Foursquare Plenipotenziario – Single Blended Rum

So….unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you’ll know about the recent release of the Velier distributed Foursquare Plenipotenziario…You will also know all about Foursquare Rum distillery but if not, click on the link here for a round up of all things Foursquare on the site before we quickly get into things.

Now that you’re back, lets move on.

I first encountered Foursquare Plenipotenziario the day before Boutique Rumfest in London in October 2019. It was during the Foursquare Dinner at the Oxo Tower, on same evening that I also encountered Sagacity. As a group we immediately knew that something was different about this one as even though we were drinking copious amounts of Foursquare ECS 2007, which itself is a big and bold proposition, Plenipotenziario felt a little meatier and carried a little more heft. We all awaited its arrival over the coming months and sadly given that we’re in the throws of a global pandemic, release was delayed for a short while given the shut down. But it arrived in early April.

So let have a look at it.

Foursquare Plenipotenziario – Single Blended Rum – 60% abv – 0 g/l additives

So….firstly the name….Plenipotenziario. The word is from the latin plenus which means “full”, and potens which means “powerful” and it would refer to a person that has “full powers”. So it continues the now traditional naming convention for the Velier distributed offerings which started with Triptych in 2017.

Distilled in 2007 and bottled in October 2019, we know that we’re getting a Single Blended Rum, which is a blend of batch and traditional continuous distillation from one distillery. As is always the case these are blended in the barrel. The Rum has seen 12 years maturation in ex-bourbon barrels in the tropical climate of Barbados. We also get another little snippet on the front label….Heavy & Light. Much was made of this online with people concluding that it merely meant pot and column, but the rear label expands upon this. The Rum is a blend of output from the Foursquare Pot still and also of light and heavy distillates from the Foursquare traditional Coffey still. We had heard that Richard has heavier column distillate but not too much of it, so as I had not seen anyone approach the subject and being curious as I am (though lacking much understanding), I questioned Richard about these heavy column still distillates and how he obtained them.

I asked whether, as we seem to understand from places like Caroni, this heavy distillate was a result of lower rectification and as there isn’t too much of it, whether it required significant changes to the way that the Coffey still was operated. Thankfully, and as he usually does, Richard was forthcoming with an answer. The heavier distillate was obtained via lower rectification without heads / tails cuts but as the still is not set up for this, it lacked efficiency and was not as well controlled. Modifications have since been made to the column still to add flexibility and to allow control of this flexibility, and although they won’t be producing the same distillate they have more range from the column still now. All of this was inspired by the earlier steps that created the heavier column rum within Plenipotenziario.

So there we have it. A Single Blended Rum containing a marque from the column still that is rarely seen, matured in ex-bourbon barrels for 12 years in a tropical climate and retailing for 139 euros.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A little punchy straight from the pour….well we are dealing with 60% here. There’s also a note that doesn’t feel Foursquare like, something that is perhaps a little tar like and definitely more rough n ready and lacking the poise that we’re used to off the bat. A good ten minutes in the glass and it begins to give a little though. Plenty of up front woody notes as is expected with Foursquare releases. Dry pencil shavings initially melding into cedar cigar tube liners. This then clearly morphs into a wetter, more musty oak with a hint of tobacco leaf and wet cardboard. Quite spice led too with cumin seed, grainy pumpkin seed bread, freshly grated nutmeg, black pepper. There is also an underlying astringent, varnish and lacquer aspect to the nose…..perhaps a little furniture polish. There is a waxy, almost beeswax Clynelish aroma too. Working through the layers sees familiar key Foursquare notes such as vanilla, milk chocolate, raisins, light coconut and mixed citrus peel. A hint of molasses and banana bread shows up. There’s a brightness to that astringent note that conjures up sharp blackcurrants, stewed stone fruits, and dried tart cranberries. A definite cherry stone aroma with a jammy quality and an almond like perfumed note point firmly at the ex bourbon barrels in a big way. Honey and warm orange peel pop up. It really has calmed down and become a layered experience the more time that it has been given in the glass.

