Foursquare Sagacity – Single Blended Rum

Back again with another Rum from one of my favourite places….Barbados. This is Foursquare Rum Distillery Exceptional Cask Selection Mark XI……or Sagacity as it is known. Now of late and as is a theme with these releases, you should ALL have a basic grasp of Latin (according to Alan Partridge anyway) and realise that Sagacity means “acuteness of mental discernment (discerning) and of sound judgement”…..which you all clearly are as you’re here, and you’re reading about this Rum. A quick click here will take you to a few bits and bobs that I’ve written about the distillery.

We first tried Sagacity over the UK Rumfest weekend in October and for some of us lucky enough to attend the Foursquare Dinner, it sat on the same table as Plenipotenziario and 2007. We were then fortunate enough to get to try it again at the distillery in Barbados in late November…..it was still pleasant and approachable juice…..and that it seems is exactly the point. Premise was never my favourite Foursquare ECS release, and it never will be….but what it offered was something approachable and comfortable for those new to Foursquare. The spiritual successor to Premise is Sagacity. Released at a slightly higher abv, but not cask strength, without colour and chill filtration, this Rum is meant to offer the same levels of approach-ability and value as Premise did but with something more to keep the more fanatic Foursquare fans happy. Does it succeed?

Foursquare Sagacity – 48% abv – Single Blended Rum – 0 g/l of additives

As mentioned above, this Rum is bottled at 48%, is without chill filtration, without colour and is obviously without sweetening or flavouring. It is a full 12 years old and its constituent parts are a 12 year old ex-Bourbon barrel Single Blended Rum and a 12 year old ex-Madeira barrel Single Blended Rum. On the surface this is the same kind of thing as Doorly’s 12 except that Doorly’s 12 is chill filtered and has colour given that it is / was released at 40% abv and is part of the continuing Doorly’s range….though a recent upping to 43% has occurred as it has / will with Doorly’s XO. I’ve also read that Doorly’s 12 has a 10% / 90% ratio of ex-Madeira and ex-Bourbon. I tried asking with regards to the make up of this blend……but a distiller needs to keep at least some secrets eh.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A slight astringency and the merest hint of acetone gives way to a blanket of robust oak that casts a solid foundation to the experience. The nose is redolent with ripe, juicy hedgerow fruit. Blackcurrants, red-currants, blackberries and maybe a hint of sour gooseberry. Definitely a touch of stewed prunes and their sticky juice. Plenty has been borrowed from the barrels over the course of its 12 years too. Vanilla. Plenty of coconut chips. Dark chocolate. Walnuts. A nip of white pepper, cumin and some damp oak shavings. At the back end there is a return to the fruity notes with dried cranberries. It’s a very well balanced and well behaved yet it brings with it a surprising depth.

Mouth: A second of sweetness brings a real zing the your tongue on initial sip. This ushers in the heat and spice. Talking of heat….there’s slightly more fire than expected but it’s a welcome facet and brings some fresh ginger juice, the floral bite of pink peppercorns and elevates the drying qualities of the oak. It also has a nice oily quality bringing a very impressive mouthfeel. The mid palate becomes a little sweeter and takes a turn for the “jammy”. Blackcurrants sit alongside mixed red berries and dried prunes. A hint of citrus….maybe flamed orange peel. Soft and chewy oak ushers in the lengthy finish that seems to grow in complexity. Coconut, vanilla and warm dark chocolate sit over big, wet and spicy oak. This leads into black pepper, more oak and the sweet and sour interplay of chocolate and dried cranberries.

In conclusion: The constant and consistent thing here is the balance between the fruit and oak influence…..and it’s that balance that allows the more complex elements to shine through yet also allows it to be so approachable. It’s just so enjoyable. It all seems pretty effortless for Foursquare on the surface but I suppose that if you have a full understanding of what you’re doing, have the ability to plan ahead and know that you won’t be making any unnatural tweaks at the end of the process then you just become very good at what you do…..producing high quality Rums. As the goal of this rum was to be approachable for newcomers yet offer something more complex for the well seasoned whilst staying affordable, then I’d consider that with Sagacity, its mission accomplished.

4.5 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange

The Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange (to give it its full and complete title) is one of a deluge of new releases that we have seen from St Lucia Distillers under their Chairman’s Reserve label recently. With a bit of a dry spell for new releases from the distillery being well and truly ended as like the proverbial buses, you wait ages for one…..so and and so forth. Not that there will be any complaints from me…for once. Before we get into this Rum, a little history about the distillery.

