Foursquare Port Cask Finish

Foursquare Port Cask Finish-RG1a

Product of:  Barbados
Aged:  9 years
Price: $35
Alcohol: 40% ABV 
Sugar:  0-5 g/L (estimate) 
Context:  Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 8.5

Tasting Notes
As soon as the bottle is opened, a woody Bajan bouquet emerges to fill the air briefly with delightful scents.  Foursquare Port Cask Finish shows a dark copper color in a tasting glass.  Legs run thick and long after swirling, aerating the rum, releasing mesmerizing aromas and more olfactory pleasures ahead.

And those scents are unmistakably Foursquare; a lithe blend of pot-and column distillates, easy on the nose with a slightly sweet undertone and soft nutmeg spice, but with an additional subtle crisp top note from the Port casks, I suppose.  The two types of barrels used in the  sequential aging are quite apparent, contributing oaken vanilla, significant phenols (scents of paraffin), smells of a thick butter-and-lard flour pie crust, then caramel, nutmeg and a hint of cinnamon.  This is one delicious smelling rum-soaked pumpkin pie.  Initial tasting enables the waxy, oaky, vanilla flavors to shine on a medium-weight body of creamy texture, ending slowly, each flavor and aroma delivered in balanced proportions through to the finish.

Richarfd Seal, Foursquare DistillerFoursquare Pot Still

Anecdotes
Foursquare Port Cask Finish is aged three years in used ex-Bourbon barrels followed by six more years in used Port casks.  Traditionally, Foursquare uses ex-Oloroso Sherry casks to finish it’s fine Doorly’s XO rum.  Secondary maturation in casks previously used to age fortified wines is all the rage now, a trend made most popular by Ron Zacapa, Botran, Plantation, and followed by a few other distillers including HSE, Dos Maderas, El Dorado, and the Hemingway Rum Company (Papa’s Pilar).  When Rum Gallery asked Richard Seale, owner and master Distiller of the Foursquare Distillery, why he used Port casks for the finish of this particular, his characteristic reply was simply  “Why  not?

When Rum Gallery asked how Foursquare determines the appropriate amount of time for a rum to spend aging in Bourbon barrels vs. Port casks, the answer was his typically artisanal “it is always a work in progress - there is no right or wrong time.”

Foursquare employs a vacuum column still and a copper pot still to make their rums.  The vacuum effect lowers the atmospheric pressure in the column, allowing the alcohol to vaporize out of the fermented wash at a lower temperature than if the column was operated at normal pressure.  Approximately 85% of the spirit in the Port Cask Finish rum is distilled in the column still to about 94% ABV.  The remaining 15% comes off the batch copper pot still at an average ABV of about 82%.

Opinion
Anyone who’s read Rum Gallery’s reviews of Foursquare’s aged rums, understands I’m a big fan of them.  I consider the distillery’s 1998 vintage (as well as the 10 and 15 year old St. Nicholas Abbey rums spawned from it) as some of the finest tasting rums in the World.  Thus, I was excited to evaluate the Port Cask Finish expression.  Despite my efforts to remain open minded, I admit to having some expectations of a repeat - maybe hoping for too much.  While the Port Cask Finish rum isn’t Foursquare’s best work, it does not disappoint.  And at $35 a bottle, it’s a pretty good bargain.  Thanks Foursquare for producing another fine rum. 

Reviewed:  Blend No. 162, bottled June 2014, was evaluated in this review during November 2015 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017