Mouth: It’s a big one. Very oily, very demanding…..it’s screams at you if you’re not paying attention. Plenty of wet oak straight away and although not cuttingly dry it definitely doesn’t shy away from stealing a little moisture as when the liquid slides across your tongue it leaves a wake of drying oak behind it…..but also a hint of sweetness. That astringency is also there. Spicy but not overly so…black pepper, a hint of ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Lots of tobacco sweetness leads into the mid palate which definitely sweetens up a little. Good quality dark chocolate with hazelnuts, walnuts and cranberry pieces. Raisins and candied mixed citrus peels…..you’d also swear that it was almost ‘gritty’ like Spanish fig cake. Dark stewed plums and apples with syrupy juice. Again all of the expected notes are there with vanilla custard plus a more savoury vanilla….warm coconut sweet bread, desiccated coconut and the merest hint of peach vapours but all of these float on that layer of cherry and almond bourbon barrel influence that is the vessel carrying the entire experience. Little pockets of honey and salty liquorice pop up every now and then as the very long finish continues the good work that has come before it and the oily nature of the rum really doesn’t want to let go. Addition of coffee at the death of the finish with slightly bitter sherry and chocolate clinging onto cedar wood and nuts.

In Conclusion: So there we have it…..a 12 year old tropically aged ex-bourbon barrel Single Blended Rum…..and it’s another cracker…..not quite my favourite of their output but with a bar set this high, we have to be picky. Blends rely on skill and knowledge to continually create new and different expressions whilst also keeping core ranges consistent. This ex-bourbon release is a big, brooding and woody affair steeped in the familiar Foursquare vibe but offering a new extension to the familiar with the use of the heavier column distillate. It’s a massively enjoyable ride where layers reveal themselves on the nose and palate and they keep developing whilst retaining complete coherence during the transition. It’s unlike other ex-bourbon releases such as 2004, 2005 and 2007. It’s also unlike the recently released Nobiliary…though they feel connected…this will be reviewed soon. With such a wealth of barrel types now at Foursquare plus the installation of their new cane crusher and distillations using cane juice, there’s plenty more to come.

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 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.

Barbados Distillers Unite in Push for a GI

No fence sitting here…..Readers of this site will be more than aware of our standpoint on the topic of a GI for Barbados and the GI already in place in Jamaica. We see them both as critical in protecting the reputation, provenance and quality of the Rums being produced there and economically they ensure that the majority of the value is is earned in the country of origin. We have articles written on the subject of the alleged ‘threat to diversity’ here and the Barbados GI proposals here. An article was published in The Spirits Business yesterday highlighting the counterpoint made by three of the four distilleries (FS/MG/SNA) on the island in agreement with the GI to the earlier article from the one distillery (WIRD) or more probably the owner of the distillery, that is not in favour of the GI and its lack of allowance for up to 20 g/l of additions among other things. To roll over on this one would be a tragedy. No innovation is being stifled, no hands are being tied….everyone can use whatever yeast strains they like……ferment for a day or a month with seawater, dishwater or pond water…..mature in any wood…..use any method of distillation that they desire…..they just can’t call it Barbados Rum when it is not produced in compliance with the GI.

Anyhow, my ramblings are over with and perhaps the strongest statement is the simplest….

*Press Release*

20 January 2020 – Mount Gay, Foursquare and Saint Nicholas Abbey have jointly agreed on a Geographical Indication for Barbados Rum as prepared by the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC) in consultation with its legal counsel. The three distillers are the largest bottlers of Barbados Rum and together hold over 90% of the island’s aged reserves.

A Geographical Indication means that a product’s “given quality, reputation or other characteristic…is essentially attributable to its geographic origin.” Under EU spirits regulations, “a name shall only be protected” if the production steps which give it this quality and reputation “take place in the relevant Geographic area.”

Under the GI, Barbados Rum will be required to be matured in Barbados as the climate of maturation has a defining impact on the nature of a spirit.
“The value of rum increases as it matures. We cannot afford the loss of forex earnings by letting this production step happen outside of Barbados” – Larry Warren, proprietor, Saint Nicholas Abbey.

The Barbados GI gives ample room for innovation. There are no restrictions on the type of stills used, long and short fermentation techniques are allowed, and either fresh juice, syrup or molasses may be used. Any yeast may be used, but non saccharomyces strains must be native.
“At Foursquare we have gained a reputation for innovation. I am happy to say the Barbados GI places no restrictions on our rum making methods.” – Richard Seale, proprietor, Foursquare Distillery.

Unlike nearby volcanic Islands, Barbados is an Island of coral limestone with underground aquifers. Barbados is famous for the quality of its water and the GI retains a requirement for the use of Barbados water to make Barbados Rum.
“Till this day, Mount Gay uses the same water sourced from our centuries’ old well to make our Rum” – Raphael Grisoni, Managing Director, Mount Gay Rum.

