earthy here with walnuts this time and a little phenolic flurry at the end with grease, black olives and stamp glue.

Finish: Waaaaaaaay long. We’re right back to the nose with boozy rum soaked Black Forest cake and dirty muddy boots. Not much heat here either, save for a sweet red chilli or 2, then things sweeten to caramelised pineapple and plums. That tiny undertone of oil or grease lingers if you look for it which gives some nice savoury depth.

Thoughts? Another belter no doubt about that, as expected. This is the 4th Madeira matured rum so far, after Criterion, Sagacity and Diadem (although not an ECS releases but an exclusive to TheWhiskyExchange), it doesn’t live up to the Criterion for me but easily better than the other 2. It has the wallop over Sagacity and the balance over Diadem. It’s all the best bits of both added together and none of the flaws. For me this is a super winter warmer of a rum, a real heavy warmer and comforter of a tot. Is it my favourite ECS bottle from Foursquare? No it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cracking stuff but such is the quality of the rum coming along here all we can really compare Foursquare ECS releases to these days are other Foursquare ECS releases – I prefer this to some but not to others, that’s all I can say.

Retailed at £70ish, would I get another? Hell yeah! Can I? Shit no – this stuff sold out from the main shops within the hour it was released and various satellite shops sold their stock shortly after when everyone went hunting. Luckily I was able to get hold of one for my own personal consumption before all the “Investors” snapped them up.

Chairman’s Reserve Legacy

What is it? Single Blended Rum (pot and column still rum from a single distillery) produced by the Saint Lucia distillery, in Saint Lucia. SLD have a range of different stills to play with and use both molasses and sugar cane juice to make their rums, this gives them a vast array of profiles to use for their rum brands. One of the brands that SLD produce is Chairman’s Reserve and this bottling, Legacy, is the latest release (at the time of writing) to join the core range. I’m not going to go into the back story on this by just repeating what is available on the SLD website but in short it is named after former Chairman Laurie Barnard who pioneered SLDs current outlook of using multiple still types, barrel types and a proprietary yeast strain to allow the company to produce the wide range of rums for blending, at a time when many other distilleries were just using column stills for high yield output. You can read a bit more about it on the fact sheet here Chairman’s Legacy factsheet.

So what’s in the bottle then? Well:

Chairman’s Reserve Legacy is a blend of rums from the John Dore and Vendome Pot Stills and the Coffey Column Still. The rums vary in age from 5 years old to around 7.5 years old, tropically, and all aged in ex-bourbon casks. The breakdown is thus;

  • Pot Still John Dore 1. Rum aged 5 years. Sugar Cane Juice based (8%)
  • Pot Still John Dore 2. Rum aged 7.5 years. Molasses based (16%)
  • Pot Still Vendome. Rum aged 7 years. Molasses based (4%)
  • Coffey Column Still RR104 marque. Rum aged 5.5 years. Molasses based (72%)

The rum is bottled at 43% abv. There are no alterations but I believe that the rum is coloured and chill-filtered.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Very fragrant at first with lavender, white flowers, pine sap and hay. Things get deeper then with rich tobacco leaves, leather, hazelnuts, pecans, toffee and vanilla. There’s a little spice here too in the form of anise, cardamom, clove, then phenolic camphor and menthol. Flashes of fruit pop up throughout with orange zest, mango, passion fruit sharpness and banana.

Palate: Good weight to the mouth feel. Sweet entry but gets spicy. It starts out with a little toffee and dry cocoa then loads of wood with notes of ginger, clove, allspice, cut planks or a chewed pencil, black peppercorns and a little liquorice. Sweet tobacco smoke billows around, handfuls of roasted hazelnuts, dark chocolate sits with it and then mentholly, minty, camphory notes arrive; really quite herbal in parts. Not massively fruity here but where it is it’s orange, banana and tangy gooseberry.

Finish: Medium. Plenty of nutty toffee and more banana at the end, intermixed with smoke, a little ginger or pepper spice and bags of herbal notes in line with both the nose and the palate as it ends.

