Foursquare ECS XIII “2008”



Single Blended Rum: A blend of pot still and traditional column still from a single distillery.
ABV Hydrometer Test: 60% ABV @ 20°
* B

The latest in what is becoming a legendary series of rums,
“2008” the thirteenth (XIII) edition of the
Exceptional Cask Selection of rums.

As usual for Foursquare, transparency in its rum production is always very prominent and with 2008, we are told that the molasses-based blend is from pot and column still distillation and every drop has been aged entirely in tropical Barbados, for at least 12 years in first, second and third fill ex-Bourbon barrels. Furthermore, no sugar, colour nor other additives have been included in this 60% offering and it has not been chill-filtered.

2008 continues the approximately every one in three ECS releases in being named after the year of distillation, being aged entirely in ex-Bourbon barrels and being offered at a higher ABV. 2004 (ECS III), 2005 (ECS VI) and 2007 (ECS X) are all 59%. Whilst there was no ECS 2006, the first Foursquare-Velier collaboration was entitled 2006.

Officially released in April 2020, 2008 has taken a little while to land on UK shores. At the time of writing (start of September 2020), the bottles have only just been released while our American cousins have been enjoying it for several weeks (we will have our revenge when Diadem is released – see the end of this review). I have been trying to avoid reading about other tastings ahead of tasting and writing about it myself – not an easy task when you are a Foursquarian © like me. There is a high outturn of this edition – some 15,000 bottles for the US market and a further 12,000 for the UK and the EU. By comparison, Foursquare Nobiliary was 6,000 bottles for each market.

Foursquare 2008 is a Single Blended Rum:
A blend of pot still and traditional column still.

Bottle/Presentation 3/3

Foursquare’s Exceptional Cask Selection (ECS) bottles are becoming somewhat iconic and synonymous with fine quality rums. The familiar stubby bottle, adorned with ribbons around the neck features a synthetic cork enclosure.

The labels always lead the way with detailed information on the rum and its production. ECS XIII has info on distillation (pot and column), ageing (12 years in ex-Bourbon barrels in Barbados), and a reminder (sad that it is needed) that this is proper Barbados rum with “no sweetener, other flavour or colour added.”

Glass/Aroma 9/10

In my glass, 2008 is a medium amber colour and displays fine dotted legs around my glass that lead into large slow-to-drop tears.

The aroma is an instant hit with me – sweet butterscotch, a hint of vanilla and a subtle oak influence. Something almost paint-stripper-esque is a brief distraction, but is followed by lovely tropical fruits, notably pineapple along with some red cherries.

Time in the glass often rewards a patient rum drinker. With 2008, it develops some tobacco smoke and the sweetness becomes softer.

Foursquare 2008 Bottle

Taste, Initial-middle 36/40

Wow – smooth and surprisingly dry on first tasting. Subsequent tastings are less dry, in fact it gets a bit sweeter with multiple sips. 2008 displays some cherry and raisin notes. It has a good viscosity and a buttery texture. It is a delight to drink!

Taste, Middle/Throat 36/40

Through the mid-palate, some caramel notes appear and fade, leaving sweet fruit behind – pineapple and redcurrants specifically. My mouth is starting to tingle somewhat – the first feel of the 60% ABV coming through by the way of some black peppered spice.

As 2008 passes to the rear of my palate, a delicate oak influence hints at a dry finish, but is paired with a lingering caramel sweetness and touch of vanilla. The buttery texture continues to coat your mouth, preparing you for the warming spices to develop further alongside freshly milled black pepper.

Afterburn/Finish 7/7

Pepper, ginger and dry warming spices – just what we need as Autumn (fall) is fast approaching us. 2008 lingers for several minutes with a lovely warming central-heating-like glow accompanied by a touch of vanilla and dried fruits.

