Last time when I managed to review an Exceptional Cask Selection release from Foursquare was over one year ago. The reason for that is its increasingly lack of availability as everyone is trying to get one to either enjoy, collect or simply re-sell in order to make a quick buck – and who can blame them? While the image of people virtually stepping on each other to grab a bottle isn’t the most appealing, the rum definitely is.
Out of all the releases, the vintages (2004 to 2009 – minus the 2006) are my favourite ones as they highlight the Barbadian style of rum that hasn’t been meddled with, simply aged in ex-Bourbon barrels and released at close to cask strength. In fact it was the 2005 that flipped a switch for me when I first tried it and since then I became increasingly more obsessed with rum to the point where you’re reading this on my own rum website. I agree that attempting to get a bottle nowadays is more frustrating than trying to get drunk people to leave the bar after closing hours, but I have to thank Richard Seale and Foursquare for igniting my love for the cane spirit in the first place.
Now if you just got into rum or recently discovered the wonders of the Internet, Foursquare Distillery is one of the 4 operational distilleries in Barbados and was established in 1996 by the Seale family with Richard Seale being the current Master Distiller and Blender. Their range includes a few names such as Doorly’s and Real McCoy, but their ECS is very much their creme de la creme – a series of limited edition bottles that showcase the potential diversity and complexity of Barbados rum.
Foursquare 2009, the 17th of the range, was launched recently, and as with any other FS, it flew off the shelves faster than you can say “Plenipotenziario”. It won the gold at the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) with 95 points and now I’m about to judge it myself.
Molasses based, a blend of column and pot still distillates and aged in Barbados using 2nd and 3rd fill ex-Bourbon casks. Bottled at 60% ABV and free of any additions or chill filtering.
On the nose it feels rich and “red”. Hibiscus tea, Luxardo cherries, ripe red apples, blood orange and dusty red books (just so I keep the colour palette). Feels very bourbonish as per usual profile of these releases. Vanilla, toasted oak, ginger biscuits, coconut oil and raw cocoa nibs. Passion fruit, molasses, walnuts and allspice. Unmistakable Barbadian.
On the palate it’s warm and moreish upfront and then the wood comes out to bite. Burnt orange zest, ginger tea with maple syrup, cayenne pepper, cacao and sour cherries. There’s a slight savoury petrol aroma popping out, but not in a bad way. Varnish, brownies and orgeat. The 12 years spent in the tropical climate show their influence the most towards the end of the tasting experience. Nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and cocoa biscuits. The finish is long with burnt wood, allspice and dark chocolate.
While lately differences between the ex-Bourbon FS vintages are less obvious, I really don’t mind the consistency because it is consistently delicious. Do you love cask strength whiskies? Well you’ll love this too and at only £69 for a bottle there’s no wonder it sold out in minutes. An amazing offering from Foursquare and great value for money (RRP wise) – I would genuinely recommend to keep an eye out for future releases if you’re not doing it already.
Many thanks to Peter Holland for allowing me the opportunity to write this review. For the lesser lucky ones you can try some Foursquare if you’re attending London RumFest this year, just find Peter and tell him you love rum!
Foursquare 2009 – Mark XVII score:
Value for money: 15/15