Foursquare Distillery ups ABV as part of new line-up of rums coming to UK

Doorly's 3 Year Old 47 and Foursquare Nobiliary rums

Foursquare Distillery in Barbados is exporting an exciting new line-up of rums to the UK, including core expressions with higher ABVs and a cream liqueur.

In line with the higher alcohol content of traditional Barbadian rums, charcoal-filtered white rum Doorly’s 3 Year Old has gone from 40% ABV to 47% while Doorly’s XO and Doorly’s 12 Year Old have been upped from 40% to 43%.

Also new to the UK is Nobiliary, a new 62% ABV single blended rum, aged for 14 years in ex-bourbon casks, as the 12th limited release in Foursquare’s Exceptional Cask Selection.

Foursquare is also planning to start exporting its Crisma liqueur, which has been available in Barbados for some years, after a packaging upgrade. At 17% ABV, it is a delicious blend of aged rum, real dairy cream, vanilla and coffee.

In a Twitter tasting led by The Floating Rum Shack and Foursquare owner Richard Seale last week, the expressions were sampled by a group of rum bloggers, drinks writers, bartenders and others in the drinks trade.

They agreed that raising the ABV opened up flavours in all three expressions, often adding intensity and depth. For the Doorly’s 3 Year Old, it “offers more summer fruits with the citrus dialled down a bit”, according to The Floating Rum Shack.

Sly Augustin of London bar Trailer Happiness noted: “The additional ABV in the 3 Year Old doesn’t simply add heat and strength – it allows the flavours to bind perfectly and is an example of how an increased proof can actually create a smoother drinking experience”. The 47% ABV white rum gave him “toasted coconut, almonds and butter on the nose”, dubbing it a “well balanced light rum that has enough personality to sing in cocktails”.

When it came to the XO, The Floating Rum Shack found that “the increased ABV, even if it’s just 3%, brings more spice and sharpens up the mouthfeel, with the tannins more pronounced. Seemingly more oily on the palate. Generally as approachable but more grown-up.” With the Doorly’s 12 Year Old, “the extra 3% has sharpened up the delivery [leading to] more grip, more dried fruit”.

Commenting on the increased ABVs, Seale said: “43% is the standard in Barbados. When we first came to the UK, to compete we reduced it to 40%. That was a mistake that has now been corrected.”

He explained that the Doorly’s 3 Year Old – aged in ex-bourbon casks – continued in a tradition of charcoal-filtering younger spirits to make them more mellow which dates back to at least the 1850s in Barbados. “The side benefit of doing it after ageing is the colour reduction which allows bartenders to have aged-rum quality yet a clear spirit.”

He tends to dismiss the idea of rums being categorised simply for sipping or mixing as they are in the UK. “’White rum’ is an authentic category in the West Indies. However, this is typically unaged so tends to be consumed mixed outside the West Indies. But for many at home, white rum is the category they prefer.”

In the Twitter tasting, Doorly’s 3 Year Old was championed as ideal for a classic Daiquiri. At The Brig in Falmouth in Cornwall, the 40% ABV expression is used in its Rum Punch. “It also makes a light and punchy Daiquiri. Reckon this higher ABV expression even more so,” according to one of the crew’s tweets. Dave Marsland, aka Drinks Enthusiast, reckons it “would make a banging Martini with blanco vermouth”.

The new Doorly’s XO retains the dual maturation, aged for five years in ex-bourbon casks and then finished for one to three years in barrels that previously held oloroso sherry.

Billy Abbott of The Whisky Exchange has been a longtime fan of the original XO. For the new 43% ABV bottling, he finds it “starts with a burst of whipped cream on the palate, before rich caramel, singed orange, liquorice and dark chocolate. Spice builds, with clove accompanying restrained cinnamon heat. Chocolate-dipped fruit cake hides at the back”. For the finish, he gets “raisins, cream and apple sauce”.

