When I was in Barbados for the rum experience last November, all the attendees who visited Foursquare distillery got to taste a new, not yet released ECS. When I nosed it and took a sip, I was instantly impressed. I got up, walked towards Richard Seale, who said:”You look happy!”. That was no surprise. Good rum has that effect on me.
Turns out a slightly changed version of this sample ended up being Foursquare Sovereignty, which was released in November 2021 and is now spreading around the world slow and steady. It’s mark 19 in the Exceptional Cask Selection series. A 62%, 14 year old pot & column rum blend that’s been ageing in ex-bourbon (3 years) and ex-sherry (11 years) casks. There have been quite a few Bourbon/Sherry releases and I’m wondering if this combination can still be improved compared to previous expressions. Let’s find out.
The rum it’s up against is the oldest Foursquare ECS to date. A 17 year pot and column blend, aged entirely in ex-bourbon barrels. Bottled at a solid 58%. It’s mark XX, so it should be special! In that regard, I'm already looking forward to ECS 30. The label states it was released in January 2022, but it got delayed slightly and bottles are now available in Barbados.
A lot of people don't realize what an achievement it is to create a 17 year old rum......anywhere, let alone in a country with such a high angel's share. The evaporation alone makes this an expensive endeavour. Massive amounts of patience and space are needed. Seventeen years ago we were in 2005. The rum universe was full of 40% rums, with cask strength options being a very tiny minority compared to now. I'm pretty sure Richard Seale wasn't thinking of creating this rum in 2005. Skill, talent, vision and patience have brought us to Isonomy in 2022. We are in good rum times.
I tasted this semi blind. I knew which rums, but not in which order. If you need more information about Foursquare or their other releases, click on The Scores and scroll down to all the other Foursquare reviews.
Woody, very nutty, vanilla, pine, raisins, strong brown sugar, leather, delicate sherry and caramel. Reminds me of Christmas. Has more alcohol on the nose than rum 2. It smells great.
A little less wood than rum 1. Menthol, pine (like a Bath & Body Works pine candle), freshly cut fire wood, vanilla, leather jacket, mild tobacco, autumn leafs, molasses, newspaper, menthol cigarettes, a lot of chocolate after a while. Delightful.
Very close….but I’ll give it to rum two.
It has a velvety texture. Coats my mouth in wonderful wood spice. Oak, vanilla, nutmeg, leather, sherry. The sherry and tobacco notes blend so well together. A hint of bitterness on the medium long finish, but not at a level that concerns me. It has a wonderful depth to it, although overall perhaps not as complex as rum 2.
Love the integration of the oak. Not as overpowering on the wood spice as rum one. It’s rounder and fatter. A bold, sweet rum. All the flavours are combining with the oak very well. Chocolate, pine, leather, caramel, vanilla, oak, tobacco, dried fruit. The finish is longer and more intense than rum 1, with quite a lot of sweetness.
Rum 1: Foursquare Sovereignty
Rum 2: Foursquare Isonomy
From the flavours I describe, it seems that it was easy to figure out which was which, because of the sherry component. However, during the first round of tasting I got a red wine note with rum two. That confused me. It wasn’t until the next day when I clearly tasted the sherry in rum one. It shows the benefit of tasting semi blind in multiple sessions and reversing the order, as so many things can influence what you are tasting. I even do a third round usually, but I didn't have any rum left after two unfortunately.
Isonomy is the winner of this comparison. The boldness, sweetness and complexity play a wonderful medley. This is a heavy rum that’s wearing a velvet jacket. Before I tasted it, I didn’t think the combination of all it delivers would be possible when solely maturing in ex-bourbon. Simply said, to me this is the best bourbon cask only rum that Foursquare has produced so far. One of the best Foursquare rums, period. I find it a massive step up from Shibboleth, which was way too delicate for me. I’ll even take it over the wonderful Nobiliary. If I ever get my hands on a bottle, I'll compare it to 2006 and Tryptich to see if it's passed those expressions as well.
Sovereignty is another fantastic rum. Sherry casks can sometimes be overpowering and muting to me. Not in this case. It’s strong but so well integrated, resulting in a rum that has a lot of depth. I tasted it in Barbados and really liked it. Turns out I still do, even when I’m drinking it in Canada. It might sound somewhat repetitive, but this might be the best sherry/bourbon cask Foursquare rum I’ve had. The only competition for that title are the Master Series 1, a private cask selection that was exceptional and Patrimonio. It's getting busy at the top! You’d do well with any of these.
Now to find a bottle…..
Foursquare Sovereignty – 93
Foursquare Isonomy – 94
Click here for info on the scoring method.
Click here for the complete list of reviews.
Thanks to Hamish Grant for giving me the two samples!