Speciality Drinks and The Whisky Exchange Unveils a New Classification System for Rum

*Press Release*

ALL EYES ON RUM AS SPECIALITY DRINKS AND THE WHISKY EXCHANGE UNVEILS A NEW CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM

Move follows years of industry debate over how to offer clarity and better education in the rum category

Fine spirits retailer The Whisky Exchange along with its market-leading wholesale business Speciality Drinks, is pleased to introduce a new classification system for the rum category. Spearheaded by the company’s head of buying Dawn Davies MW, the new system aims to give consumers and the trade a more informed understanding of the rum category based on flavor profiles, and production methods, instead of purely colour.

More than 500 rums featured on TheWhiskyExchange.com and listed within the Speciality Drinks wholesale price list are illustrated within new categories along with further snippets of information including additions of sugar and other flavourings, and whether the product is fully aged at origin. Although the category will also remain searchable by the classic ‘dark, golden and white’ labels for now, customers will be armed with easily navigable information to encourage more-informed choices.

Taking inspiration from systems of classification previously mooted by two driving forces of the rum industry Luca Gargano and Richard Seale, Davies has primarily focused on production method for a technical classification. However, The Whisky Exchange website will also list each rum into one of six ‘flavour camps’ with the aim of letting consumers know what flavour profile they’re buying.

The Classification

Single Distillery Rum:

Single Traditional Column

Rum distilled at one distillery in traditional column stills.

The detail: these are stills that consist of just an analyser and rectifier, including the scenario where either column is split to produce a total of more than two physical columns

Single Traditional Pot Still

Rum distilled at one distillery in traditional pot stills.

Single Traditional Blended

A blend of traditional pot still and traditional column still rums from the same distillery.

Single Modernist

Rum made at a single distillery using modern multi-column stills.

The detail: These stills consist of more than an analyser and rectifier, and include a hydro-selector/purifier column

Multi-distillery Rum:

Blended Traditionalist

A blend of rums from multiple distilleries that only includes traditional column and/or pot still rums.

Blended Modernist

A blend of rums from multiple distilleries that includes single modernist rums.

‘Flavour Camps’

  • Light and Uncomplicated
  • Herbaceous and Grassy
  • Tropical and Fruity
  • Fruity and Spicy
  • Dry and Spicy
  • Rich and Treacly

Having worked on this new system for more than a year, Davies knows it won’t instantly be perfect but feels it’s a very positive place to start. “We know the consumer, and the trade to some extent, is crying out for more education on the different styles of rum – confusion abounds when Wray & Nephew white rum tastes nothing like Veritas white rum. The flavours you find in rums are very different according to their production method and so when that information is combined with flavour profiles we can help people start to build a picture of the category. We know it may not be an immediately perfect solution but this is the jumping off point and we look forward to the industry working with us to create the ideal scenario for everyone.’

Co-founder and owner of The Whisky Exchange and Speciality Drinks, Sukhinder Singh, believes this is the beginning of a new world of rum. “As consumer demand grows, and sales of rum reflect this, so too does the number of products entering the market. In recent years we’ve seen an influx of what we’d call ‘sipping rums’, meaning gone are the days when rum was reserved for a mojito. Artisan distilleries, independent bottlers and big brands playing with production methods and ageing, has increased the desire to sip rum instead of only mixing it. This really is the new world of rum and the new system of classification is our education tool.’

*End*

Pretty interesting stuff. I’ve been keen to see what The Whisky Exchange and Speciality Drinks would come up with as a classification system with them having taken a front seat role in pushing Pure Rum, especially through the Speciality Drinks portfolio. Still allowing you to search via outdated but familiar colour classification the new system should hopefully push people towards thinking differently and changing their perceptions of what the outmoded classifications actually mean as far as the experience that the Rum will give you. Hopefully its similarity to the Gargano Classification should mean that education on production method permeates the mainstream and the flavour camps should maybe give an idea of the bottle contents to supplement the classification.

© 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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Flor de Caña 12 Centenario Slow Aged

Flor de Caña which translates as Sugarcane Flower from Spanish is a product from a distillery that traces its roots back in excess of 125 years.

In 1875, Alfredo Francisco Pellas Canessa, a young adventurer from Genoa, Italy traveled Nicaragua. He initially decided to operate a short and safe steam boat route through Nicaragua to transport passengers and goods from the East Coast of the US to the West Coast at the height of the California Gold Rush. This route was a success, but as news broke about the construction of the Panama Canal and the U.S. coast-to-coast railroad, Alfredo Francisco decided that it was time to change direction. In 1890, he located the setting for the Flor de Caña distillery at the base of the tallest and most active volcano in Nicaragua. The fertile soil of its surrounding lands, the water and the hot volcanic climate proved to be instrumental in forging the rum’s ethos. Since 1890 the sugarcane mill and distillery have been located in Chichigalpa, North West Nicaragua at the base of the San Cristóbal volcano.

