Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Review 90 - Velier Foursquare 2006 10 year old.

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
The marriage of Velier and Foursquare, that we all wanted to see. 
A true rum innovation. You might need a little water though.

After DDL chose to let Luca Gargano go, and not invite him to hand pick awesome barrels of old Demerara rums anymore, quite a lot of people in the rum community has been eagerly awaiting Mr. Garganos next move.

Where would he go next?

Well, there is always the Caroni releases and his Rhum Rhum side project.

And then he went and created the Habitation Velier expressions, which seem like an utterly awesome project. I haven’t tried them yet, so I wouldn’t know for sure, but they seem more educational and artistic than anything else.

Moreover there is the newish Gargano Classification system, which aims to seperate batch from continuous still rums. A way to classify value in rum instead of taste and/or colour.

It operates in 4 categories:
- Pure single rum: Pure pot still rum from a single distillery.
- Single Blended rum: Blend of pot and column still rum from a single distillery.
- Rum: Traditional column still rum.
- Industrial rum – or just rum: Modern multi-column still rum.

I first encountered this in november 2014 at a Velier tasting session, which focused mostly on the Clarins and a couple of the 2014 Demeraras. Since then it seems that the system has been further developed before ending up the way it is today.

Unfortunately it hasn’t caught on everywhere in the rum world yet. I’m sure it will at some point, but for now there is a lot of leg work to be done. Thankfully, Mr. Gargano has help from rum legend Richard Seale, and together they push for more clarity, transparency and less bullshit in the rum world.

If you want more info and a shitload of answers to a lot of questions you haven’t even asked about this new way of classifying rum yet, please refer to the link at the bottom to The Floating Rum Shack, where Richard Seale has gone into great detail about it.

You know, go read it no matter what. It should be mandatory reading for anybody who is passionate about rum, wether you support the Gargano Classification or not.

But we have been waiting for something else. The next big thing from Velier to take the crown from the majestic Demeraras.

This may be the very first step: The Velier Foursquare 2006 Single blended rum.

Having it on my table, it’s not a surprise, that Mr. Gargano went to Mr. Seale for a collaboration. It seems pretty obvious that the Godfather of indie bottlings would go to the Godfather of distillation and unadulterated rums for his next project.

Blending distillates from a copper double retort pot still and a traditional coffey still, together they have created a 10 year old rum, which spent 3 years in ex-bourbon casks and 7 years in ex-Cognac casks. A double maturation if you will. All 10 years were spent in tropical climate, reaching an Angels Share of more than 72%.

Being bottled at 62% ABV I’m expecting a fast and aggressive ride. But seeing how the cask strength CdI Barbados 16 year old turned out, my expectations are enormous.

Usually a yield of 2.400 bottles would mean that it should be fairly easy to come by. But it’s not.

Apparently it sold out at the distributors in just a couple of minutes. And just days after being released, it is ”rupture définitive” all over the place.

Sadly, this means that it is already a ghost, even before being properly available, and therefore most rum enthusiasts will have a hard time getting to try it.

I feel quite priviledged and fortunate to have been able to snag a bottle and get to write about it. So out of respect for the people who may not get a chance to try it, I’ll try to make an extra effort this time.

Velier is back. The simple two tone paintjobs (this time dark red and beige), the black monster of a bottle and the simple label work, which just mentions the things you need to know, and leaves everything else behind.

By now you should know, that I love it. Because I do. No other rums on my shelf silently screams this kind of awesome.

The liquid has a nice bronze colour, and when twirled it creates an almost invisible layer of residue on the glass. At some point a ring of droplets appear, but they seem reluctant to ever move.

Big and bold nose, with a lot of intensity and intrigue.

Not thunderous and heavy like the old Demeraras, but more like something feathery light, which and been concentrated beyond all reason.

The first many wiffs concentrated on a thick presense of caramel, accompanied by juciy, chocolate covered, grilled bananas and a saucy vanilla cloud.

As far as I’m concerned, this doesn’t have to evolve. The scents are so huge and rich and perfectly balanced.

But it does evolve from here. Not in a big way, but the subtle overtones seems to shift and change as you sniff along.

First some crazy ripe and sweet oranges peek in, then very mild oaks.

After a while there is even an herbal level, which a touch of menthol.

