Brand: E.S.A. Field
Origin: Foursquare, St. Philip, Barbados
Finish: Neutral vessel
It's our final post of Foursquare February, so I thought we could end with a special rum. This isn't the longest-aged, nor matured using the most interesting cask, and certainly not the most expensive Foursquare rum. Instead, this is a rum that is exclusive to Barbados, and in fact is the island's most popular rum.
E.S.A. Fields is a white rum (sometimes referred to as "see-through") that is currently distilled by Foursquare, after having acquired the rights to the brand and the blend. This review from thefatrumpirate has some great information about the rum, including its origins at WIRD (West Indies Rum Distillery, founded by the Stades brothers and today owned by Maison Ferrand, best known as the parent company of Plantation rum), the 1962 sale of the E.S.A. Field brand to R. L. Seale– the parent company of Foursquare, to the moving of production to the then-newly opened Foursquare distillery in 1996.
This rum is produced using 100% column distillate from Foursquare's Coffey column still, and bottled without aging at a strength of 43% ABV. When visiting Barbados, I found it interesting that many rums available on the island are bottled at the same proof; this is for the most part stronger than the typical 40% ABV we see in mixer rums in the US market.
And visiting Barbados is the only way to get E.S.A. Fields, as it is not exported from Barbados anymore. I picked up this bottle at the Grantley Adams International Airport duty free shop, and after trying it, decided that I wanted to pick another up at the local Massy store before leaving the island.
Crystal clear, high clarity, low viscosity
Fresh pineapple, plum, vanilla frosting, fudge, strawberries, green bell pepper
Pineapple, coconut, frosting, raw alcohol, mineral water
Short, clean, minerally; frosting, ethanol, mineral water
E.S.A. Field is a tasty, if fairly basic unaged rum that offers a full body that adds a little something to the traditional "white" rum experience. The nose and palate are actually fragrant and carry flavor, unlike some… other white rums that are heavily marketed. This is a great look at a Bajan rum that is popular on the island, but relatively unheard of off of it.
In the glass, the rum is crystal clear, with high clarity and low viscosity.
E.S.A. Field's nose offers fresh pineapple and plum, which, along with strawberries, give a fruity aroma to the unaged spirit. Vanilla frosting comes in next, with some thick, sweet aromas that transition into more cocoa-forward fudge; these notes are heavily textured elements of the mid-nose. Finally, green bell pepper brings a savory element to the nosing experience.
Pineapple and coconut are the first flavors I get when sipping E.S.A. Field, followed quickly by a physically textured frosting note that presents a slightly powdery, more viscous liquid than what's in the bottle. The experience proceeds into a raw ethanol alcohol flavor, not unlike other unaged "white" rums we see, while mineral water closes out the palate. Still a little raw as far as the heat management goes, but the flavors are enticing and bring a little more character to the table.
The finish is short, clean, and minerally. Frosting, ethanol, and mineral water are the only notes I pick up during the rum's short duration after a sip. "Clean" is a funny word to use for a rum's finish, since a lot of rum is produced to be full of flavors, or perhaps aged with unique traits that sets it apart. However, in the case of a rum that will likely be mixed with a soda or juice at one of Barbados' wonderful rum shops, perhaps funk and tannins are not what sells.
I would not say that you should go out of your way to source a bottle of this, mostly because I don't think E.S.A. Field challenges other available unaged rums in the flavor or uniqueness category– especially not enough to warrant detouring to Barbados to score a bottle. However, if you do find yourself in Barbados at a Massy store or duty free shop, snag a bottle for your rental or your trip home, so you can give this island exclusive rum a try.