The process continues under the supervision of the same family, 5 generations later. Through its history, the brand, the company and the family have survived a plane crash, dictatorships, civil war, nationalizations, hyperinflation, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. It remains a family concern.

That’s the background marketing and tall tale out of the way…..now let’s get into the Rum.

It has to be noted that Flor de Caña have had huge issues with CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) amongst its cane field employees and the press has not been good. The whole issue sounds appalling. Apparently steps have been taken and I’ve read about investment in hospitals and a further promotion and reach for Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade Certification. There are plenty of articles online covering the CKD issue and the remedial steps taken (hopefully as a result of the issue and not as a result of the impending release of the information at the time) therefore there is no need for me to shift focus away from the product review. It cannot however just be swept under the carpet.

Flor de Caña Centenario 12 Slow Aged – 40% abv – Modern Rum

Flor de Caña as a product was first distributed by Campañia Licorera de Nicaragua SA based in Managua in 1937. As a company they pride themselves on their sustainability via their renewable energy use, their volcanic soil, climate, water supply and the fact that they claim to not utilise post distillation additions. Speaking of distillation, it is entirely multi-column distillation. Not an immediate route to a product lacking aroma and flavour. Just see Don Q for proof that the flavourless argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, but it is however an indicator of a lighter style of Rum. Maturation takes place in ex-bourbon barrels that are apparently ‘sealed with Nicaraguan plantain leaves’. With reference to the large meaningless number ’12’ on the bottle, and then the also vague ‘ Slow Aged’, I have varying and slightly conflicting information. They do not utilise a solera system, which cancels that theory out. I have seen it written that a brand representative had advised someone that ‘banana leaves are put in the barrel to promote slow ageing’. I assume this would possibly hark back to the statement above regarding plantain leaves and maybe that would promote less exchange through the barrel if it is lined with these leaves therefore slowing maturation. I have also recently seen information stating that the number is an ‘average’. The 7 Slow Aged would be a blend of 5 to 9 year Rum, the 12 Slow Aged here would be a blend of 10 to 14 year old Rum as apparently they don’t exceed 2 years either side of the stated number. Whichever theory is correct, if either are, it is a large prominent number designed to mislead next to a random phrase that is totally meaningless. It works for them though as websites list it as 12 Years Old and people talk about it as a 12 Year Old Rum….and the consumer loses out yet again. I’m not a fan of designed in, purposeful ambiguity and misleading numbers. We have neither a guaranteed minimum age nor an explanation for the number on this bottle. There is also a lack of explanation on the website. For a company that has been striving for accreditation for its processes and one that is keen to highlight that it doesn’t use additions, its a shame that it doesn’t apply as much effort to its label clarity. They are however clear to point out however that this is in their ‘Ultra Premium Collection’…..whatever that is.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Very light. A touch of up front alcohol…perhaps more youth than alcohol. It’s also carrying a little sharpness. Light floral notes and freshly cut apples and grapes. Sweetness creeps in with a hint of caramel pennies. Not much action from the barrel as far as wood influence is concerned. No depth to speak of.

Mouth: Very light and unassuming entry. Not a lot of body to it. Maybe an initial flavour reminiscent of rubber balloons……a hint of caramel follows with the merest whiff of milk chocolate. A suggestion of sugared almonds….it also carries their disappointment too. Mid palate shows a bit of barrel spice and the oak does start to cut in and provide a drying quality but the lack of body and mouthfeel means that it’s short lived in both the mouth and the memory. It’s very flat. What you are left with is a thin and watered down, mildly woody experience and a really apparent and unpleasant bitterness that just grows….like biting into an unseasoned, roasted, mini unripe gourd. The very short finish is a simplistic with light oak and a touch of brown sugar. The bitterness doesn’t want to leave either and it is the only facet of the oak that dominates, or even influences to a greater extent.

1.5 / 5

It was going to be 1 / 5, but it gained an extra half mark as it would’ve been so easy to try and manipulate this product with additions, but this measured clean and doesn’t taste doctored in any way. I usually like bitter flavours. I enjoy the extreme bitterness of Korola, I always choose good quality dark chocolate and I’m also a fan of the bitterness in old demeraras, but here its just unpleasant when coupled with the rest of the lacklustre experience. It’s instantly forgettable, insipid, thin, watery boredom bottled. Price wise it is £35 in the UK, and I can think of numerous bottles not as costly, some even utilising the same distillation method, that are so much better than this rum. The nonsense number also leaves a bad taste in my mouth. That said, the ‘7 Slow Aged’ is much better than this.

