As a (London based) reviewer getting to write about a rum bottling before its official release in the UK is very useful and frankly, really exciting. On that note in my glass today I have the 22nd Exceptional Cask Selection from Foursquare Distillery which has yet to have arrived to the UK market.
Not a tongue twister this time, Touchstone is defined as “a standard or criterion by which something is judged or recognized”. I would lie if I didn’t say that sometimes I find myself comparing some other rums to Foursquare in order to score them, so there might be some truth to that name.
Long story short this is a marriage of rums double aged in ex-Bourbon and ex-Cognac casks for a total of 14 years of maturation. Long story long this rum can be split into two components maturation-wise.
In January 2019 there was a collaboration between Camus Cognacs and Foursquare Distillery through Camus’ Caribbean Expedition Cognac programme where 10 casks filled with cognac were transported to Foursquare, Barbados and spent one year ageing in the tropical climate. Early 2020 the cognac was sent back to France and the cognac casks were now filled with a 2008, pot and column blend, ex-Bourbon aged, 12 year old Foursquare and left to mature for 2 more years (almost 3) – this would be the first component of Touchstone.
The second component is a pot and column blend that was aged for 5 years in ex-Bourbon casks and 9 more years in ex-Cognac casks. This is basically a blend of double matured blends – Richard Seale, the Master Blender and Distiller of Foursquare is well known for implementing all these methods in order to achieve different combinations and flavour profiles for his rums.
Foursquare Touchstone is molasses based, pot and column distilled and aged for 14 years in ex-Bourbon and ex-Cognac casks. Bottled at not-a-measly 61% ABV without any adulteration or chill filtering.
On the nose it seems very woody. Charred oak, dried figs, canned plums, wallpaper paste and walnuts. Canned peaches, red apples, marmalade and crystalised ginger. Blackcurrants, black grapes, raw cocoa nibs and cinnamon sticks. Once you get past the burnt oak smell, layers of fruit and spice start showing up. Brown sugar, almonds, burnt match sticks along with some earthy notes. A layer of bourbon-y vanilla as well.
On the palate it feels quite chewy. Charred oak, ripe plums, dried figs, rich honey and nail varnish. Angelica root, black grapes, maple syrup and blackcurrant. It feels pretty acidic and bitter, but the rich fruity notes are fighting to balance it out. Dark chocolate and some stone fruits. Black sour cherries, stemmed ginger and allspice. The finish is long with plums and bitter oak.
Okay, this is my prime advice for whoever purchases a bottle – let it rest and breathe in a glass before trying it. It needs some oxidation in order to get through the wood influence to the fruity layers. This has body and bite, as I said it is quite chewy and it might not be for everyone, at least not at the first sip.
There are bitter and acidic/sour notes that are a little bit in a fight with the fruity cognac influence and the rich, moreish flavours of the distillate. It’s quite the journey and not an easy one, this requires your full concentration in order to enjoy it – depending on your mood this could be a hit or miss. This is an attention seeking rum, if you’re not giving it, then it might bite back.
All in all once again a very good rum from Foursquare, but I must say reluctantly that the flavours might not be integrated at the best level – or I’m simply not used to drink a 61% ABV rum that has been tropically aged in a multitude of barrels for 14 years, who knows.
As I mentioned Touchstone hasn’t landed in the UK yet, but as per usual the ECS releases are great value for money so I’ll score that by default – I’ll touch wood (hehe) in the hopes that I can get my hands on a bottle.
Foursquare Touchstone – Mark XXII score:
Value for money: 15/15