TOTAL 91/100


I have written on many occasions about my love of Foursquare rums – both the juice inside the bottle, but also the ethos of respecting centuries of traditions of Barbados rum production. 2008 is an entirely natural product – a suitable tribute to those fine traditions. As always, Foursquare pushes the boundaries in various directions, not least of which, the suitably high 60% ABV.

The first time I nosed 2008, my instant reaction was “wow, what an amazing aroma.” And the jaw-on-the-floor reaction to the aroma was followed by a similar one when tasting 2008 – this is an instant classic and for me, a stunning return to top form for Foursquare after what, at least for me, was the average Foursquare Nobiliary release. 2008 is comfortably my favourite rum of 2020 so far and will take some beating to relinquish that spot.

If you buy just one bottle of rum this year, buy the best:
Foursquare 2008.

How does 2008 compare with its predecessors? 2004 / 2005 / 2007

Well, I will always have a soft spot for 2004 as it was one of the first rums I reviewed back in 2016. Whilst it undoubtedly is a top tipple, looking back now, I think my mark for 2004 was a bit over-generous. Whilst different, I would probably put it on a par with 2008.

2005 for me was a touch harsher – maybe a higher proportion of pot still distillate, leaving more pepper and an overall rougher feel to it when compared to 2008. With 2005 I actually feel the 59% ABV whereas with 2008, it is so much smoother and easier to drink, even at a slightly higher 60% ABV.

When 2007 was released I instantly adored it, although perhaps not quite as much as today with 2008. Tasting 2007 alongside 2008 is a very pleasant experience. There are some similarities in the perceived sweetness of both rums although 2007 has a little more of a peppery finish to it than 2008. the latest offering also feels somewhat smoother on the palate – dare I say it? It compares favourably with Foursquare 2006 although 2006 will always be up there as the benchmark Foursquare rum to beat.

Foursquare 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008 Bottles
Foursquare 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008 Bottles

So, what is next for Foursquare’s Exceptional Cask Selection of rums?

Well Détente is edition XIV of the ECS and successor to ECS XI “Sagacity”, with 9,000 bottles due to be released in the UK and EU. This is officially released in August 2020, although it will likely be September/October by the time it reaches the public. Détente is aged for ten years and presented at 51% and is exciting many Foursquare fans as it combines ex-Port cask aged rums alongside more familiar ex-Bourbon cask ones.

The label below was an early version – the ABV *WILL* be 51%

Foursquare Détente Front Label
Foursquare Détente Front Label

Foursquare Diadem

We also have another The Whisky Exchange exclusive coming in September called “Diadem” – a 12 year old rum aged in ex-Bourbon and ex-Madeira barrels. This is in addition to the Private Cask selections from V&B and Wealth Solutions.

And because two more forthcoming Foursquare releases is never enough, forthcoming is ECS XV “Redoutable”, the successor to Foursquare Nobiliary. Redoutable, meaning formidable, worthy of respect (in French) will be 62%, a blend of ex-Bourbon and ex-Madeira aged rums and aged for 14 years. The official release date is September 2020, so expect it to be in the (UK) shops by the end of October if we are lucky. The rear label (below, right) shows the original, incorrect name.

Value: 10/10

This is superb value. Top quality rum, 100% tropically aged, 60%ABV and absolutely delicious. What more could you ask for in a rum?

A bargain at £60!

Flavour Profile:

Review No. 159


P Denotes the rum contains POT still distillate.
C Denotes the rum contains traditional/Coffey COLUMN still distillate.
B Denotes the rum contains a BLEND of POT and COLUMN still distillate.
M Denotes the rum contains MULTI-COLUMN still distillate or is a MODERN rum.
A Denotes the rum is an AGRICOLE i.e. from Cane Juice.
S Denotes the rum is presented in a SWEETENED style.

Marking Guide:
Bottle/Presentation Out of 3
Glass/Aroma Out of 10
Taste, Initial-middle Out of 40
Taste, Middle/Throat Out of 40
Afterburn/Finish Out of 7

3 thoughts on “Foursquare ECS XIII “2008”

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