Neptune ‘Gold’ Barbados Rum

We have another new Rum that has recently come to market and as with all such releases, it was viewed with an element of suspicion. That is until we found out that it has its origins in Barbados…..and more importantly that it is produced by Foursquare. It has been winning awards in both New York and China and one more that is under wraps for the moment….But as we all know these awards mean more to brands than to a seasoned drinker (functioning alcoholic)……Though it is fair to say that the casual drinker uncertain of what to buy may be swayed by a fancy sticker on a label.

Neptune Gold Barbados Rum – 40% abv

So, what is there to be added about this Rum. It’s from Foursquare….which is good enough for me….Well, it’s from Foursquare via E&A Scheer in Amsterdam. It has seen a full 3 years age in the Caribbean and is (as most Foursquare releases are) a blend of Pot and Column distillates aged together in the barrel…which is ex-bourbon. The Rum sits at a cask strength of 68% abv when it arrives. This is then diluted down to its bottling strength of 40% with the addition of a little spirit caramel to take it back to cask colour. No nasties have been added. The Rum is bottled in the UK. It would’ve been an ‘easy out’ to not put the age of the Rum on the bottle as it can be a big decision maker for a certain sector of buyers with a lot being put off by low numbers….but they were confident in their sourcing, tropical age and product to add it to the label. Presentation wise its a bottle shape and size that sits nicely on the shelf and there is a wooden topped cork closure. Embossed label text and a little information on the rear label. What I can also tell you is that there are plans to release a limited cask strength run of this Rum with the overall plan being to have 3 products in the Neptune Rum range. The cask strength alone is a welcome addition.

Tasting Notes

Glass: Light straw gold. A little peppery spike initially but it soon settles. Classic Bajan aromas (for me) of vanilla, pepper and light oak. Oily citrus is definitely present as is aroma of fresh peaches. Time gives a little marshmallow which I also find to be a classic Bajan aroma. Whilst not overly complex its solid and doesn’t give away its youth.

Mouth: Initial entry has you believe that this is way more refined than its 3 years. A light, peppery bite from the off, this rum genuinely has a little more grip than I’d expect from such a young Rum. It feels more viscous and all-encompassing than expected. Vanilla, very mild oak and a restrained crisp apple follow. Desiccated coconut is certainly there. That familiar peach note in the vapours that I associate specifically with Foursquare Rum is present too…The finish is short to medium length and starts with a beautiful sweetness developing those peach vapours. Powdery cocoa morphs into a drying light oak finish that sits for a while before fading into coconut.

I find this Rum very reminiscent of Old Brigand or Alleyne Arthur’s Special Barbados Rum…..whilst out and about in Barbados I managed to put away a lot of the One Eyed Pirate….

For new brands to market things seem to go one of a few ways. You can spend up front to start your own distillery and release an overly expensive unaged Rum to tide you over while your Rum matures. People will buy it because of words like Artisan and Small Batch on the label irrespective of quality and (as has recently been the case) whether it can even be classed as a Rum due to its origins not being from sugarCANE. Though doing it right is to be applauded. You can source average distillates (sometimes distilled to a neutral alcohol level) and fill them full of rubbish to appeal to the masses. People will buy it because its sweet, cheap and has a gimmick. Or, you can do as Neptune Rum have done. Source credible Rum (they don’t come much more credible than Foursquare), refuse to mess with it in the a hope that the honesty of the product and the flavour and credibility of the Rum will shine through. What you do have to do though is pay for that credibility which passes onto your retail price.

The latter one is perhaps the more risky way to go as you wind up asking, as is the case with Neptune Rum, upwards of £35 for a relatively young product. But as sales increase, business models change and economies of scale mean that prices can reduce. Buy this Rum with confidence….its currently on the high side price wise, but it possesses maturity beyond its 3 years and shows a few other Rums with bigger numbers how it should be done.


© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2017. 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.


Rum Sixty Six Family Reserve

Rum_Sixty_Six_LabelRum66 Bottle SideThe main thing to get out of the way first is that this Rum is a product of Foursquare Distillery…..I’m a big fan of the Rums produced there and you can read a little about the distillery itself and the Rums produced therein here, here and here. Now that you’re all refreshed we can talk about Rum Sixty Six Family Reserve. So, the Sixty Six of Rum Sixty Six refers to the 30th November 1966 which was a date that saw the Barbados Independence Act 1966 come into effect. The Act also presented the ability for a new constitution to take effect upon independence and this was actioned through the Barbados Independence Order 1966. This effectively made Barbados the fourth English speaking country in the West Indies to achieve full independence from the UK. A coat of arms adorns the bottle with the motto ‘Pride and Industry’. This coat of arms was adopted on the 14th February 1966 by decree of Queen Elizabeth II. The Family Reserve aspect refers to the fact that due to production costs and the effects of evaporation on long aging of Rum in Barbados, the quantities of Rum aged for this time period are reduced and their allocation reserved for family. With an allocation given the the British branch of the family which emigrated in the 1960’s. Up until the launch of Rum Sixty Six, it was only ever exported when members of the family returned home with unmarked bottles after visits to Barbados. That then is the marketing tale behind the Rum….there is a part truth though as Foursquare Distillery do not sell bulk 12-year-old Rum.

