Malternatives. An alternative to single malt whisky. Something that’s muttered more frequently in the whisky community these days as long-term whisky fans explore further afield. It’s partially driven by an awareness that there are many decent, complex spirits out there, but also because most drinkers are beginning to feel priced out of the market. So there may be one or two rum reviews appearing on Malt this year. That said, these days I don’t think rums are particularly soft on the wallet either. You’re pretty much paying the same amount, maybe what whisky was a couple of years ago for the most part. Anyway, I just quite like rums.
And I was motivated to talk about rums on Malt by this particular single blended rum label. I like the idea that you can make the equivalent of a single malt, a vatting of spirits, but using spirit distilled in both a pot still and a column still. For the whisky equivalent there would have to be a column still and a pot still all within the same operation (not unlike the Lomond still experiments of Mosstowie), and more importantly for it to release that whisky under one branded name. I suspect the Scotch Whisky Association would implode at the mere thought of a single blended whisky.
Foursquare Rum Distillery
Foursquare Rum Distillery is located in Barbados (I’ve actually been to the island, but visited the Mount Gay Distillery instead). Famous for producing the Rum Sixty Six brand, the distillery was founded in 1995 by the Seale family, who took over an abandoned sugar factory and plantation. They installed both a pot still and a column or Coffey still, which they can use in various proportions. The copper bits look like this:
(Image from Flickr.) How weird is that? This double retort style pot still and column arrangement is not an uncommon set-up for rum (indeed Hampden Estate use a similar-looking set-up), but can you imagine anything like that for whisky? I’m thinking there must be somewhere in Craftsville, USA that uses this arrangement, but certainly this would never exist in Scotland.
The thinking behind this is that the column still gives more delicate flavours and the pot still some actual character. Their rum is matured in American white oak ex-Bourbon casks for the most part, which they get from Lynchburg, Tennessee. Foursquare has also been using some other wood such as port casks and wine casks, including Zinfandel which I have today, for various blends and finishes.
Shall I stop rambling and start drinking? This Foursquare Rum – 11 Year Old Zinfandel Cask Blend is bottled at 43% ABV and cost about £40 on Amazon, or about £55 at The Whisky Exchange.
Foursquare Rum – 11 Year Old Zinfandel Cask Blend Review
Colour: tawny, with a slight pink hue.
On the nose: massive amounts of red wine notes: blackcurrants, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries all mingle with vanilla. Herbal. Elderberry, with freshly ground black pepper and a hint of fennel. Cherryade. Heather honey. Wonderful aromas.
In the mouth: very nice silky, medium weight texture. Cherries, elderberry, strawberries, plenty of vanilla, cinnamon and a touch of peppermint. Raspberry jam. Salted caramel milk chocolate. Honeycomb. Heather honey. Not too sweet – there’s a lovely sour streak that just keeps everything in check. A very creamy coffee leads to a medium to short finish.
Very impressive stuff. Simply a brilliant rum for the price, and something a bit different from many rums. The Zinfandel influence is very prominent and adds some real intrigue. Thinking of whisky drinkers, if you like a good bourbon, then you’ll find much to appreciate here (and it’s certainly better than most single grains I’ve had in the past year). If you’ve got a nose for red wines too then this is an excellent little offering. My only thought – and it really shouldn’t matter – is the rather cheap feel of the screw-cap. When you’re paying £40 for a drink then you expect some kind of premium feel to it. This screw-cap, however, makes me think I’ve bought a cheap bottle to drink down by the swings at the local park.