Rum Exchange Barbados (Foursquare) 2009

We see ourselves with another Rum Exchange bottling. I recently looked at their Belize offering which you can find here……but again, a little about Rum Exchange. Rum Exchange is Facebook Group that was created by Andreas Isopp to provide a platform for bottle and samples trading, but much more than that, it is also a company that was set up to facilitate the introduction and selling of Rums that not considered ‘mass market’. They take complete control of the import, trade and distribution of these brands and products. They provide a link between producers, retailers and consumers. I first covered their Rum Exchange Jamaica Trelawny back in August, which was release #001 for them. This Rum Exchange Barbados 2009 from Foursquare Distillery is release #005 for them. I’d delve into a little information about Foursquare but a quick search in the box at the head of the page will uncover all that you need to know. So we’ll go straight into it.

Rum Exchange Barbados (Foursquare) 2009 – 59% abv – Single Blended Rum – 0 g/l additives


Distilled in February 2009 at Foursquare Rum Distillery in Barbados this Rum Exchange Barbados (Foursquare) 2009 Single Blended Rum, a blend of batch and continuous distillates matured together in ex bourbon saw a full 9 years maturation at the distillery in a tropical climate prior to shipping over to Europe where it saw a further 2 years continental maturation. It has been bottled at 59% and there is no sweetening added and no colouring either. But what is it like and does it offer anything different to what we’ve seen before?

Tasting Notes

Nose: Needs a decent amount of time in the glass as it displays in quite a muted way initially with alcohol vapours being quite forward, heavy oak and not much else to start with. Time and a little warmth bring a more rounded approach to what is still quite heavy oak with a touch of wood shavings, burnt paper edges and something new to me in a Foursquare offering…..a touch of sandalwood. It also brings a little cedar wood cigar tube insert too. It then falls back in line and slips straight into the usual suspects that we’d expect with milky, freshly cut and also desiccated coconut sitting alongside milk chocolate and vanilla. Mixed dried tropical fruit and raisins. There’s also a lightly oaked white wine note sitting on top of the aromas. Mildly nutty and spicy at the back end, it still harbours quite a bit of alcohol on the nose. With water and time (probably taking it down to around 55% abv) the initial blast of alcohol is calmed somewhat and this lays the blanketing oak down a little and this in turn opens up the sweetness with some marshmallow and Madeira cake. The oak remains but it is far more pleasurable, almost floral and enveloping rather than heated as the approach displayed initially.

Mouth: Quite heated initially but that soon gives way. Wood wood wood. Not as big on the palate as I was expecting from a mouthfeel point of view. Heavily drying and carrying some banana milkshake….surprisingly and a first for me in a Foursquare. Grain whisky candyfloss sweetness brings a touch of honeycomb and milk chocolate…..Crunchie Bars. Coconut is present and accounted for as are raisins and a hint of dried peach. Vanilla buttercream on a homemade sponge cake. A strong bite of pepper on the mid palate brings more barrel influence and allows the spice to dominate with jeera, ginger and pepper sitting on top of a warming wet wood. The finish, which is of a decent length ushers in the banana and coconut which leads into very drying and spicy oak and all of the heat that it brings. Pencil shavings and cocoa powder lead into those raisin notes and peach vapours on the back end. With water its very much a more relaxed version of the full abv glass of Rum but with a more profound peach influence running through the mouthful from start to finish.

In conclusion: It offers something very familiar and akin to a lot of other releases…..but then the banana and sandalwood usher in new experiences to the familiar. They lift it into slightly new territory for a Foursquare bottling and this is to be welcomed. I find that the abv, or at least how the distillate is dealing with the abv doesn’t help it initially but time (and maybe a drop or two of water) is your friend. It can become a little bitter on the finish with water added but there’s a simple solution to that…..keep drinking. All in all, its good juice and to be honest its a bit of a steal at less than 80 Euros. It almost feels like a higher abv Foursquare 1998….just saying.

Again, not quite a 4.5 for me but its pretty darn close. 

