Rum Review: Foursquare 2006 (Velier)
Foursquare 2006 (Velier) Rum Review
If you’re reading this in the United States, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Luca Gargano of Velier (the famous Italian spirits importer) but let’s just say he has been a force for positive change in the rum world for more than four decades. If you’re interested in a more in-depth profile, be sure and read my friend Lance’s article here.
Luca is all about bringing pure, honest rum to market and elevating the noble spirit to its rightful place alongside other highly regarded spirits like Cognac and Scotch. It’s natural then, that Luca is friends with Foursquare Distillery’s Richard Seale—a man whose thoughts on the rum industry are never in doubt. And if you’ve been keeping up with the reviews here, our love for Foursquare’s products is similarly indubitable. So with these two rum purists on one project, the results would surely be spectacular, right?
Before we even had our first sip of the rum, the answer appeared to be a resounding “yes”. With 2400 70 cl bottles produced, Luca thought it would sell out in three months. It sold out in three hours, and soon bottles began popping up on eBay (yes, you can still buy and sell booze on their European sites). Had this become the Pappy Van Winkle of rum overnight?
Here in California, we had little hope of ever seeing this rum in any form, but for a fortunate few, fortunes changed on a recent night in Oakland. Richard Seale was invited by Longitude’s Suzanne Long to present a treatise on “real rum” to a select group of patrons and industry insiders. The group tasted their way through several Foursquare marques (Port Cask, Zinfandel Cask, 2004) before being treated to a taste of the Velier Foursquare 2006—rum unobtanium.
After the small samples were poured and tasting notes were discussed, Richard turned and handed me the bottle, which at that point was about 1/3 full. A mixture of jealousy, hatred and elation quickly filled the room as I realized my good fortune. “Start a rum blog, kids” I said. And with that, I had a bit of the most sought-after rum on the planet, and quite worthy of a review.
Like all Foursquare rums, this is a blend of pot and column still molasses-based rum from a single distillery, which is a “Single Blended Rum” under the classification system endorsed by both Richard and Luca. For a full description of the classification system, read this piece on the Rumaniacs site.
The rum blend was aged in ex-Bourbon casks for three years before being moved to ex-Cognac casks for an additional seven years (distilled 2006, bottled 2016, 62% ABV). The dark colored glass bottle is standard Velier, and gives no hints as to its color. The label is simple and plain, but chock full of the information purists hold dear.
In the glass, the rum is shown to be a deep mahogany with flashes of bronze. A swirl produces a ring of multitudinous miniscule droplets, some of which seem to combine after a few moments and make their way slowly back to the bowl of the glass.
Moving in for a nosing, we see that despite the high proof, the bouquet is entirely inviting. Initial aromas are of dried apricot and chocolate combined with lemon zest, melon, oak, and a hint of raisin. Up next is a bit of caramel and brine.
The heat of this 62% spirit makes itself known upon entry, but it’s the oak which dominates beyond the astringency. The tannins become pronounced on the second sip, and the sides of the mid-palate and upper palate become well-engaged. After a brief acclimation process, chocolate and raisin emerge along with the aforementioned brine which permeates to season the rum perfectly. Spices are undeniable at this point, with cinnamon and red pepper followed a bit of herbaceousness in the form of ground sage. Beyond the herbs and spices are the subtle flavors of cigar wrapper and leather. The long, exceedingly dry finish allows the imbiber to contemplate how long their cheeks will remain alight (quite a while, as it turns out).
At the outset, I expected to need a bit of water to pull apart the flavors in this rum, but the Foursquare 2006 was shockingly quaffable at cask strength. That was made clear at the tasting event where even people unaccustomed to tasting cask strength rums found it exceedingly approachable. The one comment that stands out the most from that night, however, was from a friend (who is a bar owner and spirits expert) who turned to me and said “I’m pretty sure that’s the best rum I ever tasted”. Me too, buddy.
Want even more information on Foursquare? Read our other Foursquare articles below!
And for another reviewer’s take on Foursquare 2006, check out Henrik’s article here.