Updated: Nov 21
The Foursquare ECS series has become quite legendary in the rum world. The quality has been so high and consistent that each release is a hot commodity now, rightfully so. Living in Canada, it’s always been hard to get my hands on any Foursquare release, but I’m noticing it’s getting harder.
Thanks to its popularity, most ECS releases sell out fairly quickly. Prices have also increased due to higher production costs, longer ageing and, again, the high demand. The trifecta of Canada, demand and prices have made me start preparing myself mentally for not being able to get Foursquare ECS releases anymore. It’s a real shame, as I’ve enjoyed tasting and writing about them so much, which is obvious when you look at the list of reviews. But, such is life. Rum has always been massively undervalued. Which was great for us enthusiasts, especially for a cheap Dutchman like myself. But this had to be corrected at some point, which is clearly happening now.
Rum is finally getting more respect. It’s great for the producers, as they can invest more money into production and development, to make better rum and………to increase the size of their personal saving accounts. However, for the not so rich enthusiast, most of the top releases will soon be for ever out of reach. I’m hoping producers will see a market in that group and include some higher quality expressions in their standard lineup, like Foursquare has done with Doorly’s 14 and Worthy Park is planning to do with their excellent 12 year. Once it’s a non limited release, it’s a lot less likely to end up in a storage locker.
Trading samples is a way to at least get a taste of something when a full bottle seems out of reach for one reason or another. This is what I did in the case of Touchstone. I traded a bunch of things with a rum friend in Quebec. I love doing that anyway. Such a great way to get acquainted with new rums and to spread the rum love.
Touchstone is the 22nd ECS release. A 14 year rum that’s been aged in ex-bourbon and ex-cognac casks. Foursquare has done this before, namely with 2006, Dominus and Sassafras. I’m not a massive fan of Dominus, but love 2006 and Sassafras. This made me extra curious about Touchstone. In this case, some of the cognac casks came from Camus. They did a little project with Foursquare, as they wanted to see how their cognac would mature in the hot Barbadian climate. They sent 10 casks to Barbados by ship and left them at Foursquare for a year. The cognac was then sent back to France, while the empty casks remained at Foursquare. They were filled with Foursquare 2008, a 12 year ex-bourbon cask rum, and left to age for a further 2 years. That’s one part of the story…I mean blend. The second part is a 14 year rum that’s been in ex-bourbon casks for 5 years and another 9 years in ex-cognac. I like how Richard Seale experiments with these blends to get to the taste profile he’s imagining. It’s true art.
Naturally, I had to compare this rum to a couple of cousins. Foursquare 2006 and Sassafras seemed ideal candidates. I tasted them in multiple sessions, whereby the first session was a blind lineup. That’s the most important session where I base the majority of my scoring on and where all the tasting notes originate from. The additional sessions are mainly to check if things become very different when I change the tasting order.
Foursquare 2006 – 10 years – 62%
Foursquare Sassafras – 14 years – 61%
Foursquare Touchstone – 14 years – 61%
Fantastic! Oak, wine, leather, tobacco, custard, vanilla, caramel candy, candle wax. It’s thicker than rum 2 and more on the tobacco/leather side, not as fruity though. It’s a little decadent.
Slightly lighter than rum 1, less wine, less wood, more fruity. It’s more delicate, not as in your face as rum 1. Oak, vanilla, light tobacco and leather, light menthol. It’s a bit sharper (younger?) and somewhat less fragrant than the other two. Very nice though. Eau de Richard.
It’s more similar to rum 2 than to rum 1. Oak, red wine, vanilla, coconut, tobacco, caramel and leather. Wonderfully sweet. Eau de Richard, again.
Oak and red wine are very strong. Vanilla, coconut, tobacco, black pepper, and strong caramel. It needs some time to start giving. Initially it’s mostly oak and red wine to me. After a while the fruitier side comes through, which provides a gentle sweetness in the background. The finish is long with some bitterness and a ton of spice. It reminds me of a decadent vanilla and chocolate dessert.
Marzipan, oak, vanilla, coconut, strong tobacco, leather, chocolate. It’s quite fruity and has lovely sweet wood notes. Much better balanced than rum 1. Nothing is dominating and I can instantly start dissecting it. Finish is medium in length, with a good amount of spice and a medley of the flavours described above. Fantastic rum.
Sweet oak with lots of wood spice. Red wine, coconut, tobacco, leather. It’s thicker in texture than rum 2 and also a bit spicier. The finish is more intense, very spicy, woody….and doesn’t turn bitter. Best finish of the three. Close in profile to rum 2. Very good.
Rum 1: Foursquare Sassafras
Rum 2: Foursquare 2006
Rum 3: Foursquare Touchstone
I was expecting for Touchstone to be the odd one in here, because the other two are connected through their blends, while Touchstone isn’t. Nothing is further from the truth though. Sassafras was standing out with it’s decadency. A real mouth full kind of rum that’s super tasty but is missing some balance and delicacy compared to the other two. They aren't miles apart however. Another thought was for 2006 to be very different from the others because it being four years younger. However, Touchstone felt closer to 2006 than to Sassafras. Touchstone factually isn’t an older 2006, but the tasting profile does go in that direction. That should make a lot of people happy, especially ones who have never been able to taste 2006.
I feel I’m biased toward 2006, which is why I did a blind lineup. I still picked it as my favourite of the three, with Touchstone a close second. It might be because I like the slightly younger vibrancy of the 2006 versus the more woody Touchstone. Don’t get me wrong though, the wood never goes overboard with Touchstone. It’s a very balanced rum, certainly more balanced than Sassafras, which score I have to adjust downward slightly from my previous review. It’s a great rum, but is in the shadow of 2006 and Touchstone for me.
Touchstone is a fabulous expression, one of the top Foursquare releases in my opinion. I don’t need to say this but…buy it and drink it. It will make you happy right now. Who knows what will happen in a week, a year, 10 years, 101 years from now?!
Foursquare 2006 – 94
Foursquare Sassafras – 89
Foursquare Touchstone – 90
Click here for info on the scoring method.
Click here for the complete list of reviews & scores.
Wanted to add another experience I've had with Raconteur and Touchstone. It's now November and this weekend I was part of a tasting where we could compare the two. Previously, I rated Touchstone much higher than Raconteur. However, in this tasting it was somewhat different. Touchstone was a little sharp, Raconteur softer and more complex. It shows how things can be different between days. I've changed the rating of both a little.