I actually wanted to review another rum from Fiji today but after receiving my sample of a rum that is currently being ultra-hyped I just had to try it. So let’s take a break from our flavourful ester-darlings and check out how good the new Velier Foursquare bottling is. NAS (No Age Statement) Cuvées fortunately aren’t a big deal in the premium rum segment yet (funnily another, equally-hyped, Cuvée came out more or less at the same time) but with Velier and Foursquare you typically get all the information you need, so I don’t mind it! As a friend of mine likes to point out every now and then, the rum comes in a black bottle, which have been a sure road to success for bottlers recently. Let’s see what all this fuss is about. Today’s rum is the Velier Foursquare Triptych.
While the history of Foursquare and the Seale family goes back well beyond 1996 (when they were known for trading and blending rum and other goods), it was Sir David Seale, father of current owner and master distiller Richard Seale, who completely overhauled and transformed Foursquare into the modern distillery that it is today. Until then, the rum for the houseblends has been bought mainly from the West Indies Rum Distillery (W.I.R.D.). Due to the falling sugar production on Barbados, most of the molasses used for rum production has to be imported from Guyana. According to Diffordsguide, all rums are produced from the same wash with a special yeast imported from South Africa. Since Foursquare produces many different rums, this is quite remarkable. Their stills include a Forsyths copper pot still with two retorts and a 2-column Coffey still with an aldeyhde stripper, which can serve as a third column for very light distillates. Most rums produced and sold by Foursquare are blends of column and pot still make, which typically are already blended inside the barrel. As it is the case with the Triptych, they tend to experiment with many different types of barrels, which may then be blended again.
What’s crazy about this bottling is the hype and anticipation it has been generating in the run-up to its release, especially since it comes from a distillery that is not exactly known for releasing the most exciting products. On the other hand, it was kinda obvious after its predecessor, the Velier Foursquare 2006, has been bought up very quickly, to a large extent by speculators and investors. However, prices of the Foursquare 2006 have been falling with the announcement of the Triptych. Nevertheless, the Foursquare 2006 speculators sure spurred the hype about the Triptych since many people probably feared not getting their bottle of the Triptych. I would go as far as saying that only a few people would have really cared about this rum if it hadn’t been distributed by Velier. And there you have it: Luca Gargano/ Velier basically did not have anything to do with what went inside the bottle. You could just as well simply label this as an official Foursquare bottling. That certainly would not have created the same hype though and we more than likely might have been able to comfortably taste the rum before deciding whether or not to buy it. Compare this with Foursquare’s latest release, the Criterion, a rum with similar basic information and a smaller(!) circulation which is still comfortably available. From this perspective, Foursquare is doing business the right way.
According to their joint categorisation scheme Gargano and Seale are trying to establish, this is a “Single Blended Rum”, in this case meaning that it comes from different barrels and vintages by the same distillery. The rum is a Cuvée from three different vintages, all of which have been maturing in different types of casks. Besides rum from 2007 that has been put in fresh oak casks, we can also find some from a batch distilled in 2004 that has been maturing in an ex-Bourbon cask as well as some from 2005 that has been ageing in a cask that previously had Madeira wine in it. The exact proportions aren’t mentioned.
Dégustation “Velier Foursquare Triptych”
Key Facts: This Cuvée has been distilled at Foursquare Distillery on Barbados in 2004 (ex-Bourbon), 2005 (ex-Madeira) and 2007 (virgin oak) and bottled by Velier in 2016. The brackets denote the rums’ casks. The entire maturation took place on Barbados and 5400 bottles have been produced. It is stated that it has been bottled at a barrel proof 56% so apparently the blend has been set up in a way that results in a full number.
Colour and viscosity: Tawny. A thin line of pearls form a crown inside the glass. Very few streaks emerge which slowly flow down the rim.
Nose: Even after giving the rum about two hours, the nose is quite reluctant. Generally, it is much closer to a Spanish-style rum than to your typical Bajan rum. I can smell Vanilla, caramel, toffee and a few slightly medical herbs. Then a hint of honey. I really have a hard time detecting anything, it does not bode well…
Palate: Yes, this is better, at least a bit. The alcohol is very nicely integrated into this rather sweet rum. There are a few dark berries, salted and cooked butter as well as olives. Then again vanilla and caramel. With the second sip I can also detect the typical Foursquare brine (shiver…). It’s definitely better than I feared it would be while nosing but it doesn’t really exceed the level of pettiness.
Finish: Salted butter, tingling alcohol, bark (cinnamon) and caramel. The brine pops up here and there in the background.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Velier Foursquare Triptych is at best an average rum, with the taste elevating it to mediocrity. The nose is just too poor to warrant a better verdict. If you are not absolutely into Foursquare rums I’d say you did not miss out on anything. The good news is that the disturbing flavours (brine and butter) which typically ruin Foursquare rums for me are not too dominant. Nevertheless, it doesn’t quite reach the level of the 1998 vintage, which I liked quite a bit. Concerning all the hype, I’d love to have seen this rum in a blind-tasting as I am sure that many people would have judged it very differently. “Velierisation” definitely did its job, which is even crazier if you consider that Velier is only the distributor.
My thanks goes to Helmut for splitting his bottle. You made a couple of people who don’t want to keep on pressing F5 all the time very happy.