Origin: Foursquare, St. Philip, Barbados
Still: Pot & Column Blend
Age: 14 years
Finish: ex-Bourbon & ex-Madeira
Doorly's Fine Rum is likely a well-known brand in the rum world, with the undeniable pedigree of their distiller (Richard Seale/Foursquare), their accessible price point, and their equally accessible profile. In the US, Doorly's is most likely encountered at Total Wine, thanks to a semi-exclusive deal with the retailer that also sees the sticker prices of Doorly's rums– from the 3 year to the 12 year– sit around $30 for a 750ml. Many posts on /r/rum celebrate Doorly's for offering a bourbon-like profile without breaking the bank– or adding unnecessary sweeteners or other additives.
The Doorly's brand was founded in 1908, and was actually the first brand to be exported off Barbados. R.L. Seale & Co. Ltd. was founded in 1926 by Reginald Leon Seale– Foursquare owner and master blender Richard's great-grandfather– as a company to purchase, blend, and sell rum. R.L. Seale & Co. purchased the Doorly's brand, and has continued to use the original recipe– and iconic mascot of a Macau– that was pioneered by the original founder, Martin Doorly.
Doorly's 14 year is a more recent addition to the Doorly's line, and also the oldest expression. It is currently exported to Europe, but otherwise only available from either the distillery or another bottle shop on Barbados itself.
Like the rest of the brand's lineup, Doorly's 14 is a blend of pot and column distillate from Foursquare, with this batch ostensibly being distilled in 2007/2008. Most of the blend is aged in ex-Bourbon barrels, while the remainder is aged in ex-Madeira casks, offering a bit of a unique experience relative to most of the Doorly's lineup. After aging and blending, Doorly's 14 is bottled at a strength of 48% ABV, also a bit higher than the current 80 proof standard at which other Doorly's are bottled.
I purchased this bottle at Foursquare itself, while my girlfriend and I were traveling Barbados for an anniversary vacation. The entire experience– from arriving to the grounds, to meeting Gayle Seale and (briefly) Richard, and all the rest– was incredibly special and a bit surreal, looking back. Gayle was in fact our tour guide, which was an extra treat in and of itself; we had not yet had the chance to meet, since neither my girlfriend nor I had the pleasure of attending one of the many rum conferences or trade shows Gayle makes appearances at.
Further details of the tour– and that vacation– warrant a post of its own (this will happen, as I keep alluding to it!), but one special part was the tasting with Gayle, which featured a number of rare and/or yet-to-be-released rums (as referenced in our recent Isonomy review).
We sampled Doorly's 14, and I immediately loved it; I have a big soft spot for madeira-finished rum. My girlfriend and I later sampled other products at the tasting bar on the Foursquare premises, which also included the 14 year; I made sure to grab a bottle from their available selection to support the distillery directly. So my particular bottle isn't just an exclusive bottling or the oldest in the brand's lineup, but also a special souvenir.
Orange-brown, medium clarity, medium-high viscosity
Vanilla, oak, black cherries, red grapes, butterscotch, fresh pastry dough, permanent marker
Black cherries, green chiles, butterscotch, vanilla, oak, tobacco, raspberries, nutmeg
Medium-long, fruity, slightly bitter; cherry cough syrup, black cherries, dark roast coffee, tobacco smoke
It's unlike me to dislike a Foursquare rum, and Doorly's 14 makes it easy to continue that tradition. The long-aged Barbados rum is just as finely crafted as other Foursquare offerings, and features a nice proof bump and extra character by way of the Madeira cask finish. The flavors lean just a tad too much into the finish for my taste, with red fruit overpowering some of the more nuanced notes.
Doorly's 14 is an orange-brown color in my glass, with medium clarity and medium-high viscosity. The Fat Rum Pirate review (linked below) notes that on the European release, the back label states that E150a caramel coloring is used, relatively common for color-correcting batches in the rum world; my back label only features a Foursquare logo, so such a disclosure is not present.
The nose presents notes of vanilla, oak, black cherries, red grapes, butterscotch, fresh pastry dough, and after a small splash of water, permanent marker. If you haven't gotten tired of me mentioning "Foursquare signature notes", then maybe this will be the last straw, because those are again present in this rum. The Madeira cask aging likely provides the cherry and grape notes. A nice nosing experience, if a tad thin and uncomplex.
The palate of Doorly's 14 offers black cherry, some semi-spicy green chile, butterscotch, vanilla, oak, tobacco, and after a splash of water, raspberry and nutmeg notes. As previously stated, the palate really takes on the character of an ex-Madeira Foursquare rum– of the ECS releases (Sagacity, Redoubtable), these are my favorites– though these notes are fairly overpowering. Still, the essence of green chiles brings some spice in the early palate, with oak and tobacco bringing some more bitter notes; raspberries compliment the black cherries after some water is added, as does the nutmeg note.
The finish is medium-long, fruity, moist, and slightly bitter. Notes of cherry cough syrup, black cherries, dark roast coffee, and tobacco smoke persist. It straddles the line between a bit too medicinal and bitter for me, and just enough so that the rum entices one to continue taking another sip.
Doorly's 14 year is a great expression from the eponymous brand. The Madeira component is a bit too pronounced for my taste, and masks the more reliable Foursquare notes that I think would nicely balance the fruit notes a bit better. Still, at around US$70, this is an excellent value, even if it is only available in Europe or on Barbados. For me, it's a rum that will forever mark an unforgettable vacation with my girlfriend, and I intend to savor this bottle until I can go back and get another one.