Monday, 7 December 2015

Review 68 - Foursquare Port Cask Finish 9 year old

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
Easily, the most drinkable rum ever made... And it's pure.

Information
I’m starting to develop a huge affection for Bajan rums. The light bodied nature of it. The creamy texture. The typical flavours of banana and coconut. And last but not least, the affordability of most of them.

Of course we have the very renowned Mount Gay rums coming from there.

But in my world, the very best Bajan rums are born at the Foursquare facility operated by master distiller/magician Mr. Richard Seale.

The sheer skill of his distilling is mind boggling, but he is also one of the few leading rum makers, who actually contribute to the ongoing debates in the global rum community.

He has firm beliefs in how the rum world should be, and displays the skills and know-how to back it all up. If the rum world actually listened more to him, and had the same kind of respect for the craft and the product, rum would easily be beating whisky and cognac very soon.

Unfortunately, profits and the fact that the average consumer is both oblivious and indifferent to the smoke and mirrors which surround many heavily marketed products, makes it very hard for people like Mr. Seale to influence other producers enough.

Sadly, he can’t win the battle alone. And as long as we, the consumers, doesn’t start demanding more transparency and better products – not only by speaking out, but by opting not to purchase blurry, borderline fake products – I fear that Mr. Seale won’t live long enough to see the market change very much towards the better.

But back to what’s really important: The Rum.

This time it is one of the latest creations of Mr. Seale: The Foursqaure Port Cask Finish 9 year old.
Calling this a port cask finish, is actually a bit of a stretch. Yes, it spent its final years in port casks. But out of 9 years, 6 were spent in the port casks.

So I think it would be more appropriate to call it a double aged rum. The first 3 years in the bourbon casks and the last 6 in the port casks.

Semantics aside, I’m really excited to learn how it has turned out after so many years in the port casks. 

It was bottled at a regular 40% ABV, but I have a feeling that coming releases from Mr. Seale may soon begin to experiment a bit on the proofage. I welcome that very much!

Presentation
The bottle is the same type, as Fourquare uses for their Doorly’s line of rums.

A very nice bottle with a good grip, sturdy feel and a pirate-y look.
Op top, a foil screw cap…

Following up on the recent Samaroli 1993 Jamaica review, I’m going to presume that the foil caps preserve the rum better. Because, I’m pretty sure Mr. Seale could have found a cork somewhere.
Even if the screw cap does protect the rum better, somehow it is the only thing that interferes with an overall expression of underplayed awesomeness and stealthy badassery.

Warning! Stupid analogy inbound!

It’s like fitting a cowboy hat with a spacesuit. Both the spacesuit and the cowboy hat works fine on their own terms, but paired together, it’s just kinda facepalm-inspiring.

”Yeehaaw, I’m riddin’ out to Uranus, partner”.
Picard doesn't like Space Cowboys ... or tin foil screw caps.
Alright, sorry, enough mockery. After all, it’s just a foil cap.
Guess I got a little carried away there.

The label work is awesome though.

A nice beige piece of paper with a golden frame, which holds all the information you could possibly need about the rum. Except for a little piece of information found on the back label.
  
Centrifuging it ever so gently up the sides of the glass, reveals a very oily residue, which forms a nice clear ring, before it quickly turns into a lot of slim and fast moving legs, which is rejoined with the rest of the rum with Usain Bolt-beating speed.

Nose
It comes off very light and oily from the start, with the only noticeable scent being massive coconut. Juice and shavings and all.

There is some orange peel in there as well along with a huge, but soft, oaky character.

The oakyness brings along the typical spices, like cinnamon and vanilla.
At the very bottom, I was treated with some grassy undertones, which instantly made we think of agricoles. Nice one.

It reminds me a lot of the Mount Gay XO or the Plantation Barbados XO in character, but without the slightly sharp oaken features of the former, and the extreme coconut and sweetness of the latter.

So somewhere in between, but better balanced. And a little more intriguing.

