Foursquare Rum Distillery Shibboleth

Foursquare Rum Distillery Shibboleth rum review by the fat rum pirateFoursquare Rum Distillery Shibboleth. I should really be dropping the “Rum Distillery” part of my title, as Foursquare are no longer noting this on the bottle. I’m not particularly troubled usually by anything approaching OCD type tendencies. I’m probably one of the most lazy, unorganised people you could ever meet, so even if I did have OCD I’d probably be rubbish at it…….

Anyway, for one reason or another I’m sticking with the “Rum Distillery” part for my reviews to keep it the same as all the other Exceptional Cask reviews. So there you go…….

We are now up to Mark XVI, which is of course number 16 in the “Exceptional Cask Selection” series. Which is pretty good going because following the original 1998, released way back in 2008, the series didn’t really start in earnest until the Port Cask in 2014. The first one to actually be numbered was the 2004 in 2015, which was marque number 3.

To be fair demand for Foursquare rum is probably at an all time high. Initially it was only really the more limited collaborations with Velier that were selling out pretty much straight away. It was until around a year ago quite easy to pick up the Exceptional Cask Series of rum weeks and months after their release. I was able to get multiple bottles of most of the rums up to around the release of Nobillary. Since then it has become very much as case of the rums selling out very quickly here in the UK. An issue which hasn’t been helped by all the COVID-19 restrictions and a certain referendum in 2016.

In short it has become quite difficult to get these rums if you aren’t quick off the mark when they are released. Sadly this demand has meant a fair portion are being bought by scalpers looking to make a quick buck, but thats a story for another time.

Let’s concentrate on the rum and see what this “Exceptional Cask Selection” is all about.

Now unless I’m mistaken this rum is the oldest 100% Tropically Aged rum that has been released either by Foursquare themselves or by a Independent bottler. There are older bottlings of Foursquare rum available but none have been aged entirely in the Tropics.

Foursquare Rum Distillery Shibboleth has been aged for 16 years in Barbados. The rum is a blend of Pot and Column distilled rum and has been aged in ex-bourbon casks. It has been bottled at 56% ABV. (The first photo in this review is a very early mock up of the label with an incorrect ABV).  This is an older follow up to Nobiliary.

It has not yet been released into the UK market. I am lucky enough to be able to provide this review, courtesy of a sample I have received from Peter Holland. Thanks very much Peter.

It is only “advertised” for sale at Excellence Rhum – though they have it noted as “Out of Stock” it is likely their stock is coming soon and it will soon be for sale. I noticed the retail price is €135.I’ve not seen a UK retailer list a price as yet.

Now the word “Shibboleth” can be used in different contexts and can mean a few different things. I asked Richard Seale in what context he was using Shibboleth

“So a Shibboleth can be a point of distinction of a group”

“So in this case the Shibboleth is whether a Barbados rum is truly a Barb

Foursquare Rum Distillery Shibboleth rum review by the fat rum pirate

ados rum, that is was it aged and bottled in Barbados”
“A custom, principle, or belief distinguishing a particular class or group of people”


So I also asked why he had named this particular bottling Shibboleth…..

“because this rum is 16 years old yet, it is not woody but fruit forward. As delicate as any “continental” aged rum. It is true Barbados Rum and its tropical age is not a handicap but an asset”

So there you go…..I think we’ve covered everything so lets get on with my favourite bits of the review…….

In the glass Foursquare Rum Distillery Shibboleth is not as dark as yet might expect. It has a very vivid orange/golden hue running through it. It is a medium-dark brown I would say.

As alluded to above in Richard’s description of Shibboleth, the rum is surprisingly fruit forward on the nose. Pretty sweet to be honest – not what I was expecting at 16 years tropical ageing in ex-bourbon casks. I was expecting something woodier and more vanilla forward.

Instead I am treated to an array of stoned fruits peaches, apricots, dark juicy plums. Alongside this sits some vibrant notes of sultana, raisin and christmas cake. If you were given this blind you would certainly think the rum had been matured at least partly in an ex-sherry or other fortified wine cask. It’s remininding me quite a lot of Principia.

Beneath the sweet fruity notes we get more of the oak influence. It has a nice meaty smoky kind of char bubbling underneath the fruits. As so often with Foursquare rums the balance is spot on and the nose is sweet and inviting but also “big” enough to merit further nosing. It’s a big but not overpowering nose which promises a great deal from the rum.

Sipped Foursquare Rum Distillery Shibboleth is quite an intense experience initially. It’s quite a powerful rum with a lot of flavour. It’s difficult to take it all in on the first couple of sips. Whilst the rum is spicier and a bit smokier than the nose suggested it is interesting how, despite 16 years of tropical ageing the wood hasn’t even come close to making this rum stray into the “over-oaked” category.

Sipped the initial entry is quite spicy and its certainly a tongue tingler – white pepper, cardamon and some chilli like heat are present – particularly with the first sip or two.

A few more sips in and this calms down allowing those delicious stoned fruit flavours to shine through. Dark juicy plums and plump raisins, a touch of lychee. The mid palate moves into a darker, smokier direction with some really lovely oak spices and just a hint of vanilla.Foursquare Rum Distillery Shibboleth rum review by the fat rum pirate

Unlike say Doorly’s XO which you can drink like pop, this is very much a “small” sip – sipping rum. The finish is phenomenally long and the intensity of the flavours, mean you are best leaving time in between each sip to fully appreciate all the flavours coming out of this rum.

It’s fair to say that if you are looking at the description of Foursquare Rum Distillery Shibboleth and thinking it is going to be an older version of say the 2004,2005, 2008 etc then you will be in for a surprise. The bourbon influence on this is much less than you might expect and its a much fruitier – less dry rum.

And its pretty fantastic to be fair………..but please don’t ask me how it rates against their other releases. Its as good as rum gets – thats all you need to know.





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