Saint Lucia is one of the Windward Islands. The Windward Islands are the South Eastern, generally larger Islands of the Lesser Antilles within the West Indies. They are comprised of Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada. I have sadly never visited, but I am more than aware of the Pitons. The Pitons are two mountainous volcanic spires, Gross Piton and Petit Piton that grace the Chairman’s Reserve labels.

St Lucia Distillers emerged from a long tradition of on site, rustic rum production that was a common feature of the West Indies sugar plantations. The molasses (a by-product of the sugar industry) was fermented and distilled into Rum which was always in high demand, despite the fluctuations in the economy of the West Indian plantations. By the late 1950’s, only two distilleries remained on Saint Lucia. One in Dennery on the East coast, established in 1931 which was the site of the Barnard family plantation and the other in the Roseau valley which was owned and operated by Geest, a Dutch banana company. The St Lucia Distillers Group was formed in 1972 when due to the rise in European sugar beet, sugar production on Saint Lucia ended forcing the Barnard family to enter into a joint venture with the Geest owned Distillery moving their operations from the Dennery Distillery to the Roseau Bay Distillery in the Roseau Valley. This is the current location of St Lucia Distillers. In 1992, the Barnard family, who had been planters and Rum distillers for over a century, purchased the Geest shares. In 1997, the Barnard family sold some of their shares to Angostura Ltd before in 2005 selling their remaining shares to Clico Barbados Holdings with third generation rum maker Laurie Barnard staying on as Managing Director. In 2012 Laurie Barnard passed away and in 2013, Mrs Margaret Monplaisir was appointed his replacement. In early 2016, Martinique-based “Groupe Bernard Hayot” (GBH) acquired Saint Lucia Distillers Group of Companies (SLD) for an undisclosed sum.

Since its inception in 1972, St Lucia Distillers have grown from producers of single label mass market Rum to producers of well-regarded Rums and Rum based products. Not surprising given their capabilities. Distillation at St Lucia Distillers takes place on one of their 4 stills…..1 continuous and 3 batch.

Continuous

Coffey Still – The two column (continuous) Coffey Still at St Lucia Distillers was commissioned in 1985.

Batch

John Dore 1 – This pot still distills both molasses and sugarcane juice Rums, has a 1500 litre capacity and was commissioned in 1998.

John Dore 2 – This pot still distills only molasses Rum, has a 6000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2004.

Vendome – This pot still distills both molasses and sugarcane juice Rums, has a 2000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2003.

Vendome Pot Still centre, John Dore II behind, John Dore I left

I’m a big fan of a lot of the output from the distillery with a particular penchant for the Vendome and John Dore I stills, and there is far more information contained within this site as I have previously written quite extensively about the distillery. Information can be found by clicking here.

Right….lets get into the Rum in question…..the Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange.

Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange – 56.3%abv


Distilled in pre-August 2006, this Rum is a 50 / 50 blend of batch distilled Rums. The first was distilled on the 2000 litre capacity Vendome Pot Still and the second was distilled on the 1500 litre capacity John Dore I Pot Still. Matured in ex bourbon barrels for a full minimum term of 13 years at the distillery in St Lucia, this Rum was bottled at 56.3% abv on 16th August 2019 is devoid of additives. Its great when there are no shenanigans. Only 286 bottles and this one is 264.

Tasting Notes

Nose: As expected, the nose on this blend of pot distillates is a big one. There’s so much billowing out of the glass. Quite sharp initially it also possesses some sweetness. The unmistakable qualities of both stills are fully on display here. Medicinal is the order of the day for the Vendome and more classic pot still notes are present for the John Dore I. Acetone is unmistakable and very prominent. Plenty of brine is accompanied by an acidic, almost balsamic note. Sticking plasters. Pine. Sweet menthol notes. Given time to breathe in the glass, you can push past the medicinal characteristics and this really opens up. There’s cherry stone aroma, similar to the one found in the new Mount Gay Pot Still release. This ushers in barrel influence with wet wood, vanilla and some growing spice characteristics….think black pepper, ginger, fennel seeds, candied hazelnuts and the unmistakable aroma of the cedar wood insert from a cigar tube. I want to say black tea too…..it kind of is and isn’t at the same time. A minerality follows this with wet pumice stone. There’s a sweet sugared almond or maybe a powdered sugar aroma that sticks with the back end and some warm sticky tropical fruit like papaya and guava jam show up. Molasses, Raisins, dates and maybe black walnut bitters. It becomes almost floral at the back end.