4 / 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.

Rum Exchange Belize 2009

This wont be the first time that you’ve encountered a Rum Exchange release on these pages. Rum Exchange is Facebook Group that was created by Andreas Isopp to provide a platform for bottle and samples trading, but much more than that, it is also a company that was set up to facilitate the introduction and selling of Rums that not considered ‘mass market’. They take complete control of the import, trade and distribution of these brands and products. They provide a link between producers, retailers and consumers. I first covered their Rum Exchange Jamaica Trelawny back in August, which was release #001 for them. This Rum Exchange Belize 2009 from Travellers Distillery is release #003 for them. But a little about the distillery first.

In 1950’s Belize, sugar was a popular and plentiful commodity and seemingly on the surface everyone that owned a Plantation was bathed in wealth and producing their own Rum. Enter Jaime Omario Perdomo Sr. (Don Omario), a man with very humble roots who in 1953 opened a bar in Belize City. Given that his bar gained most of its custom from people travelling in or out of the city, Travellers seemed to be the most appropriate name. Travellers sold imported spirits and beers alongside locally produced Rums. At the time in Belize, the custom was for bars to create their own Rum blends and offer them for sale exclusively through their establishments and Don Omario was no different. He created his unique blends combining varying flavours and essences. As the exclusive Rum blend for Travellers proved popular, Don Omario sought a more consistent base for the blends. This proved to be more and more difficult as growing competition in the Rum manufacturing business meant that it was becoming harder to obtain spirits of a consistent enough quality. To overcome this, Don Omario entered into partnership with Luis Alberto Espat who agreed to build a distillery for him in Belmopan. Joined by his sons, Romel and Mayito in the 1970’s, the company began to grow in size. In 1983, Travellers was registered as a limited company and in 1989, when Luis Alberto Espat decided that he wanted out of the business, Travellers purchased his share of the company gaining full control over all aspects of the business for the first time. In 1992, Travellers upgraded its facility moving away from utilising acids to expedite its fermentation process and now, for their Rum (other spirits / alcohols are produced on site) they employ natural fermentation using locally sourced molasses and a double distillation in their triple column continuous still. Maturation is carried out in ex bourbon barrels at their facility.

Now most of us will have at some point had a run in with their most famous export, One Barrel…..a truly horrific concoction. Five Barrel doesn’t fare much better…..but apparently their Don Omario range breaks the cycle for their distillery bottlings. We have also seen other releases from Tiburon, Fair, That Boutique-y Rum Company, Cadenhead’s, Duncan Taylor, Whisky Broker, SBS, Kintra and The Duchess…..and now we have the Rum in question today, Rum Exchange Belize 2009.

Rum Exchange Belize 2009 – 60.8% abv – Modern Rum – 0 g/l additives

Distilled using local molasses, natural fermentation and a double distillation on their triple column continuous still in 2009, this Rum was matured in a tropical climate at the distillery in an ex-bourbon barrel until 2019 when it was bottled. A release of 288 bottles at an abv of 60.8%, this has no colouring, no additions and has not been chill filtered. With that said, lets have a look at how this fares.

Tasting Notes

Nose: A touch of solvent…and weirdly liquid paper, soon dissipates to usher in quite an apparent barrel led nose with plenty of splintery wet wood. Toasted coconut, a hint of vanilla. Charred wooden splints. A possible very light sulphur, but it doesn’t stick around. The alcohol definitely doesn’t interfere with the experience and it all remains quite calm and balanced providing you don’t shove your nose into the glass. Milk chocolate over sweetened coconut chunks. Something bitter but nutty, maybe a touch of walnut and maple syrup with the corresponding levels of bitterness. There’s also a caramel aroma, not burnt sugar caramel initially….more Caramac bar. A little perfumed and floral. Portuguese Custard Tarts too with their sweet custard and buttery crispy pastry.

