I am incredibly keen on reviewing this particular Rum. Why you might ask? It’s only a 12yo Rum from Barbados, nothing fancy, nothing super-ultra-premium and one that is very inexpensive to boot. How can that be? Wouldn’t you rather review an ancient Velier bottling then? Sure, but this one has a story to it. I write about Whiskies for quite some time now, and essentially kept my Rum-adventures to myself. I always liked Rum, but a few years back I really started to love the stuff, especially when I “got” Rhum Agricole and found out that the Rum spectrum is very wide and shows lots of variation.
A long time ago, when I got interested in Whisky I started to surf the interweb looking for information. Back then not a lot of it was around, and there were hardly any books as well. Whisky blogging was just about starting. More recently, when I started to look for information about Rum, I came across some very good Rum bloggers. There are more which I read on a near-daily basis, but for my story here, I have to mention two or three in particular. First I read this review by thefatrumpirate and this one on Inu A Kena.Although I have heard of Foursquare I wasn’t aware of the Port finish Rum. Both reviewers are very happy with the bottling, so my interest was “aroused”.
Next, I started looking for an official un-finished Foursquare bottling to compare it with, and came across this post and especially this post from Lance. “Weak, pussilanimous wuss of a rum. It’s so low key that its piano seems to lack keys altogether” So the Port finished product seems to be stellar and the un-finished XO seems a bit less than perfect. Nevertheless, my interest was now even aroused some more. Being warned, because a smart person learns from the experiences of others, I skipped the XO. Recently I found out there is this newly released 12yo as well. Back in business so to speak. I bought the Port finish as well as this new 12yo, so let’s see first if this 12yo is something Lance should buy.
Color: Copper gold.
Nose: First of all, this smells great right from the start. Modern and tight. Woody, some clear glue and spicy. Typical Bajan Rum, with hints of orange and fresh fruits in the morning market. Definitely also the wooden crates fruit is shipped in. Fresh virgin wood, not necessarily oak at this point. An expected, deep caramel and medium sugar syrupy sweetness. Yes you can smell sweetness, or maybe I should say, smells associated with sweetness. The smell is fruity, but on top of the syrupy part is another fruity smell. It’s the red berry acidity I didn’t like that much in some Abuelo offerings, but that quickly dissipates. Warm sawdust, definitely oak now and a small hint of gunpowder and honey, which is great. The wood aroma is growing stronger with time, which does wonders for the nose. Hints of an unlit Havana Cigar, a combination of Bolívar (spice) and Hoyo de Monterrey (cream). It smells fresh and even slightly winey, which is no surprise since 10% of this Rum was matured in ex-Madeira casks, the other 90% in ex-Bourbon casks. I believe Foursquare uses a lot of casks from Jack Daniels, which would make it ex-Tennessee Whiskey casks rather than ex-Bourbon casks. Whichever cask were used, both are made with American oak, giving off a vanilla aroma.
Taste: On entry a bit thin, but the aroma’s take over quickly. Hints of glue (from the nose) and almonds. It starts out with the woody flavours from the nose. Good balance, it matches the nose perfectly. Tiny hint of soap now, but nothing to worry about. Toffee is next, although the wood is still the dominant factor. Not too sweet. The back-label states 12 years of maturation in American white oak. If not all, then at least part must have been virgin white oak. If not, it may have been ex-Bourbon casks, which must have been very active then. It has so much fresh oak flavour. Chewy toffee is next, even though the Rum is quite thin. The finish is medium at best (probably due to the reduction to 40%), but the aftertaste does have some staying power. Sure not the most complex Bajan Rum around, but I’m not disappointed. The 10% Madeira work wonders without taking center stage. I would say well blended, this one. It’s a friendly nice Rum I’ll probably finish more sooner than later. Good for every (sipping) occasion and that is what you want a nice little OB to do.
It has been ages since I opened a bottle with a screw cap. It only happens when I open an old bottle of Whisky from Gordon & MacPhail and such. It’s all cork now. Screw caps were once a sign of cheapness, for me it’s not. I like the screw cap. It’s retro. They work well, although screw caps on miniature bottles are a lot worse. Corks can dry out, crumble or have holes and other weak spots. So no beef with the screw cap, unless it rotates for ever. “Screw cap” is even nicer to pronounce than cork, and it looks better on T-shirts. Just say it several times at loud, just not if you’re reading this at work and want to keep the respect of your co-workers. “Je suis screw cap”
Lance, it is safe (from “Marathon Man”) and Richard, well done!