Google Malternatives, Foursquare by eight

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

May 14, 2017


Malternatives, Foursquare by eight


Many rum enthusiasts are talking about Barbados’ Foursquare these days, as the relatively new and rather creative distillery (born in 1996) is among the heralds of unadulterated rum. A difficult position, as many corporations would prefer that ‘rum’ would remain a very loose category, where anyone could do just anything in the labs, including flavouring pure ethanol using almost any ingredients, and still call the end result ‘rum’. Which, to me, is exactly like calling any flavoured vodka ‘whisky’. But let’s stop ranting, and try to know Foursquare a little better…

Doorly’s 5 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, +/-2017)

Doorly’s 5 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, +/-2017) Three stars I think Doorly’s is the most famous brand by Foursquare Distillery, and I believe it’s a blend of pot still and column rums. I had liked their Doorly’s XO a lot a few years back (WF 85). Colour: gold. Nose: vanilla and raisins plus Swiss milk chocolate and notes of cane juice at first nosing, then deeper, albeit tiny notes of earth and leaves. Oranges coming out after just two minutes, while the whole remains rather ‘easy’ and even a notch light. It’s a gentleman. Mouth: very good, bright, with oranges and cane juice, you’d almost think this is a readymade dry cocktail at high strength. Sips very well, even if it’s not a very complex rum. A wee touch of coconut – but can you say ‘wee’ about rum? Finish: medium, clean, cane-y. A little tobacco and more oranges in the aftertaste, as well as mangos. Comments: feels natural. Loved the easy fresh fruits in it, now I think it’s much less ‘phenolic’ than the XO. SGP:641 - 80 points.

Doorly’s 12 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, +/-2017)

Doorly’s 12 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, +/-2017) Four stars It seems that some Madeira wood has been in partial use here. Colour: amber. Nose: this is totally different, much drier, almost malty at times, with cut grass, autumn leaves, walnuts, and damp earth. Goes towards cigars, morels and cocoa after one minute, which is just lovely. More the XO as I remember it – but I tried that one a long time ago. Mouth: excellent. Many more tropical fruits, bananas, pineapples, or mangos, while the backbone remains dry and, well, rightous shall I say. In short, it’s very fruity, but never whore-ish. Good body at just 40% vol., which means that the distillate’s ‘heavy’ enough. Finish: medium, midway between a full-tropicalness and drier, earth/tobacco notes, with also some liquorice. Comments: what you can do without any additives! Wonderful fruitiness. SGP:651 - 85 points.

Foursquare 11 yo ‘Zinfandel Cask Blend’ (43%, OB, Barbados, 2015)

Foursquare 11 yo ‘Zinfandel Cask Blend’ (43%, OB, Barbados, 2015) Three stars and a half Zinfandel, well well well… But let us have no pre-emptive judgments… Colour: deep gold with apricoty hues. Nose: it’s immensely drier than the Doorly’s 12, and more buttery and cake-y, then vanilla-ed. Touches of strawberries and raspberries in the back (or the jams made thereof), but other than that, this baby’s rather restrained. Whiffs of earl grey tea, and perhaps blackcurrant buds. Mouth: there’s more happening this time, with some liquorice, mango jam, coconut oil, sugarcane syrup, mandarins… In short, I like this palate much better than the nose that was a little shier. Drops of cranberry juice, pomegranates… Finish: medium, a tad syrupy this time, with some vanilla and a little curaçao liqueur. Touches of buttery oak in the aftertaste. Comments: the Doorly’s 12 was more ‘immediate’, more ‘easy’. You need easiness, sometimes. SGP:541 - 83 points.

Four Square 2004/2013 (43%, Bristol Classic Rum, Barbados)

Four Square 2004/2013 (43%, Bristol Classic Rum, Barbados) Three stars Another ‘blend’ of column and pot still rums from Foursquare, partially aged on location, then shipped to the UK. Oh and yes, they say ‘Four Square’. Colour: pale gold. Nose: dry and vegetal, leafy, marginally earthy, with some waxes and oils, and very few fruits. Perhaps white peaches. This one’s very shy indeed, the Zinfandel was much more expressive mind you. Mouth: ah, no, now we’re talking. Plain and pure cane juice, with touches of tinned pineapples and the loveliest small bananas. Also superb notes of tangerines. This remains subtle, elegant, and rather refreshing. But oh these tangerines! Finish: a little short, but totally tangerine-forward this time. Comments: I’d love to know the proportions between pot still and column. These tangerines really rock nonetheless. SGP:531 - 82 points.