Mouth: The entry is a little heated and initially carries none of the sweetness from the nose. As you acclimatise the heat builds with spicy, peppery barrel notes. This is quite cutting and dry straight away. What strikes you is just how big a mouthfeel this Rum has…not viscose, but more of a palate weight feeling. It’s a little in the ball park of a well aged Barbados Rum initially. Mid palate the spice and moisture sapping oak gives way a little to reveal mixed nut brittle, white and milk chocolate florentines. Cold Custard and warm Madeira cake. The Caramac from the nose makes an appearance. The oak remains a prominent characteristic of the experience through to the finish which carries a decent length and hangs vanilla, peppery barrel spice and a touch of walnut bitterness on the woody spine.

In conclusion: Beautiful development from nose to palate. Very well balanced and approachable even at its 60.8%. The nose is warming and carries enough interest to hold your attention with equal measures of wood influence and sweeter notes. The palate doesn’t succumb to the sweetness of the nose and it retains a pleasant woody character throughout with the light bitterness, mildly sweet / spicy interplay and pleasing weight lifting this Rum way above my expectations. Forget One Barrel……this is good stuff.

Not quite a 4.5 but more than a 4. Lets call it a 4.25.

4 / 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.

Rum Sixty Six ‘Fine English White Rum’

I first saw this release when a friend sent me an image of the bottle. I was very intrigued as I know that Rum Sixty Six is a brand that for a good few years, a lot of us have trusted solely based upon the fact that it is / was a Foursquare product in the bottle. I mean, just look online for reviews of their Cask Strength 12 which is astonishingly good, their Family Reserve which has been upped to 43% (my own review of the 40% release from back in 2015 is available here) and the newer and younger of the aged releases which is their Extra Old 6. The Rum Sixty Six brand is owned by The Bajan Trading Company and in the tradition of all Rum brands, there was a back story…..

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. So now that is out of the way…..

In 2016, Halewood Wines & Spirits purchased a significant stake in The Bajan Trading Company and initially really upped the profile of the brand, adding the aforementioned 12 Year Old Cask Strength and the 6 Year Extra Old as well as increasing the abv of the Family Reserve to 43%.  Sadly of late though, the Rum Sixty Six brand has seen itself appear at Rum Festivals on the same table as the Dead Man’s Fingers range……and I’ll be brutally honest, it looks completely out of place for a brand with such provenance. When I looked further and closer at the rest of the range, I picked up that although the Family Reserve and Cask Strength are still labelled as Barbados Rum from Foursquare, the 6 Year Extra Old offering is now labelled as a 6 Year Old Panama Rum……which brings us nicely onto the bottle that is up for assessment today……Rum Sixty Six ‘Fine English White Rum’. I picked mine up from The Drop Store for £13 down from £16 for a short while and the service received was great….the bottle is priced at around £20 on most other sites.

Rum Sixty Six ‘Fine English White Rum’ – 38% abv – 0g/l additions

There doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of information around about this release……it’s almost as if they want it to slip under the radar. I have sent several emails to Halewood with hopes of gaining information regarding the sourcing of the Rum and further details but as yet I have not received a response. What I am 100% sure of is that this is NOT a Foursquare Rum Distillery product. So all that we have to go on is the bottle information. A 2 Year Old ‘Caribbean’ Rum is imported to the UK where it is rectified at the Sovereign Distillery in Liverpool. This is then rested and ‘matured‘ in copper tanks. Apparently the result is an ‘outstandingly smooth white rum’.  What’s also amazing is that the rectification of a Caribbean Rum in the UK also makes it an English Rum…..Lets have a look.


Tasting Notes

Nose: Initially the nose on this is very neutral. In all fairness, even an hour in and its still very neutral. It has the spike of a very young spirit, a hint of sweet alcohol and it then just fades into white spirit.

Mouth: Neutral again. I’m trying hard to uncover something. Young, mildly sweet alcohol. A touch of white pepper before the burn of a harsh young spirit leaves you with a warm tongue and nothing else.

