Foursquare 1998 Vintage - Exceptional Cask Selection

Foursquare 1998 rum

Product of:  Barbados
Aged:  10 years
Price: $40
Alcohol: 40% ABV 
Sugar:  0g/L
Context:  Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 10

Tasting Notes
Foursquare’s 1998 Vintage rum shows a brilliant golden amber color - the kind of  appearance you expect from barrel aging only, as in; no caramel coloring added.  The aromas are even more appealing, yet  less penetrating and forward than found in many premium aged Bajan rums.  Perfectly proportioned, no single scent overwhelms, and each is released in multiple layers if you take time to explore them.  You’ll first find caramelized sugar, vanilla, oak, and smokey char.  1998 produces a slight must, pleasantly smelling like the inside of a rum barrel aging building.  Hints of cocoa, some dried fruit (apricot, plum, currants) and nice earthy vegetal qualities (cane and fresh tobacco) with just a bit of spice (cinnamon and clove) are also apparent.  All provide accurate clues to the careful distillation and aging behind this exquisite spirit.  “Oh my,” I said aloud after my initial taste:  “subtle beauty”.  

Everything sensed in the aromas is delicately mirrored in the flavors.  Foursquare’s Vintage 1998 rum is so incredibly well balanced that its complex individual flavors stand together like a well rehearsed chorus.  A medium weight body delivers the flavors squarely and evenly across the breadth and length of the tongue, such that all of your taste buds seem to experience layers of flavors in seamless sequence.  Though not immediate nor hurried, 1998 just spreads as if from the center and arrives at all corners simultaneously.  Beauty runs deep in the finish, which is slightly sweet, the layers of flavor continuing their timed release as you contemplate your next sip, while a slight residual sweetness lingers on your tongue.

Foursquare Pot StillWE do it Right - Sign at Foursquare DistilleryRicharfd Seal, Foursquare Distiller

Anecdotes
There’s nothing so rewarding in the spirits world as a perfect hand crafted rum.  The opportunity to discuss it with the creator and Master Distiller, in this case Richard Lawrence Seale during my visit to the Foursquare Distillery on Barbados in November 2010, only gilded the lilly.  I hold Foursquare’s Vintage 1998 rum in such high esteem that I was reluctant to open the bottle for this review.  But now you and I are both richer for it.  Foursquare bears it’s talents with humble pride.  Nothing  is hidden from visitors as they can roam the immaculate distillery on a self-guided tour; rum making in plain view.  The package itself reflects the Foursquare’s work ethic and Richard’s persona.  The unassuming bottle’s front label is adorned only with facts more akin to an aging barrels’ contents tag than a marketing sticker.  I suspect that is precisely what Mr. Seale desired, i.e.: to let the quality of the product speak for itself, shining through its simple clear glass bottle.

The front label gives these details: 
Wood: Bourbon cask
Cask Storage: 10 Years
Cask No.: 2807
Bottled:  July 2007
The back label reads:  “This rum was distilled in 1998 and matured in traditional bourbon casks of American white oak.  The rum is initially matured for about 8 years before being decanted, reduced in strength and returned to the cask for a secondary maturation.  Once the rum is considered well married and the maturation complete, the rum is then decanted for bottling and labeling by hand.”

Fighting over Foursquare '98 in a Barbados Bar

Opinion 
Foursquare 1998 is a perfect rum.  If such a spirit exists, this is it – aromatic, flavorful, complex, well integrated and consistent from nose to mouth to finish.  When discussing the rum for this review, Richard Seale said quietly: “I think I did a better job with the 1999 vintage.”  

Though I wouldn’t disagree with him, I don’t know how that’s possible.  Seale has no plans to offer another vintage rum, so hoard the 1998 accordingly.  As you can see in the photo at right, I had to win a tug-of-war over the last bottle of Fourasquare 1998 Vintage acquired for The Rum Gallery.  Rum worth fighting for – it's that good. 

Reviewed: March 2011 at the Rum Gallery, USA

© Dave Russell 2017