To protect the quality and reputation of Barbados Rum, maturation must be in new oak or in refill casks from a list of recognised wine and spirit denominations. Age statements must refer to the youngest spirit. Vats are not acceptable for age statements. To protect the integrity of Barbados Rum, the addition of sugar syrup and flavourings is prohibited; however, caramel colour under strict guidelines, will be allowed for consistency.
The fourth major distillery in Barbados – West Indies Rum Distillery – is primarily a bulk producer of non aged rum acquired by Maison Ferrand in 2017. Ferrand has appealed directly to the political leadership of Barbados to overturn the work of the BIDC and has demanded to mature Barbados Rum outside of Barbados in wooden vats and to sweeten Barbados Rum with added sugar syrup. The former request would violate the EU’s requirement for production steps to take place within the protected geographic area.

*End*

© 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 Hunte’s 10 Year Old Reserve Rum

This is not a rum that you’ll find readily available….I’ll get that out of the way immediately. It is only available for sale at Hunte’s Gardens in Barbados. So, if you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in Barbados…..and you really would be fortunate as the island is beautiful….you should definitely take a visit…not only for the Rum but for the gardens themselves. As for Foursquare, you absolutely should visit the distillery too. I have, about 4 times over two visits to the island and if you’d like to read more then a quick entry into the search box would turn up plenty of results.

Located in Saint Joseph Parish which is on the east side of the island and about halfway up, Hunte’s Gardens is like heaven on earth. Based on the working side of the old Castle Grant Plantation which used to process sugarcane, as you walk through the gate you’ll cross over the old sugarcane weighbridge before hearing the classical music which permeates the gardens and sets the tone perfectly. Formed in the remains of a sinkhole created by a cave collapse in the limestone the gardens stretch into the distance below you and the trees stretch far up above your head.

You’ll walk down steps into numerous small private gardens each with a ridiculous amount of plants, flowers, water features and stone statues of varying sizes. Tropical fern and flower lined brick pathways welcoming you with small stone pineapples meander up and down, sometimes to dead end secluded areas and sometimes linking to more open spaces where the palm trees stretch up towards the sun.

At the end of your walk around the gardens you’ll walk up towards Anthony Hunte’s house, passing a few surreal rooms that appear to be frozen in time.

An engaging character, Anthony will tell you about the gardens and you’ll be amazed at just how few people were responsible for its creation. It is here that you’ll find the Rum to purchase by the bottle or the glass……and purchase it you should.

Foursquare Hunte’s 10 Year Old Reserve Rum – 43% abv – Single Blended Rum

So here we have it, a blend of both batch and continuous distillation on Foursquare Distillery’s Pot and Coffey Column stills  matured for a minimum of 10 years in ex-bourbon barrels prior to bottling at 43%. We’d assume that it’s been chill filtered and it has caramel for colour uniformity. This on the surface of things looks to be a very similar proposition to R.L Seale’s 10….but how similar will be revealed as I’ll be sitting with a glass of the 46% export proof for comparison.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Immediately that familiar Foursquare Barbadian nose hits you. Vanilla. Caramel. Warm buttery shortcrust pastry. Plenty of nuttiness and light peppery barrel spice. Coconut is definitely present as is quite an obvious cocoa powder. The oak brings a warming woody backbone to the nose and this encourages the coconut and chocolate to become more influential casting aside the nutty quality in favour of a slightly sweeter approach with Marshmallow and a little orange-y citrus note. Mild coffee notes round things out.

Mouth: The initial entry is quite dry and spice led. This is backed up with short lived heat. Coconut water and coconut milk are the first impressions with just a hint of freshly cut peach. Big on the cocoa with just a hint of almond. Buttery pastry and vanilla custard. The coconut milk and chocolate lead into the warming spicy mid palate with its drying quality and heightened oak bringing vanilla, pepper and ginger. Very warming, very comforting. A hint of raisin and molasses leads into the medium length warm silky woody finish that brings back coconut chips coated in chocolate. Sugared almonds. Classic freshly cut peach is joined by peach vapours at the back end. The coconut water rises up and washes over your tongue right at the death. Well balanced and clear in its delivery.