Mouth: Blimey. There it is. Big. Dry. Tannic. Very oily. Plenty of warmth to the entry but not as much heat as expected. It’s in possession of a big and oily mouthfeel and that starts bringing a fair bit of acidity which grows a little too much and becomes mildly distracting….fortunately only for a short while. It’s a little tangled and knotted based upon the first sip and you definitely need to acclimatise to separate the experience, but it starts to develop very nicely with the Vendome medicinal notes playing a role up front and dead centre. Herbal tablets. Antiseptic. Fiery ginger. Medicinal, verging on peat smoke…..more Ledaig than Caol Ila though as it’s carried on the drying wet spicy oak. It teases your mouth encouraging your salivary glands to work overtime with its dry pepper, sharp vinegar and citrus oil. This slowly guides you towards the John Dore I with its acetone, brine and salty coastal notes. The mid palate has plenty of weight and is barrel led initially with cocoa, ginger, and plenty of peppery heat. A touch more smoke, leather, cedar sap, pine and menthol. Milk chocolate coated ginger pieces…..think more fiery heat than sweet ginger. Maybe a hint of cigar tobacco. The back end brings chocolate coated honeycomb, caramelised peanuts and cashews. A touch of sweet syrupy black cherry and a heady mix of stewed rhubarb and ginger syrup. The finish is still going…..it’s a full reflection of the preceding experience. The herbal, acetone, brine, medicinal and sharp notes pull you through heat and spice into the fading sweetness of honeycomb, caramelised nuts, and strangely a hint of melon Jolly Rancher sweets. The barrel bursts in at the death with black pepper, fennel, a return of the minerality rounded out with sweet smoke and menthol.

In Conclusion: It’s a near spot on amalgamation of the more straight up (when compared to its bottle mate) pot still nose of the John Dore I with its acetone and brine and the more weighty medicinal nose of the Vendome. The balance achieved on both the nose and palate with these two big, vocal characters is very impressive and is testament to what they can do at St Lucia Distillers. It continues to develop and the transition from nose to palate is excellent. It’s no secret that my favourite still at St Lucia Distillers is the Vendome, second place goes to John Dore I…..it could’ve been a mess…but it isn’t. The John Dore I tempers the Vendome perfectly well and the abv is spot on. Now all we need are regular releases like this with more blend combinations…..I’d even like to see a John Dore I only bottling released here. It’s not without its flaws…..but it’s just so enjoyable. Well done St Lucia Distillers…..you listened…..and this Rum geek is very happy.

4.5 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Foursquare Empery – Single Blended Rum

The Foursquare Rum Distillery Bottling Facility

Firstly, I know that readers of this page have previously indulged me by reading my previous articles about Foursquare Rum Distillery……but for anyone new to the site, I have covered releases from Foursquare Rum Distillery quite extensively on these pages and you can either put your own search in the “search box” or click here to read a little more about them. A little earlier this year we were fortunate enough (but our wallets were not) to be blessed with a flurry of releases from Foursquare Rum Distillery. The new Exceptional Cask Selection marques IX and X, Empery and 2007 were joined by the surprise Private Cask Selection Whisky Exchange exclusive which was Hereditas. Our wallets were also even further depleted by the Velier distributed Foursquare Patrimonio. A further surprise was that three out of those four releases were ex-Oloroso Sherry & ex-bourbon barrel matured. The BIGGEST surprise however was that each of the three releases was 14 years old and each had seen a mix of 14 years in ex bourbon and 10 years maturation in ex-bourbon barrels before a further 4 years maturation in ex-Oloroso sherry barrels. Surely Foursquare had just released the same Rum under three separate names with differing labels? Why even bother to do this? Well, this series of releases in a lesson in blend ratios, cask management and the effects of barrels with differing histories. Refresh yourselves with a look at my reviews of Hereditas and Patrimonio linked above and then come back to read further about Empery. Empery has also been written about by my friends over at thefatrumpirate and Rum Revelations and both are worth a look….obviously after you’ve read the review below.