In conclusion: If I had to guess and without any of the requested information, I’d say that the base 2 Year Old Rum was multi column Rum. I also don’t really see the need for it to be matured as its hard to imagine that it has any impact on the bottled product, predominantly because I just can’t imagine it being any more lacklustre than it is in its current form. The rectification has reduced what was probably in all honesty, a dull base rum, to a joyless neutral spirit. Resting a spirit in holding tanks to allow the multiple batches to marry, I’ve read about…..’Maturation’ in copper tanks however is straight up nonsense. A Caribbean Rum rectified in the UK does not become an English Rum…..but I’m glad to see that they’re not trying to pass it off as a product of its origin country…..and that country of origin should also be mighty thankful.

You may now be wondering what I actually expected from a bottle that can cost up to £20…..so I opened a couple of unaged and lightly aged & filtered Rums that cost the same or less than this bottling and carried out a side by side tasting. These were Alleyne Arthur’s White Rum from Barbados which cost me £6 (creamy, citrus oil, ginger, surprising body), Rum Bar Silver from Jamaica which cost me £22 (straight up Ester driven funk) and for the multi-column comparison I opened Don Q Cristal which cost me £20 (ginger, lightly floral, citrus). They all offer a far better experience than this bottling for similar money…..and let’s face it, you can buy Appleton Signature for £15 at times.

The really saddening thing to see is that this brand, which has built a solid reputation upon being associated with a trusted Rum producer, is being exploited and treated with such utter disdain in this way by a brand owner that clearly doesn’t care. Using the purchased Rum Sixty Six name, which up until this point has been synonymous with quality, severely and irreparably damaging it by unleashing this perfect storm of neutral spirit and meaningless marketing hogwash on an unsuspecting public is absolutely unforgivable.

This whole experience shows the complete disrespect that still exists from some quarters towards the category and the consumer.

0 / 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.

Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange

The Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange (to give it its full and complete title) is one of a deluge of new releases that we have seen from St Lucia Distillers under their Chairman’s Reserve label recently. With a bit of a dry spell for new releases from the distillery being well and truly ended as like the proverbial buses, you wait ages for one…..so and and so forth. Not that there will be any complaints from me…for once. Before we get into this Rum, a little history about the distillery.

Saint Lucia is one of the Windward Islands. The Windward Islands are the South Eastern, generally larger Islands of the Lesser Antilles within the West Indies. They are comprised of Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada. I have sadly never visited, but I am more than aware of the Pitons. The Pitons are two mountainous volcanic spires, Gross Piton and Petit Piton that grace the Chairman’s Reserve labels.

St Lucia Distillers emerged from a long tradition of on site, rustic rum production that was a common feature of the West Indies sugar plantations. The molasses (a by-product of the sugar industry) was fermented and distilled into Rum which was always in high demand, despite the fluctuations in the economy of the West Indian plantations. By the late 1950’s, only two distilleries remained on Saint Lucia. One in Dennery on the East coast, established in 1931 which was the site of the Barnard family plantation and the other in the Roseau valley which was owned and operated by Geest, a Dutch banana company. The St Lucia Distillers Group was formed in 1972 when due to the rise in European sugar beet, sugar production on Saint Lucia ended forcing the Barnard family to enter into a joint venture with the Geest owned Distillery moving their operations from the Dennery Distillery to the Roseau Bay Distillery in the Roseau Valley. This is the current location of St Lucia Distillers. In 1992, the Barnard family, who had been planters and Rum distillers for over a century, purchased the Geest shares. In 1997, the Barnard family sold some of their shares to Angostura Ltd before in 2005 selling their remaining shares to Clico Barbados Holdings with third generation rum maker Laurie Barnard staying on as Managing Director. In 2012 Laurie Barnard passed away and in 2013, Mrs Margaret Monplaisir was appointed his replacement. In early 2016, Martinique-based “Groupe Bernard Hayot” (GBH) acquired Saint Lucia Distillers Group of Companies (SLD) for an undisclosed sum.