In conclusion: Priced very well at $70BDS ($35 USD) which at the time was about £25, this Foursquare Hunte’s 10 Year Reserve Rum offers a classic experience of Barbadian rum, and in particular Foursquare Rum with its real poise and balance. Rum’s to compare would be the 43% and 46% R.L Seale’s 10. Both of these are 10 years old with full tropical maturation. Both are single blended rums. Both are priced around £35-£40 and I have no doubt that is where this rum would be positioned were it to make it here. In fact I had a glass of the 46% with me for comparison. Where the R.L Seale’s sits on a little more heat and is more nutty in its profile with dialed down cocoa, this Hunte’s 10 Year Reserve is all about the chocolate and coconut. My preference probably sits with the export strength R.L Seale’s 10 at this point due to the nutty quality and its slightly higher abv but lets be honest…. what’s not to like? Quality Rum at a steal of a price that you can only obtain by visiting the beautiful island of Barbados and walking around a tropical garden. Sounds like heaven. I think that we’ve more than established at this point that Foursquare Rum Distillery just don’t make bad rum….and if you obtain distillery matured and bottled products you absolutely cannot go wrong.

4 / 5

As a side note, I’ve also seen a photograph of an amended label design….but the Rum hasn’t changed….You know that the completest in me will be visiting in November to grab the updated label.

© 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.

A GI for Barbados Rum

I awoke this morning to more informative text from Richard Seale regarding the Barbados GI. I had previously posted regarding the Barbados GI here. Below in full is the information that I awoke to this morning addressing key points and presenting the agreed position of Mount Gay, St Nicholas Abbey and Foursquare.

A GI for Barbados Rum

A GI is intended to:

– protect the name of Barbados Rum in export markets by having the standards applied at home recognised in those markets.
– codify those standards so that they will be maintained to protect the reputation of Barbados Rum
– link the essential characteristics of Barbados Rum to its geographical origin.

The latter sometimes causes confusion. There are two types of GI – A PDO like AOC Martinique Agricole which absolutely requires the sugar cane grown in Martinique or a PGI like Scotch Whisky which allows imported grain but demands other ties to the geography e.g. water and climate of aging.

The geographical link also provides the economic motive behind establishing a GI – to ensure the economic return from a product is earned within the region.

Attached is the unified position of Mount Gay, St Nicholas Abbey and Foursquare. We have worked carefully together and given our inputs to the local authority. Not everything here is in latest draft but we are confident in our work being recognised. It has been a joy to work with the team from Mount Gay and Larry from St Nicholas Abbey.

Also attached are the relevant clauses from the EU regulations. This shows that it is an indispensable requirement of registration that essential characteristics of the product be derived from its geographical origin.

I think it is unfortunate (and disrespectful of the local authorities) that the draft GI has been subjected to criticism in front of foreign audiences. Once you understand the position of MG/SNA/FS in the context of the meaning of a GI and its registration requirements, you will see the criticism is disingenuous, misleading and self-serving.

YEAST
Yeast is not restricted to Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. The exogenous ADDITION is restricted to Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. Not that this is much of a restriction – 99%+ of all wines and spirits out there are made from the thousands of available strains of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. All native yeasts are in fact allowed. This includes several species besides Saccharomyces Cerevisiae.

It is important to understand the history behind this. Until the modern era, all rum fermentations proceeded exclusively from native yeasts. The addition of exogenous yeast brought efficiency and flavour control at the expense of aromatic diversity. That horse has bolted, added yeast is here to stay. But restricting non Saccharomyces yeast to native yeasts we are preserving a link to our geography and to our history.

WATER
It is imperative in order to maintain the link between Barbados Rum and its Geography that water is restricted to Barbados Water. It is also easy to understand if you know our history. Barbados was able to dominate early sugar and rum making because of our access to water compared to our volcanic neighbours. I have attached a perspective from Mount Gay on the issue.

STILLS
There is no restriction on stills in the Barbados GI. All batch and continuous stills are allowed. Distillation proof is restricted to 95% abv and copper must be used. *(Note the chamber still referred to in the counter arguments. Batch and Continuous is the language used, not Pot and Column)*RDB

SUGAR
Sugar is not added by any Barbados blender. No indigenous brand uses addition of sugar. In fact in a world of sweetened rum, indigenous Barbados Rums stand out for not using sugar syrup. A GI must reflect that. Adding sugar to Barbados rum weakens the diversity of rum.

