Review: Foursquare Nobiliary vs Foursquare Plenipotenziario

I kept postponing this as I decided I need a clear head and a good night’s sleep before I dive into these two, which never happens, so I might as well get on with it. The two new rums from Richard Seale’s Foursquare Distillery in Barbados showed on the UK market “just now”, a month apart from each other (April – May).

Foursquare Nobiliary ‘Of Noble Character’ is part of the well acclaimed and well priced range of limited Foursquare rums named the Exceptional Cask Selection. With number 12 in the series, Nobiliary is pretty simple in specs – molasses based rum, distilled in both pot and column stills, blended and aged for 14 years in the tropics in ex-Bourbon casks. Bottled without any chill filtering or additions at a “fairly” high strength – 62% ABV.

Foursquare Plenipotenziario ‘With Full Powers’ is part of the Velier range where Master Distiller Richard Seale collaborates with the eccentric Luca Gargano in releasing even more limited Foursquare juice – also well acclaimed, but not so conveniently priced. Molasses based, Plenipotenziario is described as being a blend of light and heavy distillates from the column still blended together with pot still distillates and then aged for 12 years in the tropics in ex-Bourbon barrels. Also no chill filtering, bottled at a slightly lower 60% ABV without any additions.

I’ve had fun with another “vs” before between two Foursquares, Velier and Exceptional Cask – you can find it here. Now let’s see the “match” description:

  • Exceptional Cask Selection vs Velier
  • ex-Bourbon vs ex-Bourbon
  • 14 year old vs 12 year old
  • £64 vs £125

I will (cutely) call the rums Pleni and Nobi for obvious reasons. I’ve had Pleni at London Rum Fest last year, but as Peter Holland explained, this is slightly different from that sample, whereas with Nobi I’m going in blind, no idea what to expect. So let’s start.

Foursquare Nobiliary

On the nose Nobi reminds me a lot of FS 2007 – very rich in dry fruits with a hefty dose of “Barbadian funk”. Sultanas, dry plums, almonds, blackcurrant, sour cherry (something I get in almost all Foursquares), dusty furniture, old leather and nail varnish. Very intense, but balanced in the same time. Dark chocolate filled with strawberry cream. Warm spices, particularly cloves and cinnamon along with pink pepper. Wood shavings, black olives, cacao nibs, lemon zest, nutmeg with a Madeira wine note to it as well.

On the palate Nobi is quite intense and spicy. Tobacco and orange zest, similar to what I get on Appleton 12 but dialed to 100. Nail varnish, blackcurrant, cinnamon and dried plums again. A bit of glue, charred ‘chewy’ oak, mothballs, vanilla custard and quite a lot of pink pepper. Coca-Cola, hints of Fernet, green olives, coriander and coffee. Finish is long with caramel, nail varnish and some peppermint.

Foursquare Plenipotenziario

On the nose Pleni feels very similar to Nobi, but with an extra layer of Bourbon-like vanilla and richness. Vanilla pods, raisins, canned plums, Luxardo cherries, toffee. A sublte burnt wood smokiness, blackcurrant liqueur, dark chocolate with a PX Sherry note. Sweet, ripe bananas, molasses, black pepper, cloves and marmalade. It has a more velvety aroma to it.

On the palate very warming and rich. Cacao nibs, black olives, juicy plums, dark chocolate and liquorice. Walnuts, Luxardo cherries and black pepper again, raisins, cinnamon with hints of savory canned mushrooms. Tobacco, vanilla and leather, it has a “Cuban” vibe to it, but on steroids that were on steroids. Stewed red apples, black grapes, dark chocolate and blackberry jam. Very bourbony overall. Finish is long with plums, a touch of salt and cacao.

This is a really tough one. Like really tough, didn’t know what I was getting into when I started it. On the nose Nobi seems ‘darker’ than Pleni, but on the palate everything changes. Pleni tastes rich, sweet with a thick mouthfeel whereas Nobi tastes rich with tart notes, complex and spicy. I have a sweet tooth and I am a huge fan of the Pleni flavour profile, but I can’t ignore how Nobi delivers more. (If you were a cask strength drinker) I believe Pleni would go down easier, whereas Nobi would take a bit of getting to know each other before drawing any definitive conclusions.

So taste-wise Foursquare Nobiliary wins this given more time in the glass and allowing the palate to get accustomed with the “Barbadian funk”. Also way better price and availability wise.

Foursquare Nobiliary score:
Flavour/taste: 61/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 91/100

Foursquare Plenipotenziario score:
Flavour/taste: 60/70
Value for money: 12/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 87/100


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