Since its inception in 1972, St Lucia Distillers have grown from producers of single label mass market Rum to producers of well-regarded Rums and Rum based products. Not surprising given their capabilities. Distillation at St Lucia Distillers takes place on one of their 4 stills…..1 continuous and 3 batch.

Continuous

Coffey Still – The two column (continuous) Coffey Still at St Lucia Distillers was commissioned in 1985.

Batch

John Dore 1 – This pot still distills both molasses and sugarcane juice Rums, has a 1500 litre capacity and was commissioned in 1998.

John Dore 2 – This pot still distills only molasses Rum, has a 6000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2004.

Vendome – This pot still distills both molasses and sugarcane juice Rums, has a 2000 litre capacity and was commissioned in 2003.

Vendome Pot Still centre, John Dore II behind, John Dore I left

I’m a big fan of a lot of the output from the distillery with a particular penchant for the Vendome and John Dore I stills, and there is far more information contained within this site as I have previously written quite extensively about the distillery. Information can be found by clicking here.

Right….lets get into the Rum in question…..the Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange.

Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection 2006 13 Years Old Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange – 56.3%abv


Distilled in pre-August 2006, this Rum is a 50 / 50 blend of batch distilled Rums. The first was distilled on the 2000 litre capacity Vendome Pot Still and the second was distilled on the 1500 litre capacity John Dore I Pot Still. Matured in ex bourbon barrels for a full minimum term of 13 years at the distillery in St Lucia, this Rum was bottled at 56.3% abv on 16th August 2019 is devoid of additives. Its great when there are no shenanigans. Only 286 bottles and this one is 264.

Tasting Notes

Nose: As expected, the nose on this blend of pot distillates is a big one. There’s so much billowing out of the glass. Quite sharp initially it also possesses some sweetness. The unmistakable qualities of both stills are fully on display here. Medicinal is the order of the day for the Vendome and more classic pot still notes are present for the John Dore I. Acetone is unmistakable and very prominent. Plenty of brine is accompanied by an acidic, almost balsamic note. Sticking plasters. Pine. Sweet menthol notes. Given time to breathe in the glass, you can push past the medicinal characteristics and this really opens up. There’s cherry stone aroma, similar to the one found in the new Mount Gay Pot Still release. This ushers in barrel influence with wet wood, vanilla and some growing spice characteristics….think black pepper, ginger, fennel seeds, candied hazelnuts and the unmistakable aroma of the cedar wood insert from a cigar tube. I want to say black tea too…..it kind of is and isn’t at the same time. A minerality follows this with wet pumice stone. There’s a sweet sugared almond or maybe a powdered sugar aroma that sticks with the back end and some warm sticky tropical fruit like papaya and guava jam show up. Molasses, Raisins, dates and maybe black walnut bitters. It becomes almost floral at the back end.

Mouth: Blimey. There it is. Big. Dry. Tannic. Very oily. Plenty of warmth to the entry but not as much heat as expected. It’s in possession of a big and oily mouthfeel and that starts bringing a fair bit of acidity which grows a little too much and becomes mildly distracting….fortunately only for a short while. It’s a little tangled and knotted based upon the first sip and you definitely need to acclimatise to separate the experience, but it starts to develop very nicely with the Vendome medicinal notes playing a role up front and dead centre. Herbal tablets. Antiseptic. Fiery ginger. Medicinal, verging on peat smoke…..more Ledaig than Caol Ila though as it’s carried on the drying wet spicy oak. It teases your mouth encouraging your salivary glands to work overtime with its dry pepper, sharp vinegar and citrus oil. This slowly guides you towards the John Dore I with its acetone, brine and salty coastal notes. The mid palate has plenty of weight and is barrel led initially with cocoa, ginger, and plenty of peppery heat. A touch more smoke, leather, cedar sap, pine and menthol. Milk chocolate coated ginger pieces…..think more fiery heat than sweet ginger. Maybe a hint of cigar tobacco. The back end brings chocolate coated honeycomb, caramelised peanuts and cashews. A touch of sweet syrupy black cherry and a heady mix of stewed rhubarb and ginger syrup. The finish is still going…..it’s a full reflection of the preceding experience. The herbal, acetone, brine, medicinal and sharp notes pull you through heat and spice into the fading sweetness of honeycomb, caramelised nuts, and strangely a hint of melon Jolly Rancher sweets. The barrel bursts in at the death with black pepper, fennel, a return of the minerality rounded out with sweet smoke and menthol.