Bonded Warehouse No. 2 at Foursquare Rum Distillery

Foursquare Empery – 56% abv – Single Blended Rum

Bottled in December 2018, Foursquare Empery Single Blended rum is composed of two elements. A Single Blended Rum matured exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels for a period of 14 years and a Single Blended Rum matured for 10 years in ex-Bourbon barrels before transferring to first fill ex-Oloroso Sherry barrels for a further period of 4 years. These components are then blended and rested prior to being bottled at 56% abv. No colour. No chill filtration. No nonsense.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Straight away the Rum announces itself with plenty of wood on the nose. Big, bold, damp old wood. It’s a nose that immediately hints towards plenty of complexity to come. It doesn’t shun the familiar either as this is clearly Barbados in character, just bringing a little more to the table. Fruit is definitely present and accounted for….raisins and sharp dark berry compote hint to the time in oloroso barrels but less so than Hereditas which is a “Sherry-bomb”. The oak binds itself to a little chocolate and walnut…perhaps reminiscent of old school walnut whips (before they became smaller and when they contained more marshmallow)….Vanilla is certainly present as is some barrel spice, crystallised ginger and warm orange peel but they sit behind a growing black cherry note bringing with it the chocolate sponge of a Black Forest gateau. A little beeswax sits on the back end with the continued warmth of the fruity perfumed oak. It is such an approachable glass of Rum that opens up very well in a very short space of time.

Mouth: Warming, slightly spicy and with minimal heat and fuss…this again is a big mouthful of action with plenty of grip. Less fruit than the nose led me to believe initially but it comes. Time brings a little sweetness and a tart black currant jam. Raisins and molasses. Sherried notes are there but the wood is more dominant bringing dark chocolate. The mid palate is all about the depth of oak. Woody, very drying and bringing a fair bit of spice such as black pepper and fiery ginger…..maybe even some leather and tobacco notes. Toasted coconut. Along with this comes a little bitterness from the oak but it’s not out of place. The long warming finish brings quite a lot of wet wood, spice and ginger heat before the berries, bitter molasses and raisins come through. A little sweetness begins to return at the back end. It’s very rich and velvety…Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate with fruit and nuts…..a hint of coconut. The barrel and the fruit are quite well balanced here and it’s complexity and enjoyment relies upon this balance….it can tip towards a little arid at times but it never falls off that cliff.

In conclusion: On the nose I genuinely believe that Empery is my favourite of the Oloroso trio that includes Hereditas and Patrimonio. If Patrimonio is defined by wood and Hereditas is defined by the Sherry notes, Empery is a perfect blend of both. On the palate it also seems to be the more balanced of the three and it feels a little lighter in blend make up, perhaps less pot still, I don’t know. It definitely drinks the easiest of the three as the bottle count will show. I’m two in on Empery and one in on Hereditas and Patrimonio.

What this series of three releases have shown us is that whilst on the surface things may be the same….maturation time, cask type, batch and continuous blend….in reality the ratios of batch and continuous, the prior history of the barrels and 2% difference in abv can produce such varying end results. It’s perhaps a lesson in looking deeper and further than the label alone. I genuinely thought that I wasn’t a sherry guy and didn’t need a cupboard full of the “same” rum…..how wrong I was. If Hereditas is the sherry bomb, and Patrimonio is the oily, barrel driven Rum that plays the long rewarding game then that makes Empery the quick out of the blocks crowd pleasing structure that spans the two camps. Approachable yet complex and rewarding. It’s also the least expensive of the three. Patrimonio just shades it….but only just.

4.5 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Whisky Auctioneer Random Rum Tasting

A little bit of a strange one but just run with it……Back in May, the website Whisky Auctioneer held their first dedicated Rum Auction. They decided to do this as they believe that they had seen a significant rise in the number of Rums being entered in their regular monthly Whisky Auctions. As a result of this and to promote their auction at the time, a few writers were asked to write a series of notes about bottles that were to be entered into the auction. Different writers received different bottles. I received a suitably eclectic selection and I had sat on these notes for a few months to ensure that I wouldn’t be posting information on bottlings that would never see the light of day anywhere. But truth be told, I have seen close to all of these bottles pop up on Auction sites in the past few months and some are readily available still so I thought that this would be worthwhile sharing. No real background information, just quick fire tasting notes……so here goes.

Ron Zacapa Centenario Etiqueta Negra – 43% abv – Modern Rum

Nose: Quite confected. A caramel bitterness. Noticeably viscous due to the post distillation additions. Creme Caramel. Wood influence is minimal. Milk chocolate. Prominent coffee notes.

Mouth: Very sweet entry. Almost no alcohol from the spirit which is a slight worry. Palate remains consistent with the nose. Caramel. Fudge. Milky coffee. Chocolate milkshake. Bitterness and a touch of wood influence on the relatively short finish that adds darker chocolate notes to the palate.

Just disappointing. Similar to others in the range to be honest. The extra 3% abv helps lift it above something that you’d expect a child to drink but it’s just dulled due to the additions. Even a nip of harshness from young alcohol would be welcome but it drinks like boozy chocolate milk.