Rum Sixty Six Family Reserve – 40% ABV

Rum66 Bottle and GlassThe bottle is tall, quite thin and has straight sides. It has a plastic topped cork stopper. Presentation wise its a unique bottle with memorable look. As stated on these pages before though, there are no prizes for presentation. Rum Sixty Six is a blend of molasses based distillates from both a Pot Still and a Coffey (Column) Still. This is where things become quite unique as I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to ask Richard Seale a few questions about the Rum and the methods used. I was previously only aware of aged Rums being blended to create the final Rum with the blending taking place prior to bottling. Richard revealed that the distillates are matured as a blend of pot and column, not as individual components. Very unique with the only other Rum that I had heard of using this technique being an experimental Velier release, which is why I had asked the question. Moving on, the distillates are reduced to 65% abv prior to barreling. Richard revealed that this is to get better extraction from the wood contact and also to reduce the losses to evaporation. The barrels still lose around 6% of their contents per year though to evaporation. He also stated that it would be his preference to mature at a lower abv but there is a trade-off due to the number of barrels required and also the space for storage during maturation. The blend of distillates are matured for a period of 8 to 10 years before the barrels are pulled and the most ‘suitable’ barrels are chosen for additional maturation for the final 2 to 4 years. These chosen barrels are then blended, reduced to around 56% abv and re barreled until a minimum maturation time of 12 years has been achieved for each barrel. Richard has been quoted previously as believing that for a relatively light Rum such as Rum Sixty Six, maturation beyond a 12 year period gives diminishing returns. At this point the Rum is reduced to its bottling strength of 40% abv, lightly filtered and bottled. But you’ll now be interested in how the Rum tastes….

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a dark coppery bronze in the glass. A swirl releases long, thin droplets. It is an extremely fragrant Rum. Up front there is a little alcohol that disappears quickly enough to leave a light sweetness and a few oaky aromas. Fruit is also present in the form of apricots, raisins, prunes and dried cranberries. Following on there is a whiff of dark treacle and as the Rum warms in the glass, there are nutty aromas released followed by the lightest hint of coconut and vanilla.

In the mouth: Wow. The entry is almost bitter and sweet in equal measures. The bitterness being akin to treacle and the sweetness being like dried mango. The nose did not prepare me for the oily and all-encompassing mouthfeel of this Rum either. Nowhere is spared in this Rums pursuit to coat every millimetre of your mouth. It is amazingly warming with oak being very apparent but not dominant as it is kept in check by the fruit and the lightest vanilla. At times it can taste like a chewy treacle toffee before you’re left with a beautiful oaky dryness. Further sips reveal apricots working well alongside coconut. To refer back to an earlier point, the mouthfeel is amazing and the Rum has a great medium body to it. It is a very bold Rum. Oaky and fruity yet it retains light coconut and treacle to keep your interest. It has a medium length drying finish with a little warmth from the oak and treacle but right at the end the apricot and coconut come back into play.

In conclusion then, this is my second bottle of Rum Sixty Six. Like most Foursquare bottlings, I rarely wind up not repurchasing. I have only tried this Rum neat….no ice, no cola, just Rum. It just works for me that way. It is another example of why Foursquare Distillery is highly regarded by the vast majority of people. Amazing value mixed with good but not over the top presentation and sublime liquid that sits firmly on the dry end of the spectrum but works so well. You also have an unwritten guarantee that it has not been ‘adjusted’ in any way. It has a bold mouthfeel, a natural sweetness and a warming oaky profile that hits the spot for me every time. It makes me long for the other 12-year-old Foursquare Rum, Doorly’s 12…..hopefully coming to these shores this year…fingers crossed. I picked up my first bottle of Rum Sixty Six for less than £30, my second cost £32 and that is roughly the cost of the cheapest bottle that I can find online. I have no hesitation in recommending this Rum to you….there is nothing not to like!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. 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 10 Year Old Rum

R.L Seale's 10 LabelThis whole post could technically be over very quickly as any one that follows my Twitter or Facebook accounts will know that whenever the question “can someone recommend a rum for me to try?” gets asked, R.L Seale’s 10 ALWAYS forms part of my answer… really, you all know my thoughts on this bottle, and to a lesser extent, my thoughts on anything that comes out of Richard Seale’s wonderful Foursquare Distillery. But “R.L Seale’s 10 is great” doesn’t make a very good read, so I’ll attempt to provide my thoughts on just why I’m a fan…..

My Foursquare Distillery collection dominates my Barbados Rum shelf as on there you’ll find R.L Seale’s 10, Doorly’s 3, Doorly’s 5, Doorly’s XO, Rum Sixty Six, Foursquare Spiced, Bristol Classic Fine Barbados Rum Foursquare 2003, a small plastic taster bottle of E.S.A Field, Taylor’s Velvet Falernum and a bottle of the quite magnificent St Nicholas Abbey 10.

