The tropical climate in the Caribbean has been proven to work very well for ageing rum. The high temperatures by day and the lower ones at night make for great interaction between oak and rum.This goes hand in hand with a high level of evaporation, or angels share. Yearly losses of 7-10% are quite common in the Caribbean, which is costly. This is the main reason why any rum that’s been aged in the tropics for more than 12 years is a relative rarity.
At Foursquare Distillery in Barbados it’s not that rare of a sight anymore. There have been a few 14 year limited editions on the market as part of the Exceptional Cask Selection. Even more remarkable is having a 14 year rum as part of the standard line. That rum is Doorly’s 14.
Doorly’s is Foursquare’s core line. The brand has existed since 1920 (Martin Doorly & Co) and was acquired by the Seale family in 1993. Up until recently the 40% twelve year was the oldest Doorly’s expression. When looking at the Foursquare ECS series, with its many cask strength rums, there was quite a large gap between them and Doorly’s 12. Doorly’s 14 seems to be the glue that brings the two lines together. It doesn’t just do that by being an old rum, but also by offering a higher abv of 48%. It’s a blend of 14 year rums aged separately in ex bourbon cask and ex Madeira cask.
The Real McCoy is a brand founded by documentary film maker Bailey Pryor. He came up with the idea for this while producing a documentary film about American rum runner Bill McCoy. Bailey traveled to Barbados and somehow convinced Richard Seale, owner and master distiller of Foursquare, that this was a great idea. The special thing about it is that it’s not a typical independent bottler arrangement, where bulk rum is bought and bottled somewhere that isn’t Barbados. In this case it’s a partnership where all the rum is aged and bottled at the source in Barbados.
The 14 year Real McCoy in this review is a limited edition of 6000 bottles at 46%. It’s aged in ex bourbon barrels only. The regular RMC lineup contains 3, 5 and 12 year old rums.
The tasting is done somewhat blind. I know which two rums but not in what order.
Dusty oak makes me feel like I’m walking into a barn. Followed by vanilla, baking spices, coconut, red fruit and tobacco. It’s a nice rich and heavy nose. Good start!
The oak is clearly present, although not as strongly as with rum 1. Familiar vanilla, something winey, light candle wax, caramel, light mint, newspaper and molasses. It’s rounder and sweeter than rum 1.
I find rum 2 slightly more interesting on the nose.
Very oaky with lots of wood spice. Tobacco, dark chocolate, coconut and vanilla. The oak is somewhat overpowering and results in a slightly bitter finish.
It’s quite oaky with hints of coconut, chocolate, vanilla and a winey note. No bitterness on the medium long finish with wood, toffee and tobacco coming through. It’s pretty round and fat. Winner!
Rum 1 – The Real McCoy 14
Rum 2 – Doorly’s 14
Real McCoy 14 is very wood driven. So much so that it dampens my enthusiasm a little. There is a lot of flavour beyond the wood but I’m not a fan when oak dominates the flavour profile as much as this does and of the bitterness that usually accompanies it. If you don’t recognize yourself in that, you’d probably love this rum. I can see bourbon fans enjoying it very much.
Doorly’s 14 also has a heavy oak presence, but it isn’t dominating. I think that’s in part because of the influence of the Madeira cask. That’s another element that can easily be overpowering for my palate, but it isn’t in this case. It’s so well blended that it balances out the oak perfectly. It adds another layer to an already multi layered spirit. It results in a rounder and sweeter experience with no bitterness.
Doorly’s 14 is the best sipper in the Doorly’s range, by a mile. It isn’t the best rum Foursquare makes. However, it’s such a well balanced and flavourful rum that I’d say it would be among the contenders if it clocked in at 58% instead of the current 48%. I think a lot of people don’t realize it’s as good, or better than the lower abv ECS releases and definitely a massive step up from Doorly’s 12.
Great value combined with ECS level quality sounds like a winner to me!
The Real McCoy 14 – 77
Doorly’s 14 – 84
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