0.5/5

 

Havana Club 15 – 40% abv – Modern Rum

Nose: Classic longer matured a Havana a Club nose. Prominent honey and vanilla pod. Milk chocolate. Sweetness. A lot of sweetness. There is also a sour note. Tobacco is definitely hanging around but it’s nudged out of the way by the over zealous sweetening and honeyed notes.

Mouth: Honeyed entry carrying a light floral but syrupy sweetness. There is a touch of spice backing this up. Fresh green apples. Vanilla. Cocoa. Sweet wine like notes. The finish is of medium length and is what I now expect from Havana Club. A little peppery barrel spice, mild tobacco and milk chocolate.

I don’t really touch Cuban Rums nowadays, and this is a classic example of why. They’re a touch “samey”. They have hints of promise but fail to deliver consistently for me. Nose outperforms palate close on 100% of the time.

1.5/5

 

Velier 70th Anniversary Chamarel 2010-2014 – 56.5% abv – Vatted Single Rum

Nose: Heavily spice driven. Fennel seeds. Fenugreek. A hint of jeera. The vibrancy of fresh cane and the sweetness that it brings. Cinnamon. Black pepper. There is also a growing anise note reminiscent freshly cut fennel. Dusty wood, vanilla and red bean paste.

Mouth: Very spicy entry with the full heat of the alcohol hitting hard. Quite apparent fruit carried on the sugarcane notes. Hazelnuts. Lots of dusty oak and wet cardboard. Celery. Definite notes of chicory and the associated bitterness. The finish is led by growing wood spice, drying oak and the ever present cane notes. Not hugely complex but it drinks well.

I fortunately own a bottle already. Not massively complex but it’s spice led approach work and the experience is pleasant. It’s a good drinker.

3/5

 

Velier Enmore 1987 Full Proof – 56.6% abv – Traditional Rum

Nose: Quite a bit thinner than expected. It’s a little spirity and there’s certainly a touch of fuel about it. Conference pear slices with fresh cream. Mid palate brings chocolate. Powdery cocoa. Royal icing. Cookie dough. A hint of spice and wet wood.

Mouth: It hits with a lot of heat and a lot of spice. Citrus oil. A saline like quality. Caramelised Sugar. Vanilla. Creme brûlée. Light wood. Plenty of pepper. Candied citrus peels. Raisins. The finish fades and is the sum of its parts with light oak, vanilla, cocoa and mixed raisins and peels.

I found this too ‘spirity’ and not forthcoming…I also found it lacking in depth.

2/5

 

Damoiseau 1980 (Damoiseau Release) – 60% abv – Traditional Rum

Nose: Full on medicinal heaven. Sticking plasters. A lot of depth. Cough sweets. Liquorice. Bronchial cough mixture. It carries heft but is remarkably approachable. It plays very nicely. Time brings a developing fruity character. Black cherry yoghurt. Sour cherries. Victoria plums. A hint of florals and a cologne like nature that brings a sharper aspect and allows spiced oak to show itself.

Mouth: Medium body and carrying a pleasant mouth coating oily quality. The bitterness of a classic tropically matured Demerara. Liquorice sweets and liquorice root. Warm prunes. Sweet and bitter in equal measures. Bourbon cherries and an almost dairy quality. Quite medicinal still as on the nose and the mid palate brings cloth sticking plasters, salted Dutch liquorice and stone fruit. The finish just goes on and on. It remains consistent with the beautiful depth of liquorice, stone fruit, bitter / sweet interplay. Kop kop sweets. Cough mixture. A hint of salinity grows. This is a very, very good rum.

If I could afford it….I’d buy it. It hits so many sweet spots for me. Medicinal. Liquorice. Stone fruit. Saline. Floral. It’s why I love the Bellevue independent bottlings. A deep, flavourful and aroma packed delight.

4.5/5

Preparing these notes was good fun spread over a week of tasting. Some were instantly forgetful, some were good drinkers, some were disappointing and one was an absolute belter. I consider myself fortunate to have got to try them and I hope that you enjoyed this eclectic set of notes.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

MHOBA Rum – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum – Part 2

Time for Part 2 in the series of MHOBA Rum reviews but the third part in the full MHOBA series of articles. You can pick up on Part 1 of the reviews here and also read a lot more into MHOBA and the inner workings of what they do here.