Thoughts? Very complex with loads going on to interest, but at the same time very easy to drink. We’ve sweet notes, cask input, herbal spices, it’s really very good indeed. Yet another notch in the post for Saint Lucia showing what they can do with their stills and base type when it’s blended together.

This was released at just under £40, for a real rum of this quality it’s got to be up there as bang-for-buck rum of the year. A cracking price for this and one I’d definitely recommend picking up, especially if you’ve not tried any Saint Lucian rum before.

If you fancy this you can pick this up from The Whisky Exchange here:

Chairman’s Reserve Legacy

Foursquare Détente

What is it? Single Blended Rum (molasses based, both pot and column still at a single distillery) from Foursquare in Barbados. This is Exceptional Cask Selection Mark 14 in the line-up of the range and it’s a Port cask one, yippee. Now the reason I’m so excited by this is because way back in 2015 the UK was treated to a Port cask “finish” rum from Foursquare as part of the ECS range – it was so new that the bottle was simply labelled as “Exceptional Cask Selection”, there wasn’t even a number on it – for the purpose of this we’ll call it ECS2. This rum was really the first proper rum I’d tried and what started my love affair with the spirit. So now we have another Port cask rum to play with. So what’s in this one? Well it’s back to the old “blend of a blend” that we know and love from Foursquare ECS cask treatment rums; pot and column rum is blended, some of it goes off to be matured for 10 years in ex-bourbon casks and some of it goes off to some other ex-bourbon casks where it sits for 4 years, at which point it’s moved over to to Port casks for 6 years. The resulting 2 rums (10 year ex-bourbon and 10 year ex-bourbon/Port) are blended together to get our resulting rum. So total aging is 10 years, all done tropically.

Not coloured, not chillfiltered and bottled at 51% abv. It’s worth noting this is not a cask strength rum, we’d be up to around 60% abv if there were the case. Richard Seale has experimented with the abv and found that 51% was the sweet spot on this one, so that’s why it’s been bottled at that strength.

This has an outrun of 21,000 bottles globally with 9000 of those in Europe.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Ah, this takes me back. All the way to that point in 2015 when I first stuck my nose into ECS2 (Port cask). Bone dry – yes, a nose can be dry 🙂 . Massive red and black fruits with black plums, black cherry, strawberries, blackberry jam and of course black grapes. Vanillas from the cask along with dark chocolate, cinnamon and nutmeg. There’s heat from some ginger root and ground black peppercorns, a touch of roasted coconut and roasted chestnuts. Cut wood and a flicker of brine which adds a tiny bit of savoury to the mix.

Palate: Full mouth feel, really good body. Very dry, very dry indeed. There’s this great oxymoron with Foursquare rums of the dry sweetness. Usually you get sweet or you get dry with drinks, but frequently I find these bottles have a incredibly dry effect on the palate but burst with sweet flavour notes. For example, this rum is a dry as a camels ass but it’s full of flavours we associate with sweetness, such as caramel, sweet vanilla, honey and bags of plums, cherries and strawberry, but all the time your tongue is puckering. Along side the sweet notes is some very dark chocolate, white pepper and chilli jam, just to light up your mouth every now and then.

Finish: Long. It’s quite spicy here with red chillies, white pepper and mustard seeds. The fruity notes make a little appearance but it’s fleeting and goes back to dark chocolate, a fruity Kenyan coffee, butterscotch and oaky spices. The spice and dryness make you want to dive right back in for another glass, it’s very drinkable and very moreish.

Thoughts? Another belter from Foursquare, as always. It does very much remind me of the ECS2 Port cask in a lot of ways, but at the same time it’s clearly a very different rum. The evolution of Foursquare ECS bottles over the last 5 years is shown very obviously here when you look at both the 9 year old Port Cask ECS2 and the Détente ECS14.

So this rum does what it sets out to do. It shows you how cask type can change the resulting rum and yet leave a clear picture of the distillery character in place too, and how the two bond to make a harmonious result.

This was £60 when released. Just shut up and take my money.