*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 40% – Measured abv 39.5% – 0-5 g/l additives*

© 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.

Kill Devil Caroni 20 Year Old Cask Strength – The Whisky Barrel Exclusive – 65%

 

This review is of the sister cask to the 64.8% release reviewed a few weeks ago which can be viewed here

Kill Devil Caroni 20 Year Old Cask Strength – The Whisky Barrel Exclusive – 65% abv 

Again this Rum was distilled in December 1998 and it also saw a full 20 years maturation being bottled in January 2019. Maybe fully, but at least partially matured at Main Rum in Liverpool, this would’ve used Estate molasses. Drawn from a single cask that yielded 233 bottles, this Rum has been bottled at its cask strength of 65% with no colouring or additives. It is currently still available on their website here and will set you back around £150.

Tasting Notes

Nose: This Barrel is more giving than it slightly lower abv relative…..it not a cheap date by any means but it’s showing its personality far sooner. I’m sitting out in the garden nosing this rum and the glass, a good arms length away is giving up quite a malty aroma initially…..a hint of sweetness before that familiar summertime aroma (in the uk anyway) appears…..reminiscent of someone three doors away creosoting their fence. It’s quite woody too revealing freshly sawn timber and warm wood shavings fresh from the saw blade. There’s a sweetness running alongside the wood and creosote…..burnt citrus peel and a hint of mixed tropical fruit juice. Fighting to come through are a waft of smoke, spilt diesel and a freshly started petrol lawnmower. There’s the merest hint of chocolate alongside a slightly soapy note…..or maybe slightly more floral like washing machine softener from clothes hanging on the washing line.

Mouth: Far hotter entry than the other barrel…..I mean….yeah it’s higher abv…but only 0.2% higher. It’s a very, very hot and peppery rum. Quite acetone like in its approach with a hint of furniture polish. Very tannic, definitely brings the creosote along to play and that in turn brings heaps of wet wood and dryness with a bittersweet interplay reminiscent of sucking on a piece of liquorice root. It has those plummy, prune and stewed notes but with a hint of clove and cinnamon. The mid palate brings mixed nuts, bitter orange and a hell of a lot of dry and spicy barrel notes. The finish is a lengthy one and starts with that heat and wet wood before bringing the nuts and a hint of chocolate to the fore. Burnt citrus peel bitterness, diesel and a bag of raisins. It tails off with wood and smoke…..maybe just a hint of menthol.

4 / 5

Another enjoyable Caroni carrying continental maturation and another enjoyable one from 1998 which seems to have turned out a few good examples. They definitely work better for me at cask strength rather than lower abv offerings. Equally as good as the previous cask as far as the spirit in the bottle is concerned. This one, whilst immediately giving from the outset does have a slight inconsistency from nose to palate, or rather I find the nose better on this one than the palate. Hard to call….I’d say that overall I enjoy the nose on this 65% bottling better, but I prefer the experience of the 64.8%.

© 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.

St. Lucia Distillers 1979 Ruby Reserve

Released to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of St Lucia’s Independence in 1979, the Ruby Reserve is only available on island and only 1979 bottles have been produced. Changing hands between the British and the French 14 times during the 17th & 18 Centuries, St. Lucia gained independence on the 22nd February 1979. More detailed information can be found with a visit here. I have been fortunate enough to get a small sample from a friend to use in this review, and use it I will. I have written quite extensively about St Lucia Distillers in these pages and a quick trip to the search box will uncover some detailed information on the distillery, their processes and their stills.

Image Copyright of Dave Marsland

I don’t want to waffle on more than I need to as we have some Rum to taste…..

St. Lucia Distillers 1979 Ruby Reserve – 46% abv – Single Blended Rum (though it contains both molasses and cane juice components)

The wonders of social media means that we have information from Michael Speakman of St Lucia Distillers about the exact components of the blend….and it as follows:

It is a blend of 49.5% column still and 50.5% pot still

Column Still components are:

21.5% is: Coffey Still – RR101 marque (molasses) – Ex bourbon barrels – 6-12 years

28% is: Coffey Still – RR104 marque (molasses) – Ex bourbon – 6-12 years

Pot Still components are:

16% is: John Dore I Still (molasses) – Ex bourbon barrels – 8-12 years

6.5% is: John Dore I Still (molasses) – Ex brandy barrels – 8-12 years

5.5% is: Vendome Still (molasses) – Ex bourbon barrels – 8-12 years

21% is: John Dore I Still (sugarcane juice) – Ex bourbon barrels – 8 years

1.5% is: Vendome Still (sugarcane juice) – Ex bourbon barrels – 7 years

Tasting Notes

 

Nose: Definitely instantly recognisable as a St Lucia Distillers Rum. That classic medicinal note from the John Dore I pot still is very prominent during the early exchanges. A hint of acetone and sticking plasters soon gives way to tobacco and a hint of barrel spice. There’s some real depth to the blend and an element of minerality to the nose. Time is shows a very rewarding experience. Light vanilla runs throughout with powdery cocoa and chocolate coated coconut pieces. Ever present astringency brings a beautiful Jamaican element to the Rum with caramelised pineapple, salty preserved lemons and citrus oil….there’s something about that classic sticky fruit, saline and citrus interplay that really elevates the Rum. Fresh star fruit, mango and guava juice. A hint of grassiness and a wine like note rides the growing oaken influence with a developing spiced and floral pink peppercorn before the well-integrated wood shows as freshly cut pipe tobacco culminating in walnuts and marshmallow sweetness.

Mouth: A dry and quite spicy entry to the Rum brings milk chocolate coated nuts and raisins. Mixed dried tropical fruit and citrus peels. A tannic wine note is certainly present along with stewed plums, prunes and baking apple with a touch of mincemeat (think Christmas mince pies). Syrupy oat flapjacks and caramelised bbq pineapple lead into a little bitterness. Maybe a touch of scrumpy. The mid palate carries a beautiful dryness from the oaken influence and brings cinnamon and nutmeg. More savoury spice notes of cumin and fennel seed rest in the background. There is also liquorice root, damp musty oak and wet cardboard. The finish which carries some length starts off with warm, spiced scrumpy. A light stone fruit bitterness leads into oak and jammy fruit with tobacco and a hint of spice rounding things out. The oak really hangs around and allows the medicinal notes from the nose to make a last-ditch come back with a touch of molasses.

This is a really solid Rum and as we’ve become used to with their 1931 Series and new Chairman’s Reserve 1931, the make up of the blend is really sound with every element playing its part. I prefer the nose to the palate on this one but it rewards time and provides plenty of interest.

4.5 / 5

I’m massively grateful to a friend for the sample. Sadly that has just made me crave a full bottle. Unfortunately as it’s only available on the island, the chances of me obtaining one are low. But if anyone can help me out, I’d be massively grateful.

 

© 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.

Kill Devil Caroni 20 Year Old Cask Strength – The Whisky Barrel Exclusive – 64.8%

Kill Devil, as you will have seen on these pages before are an independent bottler of Rums hailing from Scotland from the stable of Hunter Laing. This is one of two bottlings , sister casks if you will, that have recently been released as exclusives through online retailer The Whisky Barrel. It’s quite a saturated market for Caroni releases as there are many independent bottlers piggybacking on the reputation gained from the tropically aged Velier releases that always sell out and always end up on auction sites. I seem to personally walk the line between loving certain releases and despising others. Even the releases that I like are only really enjoyed when the mood takes me. The legendary Caroni Distillery that closed in the early 2000’s has somewhat of a cult following. I have previously written about a mix of Tropically matured and European matured Rums from the Caroni Distillery and that information can be found herehere, here and here.

 

Kill Devil Caroni 20 Year Old Cask Strength – The Whisky Barrel Exclusive – 64.8% abv

Distilled in December 1998 and seeing a full 20 years maturation, it was bottled in January 2019. Probably fully but at least partially matured at Main Rum in Liverpool, this would’ve used Estate molasses. Drawing from a single cask that yielded 214 bottles, this Rum has been bottled at its cask strength of 64.8% with no colouring or additives. It is currently still available on their website here and will set you back around £150. There is another release as mentioned above clocking in at 65% abv and that will be up on the site soon.

 

Tasting Notes

Nose: Needs a little time to stretch its legs. It’s not very revealing initially. Quite a tannic nose with some really heavy and spicy oak present. The tar and fuel like notes are present, definitely present, it’s Caroni after all…..but they are kept in check by what feels like huge oaken influence. This is a positive for me as I’m more of a fan of the oak and fruit led expressions. Butterscotch sweets, a candied fruit and burnt raisin creeps in with the vague hint of tropical fruit that gets beaten down by a touch of smoke and a hint of creosote riding the wave of oak. Time brings a lightly herbal quality with hints of root beer. A touch of acetone and wood varnish is accompanied by a menthol note. Water brings a creamy, almost dairy element to the nose and calms down the typical Caroni notes. It brings a hint of milk chocolate and sweetens up the oak.