In Conclusion: It’s a near spot on amalgamation of the more straight up (when compared to its bottle mate) pot still nose of the John Dore I with its acetone and brine and the more weighty medicinal nose of the Vendome. The balance achieved on both the nose and palate with these two big, vocal characters is very impressive and is testament to what they can do at St Lucia Distillers. It continues to develop and the transition from nose to palate is excellent. It’s no secret that my favourite still at St Lucia Distillers is the Vendome, second place goes to John Dore I…..it could’ve been a mess…but it isn’t. The John Dore I tempers the Vendome perfectly well and the abv is spot on. Now all we need are regular releases like this with more blend combinations…..I’d even like to see a John Dore I only bottling released here. It’s not without its flaws…..but it’s just so enjoyable. Well done St Lucia Distillers…..you listened…..and this Rum geek is very happy.

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 Empery – Single Blended Rum

The Foursquare Rum Distillery Bottling Facility

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.

Bonded Warehouse No. 2 at Foursquare Rum Distillery

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.

Tasting Notes

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.

4.5 / 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.

Worthy Park Single Estate 2006 – 12 Year

Back after a summer break with a review of Worthy Parks latest flagship Rum. The Worthy Park Single Estate 2006 12 Year Old. The first vintage release from Worthy Park under their own label since recommencing production in 2005 following an absence of over 40 years. Excluding mixed maturation independent bottlings with a vintage we have only seen fully distillery matured vintages under the Habitation Velier label including the 2005, the quite excellent 2006 WPM and 2007. A little background information can be found on the distillery by clicking here. You will also see just how much I enjoyed the Habitation Velier 2006 by clicking here.

A brief account of the history of Worthy Park Estate and their rum production first….The Worthy Park Estate is located at the geographical centre of Jamaica in the Parish of St. Catherine which is in a valley known as Vale of Lluidas. The Worthy Park Estate was founded in 1670 and commercial cultivation of sugarcane began in 1720 and has continued unabated to this day. Rum production at Worthy Park has been recorded from as early as 1741, which makes it the oldest producer still in existence in Jamaica. Post World War 2 there was an over-supply of Jamaican Rum in the marketplace and as you would imagine, this drove prices down. Because of this reduced value, the Spirits Pool of Jamaica met with the islands distillers and between them an agreement was made to stop Rum production at the facility in the 1960’s. In 2004 a decision was made by Gordon Clarke to begin Worthy Park Rum production again. Worthy Park Estate re-entered the Rum market in 2005. 

Worthy Park have in excess of 20 varieties of sugarcane that are harvested with the majority of the fields being dedicated to 3 varieties. They also utilise 3 different yeasts within their fermentation. An activated dry yeast, an isolated proprietary yeast ( taken from one of their sugarcane varieties) and a wild yeast. This wild yeast is cultivated in 4 american white oak pre-fermentation vats. This yeast is developed in a 3 month process which involves molasses, crushed cane stalks, cane juice and ‘special’ ingredients. The yeast is then allowed to develop on its own in these open tanks which are devoid of any temperature control. Worthy Park have 6 fermentation tanks, of which 4 are temperature controlled via a heat exchanger in order to create the ideal temperature for fermentation. The 2 non-temperature controlled tanks are dedicated to the wild yeast fermentation for their high ester distillate and this is a process that can last for between 2 to 3 weeks. So, these various yeast strains and fermentation methods allow Worthy Park to produce a varying number of marques that each has its own code based upon ester count.

These are: 

WPEL – <60 gr/laa

WPL – 60-119 gr/laa

WPM- 120-239 gr/laa

WPH – 240-360 gr/laa

WPE – Up to 800 gr/laa

Distillation is undertaken on a magnificent Forsyths Double Retort pot still.

