Foursquare Criterion

Review 2017-058 «Specifics» Rum • Exceptional Cask Selection Mark V • Bottled in 2017 • A blend from artisanal pot and twin column continuous distillation from molasses • 56.0% Alcohol • Matured in the tropics for 3 years bourbon casks followed by 7 years in madeira casks • Non-chill filtered • Natural coloured • Unsweetened • Foursquare Distillery • St. Phillip • Barbados • Limited availability (2000 bottles in USA and 2000 bottles in Europe, TWE Exclusive) • Still available (price £64)

STORY. The fifth entry in the limited edition Exception Casks range has once more been specially selected by master distiller and blender Richard Seale of Foursquare Distillery on Barbados. This time he has chosen one that has been matured in a combination of bourbon (3 yrs) and madeira casks (7 yrs). He is outspoken about the what rum should be, which is pure and authentic. That means no chill filtration, no artificial colouring, and no addition of sugar or any other sorts. In addition, the latest two member of the Exception Cask range have been bottled at cask strength. To encourage others to help propagate pure and authentic rums, he and Velier director Luca Gargano have founded the Guardians of Rum collective. What is interesting about this particular Foursquare is that has been matured for most of its time (7 years!) in the madeira cask, I mean that is what I call a proper use of a fortified wine cask. Cannot wait to try this!


APPEARANCE. Exceptional and informative design, colour of the contents is like copper and naturally cask coloured as promised by Richard.

NOSE. Intrusive nose with burned molasses. There seems to be a lot of wood influence, but leave it some in the glass and it reveals further notes of strong coffee, spicy peaches and varnish. This appears much like a bourbon, although it remains fairly tight. (water) The wood has toned down and notes of madeira wine, molasses, cane sugar, candied oranges, spicy banana and apple pie appear. The complexity expands further with barbecued rosemary, hints of cigarette smoke, peach compote and white pepper. This becomes increasingly enjoyable with every sip that I take! One moment I find the madeira in the front, but with next sniff it is the wood influence or the rum. This is what makes tasting these kind of authentic rums so enjoyable.

TASTE. I detect many charred nectarines and apricots, hints of tar, wood spices, and some liquorice. It has got a beautiful natural sweetness, but it is not very complex. (water) Oh yes, this really needed water. Beautifully intertwining sweet madeira with herbal molasses and charred wood. The spices are still present and appear on the front with each sip, but the mingle quickly with the rest of the spirit. Heated banana puree, custard, marshmallows, chilli, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and pepper corns are also thrown into the mix. It has certainly an oily and smoky side to it with tar and cigarettes. Do I even detect a hint of some lost olives? Brilliant!

VERDICT. Obviously I read the impressive reviews for this rum, which made me a bit cautious for having a to high expectancy. But no, I cannot say otherwise than this rum deserves the cheers from its audience. In my opinion some water is necessary to bring out its full potency, but then you get something. The maturation of 7 years in madeira casks, which is fairly long even for single malt standards, perfectly balances the cask influence with still enough room for the rum itself. Well done, and my respect to Richard Seal!

Recommended for people who want to taste an awesome rum.

I purchased my bottle from Zeewijck.

«What others say»

  • @Rumratings: Mean score of 8.6 (8 votes)
  • @Whiskyfun: “An easier style, but as high-class as expected” Score: 88/100
  • Ruben @Whiskynotes: “A rather excellent rum that will definitely appeal to whiskey lovers”
  • @Thefatrumpirate: “This stuff is world class and a true representation of what a premium rum should and more importantly CAN be” Score: 5/5
  • Fred Minnick @Robreport: “Should you ever come across Foursquare Criterion in a store, I advise you to buy every bottle you see”
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