Mouth: The full force of the oak really flexes it’s muscles on the initial entry. Very hot, very spice driven, extremely drying. There is a hint of sweetness present before the creosote kicks the door through. It’s heavy on the oil and lamp fuel with just a hint of tar. Respite comes in a developing interplay between fruit and bitter notes. Plum Sake and sticky dates….the sticky kind that we buy by the box here at Christmas but also big medjool dates stuffed with walnuts. The mid palate brings freshly cut ginger (and it’s juice) and more of that tannic oak spice. The merest hint of candied fruit, maybe pineapple, and a touch of clementine oil. Heavy on the eucalyptus and menthol with pine notes. Hints of pineapple mint. Water brings the sweeter elements forward and accentuates the walnuts and sticky dates. Makes the whole package more approachable as expected with chocolate coated raisins and it brightens up the oak making it a tad less dominant. The finish is long and remains very consistent with the mid palate. Fruit, oak, menthol and a hint of lamp fuel but an underlying sweetness.

4 / 5

It’s another good example of the type of Caroni that I enjoy. Fruity with dialled down tar, fuel and creosote which enables me to find what’s beneath the components that usually form a barrier to my enjoyment.

*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 64.8% – Measured abv 65% – 0 g/l additives*

© 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.

Havana Club Tributo 2019

I was fortunate enough to have recently been asked if I’d like to try a small sample of the new Havana Club Tributo 2019. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity I said yes. There is a little accompanying background information on the release that I’d like to give prior to my thoughts.

Havana Club Tributo 2019 marks the fourth iteration of this series of releases. The 2019 Havana Club Tributo release has been blended by three generations of Maestros del Ron Cubano. Don Jose Navarro, Maestro del Ron Cubano; Asbel Morales, Maestro del Ron Cubano; and Salome Aleman, the first and only female Maestra del Ron Cubano were tasked with selecting a rare and extra-aged Rum base representing their own style and laid down in the decade of their appointment to their position. 1970’s. 1990’s and 2010’s respectively. These base Rums, including and additional one that had been matured in rare Cognac casks were combined and then blended again with a Rum that has spent in excess of 25 years in French Oak. Presentation wise the Rum comes in a wooden box and each of the available 2500 bottles are individually numbered and will set you back €400.

So there you go. Some particularly old Rum sitting within this bottle, and quite a commanding price tag to go with it. But what does it taste like?

Havana Club Tributo 2019 – 40% abv – Modern Rum

Tasting Notes

Nose: The Rum is a very intense proposition. Quite heavy and dominant oak leads as expected for something with components of this age. There is a welcome astringent bite of French oak that really increases the pungency of the Rum in the glass. Dried fruit comes to the fore with particular emphasis on candied fruit peels accompanied by a burnt sugar. Dried apricots, flamed orange peel and a little fruit cake spice such as clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. It remains quite tannin led and its all the better for it. The trademark leather and the merest hint of cigar box are present but the French oak really lifts the nose on this above other Cuban Rums that I’ve tried and brings a lot more complexity to a style of Rum that I have grown a little disillusioned with.

Mouth: A sweeter entry than desired and this is accompanied by a far lighter mouthfeel than expected. Quite simplistic to begin with….Vanilla. Fruit cake with a brown sugar crust. A freshly opened bag of dried prunes. Lightly toasted almonds. Custard and buttery shortcrust pastry. In actual fact, the palate remains quite simplistic and is lacking the complexity hoped for. I expected more of that wonderful oak that was found on the extremely impressive nose, but sadly I’m left wanting. Sure there is oak, but nothing like the intense drying behemoth that I expected. I get the feeling that sweetening has been added to combat the effects of the extensive maturation, maybe even to assist in cigar pairing. Unfortunately this is dulling the experience rather a lot for me. The finish is a relatively lengthy one with fruit cake mix, mild oak and the trademark cigar box.

2 / 5

*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 40% – Measured abv 39% – 3.9 g/l additives*

The level of additives surprised me as it certainly felt like more (so much so that I ran the test three times), and I know that I’m not alone in this thinking. Higher abv would really help this bottling and if this could be presented at the 45% of their very enjoyable Selección de Maestros, that would’ve really assisted on the palate. The complexity of the nose is a delight to experience with its heavy, brooding oak, dried fruits, and the impact on the overall aroma that the French oak has had cannot be under emphasised….but sadly it does not carry through to the palate which a little dulled and lacklustre…hence the score. Could’ve been great, but my experience was found to be lacking.

© 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.