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.

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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.

SWIG Hip Flask

SWIG logoA new one on these pages…..its not Rum but it is something that most of us at one time or another will or have used to carry our precious beloved liquid……but what is the story behind the carrying of a hip flask?

Dating back from medieval times, initially ‘personal flasks’ were made of glass or leather with the ‘pilgrim bottle’ being associated with religious pilgrimages….flat on one side and rounded on the other, they often had rings attached to the base of the neck through which you could thread a chain, rope or leather to attach it to your person or to your horse’s saddle. The idea of a hip flask or pocket flask appeared in Georgian times (1714 to 1837) but rose in popularity during the Victorian era (1837 to 1901). Solid silver or pewter were the materials of choice in combination with other materials such as glass (to enable you to see the fill level) or leather. Occasionally they had a screw top that could be used as a vessel. Popular for pursuits such as hunting or fishing, a gentleman would require a flask of his favourite spirit to keep him warm during these pursuits. Ladies of the 18th Century would board docked British warships to smuggle gin in a makeshift flask made of a pigs bladder hidden inside their petticoats. I’d also imagine that flasks have made many trips to see in-laws more bearable…..I know that have improved similar weekends for me! Though they are not to be confused with the tools of alcoholism (such as a bottle in a brown paper bag) as they generally hold only 6-8oz of liquid and in my experience, that liquid is made for sharing.

IMAG1947_1As far as my own experiences go, I am an avid user of hip flasks. I have purchased hip flasks as gifts and have been given hip flasks as gifts. My gifts to my two best men on my wedding day were hip flasks and the gift that I received for my 21st Birthday from my employer at the time was a hip flask….in fact it is this hip flask that has served me so well for the 17 years that I have been using it! It’s a little tatty now but the most important fact is that I has never leaked. Rounds of golf are always better with a warming drop of something on a chilly Sunday morning and I always attend a wedding with a flask of good Rum in my jacket pocket! It’s the most important part of your attire for the day…..along with a cigar of course.

IMAG0437_1I had first encountered SWIG flasks when my friend Scott, the writer of The Whisky Moose posted an image of his new flask via Twitter. Fast forward several months and I was contacted and asked if I would like to trial a SWIG flask, as an avid user of hip flasks, of course I said yes!

SWIG are a fast growing London-based start-up, who produce high-quality hip flasks and pouches.

SWIG as a company is the brainchild of David Galbraith who in 2013 sold up and moved from Northern Ireland to follow his vision of making ‘the worlds most reliable hip flask brand’. SWIG flasks are of a seamless stainless steel construction which can be supplied with a wide range of accessories.

IMAG0432_1I was asked to choose which version I’d like to trial and so to keep personal tastes out of the equation for the purposes of writing, I chose to trial the naked flask in a gift box with the accompanying stainless steel funnel to fill up the flask. The flask itself arrived in a flat two-part red and black box, adorned with a black ribbon and brandishing the SWIG logo in the bottom corner. Once open, the beautiful seamless stainless steel 170ml flask lies upon a patterned black cushion and has a card set on top. This card holds the web address required to access the ‘SWIG Society’. This is a global membership club for owners of SWIG flasks with your status corresponding to your flask number….a little like the hierarchy in The Stonecutters from The Simpsons! Speaking of flask numbers, beautifully engraved on the flask that I am trialing is #03475. You receive a monthly email containing pictures from the community, information, articles and each month a SWIG Society member can win the prize of a bottle of whisky based upon their flask number!

IMAG0424_1The first thing that strikes you is the absence of any seam lines, save for the neck joint and one thing unfamiliar to me is the fact that the screw cap is not connected to the flask by any means. Something that I have never encountered previously. There is the ever-present fear that you could lose the screw cap….a fear that is further confirmed when you notice that spare caps are available for purchase on the SWIG website. There is also that familiar curved shape that enables it to sit comfortably in your jacket / trouser pocket. Everything is suitably chunky and solid feeling with no light metal on metal noise when screwing the cap open or closed. The biggest challenge of any hip flask is the desire to never have the liquid leak. So far in the five weeks that I have trialled the flask it has accompanied me to work, on various trips to visit friends and relatives and it has also made the short hop over to Paris. No leaks as yet and long may this continue. I would definitely advise you to buy a pouch as the flask does mark easily, especially if you intend to carry the flask in a bag of some sort. That said there is no flex in the body of the flask indicating that a suitably robust material thickness has been used. You also don’t get the feeling that this is a brittle piece of kit which is good as it commands a hefty price tag. The funnel which sadly does not fit in the gift box is the most impressive flask filling device that I’ve encountered. A large bowl means that there are no hesitations required when pouring as is the case usually which means that there are no spillages as a result of having to constantly slow pour the bottle. There is a real sense of occasion when receiving and opening the package and as far as gifts go, flasks in particular, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better one. One thing to add is that engraving is also possible so that the flask arrives suitably labelled up with whatever message you choose. Aside from this, I may have found the replacement for my soon to be decommissioned 21st Birthday present. I of course reserve the right to revisit this article based on the performance of the flask and rest assured I will feed back any further observations.

The ‘Naked’ Flask is currently available for £41 with the ‘Naked’ Flask gift set that I have trialled currently available for £61.

© 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.

In the interests of clarity, I was provided with a flask by SWIG to trial for the purposes of this article

Historical us sources: Wikipedia and Hersey

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…..so 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.