CARAMEL
Caramel (e150a) has been used in Barbados rum for as long as anyone knows. It was not used to deceive people. Most Barbados Rum was sold unaged – “white rum” or “coloured rum” at the same price. So the GI allows caramel but with some constraints to avoid abuse.

AGING
Aging provides arguably the most essential characteristic of Barbados Rum in export markets. It would be ludicrous to CERTIFY a rum as Barbados Rum where one of the most influential stages of production takes place outside of Barbados. It is also the stage where the most of the value is added. It would be equally ludicrous to CERTIFY a product as from Barbados where most of the value is earned outside of Barbados.

OAK
This is more about protecting the reputation than geography. Until now the reputation of aged Barbados Rum has been derived from aging solely in oak. A GI is about protecting reputation not leaving it to the mercy of experiments. Our position has been cleverly crafted. We can venture outside of oak when it is proven. To simply allow “wooden casks” is unacceptable. The myriad of possibilities from oak is almost limitless. In practical terms this is no restriction at all.

A GI which allows a purported ‘Barbados Rum’ be made from imported molasses, non native yeasts, non native water and aged in another country is a farce and would never meet the requirements of registration.

It should be well noted that a GI does not prevent non compliant Rum being made in Barbados. Article 14 (attached) contemplates that in the modern era stages of production may take place in different regions. A rum distilled in Barbados that meets the basic EU standard is still legal to sell as rum. And if it is aged in France and has special sugar syrup (made with French know-how) added, it is no longer a certified Barbados Rum but it is entirely legal and appropriate if it is called French Rum.

Every distiller wants to make the best they can but when the inputs are no longer Barbados inputs (or Barbados traditions) – it moves from away from being a Barbados Rum to being a Rum.

This is a “restriction” that holds no fear for a Barbados born distiller or blender.

The Unified Position of Mount Gay, St Nicholas Abbey and Foursquare Rum Distillery

Clauses from the EU regulations demonstrating that it is an indispensable requirement of registration that essential characteristics of the product be derived from its geographical origin

Counter Argument Criticism of the GI Proposals

Information Presented by Mount Gay

Article 14 contemplates that in the modern era, stages of production may take place in different regions

All eyes are on the progression of this fundamental and vital weapon in the arsenal of the Barbadian producers to protect their heritage.

© 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.

Diablesse Caribbean Rum

New Rum brands are popping up everywhere…..and here is another…..but I have a little more knowledge about this one. Around two years ago I met brand owner Cleo Farman for lunch in South Manchester. She had contacted me as a result of a mutual friend suggesting that we discuss her ideas for bringing a new Rum blend to market. I had prepared a few of my own blends from my home stock for us to discuss at that initial meeting. There were a few real stand outs (for me) and a few were pretty ropey. Anyhow, we discussed distilleries and principles and the state of the industry from a consumer standpoint. As is often pointed out, we Rum Enthusiasts sometimes exist in an echo chamber whereby we are surrounded by similar views on what constitutes good Rum. My focus during discussions was on the formulation of an honest product, free from additives and nonsense. Cleo, who has previously owned multiple successful bars in Manchester happily agreed and listened as I rabbited on about the importance of not messing around with Rum. If you are doing it, do it justice. I sang the virtues of distilleries like Foursquare, Mount Gay, Worthy Park, Hampden and St Lucia Distillers and all of this information was absorbed. Things were going well and I was hopefully going to be more involved in the project but then due to personal issues (if you know, you know) in early May last year I had to back away and sort a few things out. Fortunately Cleo pursued the project and with the help of a few quality bar tending friends progressed with sourcing and trialing blends. Fast forward to early November 2018 and I met for lunch with Cleo again. In her hand she had the final blend. She also had a brand name and label images. In mid February I was able to purchase this creation from Master of Malt. I’d imagine this to be a pretty proud moment and reward for Cleo’s hard work….and financial outlay! Below is a little image that I took at the launch at Cottonopolis in Manchester…..one of the signature drinks is a quite awesome Roasted Banana Daiquiri. So we know that it plays very nicely in cocktails…..but what does it taste like?

