Brand: Raising Glasses
Origin: Foursquare, St. Philip, Barbados
Still: Pot & Column Blend
Age: 15 years
In anticipation of our first ever virtual tasting, I thought it would be fun to get a sneak peek at some of the rums sold by our co-hosts: the great folks at Raising Glasses. John Hsu and Lorri Kern are the Boston-based duo behind this new independent bottling company, and have earned a positive reputation among the rum community for bottling their cask-strength rums at 375ml and keeping their prices very competitive.
Their first slate of releases came in 2022, focusing on the source countries' folklore as inspiration for the naming of the individual bottles and their label art (there are also "heavy metal" versions of the labels). First up for our dive into Raising Glasses' portfolio is a rum initially distilled at Foursquare Rum Distillery in Barbados. According to Bajan folklore, the Steel Donkey roams around sugarcane fields, setting them alight using its flaming breath; hence, this bottle is known as "Burning Cane".
Burning Cane is a blend of molasses-based pot and column still rums, which aged for 11 years in a first-fill ex-Bourbon barrel at Foursquare, before moving to Europe and placed in a different first-fill ex-Bourbon barrel. It was bottled at a smashing 62.3% ABV.
For full disclosure, I was gifted this bottle by John and Lorri after failing to find it when I visited Boston earlier this year. I had managed to find their Trinidad and Guyana rums, but Burning Cane was absent from the Gordon's shelf. Thanks, Raising Glasses!
Orange brown, medium clarity, medium-high viscosity
Vanilla, caramel, pastry dough, banana, cherry kolachki, ethanol, saltwater taffy
Vanilla, caramel, black cherry, pastry dough, hint of banana, cinnamon
Long, oaky, slightly bitter, warming; big oak, vanilla, cinnamon, heat
Yep, this is a bourbon cask long-aged Foursquare alright! Pretty straightforward notes that you'd expect from any ECS ex-Bourbon release, with some additions of cherry kolachkis and a more pronounced banana note than I typically get from similar rums.
It's hard to go wrong here, although the proof almost crosses the line. The ethanol in the nose is not on the "uncontrolled" end of the spectrum; no, it's more of a firm, but calm reminder that this dram is a tad bit over 120 proof. The heat on the finish is the reminder on the other end of the experience, which lingers at the top of the throat as one considers another sip.
If I gave my star ratings on non-rum factors like price, bottle size, or other project details, I'd give this a 10/10; as far as the rum goes, this is a solid 7. It's tasty, exactly what you are expecting it to be, but still a little hot and not as complex as I'd like. Still, this is a solid rum that is accessible enough I'd highly recommend those new to Foursquare to try.