You can clearly see in those two articles how much effort goes into the production of the output MHOBA and how much care is taken to prepare the casks for the maturation of MHOBA Rum. This article will feature three of the four matured Rums in the line up. These are:

MHOBA Strand 101

MHOBA American Oak Aged

MHOBA French Oak Cask

*There is another release, the Glass Cask which will be included here once I have completed my notes*

Let’s get right into them.

MHOBA Strand’s 101 – 58% abv – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum

Now called Strand 101 for its LMDW release, it remains however inspired by its namesake…the “Crazy Dane” Knud Strand. Knud has a history of working with large brands from Bacardi to Cachaça Novo Fogo and this bottling, like quite a lot of MHOBA ideas was a happy accident. Following an extensive sample tasting process Knud found himself with samples of the first run of the High Ester and the super woody 2 year Glass Cask Aged. He mixed the two together to hopefully balance the in your face funk of the High Ester and super woody profile of the glass cask. During a few tasting and presentation sessions Knud found that the blend proved to be popular. The desire was to have the product as an homage to some of Knud’s favourite products. The 101 to reflect his enjoyment of Wild a Turkey 101….Knud expected a direct proof to abv halving as per the US system but true to Roberts heritage, Imperial Proof was what we got. The Blue and Gold of the label reflects Knud’s love of Smith & Cross. But what is the liquid like.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Bright vibrant cane. Very pungent. Acetone. Varnish. Earthy root vegetables. Menthol. Herbal and perfumed. A hint of oak influence excerpts itself with a whiff of smoke. A lot of fermented fruit and wild strawberries carry through on the nose. It remains astringent and pungent with crisp green apples. It’s almost the best of both worlds. Vibrant youth and more balanced age.

Mouth: Beautifully sweet and oily entry accompanied by a lot of heat. The bite of a youthful spirit rules the early exchanges with fresh sugarcane, fermenting tropical fruit and cider. A lot of funk. On the mid palate the aged component begins to envelop your tongue and becomes quite tannic, drying out your palate. This leaves a medium length finish that develops from tinned fruit with fresh cream through coffee, an oaken influence and then into a warming peppery finale. Good balance of youth and maturity.

Very very enjoyable Rum……and if you’ve met Knud, you’ll see how it reflects his character…..approachable, warm and a little bit crazy.

4 / 5

I attempted to pair it up with Smith & Cross in a Mai Tai but it destroyed the Jamaican in standard recipe proportions so it needed re-balancing. Once I’d done that, it made an unbelievable drink.

MHOBA American Oak Aged – 43% abv – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum

Initially left to mature in large glass demijohns with wood fire charred and cut American oak staves, this Rum is then transferred to Ex South African Whisky casks for a second maturation period. It is then reduced and bottled.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Charred wood. Smoke. Caramel. Vanilla. Burnt wooden splints. Light sweet grain notes. Bonfire embers and powdered sugar. Warm fudge. Black pepper and pencil shavings.

Mouth: Heavy, drying oak. Damp cardboard. Grilled smoked meat. Warm charred timber…memories of woodwork classes at school. Butterscotch. The mid palate brings a slowly growing coffee influence. Dark chocolate. The charred embers of a fire on the beach. The dry and medium length finish is all dominant oak, light vanilla and powdered cocoa with lingering charred, smoked wood that grows increasingly bitter.

Not at the top of my list as far as the aged Rums go, but I do have a small cask sample of just the ex South African Whisky barrel matured and its a bit special.

3 / 5

MHOBA French Oak Cask Rum – 65% abv – Pure Single Sugarcane Rum

The French Oak Cask release sees a real step up in bottle presentation. It is housed within a hand constructed laser engraved bamboo box and the front and rear bottle labels are laser engraved bamboo. As you’ll note, this bottle was personalised and given to me at the UK Rumfest in October. Receiving it was a very humbling experience. The Select Reserve Rums are some of the Rums adjudged to be the most exceptional. In this instance the selected distillates have been matured for a minimum 12 month French Oak casks that previously held Cape Red Wine. These casks are brought in by MHOBA and are refurbished.

Barrel Charring with Hardwood Coals

The first eight French Oak casks obtained by Robert we’re stripped, ground and reassembled before toasting and sealing. Toasting would be via either the use of coals of an LPG torch. Each cask was filled over a two day period. First half filling with a single distillate Rum, Robert then sampled the cask blend the day after and make a decision on where to go next. Second distillate Rums are then added along with water for dilution reducing the abv to somewhere between 65 and 70%. Only when happy with the contents are the barrels sealed. The French Oak Cask reviewed here is taken from an equal blend of the best six casks from the initial eight. I do have an LMDW order bottle that has seen an additional six months in the barrel so I will update when that is opened.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose displays a lot of control for a 65% spirit. The oak is well integrated into the spirit but a perfumed and fragrant effect from the French oak is definitely present. A perfect balance of spiced notes from the barrel and classic, grassy sugarcane notes. Reminiscent of some truly wonderful aged agricoles. Bright acidic fruit, crisp apples. Growing tropical fruit….ripe mango. Guava jam. The oak is ever present but never overly dominant. Warming and spicy. Pencil shavings. Hints of red grapes and tart cranberries.