Diablesse Caribbean Rum – 40% abv – Blended Rum

So here we have it. Diablesse Caribbean Rum. There is a marketing tale to accompany the Diablesse name but I’ll let you view the brand website for that. Presentation is in a nice heavy bottomed squat bottle….similar to the one that the excellent Woods has started using and from the wooden topped cork stopper to the label design and material its a pretty classy package. But its whats in the bottle that counts. This Rum is blend of three Rums. An 8-year-old Single Blended Rum from Foursquare Distillery in Barbados, a 4-year-old Pure Single Rum from Worthy Park in Jamaica and a 2 year old Traditional Rum from the Enmore Coffey Still at DDL in Guyana. Proportions wise, though not deadly accurate, we have roughly 45% Barbados, 35% Jamaica and 20% Guyana. Along with the sourcing of credible Rums for the blend is the little note on the label……Pure, Golden Rum free from added sugar and other adulteration…..It is this principle that I put so much emphasis on during our early discussions….and the fact that it made such an impact on Cleo that it has made it to the label is very satisfying on a personal level.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A beautiful candied aroma. The Worthy Park definitely rules the early exchanges. Tropical fruit punch. Trademark overripe banana. Molasses. This leads into a char-grilled pineapple. The maturity of the Foursquare component brings coconut shavings and a warming, well-integrated oak with just a hint of spice notes from the barrel. Cocoa powder and vanilla fudge. Beautifully light marshmallow.

Mouth: Very soft and gentle entry. Butterscotch Angel Delight. Freshly sliced tropical fruit accompanied by a gooseberry like sharpness. Relatively thin mouthfeel and a little alcohol bite….but a touch of youthful exuberance never did any harm. Mid palate brings spice bun and mashed banana with just a sip of black tea before warming, peppery oak and vanilla hits home. Subsequent visits reveal more of the interplay between the banana of the Worthy Park and the well-integrated oak and classic peach vapours of Foursquare. The moderate length finish is warm and spice led with banana bread, dried cranberries, pineapple cubes and a little black pepper.

3.5/5

*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 40% – Measured abv 40% – 0 g/l additives*

Price wise this sits at the higher end of standard at £37. Like Neptune which is the last top quality new brand that came before it, it is an economy of scale thing. But like that Rum, as sales increase, pricing may change. I’ve definitely spent a lot more on a less honest and poorer quality product. This is no-nonsense tasty blend of two of my favourite distilleries plus a little Enmore column still to lighten things up. It’s clear that Cleo cares about the Rum given her emphasis on no additives. I’d buy another, and I reckon that you should pick one up too.

© 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.

Berry Bros. and Rudd Hampden 17 Year Old 2000 Cask # 27 and Hampden 17 Year Old 2000 Cask # 54 The Whisky Barrel Exclusives

Hampden Estate will be familiar to any readers here as I have written about a few of their Rums. Information can be found here if you fancy a bit of background reading. It’s a place that I would love to visit, to see Rum making steeped in hundreds of years of history.

I want to get right into these bottles as there are two up for review today. Both are bottled by Berry Bros. and Rudd and both are Exclusive to The Whisky Barrel. They are both from a distillation in 2000 which would make them potentially LROK giving them an ester level of 200-400 g/hl AA. Not excessively high….but as we know….elevated ethyl acetate is not the key driver to a good rum. Both of these Rums are available from The Whisky Barrel for just shy of £85 each…..for 17 year old Hampden’s…not too bad.

Berry Bros. and Rudd Hampden 17 Year Old 2000 Cask # 27 The Whisky Barrel Exclusive – 57.2% abv – Pure Single Rum

Bottled at 57.2%, which we assume is cask strength, this release from Cask #27 saw 194 bottles.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Bright astringent ethyl acetate right away. Acidic sweet pineapple. Model glue. Varnish. Fruit is definitely a key facet to this rum with warm banana and a salty citrus oil backing up the pineapple. The sap from freshly sawn cedar…a memory that takes me back to making arrows in the shed at home as a child with my Dad. The freshness of pine mixed with menthol and eucalyptus. Something reminiscent of a new pair of suede trainers. Crazy stuff.

Mouth: Vibrant and sweet entry. It ticks all the relevant boxes. Pineapple. Banana. Tropical fruit leathers. Mango. Interestingly a bit of custard apple. In comes the savoury side of things on the mid palate led by a very well-integrated oak. Dry and peppery with spiced barrel notes. Olives. Brine. Salty crackers. Preserved lemons. Melting plastic makes an appearance. The long finish is spice led with the oak flexing its 17 years influence. Citrus, pineapple, play-dough, heavy acetone all sit in the mix. Quite a bit of peppery heat there too. It keeps your attention till the death. A hint of hazelnut and milk chocolate play off the oak. A lot to enjoy in here.

