Brand: Foursquare, Exceptional Cask Selection series
Origin: Foursquare, St. Philip, Barbados
Still: Pot & Column Blend
Age: 14 years
Finish: ex-Bourbon & ex-Sherry
On November 30, 2021, Barbados officially became a republic, replacing Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom as the head of state with Barbados's first President: Sandra Mason. Elsewhere in November 2021, Richard Seale was preparing the latest Foursquare Exceptional Cask Selection (ECS) release: "Sovereignty" (mark XIX) was named as such to celebrate this planned transition to a Barbadian head of state.
Sovereignty features a blend of two single blended rums (pot and column still distillate blended before casking); each were aged for 14 years. One was aged its entirety in ex-Bourbon casks, and the other spent 3 years in ex-Bourbon casks before resting the remaining 11 years in ex-Sherry (Oloroso) casks.
This release likely is a welcome follow-up to two fan favorite bottlings that were aged in Sherry casks: Premise (mk. VIII) and Empery (mk. IX). The proof on Sovereignty is 62% ABV, which is an increase from Empery (56% ABV), which itself was an increase from Premise (46% ABV), and also spent more time in the sherry cask than Empery (4 years) and Premise (7 years).
I was excited to get a chance to try this while visiting Barbados with my girlfriend (eventually I'll write a post about that), when we toured Foursquare, guided by Gayle Seale. After the main part of our tour, we got the chance to duck into an office adjoining the bottling facility, and try a lineup of Foursquare rums, Sovereignty among them. Everything happened so fast, and I was so excited for this tasting experience, that I didn't jot down any notes on the tasting.
Luckily, I was able to grab two bottles from a Total Wine on my way back to Memphis, and have eagerly awaited this review since our return.
Dark golden brown, medium clarity, medium-low viscosity
Vanilla, dark chocolate, raisins, nail polish remover, fresh croissants, old leather, butterscotch, raspberries
Vanilla, red grapes, fresh dark cherries, dark chocolate, blackberry jam, almonds, pastry dough, fuji apples
Long, fruity, moist, spicy, slightly bitter; oak tannins, medium-roasted coffee, pastries, cherries
Sovereignty is a roaring follow-up to the more subtle, delicate profile we experienced with Indelible; for fans of high proof and/or sherry-matured Foursquare rums, you will likely be happy with what Sovereignty offers. It's got a classic sherry profile, it's powerful but not afraid to sneak in hints of subtlety, and has one of those finishes that just pulls you back in for more.
In the glass, Sovereignty is a dark golden brown, with medium clarity and medium-low viscosity. This joins other 14+ year matured ECS releases that I have (Empery, Redoubtable) in having a near-opaque appearance in the bottle.
On the nose, I get a heap of vanilla, some dark chocolate, raisins, nail polish remover, fresh croissants, old leather, butterscotch, and raspberries. You get an explosion of notes when you nose this rum. The old leather, raisins, dark chocolate, and raspberries likely originate from the sherry cask, while the remaining vanilla, nail polish remover, fresh pastries, and butterscotch round out the Foursquare profile.
Tasting Sovereignty, I get notes of vanilla, red grapes, fresh dark cherries, dark chocolate, blackberry jam, almonds, pastry dough, and fuji apples. It's a lot darker and more intense than the nose suggests. There are some oak notes as well, but more on the back of the palate as a lead into the finish. Seale does a great job of coaxing the fruity elements out of the sherry cask, while making sure the intensity of the bourbon cask does not overpower the more delicate notes.
The finish is long, fruity, moist, and slightly bitter. Oak tannins come into play here, along with a bitter note of medium-roasted coffee, tempered by some notes of cherry and warm pastries.
Both because of my travels to Barbados and Foursquare, as well as my appreciation for the rum itself, Sovereignty will hold a special place on my shelf. As far as being a celebratory bottling commemorating a milestone in statehood, you couldn't ask for a better result than Sovereignty.