Foursquare: Exceptional Cask Tasting

Every so often an event pops up that you simply do not want to miss and this was one of those occasions.

A preview tasting of three forthcoming Foursquare Releases in the Exceptional Cask Series with Master Blender Richard Seale and his wife Gayle at one of London’s most iconic rum bars, Trailer Happiness on Portobello Road.

Following a two hour plus commute into West London, it was lovely to see so many familiar faces in the rum family were present. As an aside, one of the most amazing things I have experienced as a rum drinker is the love and warmth from the rum community towards all.

As usual with rum, we were on Caribbean time and kicked-off the tasting about 25 minutes or so late, but it was worth waiting the extra time as Trailer’s bartenders had very kindly prepared some Hurricane cocktails for us to enjoy. It is a dangerously easy-to-drink cocktail made with dark, white and overproof rum, lemon juice and passion fruit syrup. A few of these could easily lead to being seriously drunk without really noticing.

Hurricane Cocktail
Hurricane Cocktail (Dark, white and overproof rum, lemon juice, passion fruit syrup)

And so onto the tasting, being hosted by Floating Rum Shack’s Peter Holland with Foursquare Master Blender Richard Seale talking us through the rums.

Each of the rums we tasted are “Single Blended Rums” – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still.

Tasted in ascending order of ABV, first up was Exceptional Cask Selection VIII: PREMISE.

Foursquare: Exceptional Cask Exceptional Cask Selection VIII: PREMISE: Bottle
Foursquare: Exceptional Cask Exceptional Cask Selection VIII: PREMISE: Bottle

Presented at 46% and limited to 15,000 bottles, I would describe this as way too easy to drink. It follows on from the Port and Zinfandel Cask editions in this regard, although it is the kind of rum that I would recommend to someone who is exploring beyond regular editions and taking their first steps into the realms of serious rums. My tasting gave me the impression of a strong Sherry-like influence – well it has been double matured in Ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks for a total of 12 years, so no surprise there. It has a dry mouthfeel of tannins and notes of Demerara sugar, white pepper and banana.

The second tasting was Exceptional Cask Selection VI: 2005.

Foursquare: Exceptional Cask Exceptional Cask Selection VI: 2005: Bottle
Foursquare: Exceptional Cask Exceptional Cask Selection VI: 2005: Bottle

The follow on/sequel to the superb Foursquare 11 Year Old 2004 – Exceptional Cask Selection III. Aged for 12 years solely in ex-Bourbon barrels, it is presented at 59%, the same as 2004, and limited to 12,000 bottles. Instantly this rum’s higher ABV was very noticeable, although even at 59%, it was not too strong or overpowering – something I love about Foursquare rums. My initial thoughts were that there was much more of a zing to this…..A lot more spice and oomph to it, definitely one for the more serious rum drinker. Lots of dried fruits and raisins, less tannins than Premise and a touch of sweetness followed by a long and spicy finish. This edition will appeal to Bourbon drinkers!

The third tasting was Exceptional Cask Selection VII: Dominus.

Foursquare: Exceptional Cask Exceptional Cask Selection VII: Dominus: Bottle
Foursquare: Exceptional Cask Exceptional Cask Selection VII: Dominus: Bottle

Dominus has had two maturations – one in ex-Bourbon and the other in ex-Cognac barrels, and has been aged for a total of ten years. Limited to just 6,000 bottles and presented at 56%, for me, this was comfortably the most exciting of the three releases. This rum had far more of the familiar Foursquare toffee and varnish aromas and was soft and smooth, like drinking liquid velvet, despite being 56%. I think the complexity of flavours in this will appeal far more to an experienced Foursquare drinker – someone who enjoyed Criterion for example.

A surprise fourth tasting appeared, when a Foursquare / Velier bottle of Principia appeared.

Foursquare: Principia: Bottle
Foursquare: Principia: Bottle (Photo from Internet)

Principia is 62% with a total worldwide release of 5,400 bottles, retailing at around €129 / bottle. Principia has also had a dual ageing / maturation of three years in ex-Bourbon and nine years in ex-Sherry casks. My initial impression was of lots and lots of woody, oakey aromas and flavours alongside some bitter dryness. Subsequent tastings demonstrate to me, that as with Triptych, this is very complex and will take the best part of a bottle to appreciate fully. There is a complexity to Principia that allows one to drink it at 62% without the need for water, yet at the same time, without it burning or being overpowering – this really is sublime stuff. Whether or not Principia supersedes Triptych as my favourite Foursquare rum remains to be seen, but one thing for sure is that it is damn tasty!!!

I would like to say a big thank you at this point to Richard and Gayle Seale for their time and useful insights into Foursquare rums – it really was a genuine pleasure to enjoy such fine rums in such fine company.

Likewise, thank you to Peter Holland (Floating Rum Shack) for his MC duties and of course Trailer Happiness for hosting the event. For those that are interested, some of us keen rum-heads continued drinking rum long after the official tasting had finished. I was in the lovely company of Jo (Jo Blogs Rum @JoBlogsRum), the enigmatic Keegan (@DrinkApparition) and Brian Rolls. We went through a significant number of Trailer’s rums – I eventually got home somewhere around 1.30am, but I don’t actually remember exactly when. *THAT* is the sign of a great day, lol.

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