Easily one of my top 3 rums of 2020, without even thinking about it. Unfortunately for the Détente it’s going to be kept of the top spot by it’s comrade; the Nobiliary.

Foursquare Diadem

What is it? Single Blended rum (molasses based, pot and column still rum from a single distillery) from Barbados, produced by the Foursquare distillery. There’s so many Foursquare releases these days it’s hard to keep up, this year alone has seen Nobiliary (ECS 12), the 2008 vintage (ECS 13), imminent UK release of Detente (ECS 14) and in a few months, Redoutable (ECS 15). So which one is the Diadem then? Well, it’s not any. It’s not an Exceptional Cask Selection release, it’s a Private Cask Selection which has been bottled exclusively for The Whisky Exchange, the same vein as Hereditas from last year if you can remember that far back. So what’s in the bottle this time? The rums in here are from both pot stills and column stills and are blended together prior to aging. A portion of the blend spent 12 years in ex-bourbon casks whilst another portion of the blend spent 12 years in first fill ex-Madeira casks, the resulting rums were then blended together again (at an undisclosed ratio) to get the final blend. So 12 full years of aging, tropically done in Barbados.

There is a total outrun of 2000 bottles in this release.

Not coloured, not chill filtered and bottled at a 60% abv.

I’m drinking and reviewing this at around 55%, which is the strength I tend to take these beasts down to. A drop of 5% doesn’t seem like much but it makes a world of difference to the nose, palate and the inside of my throat.

Sugar? Nah.

Nose: Yeah, this has spent some serious time in Madeira casks alright. Lots of dark fruit here at first with blackberries, black cherries and black plums, some meaty figs, prune and a shitload of roasted nuts; walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, brazils, almonds and cashew – like sticking your gonk into a Christmas nut selection. Following the nutty onslaught comes to oak, with varnished wood, cinnamon, ginger, clove, roasted coconut, smoked vanilla and the classic “old” smells from dusty libraries and leather armchairs. There’s a thread of dark chocolate that runs through it but it’s not prominent and as you get deeper in there’s a surprising zesty lift of pineapple and candied lemons. Yuletide here we come.

Palate: Hot. Full and rich oily mouth feel. Hot – ginger, black pepper, clove – it’s a fiery blighter at the start. A couple of sips in and we’re starting to get somewhere, it sweetens but still holds on to the spice; black cherry and chipotle jam, a pack of glazed pineapple and chilli cashew mix, those big bars of dark chocolate you get with chilli in them, chocolate covered stem gingers and black pepper infused caramel. There’s this constant play between sweet and spice, just when you get a nice bit of sweetness along comes the heat and chilli spice and punches you in the mouth.

Finish: Initially your mouth is left with the heat from the palate, but it does soon disappear. The finish is long and once the spices have left you’re left with all the flavours that were hidden before; black forest chocolate cake, liqueur cherries, candied ginger and a lighter fruit note of raspberry and nuts, almost like Bakewell tart. There’s still oak here and prickles of heat, notes of the “old” from before with leather and mushrooms, so it’s not all fruits and fancies. Part way through the finish I keep getting savoury flashes of something oily, like WD40 or some type of glue, which is really nice as it just keeps you paying attention to what else there might be hidden in here to find. It bitters at the end with a really good cup of tea (Yorkshire) and some raw walnuts.

Thoughts? I’m not sure how to take this one. The last Madeira cask Foursquare I had was the Sagacity and I struggled with that for a while, this is way more intense and much better for it, it’s just really bloody hot! I like Madeira and this is dialled down somewhat but still clearly the main force of the rum, unfortunately I think that the usual wonderful balance that we find in Foursquare rums is lost here, it doesn’t know what to do to you; the Madeira wants to be all earthy and nutty and sweet, the bourbon wants to be all toasty and caramelly and something else inside it wants to kill you, but all 3 elements fight each other.