Worthy Park Single Estate 2006 – 12 Year – 56% abv – Pure single Rum

With all of that said, lets have a look at the bottle in question. A limited release of 8000 bottles globally (4000 for the EU / 4000 for the US & Jamaica), this bottling, which carries a guaranteed minimum age statement of 12 years was distilled in 2006. It is made from estate molasses, is the WPL marque (refer to breakdown above) and is matured at the distillery in Jamaica for 12 years in ex-bourbon barrels prior to bottling in 2018 at its cask strength of 56%. No chill filtering. No additions. No bullshit. I first tried this at the UK Rumfest in October 2018 in the VIP Rum Room and I was not the only one with a huge smile on my face after tasting it.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Very interesting from the get go……the mildest hint of peppermint and dark chocolate….think Fry’s Mint Chocolate Cream for those of you old enough to remember it. The fun doesn’t stop there though. The trademark, clear as day Worthy Park Banana is here by the fruit bowl full…..both overripe…..warmed…caramelised and baked…in a lightly spiced loaf. Perhaps a little buttered Spice Bun. Sitting alongside it is a cup of strong tea. There is a growing salty olive tapenade note from the pot still that is bringing with it preserved lemons. Let’s not shy away from the huge slab of oak running through the middle of the nose either….big musty damp oak flexing its muscles but being kept in check by the banana, a hefty dose of molasses and a little acetone allowing a growing menthol influence to announce itself. The bitter sweetness of bonfire toffee and dark chocolate. This all harmonises and ties itself together with a little barrel spice and the block of pipe tobacco that my grandad used to cut with a small penknife on a tray on his knee.

Startlingly complex, assertive and well defined nose that really exhibits each element at its best.

Mouth: The big, oily mouthfeel allows the initial entry to carry a little honeyed sweetness……along come freshly cut pears too. There is a fleeting appearance made by our good friend warm, overripe banana. It carries a sticky, malty note too. Maybe the merest hint of candyfloss being spun at a fairground. That sweetness is relatively short lived due to the force of a growing oaken influence. It is the spice that asserts itself initially before the dryness creeps in bringing with it light menthol, dark chocolate and a slight hint of leather. The oak is warm….it blankets your tongue with just enough heat to at least hint at the fact that the Rum is 56%. The mid palate takes the oak and slowly begins to unwrap it allowing baking spices, warm buttered banana loaf, chocolate coated banana chips and creme caramel to develop…..this is joined by little flashes of sweet / sour citrus and kola kube sweets. Burnt raisins, molasses, liquorice bring light bitterness which leads the oak into a long, warming finish resplendent with a little menthol, those tobacco notes found on the nose, buttery fudge and cocoa. Little spots of sweetness appear at the back end with the heavy pot still character carrying through until the death allowing the molasses to linger.

The palate of this rum really does continue the good work and foundations laid down by the nose to build layer upon layer of complexity. It remains entirely consistent throughout the transition from initial nose to the final dying embers of the finish. It never bares its 56% teeth either aside from a little heat into the mid-palate.

In Conclusion: Complexity by the bucket load.  Such a well balanced presentation of the distillate too. Nothing is too aggressive or ramped up, everything is in perfect harmony. Each element has its part to play, no matter how big or small and as an experience it just sings.  I can’t help thinking that we’re witnessing something really special here. Maybe a coming of age for a distillery, now back producing its own estate bottlings, using its own estate molasses following a hiatus of over 40 years. It displays huge confidence and the self assurance of a distillery that is really beginning to stretch its legs and I’m so excited for what is to come from them.

It is fully compliant with the Jamaican GI, is devoid of any kind of shenanigans, is as honest as the day is long and (I don’t say this lightly as I’m a HUGE fan of the Habitation Velier 2006 WPM and the Single Estate 57% release) this could be just about as close to Worthy Park perfection as I could’ve hoped for.

5 / 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.