The Real McCoy 12 Year Old Limited Edition

Real McCoy 12 LE-RG2a

Product of:  Barbados
Age:  12 Years
Price: $49.99
 46% ABV 
  0-5 g/L (estimate)
 Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 10

Tasting Notes 
Showing the dark amber color of raw honey, the rum shimmers in my glass after swirling, producing a volatile crown of tiny beads that eventually enlarge and transform into thin legs. Some drip slowly to the rum below, while many become immobilized mid-journey.  You could assume this is characteristic of a rum with no sugar added.  [Lab measurements subsequently confirmed this assumption.]

Even a gentle sniff reveals the tell tale aromas of a Foursquare aged rum, and they are some of my favorite.  Oak, nuts, baking flour, vanilla, mild phenol/paraffin and leather; this is what great molasses-based rum smells like.  Yet there is a new element, the raisin scents contributed by the Madeira fortified wine casks.  This wood adds a richer complexity of higher aromatic notes reminiscent of the onset of rancio and complimenting the Bourbon casks’ contribution without dominating the profile. 

Before my first tiny sip is complete, I react uncontrollably to the familiar, perfect flavor signature of Foursquare’s best efforts, and “Oh God that’s good” escapes from my mouth.  Only rums that transcend me to that “Ah Hah!” moment earn a rating of 10.  The oily taste of roasted walnuts, flavors of woody coconut shell fibers, oaken vanilla, and perhaps papaya cover the palate like a warm blanket.  A potent - and welcome - 46%ABV surely delivers flavors in higher concentration. The finish is likewise complex; long lasting for sure, but a fascinating combination of dry rum with the off-dry spiciness influence from the Madeira casks.

The Rum
The Real McCoy 12 year old is a “Single Blended” rum, meaning a blend of fermented molasses distillates, the output of column and copper pot stills [TOUR] from a single distillery.  In this case, Foursquare’s Master Distiller Richard Seale  produced, aged and bottled this rum at his pristine facility on Barbados in 2016.  Perhaps 10 percent of the rum was poured into used Madeira casks, with the remaining 90 percent ending up in used Bourbon casks.  Both were then aged for 12 years.  Limited to only 500 six-pack cases (3000 bottlers total).  It’s clearly the top of the line among the other fine Real McCoy expressions, which includes other rum from Foursquare, a  3 Year Old, 5 Year Old and another 12 Year Old that was aged solely in ex-Bourbon casks.

Rum Gallery interviewed Mr. Seale to better understand the brand of rums Bailey Pryor owns.
RG: Can you tell us the approximate percentage of Pot still vs Column Still rum in the final blend?
RLS: We do not disclose this. The rum is not made to a formula, casks are blended, each of which can contain different ratios. 

Foursquare Pot Still 10:11

RG: What is the approximate percentage of ex-Bourbon casks vs ex-Madeira casks in the final blend?
RLS: About 10% of the rum in the blend was aged for 12 years in ex-Madeira casks.

RG: Were the column and pot distillates blended together before being laid down to age, or were the outputs of the two stills aged separately?  
RLS: All [of the distillates were] blended before barrel filling. 

RG: Please elaborate on the process of how each still’s out put was aged and the final product blended?  
RLS: All rums are blended before filling. The rum is a blend of different 12 year old rums, some aged in ex-Bourbon (for 12 years) and some aged in ex-Madeira (for 12 years). It is not a finish. 

Vacuum Distillation Explained - Foursquare 10:11

Company founder Bailey Pryor initiated his rum project as a result of making the documentary film he produced for PBS about Bill McCoy and rum runners of the Prohibition era.  We’re fortunate his creative passion and ethic for authenticity led him to Barbados, a source of rum for 1920’s rum runners.  I doubt if he planned to get into the spirits business before making the film, but we’re fortunate that he had the vision to cross over to another artistic discipline and bring this rum to market.  

Turning to Foursquare Distillery of Barbados is entirely consistent with Bill McCoy’s reputation.  The Captain was one of the most honest rumrunners of the prohibition era, never adulterating or watering down the liquors he sold.  While the phrase “it’s the real mccoy” was coined decades before prohibition, it applied equally well to the rum, gin, whiskey etc that Bill McCoy sold.  Like McCoy, Richard Seale, master distiller at Foursquare, is our contemporary guardian of genuine rum.  He’s made many converts to his cause for transparency among rum producers, vehemently disparaging the use of additives, flavorants and sugar.  Foursquare’s motto “We Do It Right” is boldly emblazoned on a huge public-facing sign at the facility.

Captain Bill McCoy 1921-RG1-USE

Bill McCoy  
Bill “The Real McCoy” was a legendary rumrunner.  As of this writing, it’s been over 90 years since Bill McCoy was forced to stop delivering rum to America. 

During Prohibition, Merchant Marine officer Bill McCoy delivering contraband whisky, rum and other spirits in his schooners Henry L. Marshal and Tomoka among others, sailing from the Bahamas and French Islands in the North Atlantic to locations off the US East Coast and Long Island.  McCoy sold booze legally, staying safely outside the three-mile territorial limit until 1923, when the U.S. Coast Guard shut down his operations and seized his vessel beyond “the rum line”*.  While   others sold watered down liquor and moonshine with awful and dangerous chemicals (methanol, etc), Captain McCoy sold quality spirits that were the genuine article.  In a characteristic act of profitable self-promotion, McCoy borrowed an expression that originated in the 19th Century, and enhanced his reputation as “The Real McCoy”.

Diffordsguide posted an interesting biography of Bill McCoy here.  

We Do It Right

Thank you Bailey Pryor and Richard Seale.  Your Real McCoy 12 Year Old Limited Edition rum delivers the depth of flavor, bodyweight and immersive tasting experience that has put The Real McCoy and Foursquare on many aficionado’s short list of exemplary rums. The 12 year old Limited Edition expression is the clear favorite of all the Real McCoy’s to date.

Reviewed: December 2016 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017