Four Square 14 yo 2001/2016 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Barbados, cask # HL 15044, 353 bottles)

Four Square 14 yo 2001/2016 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Barbados, cask # HL 15044, 353 bottles) Four stars and a halfAlways watch this series! Colour: gold. Nose: not a very fat one, but there’s some pot-stillness to it. Candle wax, marzipan, green bananas, dates, custard, and oh glory and blazing light, there are wee hints of green olives, as well as distant whiffs of burning papers! Let’s say it is very lightly phenolic on the nose. Mouth: yeah this is really good, and you definitely feel how this style sits right between the heavy ‘Jamaicans’ and the lighter and fruitier, say ‘Cubans’. Superb oiliness, light olives, cane juice, tobacco, smoked tea, oranges, half-ripen bananas… Tends to become salty, all for the better. Finish: long, clearly briny now. H.u.r.r.a.y. Comments: very high class Foursquare. SGP:452 - 89 points.

Aren’t we picking up speed and traction?...

Foursquare 2002/2016 (56%, L’Esprit, Barbados, cask #BB15)

Foursquare 2002/2016 (56%, L’Esprit, Barbados, cask #BB15) Five stars Another great little bottler, this time from Brittany, France. If you ask me, you may buy their stuff with your eyes closed. Sadly their website is down at time of writing, so I’m putting a picture of another bottling from theirs. Colour: straw. Nose: this may well be pure pot still, but I couldn’t be sure, since their website is down etc. It’s stunning, lying between an Appleton and, say a Bellevue, with our dear friends the olives and the most lovely rotting fruits. Oranges, bananas… I’m also finding a whole bag of raw liquorice lozenges. So far, so fab. With water: yeah yeah yeah, tarred chalk and used engine oil (in an old garage etc.) Mouth (neat): sweet Mary and Joseph! Ultra-heavy liquorice, iodine, puréed olives, brine, tar, engine oil… We’re almost at Hampden’s! With water: mezcal, salt, grapefruits, liquorice, olives… Nice cocktail. Finish: very long, with more lemons, and a tarry/salty/smoky aftertaste. Comments: I’m not saying this because of the quality of course, rather because of the style, are we totally sure this is Foursquare? An immense bottling, just hope their website will be up and running soon, etc. SGP:464 - 91 points.

Foursquare 2006/2016 (57%, Transcontinental Rum Line, Barbados, 551 bottles)

Foursquare 2006/2016 (57%, Transcontinental Rum Line, Barbados, 551 bottles) Three stars From that lovely line by La Maison du Rum, I mean, du Whisky, this baby was ‘69% aged in continental weather’. Which means either that it was 31% aged in tropical weather, or that it’s some very erotic rum. Let’s see… Colour: pale gold. Nose: back to relative gentleness, moderately ripe bananas, hay, chalk, tangerines, icing sugar, mirabelle liqueur, and yeah, one tiny olive. The smallest picholine. With water: it’s a grassy sugar cane that wins, but this is no ‘big’ rum. Orange zests. Mouth (neat): same feeling of sitting between two worlds. On the one side, some slightly sugary fruits, jams, or liqueurs, and on the other side, some briny and tarry phenolness. Oh and olives. With water: same nice balance, but it’s a little frustrating. Mister rum, make up your mind! Finish: medium, and a little sugary, quite curiously. Comments: this baby lost me a bit, especially after I had added water. But of course, it’s very good rum. SGP:541 - 80 points.

Good, I’m going to leave the last word to the owners. After all, we may need a little more savoir-vivre in the world of booze too…

Foursquare 11 yo 2004/2015 (59%, OB, Barbados, bourbon cask)

Foursquare 11 yo 2004/2015 (59%, OB, Barbados, bourbon cask) Five stars This one too is a blend of column and pot still rum from the same distillery, so a ‘single blended rum’. Not unlike what they sometimes did at Ben Nevis or Lochside. This baby’s part of the owners’ ‘Exceptional Casks’ series. Colour: gold. Nose: balance may well be the key here. Balance between cakes and sweet tropical syrups on the one side, and grassier, canier, leafier notes on the other side. We’re talking coconut oil, blond cigarettes, biscuits, gingerbread, mead, plantains, speculoos, almonds… With water: mud! Love the smell of mud… (Is it serious, doctor?) Mouth (neat): oh, the tarry side is striking back! This is massive, salty, liquoricy, mentholy… After all, that one by L’Esprit (you know, the great people whose website is down at time of writing) was probably Foursquare indeed. Wonderful grassy bitterness, sharp lemons, olives (no s… ugar), tar, tapenade, salted anchovies… Perfect! With water: more salt, tar, lemon, and olive oil, the heaviest Jamaicans aren’t far away, and yet a wee cane-y lightness remains there. Indeed, A Cuban lightness. Finish: long, heavy when neat, easier and lighter when reduced down to approx. 40% vol., unsurprisingly so. A little oak in the aftertaste. Comments: possibly more pot than column. Brilliant. SGP:552 - 90 points.

Eight’s the deal. See you tomorrow.

More tasting notes Check the index of all rums I've tasted so far







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