Mouth: Well balanced entry. Initially sweet, intensely so with a touch of powdered sugar and tropical fruit leathers. The freshness of the cane shines through. Intense moisture sapping dryness and huge amounts of grip on the mid palate from the French oak. There’s also a mineral quality. It remains soft though and never aggressive. Well balanced spice notes from the oak bounce off the vibrancy of the spirit to provide a fulfilling experience. The exceedingly long and intense finish sees sugarcane and tropical fruit mix with a huge oaken influence laden with spice, barrel charr and wet cardboard. Cranberry juice and succulent, crisp apples. A well balanced, fulfilling experience that will surprise a lot of people. Well crafted well executed rum.

Some producers have been working for years and have still not produced something as accomplished as this Rum.

4.5 / 5

I am fully aware that the Rums reviewed in this series will and may have moved on from these expressions. Different batches, harvests and more cask time are all components, welcome ones of being such a small producer and that fascinates me. It is also why I feel that MHOBA are so exciting as a producer, changing, developing and growing in both output and confidence all of the time. Robert has full autonomy over the distillates and therefore has the ability to experiment with fermentation methods, time, dunder, cane varieties and also with cask maturation enabling so many possibilities. Updates will be provided moving forwards.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

St. Lucia Distillers 1979 Ruby Reserve

Released to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of St Lucia’s Independence in 1979, the Ruby Reserve is only available on island and only 1979 bottles have been produced. Changing hands between the British and the French 14 times during the 17th & 18 Centuries, St. Lucia gained independence on the 22nd February 1979. More detailed information can be found with a visit here. I have been fortunate enough to get a small sample from a friend to use in this review, and use it I will. I have written quite extensively about St Lucia Distillers in these pages and a quick trip to the search box will uncover some detailed information on the distillery, their processes and their stills.

Image Copyright of Dave Marsland

I don’t want to waffle on more than I need to as we have some Rum to taste…..

St. Lucia Distillers 1979 Ruby Reserve – 46% abv – Single Blended Rum (though it contains both molasses and cane juice components)

The wonders of social media means that we have information from Michael Speakman of St Lucia Distillers about the exact components of the blend….and it as follows:

It is a blend of 49.5% column still and 50.5% pot still

Column Still components are:

21.5% is: Coffey Still – RR101 marque (molasses) – Ex bourbon barrels – 6-12 years

28% is: Coffey Still – RR104 marque (molasses) – Ex bourbon – 6-12 years

Pot Still components are:

16% is: John Dore I Still (molasses) – Ex bourbon barrels – 8-12 years

6.5% is: John Dore I Still (molasses) – Ex brandy barrels – 8-12 years

5.5% is: Vendome Still (molasses) – Ex bourbon barrels – 8-12 years

21% is: John Dore I Still (sugarcane juice) – Ex bourbon barrels – 8 years

1.5% is: Vendome Still (sugarcane juice) – Ex bourbon barrels – 7 years

Tasting Notes

 

Nose: Definitely instantly recognisable as a St Lucia Distillers Rum. That classic medicinal note from the John Dore I pot still is very prominent during the early exchanges. A hint of acetone and sticking plasters soon gives way to tobacco and a hint of barrel spice. There’s some real depth to the blend and an element of minerality to the nose. Time is shows a very rewarding experience. Light vanilla runs throughout with powdery cocoa and chocolate coated coconut pieces. Ever present astringency brings a beautiful Jamaican element to the Rum with caramelised pineapple, salty preserved lemons and citrus oil….there’s something about that classic sticky fruit, saline and citrus interplay that really elevates the Rum. Fresh star fruit, mango and guava juice. A hint of grassiness and a wine like note rides the growing oaken influence with a developing spiced and floral pink peppercorn before the well-integrated wood shows as freshly cut pipe tobacco culminating in walnuts and marshmallow sweetness.

