The historic Foursquare Distillery located in Saint Philip Parish of Barbados has continued to venture outside their staple Doorly’s line with the fifth release in their “Exceptional Cask Selection” series: Criterion. The rum is created using the wine from fermented molasses and is distilled using a combination of column and pot stills. The rum was then aged for ten years in used American white oak and Madeira casks. The rum was blended to 56% ABV and bottled for distribution in the United Kingdom and United States.
The 750 ml bottle like all Exceptional Cask Selections has a simple, straight forward label that provides all of the basic details about the rum. In the bottle and glass the liquid presents a lovely golden amber color with rose hues refracting through it. Agitating the liquid created a thick band around the glass that slowly releases legs that slowly drift down the side of the glass.
As I nosed the rum I discovered some of the markers that I found in other Foursquare rums. However, as I breathed the aroma in I found an interesting complexity with Criterion that made it unique when compared to the other releases. At first I noted baked cinnamon apple, honey dipped pineapple, ginger, ripe bananas, figs, nutmeg and lemon zest. All of these notes mingle and married with charred oak tannins that provided me hints of toffee and dark chocolate.
Sipping the rum it slowly reveals its secrets and flavors. Delight fully complex it took multiple tastings to discover all of the notes hidden in the liquid. The first sip delivers the cooked cinnamon apples, dried figs, and banana notes from the aroma forming the high notes that dance with an under lying wine-like tanginess. Tobacco leaf, coffee bean, dark chocolate and caramel manifest creating the middle notes. The base notes of the rum slowly form its baseline flavors providing flavors of nutmeg, menthol, old leather and black pepper that mingle and augment the others notes in the flavor profile. As the rum begins to fade the bitter sweet notes delicately balance and dance augmented by nips of alcohol. Finally the rum lingers on the palate with notes of salt, charcoal and apple wood that settles into a slow dry finish.
Overall 2017 was a good year for quality rums and Criterion is clearly one of the leaders of the pack. Due to the limited worldwide release of 4,000 bottles, when this rum is spotted on the shelf it is one of the few on my must purchase list. As Richard Seale of Foursquare Distillery continues to create new and exciting rums, it will be interesting to see where he goes from here. I believe the complexities of the spirit provide it the versatility most desire when experiencing an extraordinary spirit. For this reason I think it is important to say if you are lucky enough to find this rare bottle; savor and enjoy this in the manner you like best. I for one will be enjoying mine neat in my favorite snifter. Cheers!