The Real McCoy 12 Year Old

Real McCoy 12-RG2-USE

Product of:  Barbados
Age:  12 Years
Price: $44.99
Alcohol: 40% ABV 
Sugar:  0 g/L
Context: Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 9

Tasting Notes 
Extremely Smooth.  In appearance, The Real McCoy 12 year old shows a nice shade of burnt dark orange with the tell-tale faint green ring of oak aging refracting along the edge.  I can imagine the color is similar to some of the patina-ed brass parts on Captain Bill McCoy’s rum running schooner.  Legs are many, long, and repetitive.  They’ve been maturing in barrels for 12 years, so what’s the hurry now?  Sit back and enjoy the view, I believe you’re going to enjoy this Bajan beauty.

Bouquet; oaky caramel vanilla. Aromas: the wood was put to good effect, the blend of pot-sand column still rums is made softer yet more complex after sitting in used American ex-bourbon oak barrels for so long.   Vanilla, phenolic, mild paraffin; scents of a thick-crust pumpkin pie, whipped cream and nutmeg tease your nose into thinking this might be more than just a rum.  It is dessert in a glass.  Then taste the traditional Bajan rum flavor; every aromas is enhanced by a hearty medium-heavyweight body that coats the tongue and survives through the long supple finish.

The Back Story
Prohibition.  “The Noble Experiment” was perhaps created not with the best of intentions, yet it certainly had the worst of consequences.  Every drinker became a criminal.  Since no one was be old enough to drink, no one was too young to drink either.  Like a cocktail or bizarre story that’s incomplete without a twist, consider that the efforts championed by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union succeeded in banning alcohol for everyone – everyone except the clergy.

No wonder rum runners and bootleggers succeeded, even becoming popular heroes.  Bill “The Real McCoy” was such a legend.  As of this writing, more than 90 years have passed since Bill McCoy was forced to stop delivering rum and other spirits to booze-thirsty America. 

During Prohibition, ex-US Navy officer Bill McCoy delivered contraband whisky, rum and other spirits in his schooners Henry L. Marshal and Tomoka and others, sailing from the Bahamas and Caribbean to French Islands in the North Atlantic and locations off the US East Coast and Long Island.  McCoy sold booze legally, 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.

Today’s Story
When I asked Richard Seale, Master Distiller and owner of Foursquare Distillery if Bill McCoy ran Barbadian rum during Prohibition, he replied:   “…he did, that is why they [Real McCoy Spirits Corp.] came to me.  It was sent bulk to Bahamas, bottled there and he [Bill McCoy] picked it up, repacked it in his special cases.  I don’t think it was the only rum he did but I believe he was strongly associated with Barbadian rum.”  There you have it, from someone who should know.  

Real McCoy, the 12 year aged rum, is today’s genuine article.  Distilled  in vacuum column and pot stills at the Foursquare distillery on Barbados, the rum is true to Master Distiller Richard Seale’s ethic of producing the best rum he possibly can, without additives or flavorings.  Aged in used bourbon American white oak barrels for a minimum of 12 years.

I don’t know if Bill McCoy’s customers ever had anything as good as this new 12 year old expression that bears the rum runner’s name.  If they had rums that were close in taste, then The Real McCoy was a well-deserved nickname.  Foursquare Distillery produces some incredible rums, Their 1998 Vintage and RL Seale’s rums come to mind easily, followed by St. Nicholas Abbey’s of any age.  Yet, most of us Yank’s are still prohibited.  Very little of Foursquare’s real aged talents are imported to the USA.  Not anymore; we now have The Real McCoy 12 year aged rum.  Hallelujah.

* Footnote 
“The Rum Line” is Prohibition-era slang for the row of barges and floating booze warehouses that were more or less permanently moored in International waters off the US east Coast just beyond the three mile territorial limit.  Daniel Okrent refers to the “reverse blockade” in his thorough book “Last Call - The Rise and Fall of Prohibition”.  The tongue-in-cheek term was borrowed from the maritime navigation method of drawing a Rhumb Line on a nautical chart, used to determine the compass course to be sailed.   

Reviewed: April 2014 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017