Trailer Happiness is to rum lovers what Crufts is to dog show enthusiasts, so it was with great excitement that we accepted industry stalwart Peter Holland’s (Floating Rum Shack) invitation to attend a preview tasting of the forthcoming Foursquare Rum Distillery Exceptional Cask Selection with Master Blender Richard Seale at the Notting Hill venue.
With its ‘60s American kitsch décor smattered with Tiki bar credentials, unabashedly energetic bartenders and outrageously fun ‘60s playlist, anyone wandering in off Portobello Road would be forgiven for not taking Trailer Happiness seriously. They would be wrong. The basement bar has an exhaustive list of awards to its name, has produced world-renowned and supremely knowledgeable “rum god” bartenders, and houses some of the best rums you’re likely to find in the UK. Whilst rum is starting to be seen as more than something to add Coke to at a party, its reputation is still not up there with that of whisky or wine as, to quote Peter, “we have a bit too much ‘pirate’ in our history”. This however doesn’t mean that some incredible spirits aren’t being created. Enter, Foursquare Rum Distillery Exceptional Cask Selection.
Peter explains that Foursquare Distillery in St Philip’s Barbados, is where all the rums by R.L. Seale & Co Ltd are distilled, which includes the core commercial range, Doorly’s, as well as the Exceptional Cask series. Doorly’s is the core range and, as such, has to be regimented in terms of colour, strength and flavour, whilst the Exceptional Cask rums give Richard the ability to play. All the Exceptional Cask rums are “single blended”, meaning that they are from one location, and are produced in the distillery’s copper, double retort pot still and traditional twin column coffey still. They are also non-chill-filtered and entirely free from caramel colourings, sugar and other flavourings. Their experimental nature means that only a limited number of each of the rums we are about to taste have been made, with new expressions bottled each year as part of the series.
Suitably hyped by this knowledge, we get ready to taste the four rums that Richard has brought with him.
Tasting Notes: Foursquare Rum Distillery Exceptional Cask Selection
46% ABV; Limited to 15,000 bottles
The 8th release in the series and the successor to the much-loved Zinfandel Cask, Premise is a blend of rums from Foursquare’s artisanal pot distillation and traditional twin column continuous distillation. It comprises ten-year-old ex-bourbon cask and rums aged for three years in ex-bourbon cask followed by seven years in new Oloroso Sherry cask.
The double maturation in ex-bourbon gives Premise a dry mouthfeel however a good deal of fruit comes through from the new oloroso cask. Approachable and fruity, this is a promising start to our introduction to the distillery.
59% ABV; Limited to 12,000 bottles
The 9th release in the Exceptional Cask series and the natural successor to the hugely popular 2004 bottling, this twelve-year blends pot and column once more but is aged solely in American Oak, ex-Bourbon barrels.
The higher ABV is noticeable without being overbearing. Pot still heavy with a good deal of spice, a natural caramel sweetness from the quality maturation and a plump dried fruit takeaway, this is a real beauty! If the 2004 changed people’s opinion of what Foursquare could be, 2005 has taken it a step further.
56% ABV; Limited to 6,000 bottles
Dominus is the 7th release and the successor to Criterion. once more blending pot and column, this bottling has been aged for three years in ex-bourbon cask followed by seven years in old ex-cognac cask.
The smell of the tipple is not overly pleasant and makes us except a harsh and unappealing spirit. However, the reality is the opposite. Noticeably different from the first two rums, Dominus is a full and rounded expression with hefty toffee and agreeable cognac influence.
62% ABV; Limited to 5,400 bottles
Distilled in 2008 and bottled in 2017, Principia is a special release in partnership with Italian liqueur and spirits distributors, Velier SpA.
Three years in ex-Bourbon and nine in ex-Sherry gives the rum a dry, woody initial taste. Over time as it warms, it opens up to reveal its hidden complexity. The sherry influence can be appreciated and even at 62% it manages to be surprisingly drinkable.
Foursquare Rum Distillery Exceptional Cask Selection are astonishingly interesting expressions that are simultaneously sophisticated and approachable. Richard has taken great care to create rums that are developed, full and drinkable, and with all expected to retail under £50, they are a complete steal.
For more information about Foursquare Rum Distillery, visit their website here.