Mouth: A dry and quite spicy entry to the Rum brings milk chocolate coated nuts and raisins. Mixed dried tropical fruit and citrus peels. A tannic wine note is certainly present along with stewed plums, prunes and baking apple with a touch of mincemeat (think Christmas mince pies). Syrupy oat flapjacks and caramelised bbq pineapple lead into a little bitterness. Maybe a touch of scrumpy. The mid palate carries a beautiful dryness from the oaken influence and brings cinnamon and nutmeg. More savoury spice notes of cumin and fennel seed rest in the background. There is also liquorice root, damp musty oak and wet cardboard. The finish which carries some length starts off with warm, spiced scrumpy. A light stone fruit bitterness leads into oak and jammy fruit with tobacco and a hint of spice rounding things out. The oak really hangs around and allows the medicinal notes from the nose to make a last-ditch come back with a touch of molasses.

This is a really solid Rum and as we’ve become used to with their 1931 Series and new Chairman’s Reserve 1931, the make up of the blend is really sound with every element playing its part. I prefer the nose to the palate on this one but it rewards time and provides plenty of interest.

4.5 / 5

I’m massively grateful to a friend for the sample. Sadly that has just made me crave a full bottle. Unfortunately as it’s only available on the island, the chances of me obtaining one are low. But if anyone can help me out, I’d be massively grateful.

 

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

R. L. Seale’s Finest Barbados Rum – Export Proof

A relatively short one today as this is a re-review of sorts…..R.L Seale’s Finest Barbados Rum, or R.L Seale’s 10 as I’ve previously called it and how others know it has been around for a while and for me has been one of the most classic examples of Barbados Rum available. Numerous members of the Rum Community have sung its praises on multiple occasions….in fact I’d rate it on any list of ‘must have’ bottles for Rum lovers both new and old. You can read my rather basic summation of the bottle in its previous 43% abv guise here. You only have to scroll through the pages here to understand the high regard in which I hold Foursquare Distillery……But let’s dig into it.

R.L Seale’s Finest Barbados Rum – Export Proof – 46% abv – Single Blended Rum

What you have in the quite unique and very recognisable blue-bottle is a Single Blended rum. A blend of Coffey Column and Pot Still rum from Foursquare Distillery. It is a minimum of ten years old and has been matured in ex-bourbon barrels. It is a Classic Foursquare proposition and one that I enjoyed multiple bottles of in its 43% iteration. I was quite excited to see it released as a 46% products, I had no real issue with it at 43% as it always delivered just what I was looking for….classic Barbados. But it’s always nice to get that little uplift to see how it affects the overall experience and Richard is not one to do these things on a whim, there will have been thought and reasoning behind it. I had forgotten about this bottling for a while, as if often the way. But over the course of the past few months I have found myself reaching for it more and more frequently….so I thought that a re-visit was on the cards.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Classic Foursquare and classic Barbados. Vanilla. Caramel. Buttery pastries. A warming, well-integrated yet spicy wood influence. Growing powdery cocoa and a hint of coconut. The oak brings a touch of black pepper and nutmeg. A hint of raisins and citrus peel. More time in the glass reveals freshly cut apple, sugared almonds and the mildest floral top notes. Beautiful stuff.

Mouth: Beautifully dry entry but along with the obvious oak and vanilla it brings a sweetness of coconut and milk chocolate. Raisins and mixed fruit peel. Maybe a touch of citrus oil. The mid palate is all about the commanding oak. It is very drying and brings with it some welcome spice notes like cinnamon and white pepper. Flamed orange oils. It also brings a buttery pastry like quality and a hint of almond tart. Warm crème brûlée. The finish brings a little crisp apple and some raisins, maybe juicy plums before the oak and particularly the warming spiced barrel notes lead you off into the sunset. Classic Foursquare peach vapours at the death. It is both robust and gentle whilst remaining approachable.

4.5 / 5

*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 46% – Measured abv 46% – 0 g/l additives*

I had decanted and saved a small bottle of my 43% release at there was crossover with this release. Assessing it side by side I note that there does not appear to be as much caramel colour added to the new release…it is more of a straw gold…don’t let the image fool you. I also noted that this 46% release is not as wood heavy on the nose or the palate and its better for it. It just delivers more of everything…..and here’s the real killer….it is still available for between £35 and £40 in the UK.

Things are changing for Foursquare though, they are very much in the ascendancy with the Exceptional Cask Series and their collaborations with Velier….but this exposure and acclaim has been earned by producing such consistently good releases such as R.L Seale’s, the Doorly’s range and my particular favourite, Old Brigand. This bottling remains as classic an example of Barbados Rum, and Foursquare Distillery as you’ll find.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.