4.5 / 5

Berry Bros. and Rudd Hampden 17 Year Old 2000 Cask # 54 The Whisky Barrel Exclusive – 58.1% abv – Pure Single Rum

Bottled at 58.1%, which again we assume is cask strength, this release from Cask #54 saw 189 bottles.

Tasting Notes

Nose: I know that technically these are sister barrels…..same marque….same year of distillation….same maturation period….but the initial aromas are very different to barrel #27. Dialled down ethyl acetate and acidity gives way to a more vegetal and wood dominated nose. There’s something dirty like potatoes freshly removed from the ground. The fruit is there, definitely there but it is a background note initially. Warm pineapple upside down cake. Turmeric. Window putty. Fennel seeds. Sticking plasters. Menthol. Vanilla. Pencil shavings. Time allows the varnish and model glue to appear.

Mouth: Warming, sweet and quite refined…it is LROK I suppose. Fruit is here with pineapple, bananas, flamed orange peel. Dried tropical fruit….think mango, papaya and guava. Higher abv than cask #27 but it’s more approachable. Light brine and olives. The oak is a lot heavier in this sip on the mid palate. Far more spice from the wood. Fiery fresh ginger juice, a hint of Scotch bonnet and black pepper. Maybe even some allspice. Celery salt and fresh crunchy fennel. The finish is again….long. It’s far more savoury that the other cask though. Solid oak influence resplendent with all of the barrel spice notes mentioned. If the other cask was vibrant wood, this is a musty, older cask. Wet cardboard. Roasted stock vegetables with dominant celery. Good….but different.

4 / 5

Approachable cask strength Hampdens you say? Both great expressions of non tropically matured Hampdens….specifically the LROK marque. Not as intense as the tropically matured LROK that I have experienced but they’re both very good examples and both warrant a purchase if you have the funds. Cask # 27 is my favourite of the two given the profile consistency from nose to palate, but there is plenty to enjoy from the heavier wood influence on Cask #54.

© 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.

The Paulsen Collection Foursquare Vintage 1998

We’re back into it with another Foursquare. Some bottle hunters are seeking the ‘unicorn’ Exceptional Cask Release I, more commonly known as Foursquare 1998. Bottles are rare with Gayle Seale herself having to pick them up from property auctions in Barbados. They do exist in the wild but sightings are rare and can be very expensive. So what we have here in this Paulsen Collection bottling is that very same ‘unicorn’, but perhaps without the rainbow mane and golden horn…..maybe just dressed as a regular old horse. It was available until recently quite readily and I believe it may still be available in Europe. I gained a bottle a while back as a present from my wife, I then subsequently picked up another 2 bottles from Richard Blesgraaf over in Holland. Less than 50 Euros per bottle I think.

Now you will be fully aware reading these pages that I enjoy Foursquare Rums, a quick click here will link to quite a few articles on their products to get your juices flowing about the place. Anyhow, let’s get into it.

The Paulsen Collection Foursquare Vintage 1998 – 40% abv – Traditional Rum

This Rum is, amazingly, the product of only the Coffey Column Still at Foursquare Distillery. Distilled in 1998, this Rum was matured in ex-bourbon barrels for around 8 years. It was then decanted, reduced to around bottling strength and then re-barreled for an additional 2 years of maturation totaling a minimum of 10 years tropical maturation. Presented an a heavy based square edged glass bottle with a cork closure and wax seal on the label it certainly looks the part….if that kind of thing matters to you.

Coffey Column Still at Foursquare Distillery

Tasting Notes

Nose: Classic Foursquare profile on the nose…..Vanilla, butterscotch and a beautiful marshmallow note. Peppery and well-integrated oak lays down a solid foundation for the sweeter notes to play off. A touch of dried fruit and powdery cocoa appear given time. Relatively simple and straightforward nose to this Rum, but quite enjoyable.

Mouth: Lightly sweet and far more complex on the palate. Initial vanilla and cocoa give way to a drying and quite punchy oak that scatterguns fresh fruity peppercorns and charred, spicy barrel notes. A little banana chip and dried coconut sits alongside cocoa nibs and fresh, zingy ginger juice. A medium length finish carries the oak, vanilla and cocoa into those familiar peach vapours at the back of the throat.