Taste
It is so light that it just barely touches your tongue before it starts to unleash all its splendours.

The oily nature of the nose, is clearly present again on the palate, along with a sense of sweet caramel.

There is quite a lot of oak and tannins in there, but it is rounded off by a good softness.

The orange peel is definitely there again contributing with a bitter sweet flavour. But also a couple of ripe bananas are thrown into the mix.

I hope you are a sucker for coconut, because not only does it smell like coconuts, it also taste of coconuts.

Every single flavour grows in earthy notes, which reminds me of the forrest in the fall.

I don’t think a much higher proof would have done this rum many favours. Perhaps a slight increase to 43% or 45% would have been a bit more exciting. But this rum at cask strength might have been a tad to extreme. Unfortunately, it will never be more than speculations.

Finish
Rather short lived. The flavours fade fast, except for the orange peel and the tannins, which stays around to clean up after the party.

Rating and final thoughts
All speculations aside we are dealing with some very good stuff here.

It is very well balanced and insanely drinkable. There are no off notes or unpleasantries hidden away in the bottle. Just liquid candy for grown ups.

I have been going through this bottle, like no bottle before it. And every time it finds its way to my table, I end up pouring several times. In my opinion Mr. Seale has done very fine job here.

At first I feared that the combination of a young 3 year old rum with a 6 year finish in port casks would yield strange results. But it works. It just works. The rum is so round, smooth (no, not the sugary kind of smooth) and tasty.

Now, about the price. With this baby setting you back a measly €40 or so,  I have a VERY hard time finding a rum with better value for money. Actually for what I have experienced on my rum journey so far, this rum is practically unbeatable when the price is taken into consideration.

I may have said so about a rum or two in the past. But as my journey progresses Kings have been killed and new blood rules the lands. Now, this is the king of the value-for-money-hill.

If you are into Bajan rum, this is a must buy.

Thinking of getting the Mount Gay XO? You should, but don’t. Buy this one instead.

Thinking about getting the CdI Barbados 16 year old? Understandable, but don't. Get two bottles of this instead.

What about the Samaroli 1998 Barbados then? Also very understandable, but don't. Get three bottles of this instead.

The St. Nicholas Abbey 15 year old then? Yes, you definitely want that! But buy four bottles of the Foursquare first.

See where I'm going?

I'm not saying that the Foursquare Port Cask Finish is a better rum than the above mentioned, but in my opinion it gives you a far better value for money.

Actually, I can only find three circumstances, where the Foursquare Port Cask Finish isn’t a must buy (and I'm going to presume, that you actually like rum here):
  1. If you only like the ├╝ber sweetened stuff.
  2. If you only like agricoles.
  3. If you only like Caronis.
Otherwise, get your behind down to the shop ASAP. And perhaps the agricole circumstance doesn't even apply.

I could have wished for more pow, more wow and more surprises. But the fact that it is a thoroughly nursed, super drinkable and enjoyable, product racks up quite a lot of points.

Doing the last bit of math (and disregarding the price), the result ends up being a…

Rating: 80/100

Links
None – but if you need more information, just stick around the facebook groups about rums. Mr. Seale often show up to throw a justified punch or two at the occasional rum-quack.

4 comments:

  1. Nice comment, thanks for that :-)
    Comparing this to Diplomatico Reserva Especial, which one would you pick and why?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They don't belong to the same ball game. The Foursquare is much, much better.

      Delete
  2. Hi Henrik,

    Thanks for the fast answer but from all the other reviews I have seen from you I guess we do not really see eye to eye on the subject of Rum.

    About the Medals, in part I agree with you but I normally only take in what its published as a world know event and not what ever the producer puts on the label.

    Sincerely,
    Tiago

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have tasted the port cask along with its siblings - zinfandel version and cask strength 2004. I have to admit that those are excellent rums. Liked zinfandel the most, since it seemed to me most harmonious.

    ReplyDelete