Pepijn Vanden Abeele, bars director at London bar and restaurant Sketch, finds dark caramel woodiness and a little peachiness on the nose, which extends to the palate with “added toffee, a little liquorice, orange peel, cloves, and spice”, adding that it would be “great in stirred cocktails or to just sip”.

The XO has the distinction of being the only expression in the range that does not have an age statement. Seale said: “At the time it was deliberate. We wanted focus on the double maturation rather than the age. Our local competition did not use an age statement. On reflection, as we have developed exports we have reverted to age statements.”

Like the original 40% ABV expression, the new Doorly’s 12 Year Old is a blend of rums aged for 12 years in former bourbon casks and for 12 years in ex-madeira casks. Madeira wine was popular among wealthy planters in the West Indies until its production was devastated by the plague of phylloxera bugs in the 19th century.

Billy Abbott describes it as “very sweet at first – caramel and toffee with cinnamon spice and a hint of mint. Flambéed mashed bananas follow, with a touch of char, anise and liquorice root following. A burst of spice starts the finish, fading to leave creamy bananas.”

With its blend of 14-year-old rums from ex-bourbon casks, Foursquare Nobiliary is described by Seale as a “mature classic”. After previous Exceptional Cask Selection releases used rums from casks that previously held liquids such as cognac and madeira, Seale said, “I wanted to show what we could do with just ex-bourbon”.

Tasting Nobiliary, Rum.lv found “dark fruits/berries jam sweetness on the tip of the tongue but as it moves further back develops a warm ginger spiciness, red wine, oak and char. Bursts onward into sweetness again – cinder toffee, bourbon, banana. Delicious!”

On the nose, Spirit and Wood found Nobiliary “exquisitely tangy with chilli jam leading” while “the palate is very balanced for such high strength; orange marmalade, dark chilli chocolate, treacle toffee and a finish of original Sports Mixture”. Sly Augustin picked up “coffee, cacao, pineapple, molasses, liquorice”, adding: “I think The Prodigy said it best, ‘I’ll take your brain to another dimension, play close attention’.”

Click here to read Billy Abbot’s full tasting notes on Nobiliary on The Whisky Exchange website.

Another pleasant surprise was Crisma rum cream liqueur which is smooth, creamy and buttery with light coffee notes but not too sweet and with the rum flavours coming though. Spirit and Wood picked out notes of chocolate, star anise, coconut and banana while MixMann got hints of hazelnut.

RumLondon found it “not cloying or sickly, liquorice on the nose and nutmeg and milk chocolate on the palate” while 2rumheads described it as “a delicious balance of rum and cream”.

The liqueur was also highlighted as being a promising ingredient for cocktails, perhaps as a substitute for other cream liqueurs in classic recipes.

Although Crisma will be new to the UK, it has been made at Foursquare for some time. “Rum and cream have been blended in the West Indies for many years,” Seale added.

All of Foursquare’s rums are made from molasses rather than sugarcane juice and distilled in both a double retort pot still and a two-column continuous still. The rums are free from added sugar and flavourings, unlike some others on the market. They are distributed in the UK by Marussia Beverages.

Other nuggets of news coming out of the Twitter tasting included:

  • Foursquare has lots of rum ageing in ex-port casks. “We’re not certain yet what we will do but a higher proof ‘port cask’ at a minimum,” Seale noted.
  • After the success of Foursquare’s 2007 Cask Strength Rum, the 2008 vintage is complete and will be shipping soon.
  • Later in the year will come the next release in the Exceptional Cask Selection, described as a successor to the 48% ABV Sagacity which was a blend of 12-year-old rums matured in ex-bourbon and ex-madeira casks.
  • Foursquare is also working on a successor to Hereditas, its exclusive bottling for The Whisky Exchange that blended 14-year-old rums aged in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks.

For more tasting notes and insights, search for the #FoursquareTT hashtag on Twitter.

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