In a world dominated by click bait “lists” we will keep things very simple. Each year we will award ONE rum as our Rum of the Year.
The rum which will be crowned as Rum of the Year must have been released that year. It also must be commercially available to the average rum consumer. Any rums which were available prior to 2016 are ineligible. Likewise any bottlings that were extremely limited or are unavailable as of today are also out.
There is little point me telling you to buy a rum you have been buying for years or advising you got get a rum that is no longer on sale!
So what has caught our eye in 2016?
First up, I’ll throw out a little curveball. After a lot of very clever promotional work one particular rum finally made its way to UK shores. Inspired by Dickensian folklore Plantation Rum released a Pineapple flavoured rum. Now I know a lot of you will immediately be thinking about Bacardi or Captain Morgan’s various flavoured efforts. No doubt pulling a funny face about the prospect of a truly great flavoured rum. Those of you fortunate enough to have tried this rum however, will know it truly was one of the years great rum releases. Step forward Stiggins’ Fancy – a rum which really raised the bar in the flavoured/spiced segment of the market.
Another contender for the crown this year came from the long established Don brand. Whilst not strictly a new release the Gran Anejo was given a makeover. In terms of the UK market it was finally given an “official” release. The Don Q Gran Anejo is a wonderful example of a well balanced pure rum. Highly recommended.
So as we are talking pure rum we may as well focus on the actual winner of Rum of the Year for 2016.
As in 2015 the award once again goes to Foursquare Distillery. Up until a few years ago Foursquare were famous for their R L Seale’s 10 Year Old, Doorly’s XO and their Spiced Rum. Little had really changed for some years. Whilst they were well respected in the rum world they weren’t exciting or really pushing the category.
Over the past few years things have changed dramatically at Foursquare. The distillery has released a couple of 12 year old rums in Doorly’s 12 and Rum Sixty Six. Experimented with two wonderful cask finish rums in their Port and Zinfandel Cask Finishes. They have also released a great line up under the Real McCoy banner.
The Zinfandel cask would have been a great follow up to 2015 Rum of the Year the Port Cask Finish, I felt that Foursquare had released a rum which was equally as good but a lot more significant in the greater scheme of things.
2016 will be remembered by many for the Velier Foursquare 2006. A wonderful cask strength rum which was finished in Cognac casks. Unfortunately, this rum was too limited and was snapped too quickly for me to be able to select this as Rum of the Year. You can’t go out and buy it today – other than at auction.
The Rum of the Year for 2016 is instead a Foursquare vintage from 2004. Aged for 11 years in ex Bourbon casks and coming in with a 59% full proof ABV.
Step forward Foursquare Rum Distillery 2004 Single Blended Rum.
This is the direction rum is heading amongst true rum fans. It’s what many of us have been wishing for. Richard Seale has listened and moved with the times and has released a rum at Cask Strength. He has also made it commercially available. Half the price of the Velier offering and every bit as good.
I feel this rum is a true watershed moment and it should make other rum producers sit up and take notice. I do not believe it is a coincidence that Mount Gay have since released a limited edition Cask Strength version of their own iconic XO.
I’ll quote the rear label on the bottle which further emphasises where rum is headed
“A blend of rums from the artisanal pot distillation and traditional twin column continuous distillation of Foursquare, aged for a full eleven years in ex bourbon casks.
Pure rum, no sugar or other flavour has been added”
This rum truly is exceptional and is without doubt a game changer.