Review: Foursquare Clifton Hall Great House 12 Year Old

This unique bottle can only be found in Barbados, available, as the name suggests, at the historical Clifton Hall Great House or in the Barbados Airport duty free. To my embarrassment I didn’t have any time to visit the Clifton Hall while I was on the island so I purchased mine from the airport.

The rum was selected by the owner of The Great House, Massimo Franchi, from Foursquare Distillery’s stock and released as a tribute to the Estate’s rum making past (Clifton Hall had a plantation and distillery back in the 1600s).

FS Clifton Hall Great House 12 is molasses based, a blend of column and pot still aged for 12 years in ex-Bourbon barrels in Barbados. Bottled at 40% ABV with no sweeteners… I have to say lately it’s odd to have an only 40% ABV 12 year old rum from Foursquare (that also says Foursquare on the label), but I’m still looking forward to try it.

On the nose it’s definitely Foursquare, that should be a flavour describer itself. Rich and fruity with sour cherries, red apples, fresh strawberries and stone fruits (apricot, peach, plum). Oak spices with a musty aroma and sprinkles of nutmeg. Hints of lychee, green olives and coriander. Only 40% ABV but the flavours jump right out of the glass, yum.

On the palate it’s also Foursquare. Toffee, caramel, tobacco, apple pie, sour cherries, vanilla and custard. Plenty of oak with a slight charred wood bitterness, hazelnuts and some red wineish notes. If I didn’t know this is aged in ex-Bourbon only I would’ve thought there is a wine-cask-aged-component to it. Juicy red grapes, sultanas, dry plums and cloves. This is very drinkable… too drinkable if anything. Finish is quite long giving the ABV with oak spices, sweet wine notes and some floral aromas.

I’ve poured myself a little bit of St. Nicholas Abbey 12 to make a small comparison, this being another 12 year old at 40% ABV Estate rum that comes from Foursquare (the older stock anyway). I actually found the Clifton Hall lighter than the Abbey which is funkier. I’ll assume the later has a bit more pot still in the blend than the Clifton which is more wood driven.

If to nitpick I’d say the only thing that puts me off in the Foursquare CH is that slightly woody bitterness.

Regardless, while we’ve been spoiled with various Foursquare releases in the past few years with different ABVs and a range of different casks maturations and blends, I’ll have to say this is still a solid release and a better 12 year old 40% ABV rum than many out there.

Foursquare Clifton Hall Great House 12 Year Old score:
Flavour/taste: 52/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: /1515
Overall: 82/100

Cheers!

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