Monday 18 January 2016

New Year, new rum - Rum Sixty-Six

As a fan of Bajan rums and those from the Foursquare Distillery especially I was delighted to come across this wee beauty on a wander round the ever-reliable Royal Mile Whiskies.  

Over time I've come to appreciate good packaging and this bottle definitely catches the eye.

Foursquare is the site of the first Bajan sugar plantation, dating from 1636 with the Seale family who now run it tracing their own rum family tree back to 1820 so there is some serious history going into this bottle. Richard Seale, the current Master Distiller of Foursquare, has been very forthright lately around the use of added sugar in rum production arguing for greater transparency and a lot less added sugar, indeed Bajan (as well as Jamaican) law prohibits the addition of sugar, viewing it as an adulterant. So, with that in mind I reasonably assumed that this would be a good drop.

This rum was apparently originally only made for members of the Seale family who had returned to England, hence the “Family Reserve” tag-line with the name “Rum Sixty Six” deriving from the fact that it was on 30th November 1966 that Barbados became independent from the UK. The rum is a blend of Coffey and pot still distillates which are blended then aged, rather than the typical approach of other distillers of aging then blending. When you think about it doing it this way shows serious confidence in the product as once it’s blended that’s that.

You see the term small-batch bandied around a lot without anyone really defining what the hell it means, it often seems to be one of those generic “feel-good” phrases that are stuck on packaging in order to justify a few extra quid on the price (see also: artisanal, hand-crafted ).  In this case, however, Foursquare state each batch is around 112 small American white oak barrels they purchase from “A famous distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee” which we can reasonably conclude is Jack Daniels. 

Various sources put a Jack Daniels barrel at around the 200 litre mark, which makes each batch around 22,400 litres.  This sounds a lot but consider this, the angels’ share is 6% per year in the tropical climate of Barbados which means after the 12 years are up you’re left with 47% of the liquid you started with.Interestingly the rum is aged at 65% ABV rather than the typical 70-75% that other rums use, as such this helps minimise the angels’ share and increases the wood exposure, helping maximise the wood’s effect on the rum itself.

After 8 years the barrels are sampled with the best being let down to near the bottling ABV of 40% and then re-casked for the remaining four years. 

So, we’ve established there’s a lot of work and heritage going into each bottle, but is it actually any good?

The short answer is yes, very.

This has a rich, treacley, raisin scent to it, with vanilla coming through as the glass warms. A sip and this rum does its utmost to coat every millimetre of your mouth with a pleasingly oily, viscous mouthfeel while the flavour profile develops from an initial lightly burnt toast with golden syrup note followed by treacle, raisins, vanilla and brown sugar.  It’s a fascinating balance of bitter and sweet that showcases the brash, punchy distillates of the pot while still being balanced by the more nuanced Coffey still. 

On the way down this is smooth and warming with a long, slightly spiced, vanilla finish.

At £35 this is a very enjoyable sipper, and one I can highly recommend for anyone looking for something with a bit more subtlety than some other rums, certainly I can see whisky drinkers finding this a good gateway rum. Like other Foursquare rums this drinks like a more expensive rum than it is.

Coming soon - a look at some of the cocktails recommended by the Rum SixtySix website

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