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I had all but written off Foursquare ECS rums because most of them taste too much like bourbon. If I wanted a bourbon, I could save a lot of money and just buy real bourbons. Well, this one showed up as a new arrival on the website of one of my favorite liquor stores today for only $138. So I did some research before plunking down this kind of change. This was the cheapest price and some go all the way up to more than $400. Disgusting!!! Doesn't anyone drink their rums these days instead of hoarding them to make a huge profit?
One of the top results in my research was a review from The Fat Rum Pirate. I usually agree with his opinion, so I read his entire review. Shibboleth is basically an old Biblical term to annotate that something or someone is entirely from a certain place. This bit of advice saved me from trying to come up with anagrams for it. This was aged entirely in the tropics for 16 years and is a blend of pot still and column still rums. They are aged in ex-bourbon casks, but somehow the bourbon flavor never rears it's ugly head thanks to them using barrels that were not refurbished. Lots of tropical fruit notes and that was all I needed to know to make the 25 mile drive to grab that only bottle. The Fat Rum Pirate said it all much better than I can, so just look up his review. NO DAMN BOURBON NOTES! That was my key. This was accomplished by using barrels that were previously used, which got a lot of those bourbon notes out. This one tastes like rum! I am now convinced that Foursquare ECS fanatics are really bourbon lovers in disguise. My bourbon days are long over with!
I will savor this bottle because when it's gone, it will be way too expensive to replace, if I can even find another bottle. I basically lucked out today.
And I forgot to mention that it needs to breathe in the snifter for at least 20 minutes. Then add a couple of drops of spring water. On days when you don't want the burn, just add a couple of ice cubes, and for me, this is where this rum really shines with incredible tropical flavors and no burn. Since the tannin content is extremely low, adding ice will not introduce bitterness. It is also very rare for me to increase my rating, as is the case here going from a high 8 to a low 10.
Update August 9, 2021: This is the most perfect rum that I have ever tried and now gets moved up to my top position with another bottle on the way to me from within my state. I am lucky to have found this backup. I only wish that the rest of the Foursquare ECS rums were this damn good.
Update November 8, 2021: After much searching, I have now accepted the fact that I will not be able to find another bottle where I live, and if I do, it will cost AT LEAST another $32 plus shipping to another state where I will have to pick it up. So my rum wheels got turning. I came across the new Mount Gay XO Triple Cask. Damn, that is a good one! So I opened up that bottle of Shibboleth today after three months and added one part water to three parts rum to make the ABV% equal to other Bajan rums that I could compare to side by side. The other two were the Special Edition of The Real McCoy 12 Year as well as Stades No. 8. The Real McCoy 12 Year came in last with too many wood notes. The watered down Shibboleth was damn hard to tell apart from the much cheaper MGXO Triple Cask. And to my surprise, the Stades No. 8 actually had the least amount of wood notes. The Shibboleth was still the best, but the value on Stades No. 8 is actually three times better than this Shibboleth, plus being much easier to find.
Update November 10, 2021: Growing tired of the wild goose chase to replace this last bottle, I went on a quest today to buy three premium rums in the $100 to $150 US range to compare side by side. This one tumbled back down to my rating of a high 8! Beginners love was all over with! One of the three was their Redoutable, which I ranked slightly lower. The other two were both better than this one with one of them claiming my new number one ranking. Since I no longer submit reviews, I will not reveal the identity of these two. Hint: it is better to have a masterful blend rather than lucking out on a single cask that collectors make them difficult and expensive to obtain. My Foursquare ECS search has now ended.. No more!!!
Unreal what foursquare did with this rum. Aged for an eternity in the tropics, yet you don't get any of the harsh overoaking that you do with most. Extremely fruity, incredibly punchy, and deliciously complex.
I'm uncertain about how best to score this ECS offering. When I first opened the bottle and tried it, it was rather underwhelming. Pretty "meh". I revisited it a couple of weeks later and it was much more enjoyable, easily up there with my preference for Empery or Redoutable. I had another glass about a week ago and it was all fire with very little enjoyment. I thought it might have just been my palate, so I had another glass a few nights ago, and it was back to being enjoyable. This rum is all over the place for me, which I am more inclined to explain with my own palate being the cause. I'm still uncertain about it though.
On the nose I've found brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, and floral notes. It has a very nice nose. On the palate I had a nice sweetness, with molasses, butter cream, vanilla, spices, and dried fruit, with a nice spicey heat. That's on the good days. On the bad days, it's nothing but heat, all the way down. The finish on good days is a lingering heat, heavy tobacco, and oak. The finish goes on and on.
If the experience were more consistent, I would rate this a 9, but I have to rate it an 8 due to the negatives I've noticed on the off days.
Was privileged to go on the R.L Seales / FSQ rum tour this week (highly recommend doing this if you are visiting Barbados), and was able to try this at the end of the tour (finished the last drop in the bottle). It is an amazing rum, on the nose and on the palate, it’s rich and has fruity back notes, like a Christmas cake. If you are able to try or lucky enough to find a bottle I do not think you will be disappointed. For me I will have to be content with my small sample (will keep looking for a bottle in the UK - there were also none available on Barbados when I was there) maybe one will turn up on dusty shelf one day!! (Did manage to pick up a bottle of FSQ Indelible which I have yet to try)
Recently I had chance for tasting evening with Foursquare rums. It would be difficult describe each of them here, also there are many reviews on web. So I leave just brief personal remarks. Sorted by my personal opinion from the best. IMHO the winner is Redoutable. Most balanced in all aspects. Second on my rating is Empery (sharper smell, lot sherry, wood and caramel) together with Shibboleth maybe the most raw (just another kind) so like the other two more. Right after those I like 2008 which seems to me better significantly then other years I have already tried (2007 or 2005). The one I miss and I'm looking fwd is Nobiliary and Dominus so I hope next time.
Typical Foursquare color and sent on the nose. First sip neat has depth and burn. Nose on ice smooth but still a burn in sipping. Don’t find dominant oak or bourbon notes just depth and heat. Slightly reminiscent of Cruzan Single Barrel rum with more depth. I’m going to have to give this another try on a fresh night. This is two times cost of Detente that I truly enjoyed as very easy to drink anytime. Lot of hype on this one need to revisit on a fresh palette.
Molasses, vanilla, fruity nose. Spicy, complex, slightly dry palate. Long finish and not having that woody/bitter taste I was anticipating for being in a barrel for 16 years. Need to look for another bottle because I will miss this one dearly when it is gone.
This is the best rum I have ever tasted no question, and is why it's called the "pappy of rum". It's got everything, and is on par with the finest whiskey you could bring to the table. Barbados is rum, and foursquare is king
Aroma is nice, fruity with some honey. Taste is warm, smooth and very complex with mailny fruit (forest, peach, exotic) and some oak + vanilla. Aftertaste is very long and woody. Little bit lower level of alcohol (56%) is perfect compromise, how to highlight the taste, but not burn and is suitable even for beginners. I would place it between Sagacity and 2008. Only one negative point is the price, that is higher than other bottles from ECS serie.
Try to get a well lit shot from the front of the rum label
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