Brand: Foursquare, Exceptional Cask Selection series
Origin: Foursquare, St. Philip, Barbados
Still: Pot & Column Blend
Age: 14 years
Finish: ex-Bourbon & ex-Sherry
As we round the final few days of Foursquare February, we once again revisit the preeminent collection of fine Barbados rum from our featured distillery. For this Exceptional Cask Selection (ECS) review, we look at an older edition– Mark IX "Empery".
Up until the release of Sovereignty, Empery (definition: "Absolute sovereignty") was the most recent sherry cask-aged ECS release to hit the general market (that is, excluding Private Cask Selection releases like Elysium). Similar to Mark VIII "Premise", Empery features maturation in ex-Sherry casks, which has a strong tradition in Scotch whisky aging. These casks help round out harsher flavors by introducing some residual notes from the fortified wine they previously held.
Empery is a blend of 2 pot and column rums, initially distilled in 2004: one matured in first, second, and third-fill ex-Bourbon casks for 14 years, and the other matured for a decade in ex-Bourbon casks, before being placed in ex-Oloroso sherry casks for 4 years. After masterful blending by Richard Seale, Empery was bottled at a cask strength of 56% ABV.
Dark amber, medium clarity, medium-high viscosity
White grapes, caramel, molasses, prunes, fig jam, stewed cherries, vanilla, coffee-flavored cream
Candied figs, pastry dough, vanilla, caramel, assorted grapes, black cherry, strawberry syrup
Long, strong, tannic, fruity; oak, vanilla, red grapes, cinnamon, cough syrup, caramel
Empery is an excellent rum, full of vibrancy and strength, thanks to its secondary maturation and higher proof, respectively. The flavors from the Foursquare distillate marry exceptionally well with the sherry cask's contributions, creating a silky, fruity, and powerful dram.
Empery is a dark amber color, with medium clarity and medium-high viscosity.
The nose is abundant with fruity notes, from white grapes, to prunes, fig jam, and stewed cherries. These are really magnificent aromas that also add a funky element to the traditional Foursquare elements of vanilla, caramel, and molasses. I also get a coffee-flavored cream note– something that carries similarity to dairy, and has hints of coffee and chocolate. This is a very nice bouquet.
Candied figs and pastry dough lead off the palate, followed by more confectionary notes of vanilla and caramel. Fruity flavors of assorted grapes, black cherry, and strawberry syrup tie together an amazing palate that responsibly shows its proof, without overpowering or over-elevating any particular flavor over the others.
This has a long, strong, tannic, and fruity finish, featuring notes of oak, vanilla, red grapes, cinnamon, cough syrup, and caramel.
Empery shows that ex-sherry cask aging can be used for more than Scotch maturation, and used well. With the multitude of fruit notes joining the signature flavors we know and love, it's no surprise that the sherried Foursquare ECS releases are a favorite among the rum community.