2014-04-17 19.59.54-1It is however, impossible to talk about the rum or the distillery without briefly mentioning the man……

I first saw the name Richard Seale in print within Dave Brooms 2003 book “RUM”….the paragraph was talking about controlling heat during fermentation and it covered semi-continuous fermentation and more specifically, the closed, cooled fermenter that Richard uses….

Briefly looking online there are numerous sources and ridiculous amounts of articles about Richard Seale and his Foursquare Distillery and terms such as “legend” and “finest rum producer” are used with reckless abandon…..I’ve never been fortunate enough to meet Richard (hopefully that will be rectified at Rumfest, and hopefully he’ll be clutching a bottle of Doorly’s 12), but judging by the articles that I’ve read about the high regard in which he is held, along with the considered arguments, razor-sharp wit and dry sense of humour on display via social media, Richard Seale comes across as a man who possesses great integrity.

Reginald Leon Seale, Richard Seale’s Great Grandfather founded the company in 1926, so as a Fourth Generation owner, this really makes Foursquare Distillery a true family enterprise. Richard looks after both Distilling and Aging for all rums produced at the Foursquare Rum Distillery, with George Prescod acting as Master Blender for approaching 40 years. Numerous awards have been handed out to the rums that are produced there along with awards for the distillery itself. Richard was also inducted into the Rum Hall of Fame at Rumfest in 2013. But now its time to talk about the rum……

R.L Seale’s 10 Year Old Rum – 43% abv

R.L Seale's 10 FullR.L Seale’s 10 Year Old Rum has a striking presentation. The bottle has an angled neck and what appear to be finger grips on one side….it is reminiscent of the leather flasks that sailors would’ve used many moons ago. It’s very tactile and everyone that has seen my bottle wants to pick it up and have a good look at it…….this always leads onto the obligatory taster! With presentation of this standard, the contents surely must equal or even better your expectations? The rum is a blend of molasses based rums whereby the youngest in the blend is 10 years old and it is aged in used bourbon casks. There are absolutely no additives used that will adapt or modify the taste characteristics of the rum. Richard Seale is a vociferous opponent of the process of adding sugars and flavourings to ‘enhance’ the flavour of a rum.

This all works out for the consumer though as you know exactly where your money is being spent when you pick up a product from Foursquare Distillery and to be honest, the fact that you can pick up a bottle of R.L Seale’s 10 for below £33 if you shop around, almost makes you feel like a thief!

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The rum displays itself as a beautiful burnished gold with intense darker flashes reminiscent of honeycomb. You can sense the aromas bubbling over the glass before you’ve even approached it. When you do get close the rum has a buttery and nutty aroma which is carried on a bed of vanilla. Time spent in oak is apparent as this is the blanket that envelops the other aromas and helps carry them. After awhile the more subtle aromas lift up and announce themselves. The sponge layer from a Bakewell tart with its marzipan is brought to mind along with creamy Scottish tablet. There is also a little red apple edge to the rum. This is a really pleasant and approachable rum that hints at the treasures to be found within the glass.

In the mouth: Immediately you know that you’re not dealing with a sugary sweet rum as the initial entry is bone dry. Vanilla and red apple are the first flavours to reveal themselves along with a light hit of spice in the form of cinnamon and a little white pepper. This spice tickles my saliva glands and along with the accompanying red apple, assists in combating that initial dryness. The buttery, nuttiness now hits me and washes over my tongue in waves. It’s magical stuff. The oak is next to turn up to the party and this really kicks it up a notch. Subsequent sips (and there have been many at two bottles in) leave the buttery, nutty, vanilla fudge to build into a wonderfully warming and long finish. There is no harshness and no kick in excess of what you’d expect from a neat spirit and it’s hard to believe that this sits at 43% abv. such is the perfectly balanced nature and well-rounded character of the rum.

You really can appreciate the effort that has gone into making this rum. It appeals to many markets too. It is often mentioned that this rum would be a good introduction for whisky drinkers……well I have proof that this is true. I recommended the rum to my friend Scott who writes his own whisky based site (Whisky Moose, which can be found in my links), he picked up a bottle and he really enjoyed it.

It’s my go to rum. When I look at my shelf and am overwhelmed with choice, I know that I’ll find exactly what I need in this bottle. It also, I find, makes an unbelievable Corn ‘n Oil using Taylors Velvet Falernum. I personally believe that anyone who has a passing interest in rum has to invest in Foursquare Distillery rums. If you don’t own a bottle, and heaven knows why not, you need to rectify this. You really are missing out on an uncommon treat…….flavour by the bucket load…..a true rum in every sense of the word and all for less than £33 if you shop around. It hasn’t always been this way for me though…..I grew into my first bottle, initially preferring sweeter rums and finding none of those flavours in the arid desert dry, nutty and buttery R.L Seale’s 10. I still enjoy the sweeter side of rum, frequently, but my palate has developed to appreciate more and more of those differing styles of rum…..I firmly believe that it was this rum that opened that door to appreciation for me. If asked to compile my list of desert island rums…..this would always be on the list.

As always, feel free to pop in for a taster……

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2014. 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.