A long, long time ago when in university, I made a critical error about the amount of mixer required to combine with spirits when I drank an entire mickey of some nondescript, cheap white rum with only two measly cans of diet coke.
Flash forward 25 years to the DipWSET spirits course I took, and I had to change that decision to be able to taste and differentiate between styles of rum. Perhaps due to my rum hyper-sensitivity, I was consistently good at spotting it in double blind tasting line ups of clear and brown spirits.
But now, I think I can say I have made my peace with rum.
Despite its mostly dishonorable history – so closely intertwined with that of slavery and stolen lives – today rum is one of the world’s best selling spirits. And I can vouch that the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados is one of the greatest places to learn about it.
We visited Foursquare in April 2018 and took the self-guided tour, ending up at the distillery’s Copper Still Tasting Bar run by Deborah whose dad, William Folkes, had
been the original bartender. Now Deborah works the distillery’s tasting bar with her son, Dario and daughter Janelle. Let me just say, these folks know a lot about rum.
We tasted through:
*Doorly’s XO – fine old, aged in Bourbon and Oloroso casks, 40% abv / 80 proof, Doorly’s was the first Bajan rum to be exported
*RL Seale’s 10 yo – aged in US oak, 43% abv 86 proof, the thinnest of the bunch, in a bottle made to look like a pirate’s sack.
*Doorly’s 12 yo – aged in small US oak cask, 40% abv, 80 proof – smooth, delicious, totally rounded and married, and hard to stop drinking
*Foursquare Premise – 10 yo, single blended rum, aged in Bourbon and Sherry casks, 46% abv, 92 proof – released January 2018, extremely smooth, Sherry notes with green cane, demerara, maple and a very long finish
*Foursquare Dominus – 10 yo, single blended rum, aged in Bourbon and Cognac casks, 56 % abv, 112 proof – sweet molasses, baked apple, and brown sugar
*Foursquare 2005 – 12 yo, single blended rum, aged in Bourbon casks, 59% abv, 118 proof – peaty with smoke, green cane, and maple sugar, super duper high abv but not hot on the finish
I brought home the Premise and the Doorly’s XO, both WSET Outstanding, and have decided rum is worthy again of space in my life – and my liquor cabinet.
You may know that rum loses twice as much spirit in the ageing process as other spirits due to the tropical heat. I learned in Barbados that it also drinks twice as quickly.
If you’re going to visit Barbados, I highly recommend this experience – it’s not touristy and the tour is free, the bar ‘Folkes’ know what they’re doing, and the spirits – made mostly with molasses imported from Guyana – are the highest quality ones produced on the island.