Brand: Foursquare, Exceptional Cask Selection series
Origin: Foursquare, St. Philip, Barbados
Still: Pot & Column Blend
Age: 14 years
Finish: ex-Bourbon & ex-Cognac
When Foursquare's Exceptional Cask Selection mark XXII release– Touchstone– was announced, I was immediately amped up and excited to try a cognac-matured rum from this prestigious line for the first time. This particular maturation type has been absent from ECS releases since mark VII "Dominus"– a total of 15 rums released in between cognac editions.
Interestingly, Touchstone (definition: a test for excellence and authenticity) and Dominus both comprise of rums that were distilled and started aging in 2008; Dominus was blended and bottled at 10 years old, while Touchstone aged for 4 years longer.
Like Dominus and other ECS rums, Touchstone is a blend of rums that themselves were blends of pot and column distillates before casking, and then blended to a specific profile once the barrels were harvested. This release has 2 components: the first was matured for 5 years in ex-Bourbon casks, before being placed in ex-Cognac casks for 9 years. The second rum has a bit more intrigue: it was matured for 12 years in ex-Bourbon casks, before placed in casks that formerly held Camus cognac for an additional 2 years.
Foursquare and Camus worked together to create the Camus Caribbean Expedition expression, which featured cognac that was matured in Barbados' tropical climate for 1 year. Once the project was complete, the cognac went back to France and Foursquare was able to use the freshly-emptied casks for maturing the second rum that would be blended into Touchstone, before bottling at a hefty 61% ABV.
Deep Mahogany, medium clarity, medium viscosity
Vanilla, pastry dough, aftershave, red grapes, caramel, slight herbal note (eucalyptus?)
Vanilla, pastry dough, grapes, strawberry jam, star anise, cinnamon
Medium, hot, bitter; bitter grapes, toffee, cinnamon, oak
Being the first ex-Cognac-aged Foursquare ECS release in a while, Touchstone has a lot riding on it. The nose and palate have a lot going for it, but the palate suffers from a quick burnout and the rear palate and finish are quite bitter. The cognac notes are nice, but unfortunately the bitterness is a little too abrasive.
Touchstone is a deep mahogany in my glass, with medium clarity and viscosity.
The nose brings out classic Foursquare notes of vanilla and pastry dough to start; at first blush, this reminds me of ECS 2009. These notes are followed by the distinct note of aftershave, which I found pretty interesting; I only have a $5 Adidas aftershave, so I can't narrow it down any further than that. Red grapes follow, as does caramel, and a slightly herbal note that could be eucalyptus.
Sipping Touchstone, I get pastry dough and vanilla to start out– just like the nose– and then some grapes and strawberry jam, before being hit with star anise and drying, spicy cinnamon. To me, this palate hits pretty hard up front, but leaves some bitter and spicy notes as the experience wears on. To me, the cognac notes are not anywhere near other cognac-matured rums that have been reviewed on this site, and the bitterness is really disappointing.
The finish is medium-length, hot, and bitter. Lots of raw alcohol, bitter grapes, oak, toffee, and cinnamon.
I'm really curious about why I get such a strong bitter note, when my first few pours of Touchstone were so luscious and flavorful. Regardless, Foursquare Touchstone is a good rum that suffers a bit in some areas. I do hope to have another cognac-matured Exceptional Cask Selection before too long, so that I can compare and contrast the different releases.