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.
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.
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