It’s really good, the day Richard Seale puts out a shit rum is the day I find another drink, but I’m looking at a line-up of Foursquare ECS bottles and shrugging with this. Yes I’ll enjoy it massively once Autumn proper starts, and no there isn’t any part of me that regrets buying it, but I just feel like it’s “another” bottle that’s been put out there. Where would I put this in the range of Foursquare bottles? Well you can’t do that really, the goal posts move forward at such a damn rate! I think it’s better than the Sagacity, but not as good as the Hereditas (yes I know they are different rums, but I’m placing it based on the Private Cask Selection and some Madeira).

This was £85, would I get another? Heh, of course. It may not be my favourite bottle of Foursquare rum but in the world of rum it’s still playing a whole other game.

You can pick this up from The Whisky Exchange here:

Foursquare Diadem

Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 13 year old (2006) – The Whisky Exchange Exclusive

What is it? Pure Single Rum (molasses based, pot still, single distillery) from Saint Lucia Distillers, made on the island of Saint Lucia. The distillery produce a range of rums and one of their brands is Chairman’s Reserve which many people may have seen in supermarkets as simply “Chairman’s Reserve”, a spiced version and also the “Lost Casks”. They have 4 stills at the distillery; a two column still (a Coffey still) and 3 pot stills (2 John Dore stills and a Vendome), this rum is distilled on the John Dore 1 and the Vendome stills and mixed together to form a blend at 50% from each still, at which point it was matured tropically for 13 years in an ex-bourbon cask before being bottled on 16/08/2019. They use sugar cane juice as well as molasses at St Lucia on both of the pot stills that were used for this rum, but the information I have states that this rum is molasses only. This was bottled exclusively for The Whisky Exchange and you don’t see many single cask bottles from St Lucia distillers, so when this popped up I jumped on it.

This single cask rum produced 286 bottles and mine is bottle number 129.

Natural colour, no chill filtration and bottled at 56.3% abv.

Sugar? No.

Nose: Crikey there’s a lot going on in here, it’s massive too; initially notes of thick molasses, raisins, red cherries, hazelnut, walnut and vanilla. Some cigar box notes, light tobacco and sandalwood. Very old balsamic and strong breakfast tea give it a sharp and tannic edge. Then things get phenolic, very phenolic. There’s boot polish, pine resin, eucalyptus, menthol, wood glue, bandages, sticky plasters, iodine, fennel and loads of brine. Right at the end is a floral note, cut flowers I guess, maybe lavender and a touch of herby marjoram.

Palate: Full mouth feel, very dry, tannic and oily. It’s massive in the mouth too, once you get used to it there is a sharp acidity to start with, almost like under ripe nectarine, very sharp. It doesn’t last too long though but it stays medicinal from the nose; licked stamps, TCP, menthol, throat lozenges, liquorice, ginger root, pine sap – like sucking on a damp pine branch – olives and balsamic again. Mid palate brings in the sweeter notes with some dark chocolate, mushy banana, a little papaya, vanilla, leather and sugared almonds. Almost marzipan like.

Finish: Long. Not as medicinal here but it’s still about. More of the sweeter notes and nutty depth with those roasted, caramalised mixed nuts you get a Christmas, raw walnut and candied stem ginger. There’s some sweetness of cherry jam and a cooling feeling of cherry stones which is something I often find in Talisker Scotch whisky. A hint of herbal toffee, iodine and olive brine pop up here and there too, every now and then.

Thoughts? Erm….not what I was expecting. The Vendome still produces a phenolic spirit but this is very intense, it’s almost like a blend of molasses and sugar cane rum and reminds me a lot of some Bellevue rum from Guadeloupe – I did initially question whether this was fully molasses based, but I’ve been told it is, so there we go! I love it. My sway in rum is towards the more savoury side of things anyway so this is right up my street. It’s really quite different to a lot of rum out there but I must say that I’d rather the sharp acidity be dialed down a bit as this is pretty polarizing and takes a while for your palate to adjust, but the flips and playoffs between the sweeter notes and the massive phenols is just ace.

I picked this up for £70 and would again if it were still on sale. As with single casks they come and they go. Recently TWE have had an 8 year old out and there are other single cask exclusives popping up at places like Royal Mile Whiskies so there’s clearly more of this stuff to come.