Firstly, I know that readers of this page have previously indulged me by reading my previous articles about Foursquare Rum Distillery……but for anyone new to the site, I have covered releases from Foursquare Rum Distillery quite extensively on these pages and you can either put your own search in the “search box” or click here to read a little more about them. A little earlier this year we were fortunate enough (but our wallets were not) to be blessed with a flurry of releases from Foursquare Rum Distillery. The new Exceptional Cask Selection marques IX and X, Empery and 2007 were joined by the surprise Private Cask Selection Whisky Exchange exclusive which was Hereditas. Our wallets were also even further depleted by the Velier distributed Foursquare Patrimonio. A further surprise was that three out of those four releases were ex-Oloroso Sherry & ex-bourbon barrel matured. The BIGGEST surprise however was that each of the three releases was 14 years old and each had seen a mix of 14 years in ex bourbon and 10 years maturation in ex-bourbon barrels before a further 4 years maturation in ex-Oloroso sherry barrels. Surely Foursquare had just released the same Rum under three separate names with differing labels? Why even bother to do this? Well, this series of releases in a lesson in blend ratios, cask management and the effects of barrels with differing histories. Refresh yourselves with a look at my reviews of Hereditas and Patrimonio linked above and then come back to read further about Empery. Empery has also been written about by my friends over at thefatrumpirate and Rum Revelations and both are worth a look….obviously after you’ve read the review below.
Foursquare Empery – 56% abv – Single Blended Rum
Bottled in December 2018, Foursquare Empery Single Blended rum is composed of two elements. A Single Blended Rum matured exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels for a period of 14 years and a Single Blended Rum matured for 10 years in ex-Bourbon barrels before transferring to first fill ex-Oloroso Sherry barrels for a further period of 4 years. These components are then blended and rested prior to being bottled at 56% abv. No colour. No chill filtration. No nonsense.
Nose: Straight away the Rum announces itself with plenty of wood on the nose. Big, bold, damp old wood. It’s a nose that immediately hints towards plenty of complexity to come. It doesn’t shun the familiar either as this is clearly Barbados in character, just bringing a little more to the table. Fruit is definitely present and accounted for….raisins and sharp dark berry compote hint to the time in oloroso barrels but less so than Hereditas which is a “Sherry-bomb”. The oak binds itself to a little chocolate and walnut…perhaps reminiscent of old school walnut whips (before they became smaller and when they contained more marshmallow)….Vanilla is certainly present as is some barrel spice, crystallised ginger and warm orange peel but they sit behind a growing black cherry note bringing with it the chocolate sponge of a Black Forest gateau. A little beeswax sits on the back end with the continued warmth of the fruity perfumed oak. It is such an approachable glass of Rum that opens up very well in a very short space of time.
Mouth: Warming, slightly spicy and with minimal heat and fuss…this again is a big mouthful of action with plenty of grip. Less fruit than the nose led me to believe initially but it comes. Time brings a little sweetness and a tart black currant jam. Raisins and molasses. Sherried notes are there but the wood is more dominant bringing dark chocolate. The mid palate is all about the depth of oak. Woody, very drying and bringing a fair bit of spice such as black pepper and fiery ginger…..maybe even some leather and tobacco notes. Toasted coconut. Along with this comes a little bitterness from the oak but it’s not out of place. The long warming finish brings quite a lot of wet wood, spice and ginger heat before the berries, bitter molasses and raisins come through. A little sweetness begins to return at the back end. It’s very rich and velvety…Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate with fruit and nuts…..a hint of coconut. The barrel and the fruit are quite well balanced here and it’s complexity and enjoyment relies upon this balance….it can tip towards a little arid at times but it never falls off that cliff.
In conclusion: On the nose I genuinely believe that Empery is my favourite of the Oloroso trio that includes Hereditas and Patrimonio. If Patrimonio is defined by wood and Hereditas is defined by the Sherry notes, Empery is a perfect blend of both. On the palate it also seems to be the more balanced of the three and it feels a little lighter in blend make up, perhaps less pot still, I don’t know. It definitely drinks the easiest of the three as the bottle count will show. I’m two in on Empery and one in on Hereditas and Patrimonio.
What this series of three releases have shown us is that whilst on the surface things may be the same….maturation time, cask type, batch and continuous blend….in reality the ratios of batch and continuous, the prior history of the barrels and 2% difference in abv can produce such varying end results. It’s perhaps a lesson in looking deeper and further than the label alone. I genuinely thought that I wasn’t a sherry guy and didn’t need a cupboard full of the “same” rum…..how wrong I was. If Hereditas is the sherry bomb, and Patrimonio is the oily, barrel driven Rum that plays the long rewarding game then that makes Empery the quick out of the blocks crowd pleasing structure that spans the two camps. Approachable yet complex and rewarding. It’s also the least expensive of the three. Patrimonio just shades it….but only just.
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