And finally some roasted almonds and a strangely pleasant glue smell.
Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Adding a little water draws it close to other Foursquares. Particularly the CdI cask strength one.

Good lord… Massive flavours with this one.

First a brutal wave of bananas and oaks with caramel on the side, which almost makes you lose your balance.

But then a blast of menthol and brine quickly keeps you standing.

As you start to come to again, you're hit with a great layer of liquorice.

Then the huge drying effect and tannic aftermath set in, and starts to remove your face at an all to slow pace. I’m not sure I’m that big af fan of it, as it gives the rum a hard and repellent nature. As if it tries to scare you off at the very end.

But it is something different for sure. Perhaps this is the cognac casks speaking.

With a couple of drops of water, it mellows out a little bit, and the attack of the tannins is partially avoided. Being a cask strength lover, I hate to say it, but a little water actually improves this rum quite a bit.

Not too long, but a lot of delicious warmth.

The sharp drying effect intensifies and tends towards an industrial vacuum cleaner at times, but at least it clean everything up rather nicely. But at some point, you are going to miss your face, and wonder were it went.

Funnily enough it left me crazy thirsty. It’s like it sucked the water right out of my body, and left me slightly dehydrated. Better take another sip.

With water the finish smoothes out and turnes the face hugging vacuum cleaner off.
Aaaah ... Great stuff.

Rating and final thoughts
There is no doubt. This is a huge rum for sure.

This is truly a rum innovation
Welcome back Mr. Gargano and great to see you again Mr. Seale.

I’ve decided that I’m not a fan of the insane dryness. It kind of cripples my experience a little. Thankfully it can be avoided almost completely by adding a couple of drops of water.

I highly recommend getting this rum, if you can. No question about it.

Value is over the top for the €100 I paid for my bottle. To be able to get your hands on such a great drink for a price like that, is beyond awesome.

And thinking that it went for €80 in several places in Italy, it suddenly makes a little more sense why it sold out at light speed.

I can’t emphasise enough how disappointed I am to see it sold out so fast.
2.400 bottles is a lot – or at least it was just a year or two ago.

The Velier Diamond 1996 16 year old yielded around 800 bottles, and was available for more than 2 years.

Hell, the English Harbour 1981 25 year old was around 5.700 bottles, and was available for almost 10 years before starting to disappear.

How 2.400 bottles sold out so fast is beyond my imagination, if some speculative douche bag didn’t buy up several hundred of them. It was literally a matter of minutes on some webshops from ”available” to ”sold out”.

Mr. Seale and Mr. Gargano are not content with this either, and they are allegedly working on something new at the moment. Mr. Seale publicly stated that anybody caught speculating for profit on a secondary market with the Foursquare 2006, won’t be able to buy any of the future release. I kind of like that, but how on earth are they going to pull that off?

First step would obviously be to create a blacklist of all the bad boys.

They could include this list with the bottles bought by distributors and instruct them not to sell to people on the list. That is however a bit hard to enforce, I reckon.

The most obvious solution, would be for Seale and Gargano to administer all retail sales themselves, and in that way make sure that the blacklisted people would be cut off.

But then again, blacklisted people would probably still be able to buy by proxy or on secondary markets. Any effort to making it hard for them, will however be appreciated, as this will make a future release available to a much wider audience.

Only time can tell how it will all turn out.

No matter what, it is great to see Velier back in the game of issuing majestic rums of great origins.
And thinking back on how great this rum turned out with just a little bit of water in it, the conclusion pretty much writes it self.

I had hoped to be knocked flat on my ass by the Foursquare 2006, but unfortunately it didn’t.

But it lured me in with its beautiful nose, then sucked my face off with the vacuum cleaner of dryness, before playing a lot nicer (with water in it) and then it left me with a strange, satisfied smile on my face.

There is just a little more left to be desired, and therefore I can’t go beyond a…

Rating: 89/100



  1. You are most welcome. It is a truly remarkable spirit.

  2. Getting mine tomorrow, the night will be very longggg... Thanks for the share. I hope also the ghost of speculation is not coming to rum...

  3. I look forward to trying this one, and seeing how it rates up with the tamer 40% FourSquare expressions everyone always raves about. Great review.

  4. Foursquare 2004 11 yo at 59% is definitely bomber. Get your hands on 2 bottles if you can