You sometimes have to remind yourself that this is the product of the Coffey Column still only…..nothing from their pot still. Whilst it lacks a bit of heft on the palate, I can think of no better rum to adequately display just how effective the creation of Aeneas Coffey is when in the right hands. I was going to conclude this review by saying that this Rum was very much of its time, and it’s amazing to see how far things have moved on since it’s release in 2008. Not just in the Rum world in general but in the output and confidence of Foursquare Distillery. But the truth is, released today, maybe at the island abv of 43%, it’d fly off the shelves. It’s like a more mature Old Brigand, proper enjoyable, even if it’s not the most complex offering. Column Still Rum never tasted so good.

4 / 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.

Mount Gay 7 Year Old – TWE Exclusive Cask Strength

Amazingly Mount Gay have not featured on this site before, but that will change today. With a deed dating back to 1703, Mount Gay Distillery occupies a beautiful site in the North of Barbados in the Parish of St Lucy. I have far more information to share and images to post and these will appear on later articles featuring more of my Mount Gay collection.

Master Blender Allen Smith

Under the direction of Master Blender Allen Smith, Mount Gay are more famed for their entry-level Eclipse Rums along with Black Barrel and their XO. They have extensive aged stock and yet rarely bottle for others or sell to brokers these days. I have a Cadenhead’s bottling that I swear is from Mount Gay and I read only today of a release by a Dutch bottler that will be coming in December. Utilising both a traditional Coffey Column Still and multiple twin retort Pot Stills, Mount Gay produce Single Blended Rum. Their Pot Still House up in St Lucy really is a thing of beauty…..photographs can’t do it justice…but to give you some idea, this is an image that I took on my visit in April.

Mount Gay Distillery Pot Still House

But enough of that for now, you want to know about the Rum.

Mount Gay 7 Year Old Cask Strength – The Whisky Exchange Exclusive – 54% abv – Single Blended Rum

A blend of Traditional Twin Column and Double Retort Pot Still Rum, this Single Blended Rum sees a maturation period of 7 years in ex-bourbon barrels in the warehouses at the distillery in St Lucy. Bottled at 54%, which is Cask Strength, this Rum has not been chill filtered, it does not have caramel colour and it is a release of 2400 bottles from a total of 20 barrels. Losses to evaporation ranged from 37.3% to 47.9%. I have also been advised that it has a higher proportion of pot still in the blend than most other Mount Gay releases. It will be available only through The Whisky Exchange and is now available.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Peppery and spicy oak up front, as with all of the older MG expressions. The deep oak carries the intense vanilla of crème pâtissière and nutmeg topped egg custard. A bag of dried mixed tropical fruit. A hint of caramelised sugar atop a buttery Eccles cake. It’s a well-balanced and classically Barbadian nose with a little more power. Time brings a pleasant but not overdone note of pencil shavings and light molasses. Coconut chips in milk chocolate. Stewed stone fruit.

Mouth: Beautifully sweet entry. It doesn’t show it’s teeth initially. Very creamy….reminiscent of Banoffee pie with a spiced ginger biscuit base. Bourbon vanilla custard and warm fruit cake. The mid palate really allows the oak and spice to flex its muscles. The heat of black pepper and charred bourbon barrel notes. Immensely dry and with plenty of grip. Such a spice driven mid palate courtesy of the oak and the increased but never too aggressive abv. 54% just seems so right for this. Fiery freshly cut ginger, cinnamon and a touch of celery. It almost runs to being too dry and too oak heavy on the mid-palate but it manages to regain balance and a sweetness on the finish. Chorley cake with buttery shortcrust pastry resplendent with juicy raisins. A hint of milk chocolate. Caramelised sugar on creme brûlée. Walkers liquorice toffee. All pinned together with a solid, classic woody Barbadian backbone.

I tried this alongside a glass of the old label XO. Its youth, abv and more aggressive oak approach make it a very enjoyable step up as an experience as opposed to the XO’s calmer more easy-going oak and 43% abv. It’s good to see Mount Gay releasing cask strength Rums, albeit as bottlings for others and limited releases. I still think that their current cask strength releases have their pricing structure a little high to truly appeal to a bigger market, £150 for the XO Cask Strength (which I picked up anyway) and £200 for the Peat Smoke throw them into truly ‘special purchase’ territory. As a group, we spoke at length to Raphael Grisoni about this when we were at the distillery in April. This release is priced at just shy of £88 which brings it into a better price bracket and given the enjoyment contained within this bottle, it’s bang on the money.

4.5 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. 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.