Rum Review: Foursquare Port Cask Finish
Rum Review: Foursquare Rum Distillery Port Cask Finish
Fine spirits have long been finished in barrels that once contained a different libation. Most rum is finished in used Bourbon barrels, while agricole style rhums are often finished in Cognac barrels. In the whisky world, fortified wine casks have been used for quite some time to impart a unique set of flavors apart from that of grain or peat. One might say that in today’s market, fortified wine cask finishes are all the rage, and as such, folks are finally catching on to the notion that rum lends itself to the finest marriage of such flavors.
One such rum is an offering from Foursquare Rum Distillery called simply “Port Cask Finish” (40% ABV, $35). Aged in Barbados in Bourbon and Port barrels for nine years (three years in Bourbon, six years in Port) this batch was bottled in June of 2014, and it’s been generating quite a buzz in the rum community. Let’s dive in and take a look at what’s got folks so excited!
The Port Cask Finish bottle itself is no different than the Doorly’s bottles from Foursquare, but the closure arrives sealed in maroon wax. A pull of the tab reveals a metal cap where some might expect a cork, but it’s of no consequence. The label, on the other hand, is completely different than those that adorn the Doorly’s labels; there is no image or logo—it’s simply text that describes the contents of the bottle.
In the glass, the color of the rum is a rich, deep bronze with hints of ruby red. A swirl of the glass generates a razor thin ring from which a set of very small beads form, some of which turn to droplets and descend ever-so-slowly toward the bowl of the glass. The initial aromas on nosing are uniformly delightful. There is Port of course, but it mercifully does not overpower the rum (an all-too common mistake among blenders) which presents itself as a mature yet fruity spirit full of mango, apricot, apple and ripe pear. Beyond the fruit is the Port and the wood along with caramel and toffee. Pushing further, there is a hint of freshly roasted coffee beans combined with cocoa. Let’s have a taste…
The rum washes over the palate and at once announces its age. There is an ample dose of tannins from both the wood and the wine, and the palate is immediately coated. But again, it’s the rum that shines through here where others have let the wine do the talking; it’s very bright and assertive despite six long years in the port cask. Once attuned to the spirit, the Port’s sweetness breaks through, but it’s simply the suggestion of sweetness, as this rum manages to remain quite dry. The flavors are re-ordered compared to the aromas, with the sweet bakery elements leading the way before the fruit. We get caramel, chocolate and sugar cookie before the apple, pear and apricot again make themselves known. There is also spice here represented by cinnamon, nutmeg, and a hint of red pepper. On subsequent sips, we find a hint of raisins, plums and dates. The dry, tannic finish is long and quite pleasant. Rather than saccharin bitterness, the mildly bitter tannic notes simply fade away gracefully.
I’m not sure that this is Master Distiller Richard Seale’s magnum opus, but it’s a really impressive effort that proves the incredible value of Bajan rums in general, and Foursquare’s in particular. This rum clearly started as an exceptional distillate, but the level of maturation is the key here, not the number of years. I would comfortably put this nine year-old rum up against any slate of rums twice its age. At $35 USD, this is a ridiculously great bargain. I’ll be stocking my bunker with as many as I can find, so it behooves you to find a bottle before I do; it won’t last long.