Foursquare 2004 vs 2005, Fred Minnick’s Top Rum of 2018

I’m completely #RumCurious thanks to Fred Minnick.  It will never take over Bourbon for me, but it’s great in its own right and worth adding to the cabinet. I loved Foursquare 2004 and I’m hoping the 2005 is as good because I’m down to my last inch of the 2004 bottle. 2005 looks darker.

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2004 nose is distinctly rum with spicy notes intertwined, pinapple, rose petal, vanilla and caramel.

2005 also is clearly rum with the coconut and molasses notes strong but there is a second wave that had bourbon butterscotch aromas clearly obtained from the cask. Amazing how it doesn’t feel hot even though 59% abv.

2005 The mouthfeel is delightful, focused on the tip of the tongue with rough sweetness and followed through down the middle just kissing the side of the mouth with a juiciness of tropical flavor. The finish is at least two minutes and never drops off. Very good.

2004 mouthfeel coats the whole mouth with significant time spent on the roof with more earthy focus rather than tropical. This may be because this bottle has been open for more than six months though. Like the 2005 this finish is long, but just under two minutes.

With a year that so many followups have not been as good as the year before, this is a pleasant surprise. The 2005 equals and maybe surpasses the 2004 just a little bit. 95.5/100.  Thank you Foursquare!

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Newbourbondrinker’s 2018 Top 5

This year had so many great releases even though the level on social media complaining has hit an all time high… don’t worry, I will be putting out my top 5 disappointments soon… but it’s the holidays so I’m only going to be positive today!  Instead of ranking them this year, I’ve decided to go with five different categories and give the overall winner for them… Disagree?  Hit me up on twitter @newbourbondrink or facebook @ newbourbondrinker or instagram @steaknbourbon

Best Overall Bourbon: Barrell Craft Spirits 15yr Bourbon Gray Label.  For a straight down the middle Bourbon, this one can not be beat.  It also edged out everyone else from Fred Minnick’s blind tasting for Forbes’.  It got a huge score from me and everyone else.  The only downside is the limited case amount.  The one thing you can be certain, is if you see any gray label Barrell Craft Spirits product on a shelf, grab it!

Best Wheated Bourbon: William Larue Weller 2018 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.  This one was easy, and tied for best overall with BCS, but split out the wheaters.  The finish, so long, so good.  If you can grab the 2017 or 2018 of WLW BTAC, for any reasonable price at all, pick it up.

Best Rye: Thomas H Handy 2018.  Another BTAC, but 2018 was tough for Rye, as the releases we not as strong as 2017.  The Lot 40 cask Strength 11yr was not as good as last year’s 12yr and higher priced and lower proof; Kentucky Owl Rye was also good but not quite as good as the first release.  THH stood out among it’s peers, but only by a smidge.  The secondary prices have continued to creep as well which is annoying for those of us who drink a lot of Handy.

Best Small Bottle Release: Elijah Craig Grenade… it’s a gift shop only release, but readily available on secondary.  It trades at close to BTAC levels given it’s only 200ml, but it’s sooooooooo good.  Grab one if you are ever in Bardstown, or just lift one on secondary.

Best Rum: Appleton’s Joy 25yr.  This was probably the hardest category to rate to be perfectly honest.  So many great releases: Foursquare 2004, Foursquare 2005, Barrell Rum Tale of Two Islands, Barrell Craft Spirits Rum Gray Label… all could have taken these honors, but Appleton’s 25yr comes out ahead.  Retailing around $220 and still available, this rum has crazy flavors and notes that rival any whiskey.  Looks great on the shelf too.

There it is for 2018… it was a great year, so many amazing drams and I look forward to what 2019 brings.  Happy New Year!

Barrell Craft Spirits Rum Gray Label Unicorn

Another Gray Label unicorn from Barrell Craft Spirits, this one the Rum. Again I’m lucky that my local store was able to secure me one for retail.

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I’ve really loved all the super rare rum releases Barrell has done in the last few years, my favorite being Tale of Two Islands (review here), I just wish they were more readily available. I’ve never seen a store with more than one or two bottles.

This release comes in the beautiful black box like the Bourbon (Bourbon review), awesome gray label and heavier than normal cork top.

Strong nose of coconuts, brown sugar, anise, orange and pineapple rinds with a touch of pine needles (although that might have been the Christmas tree in the background).

The mouthfeel really coats the mouth and feels like it’s going to be hot but isn’t. The flavor is concentrated in the back of the mouth and the finish is at least two minutes, with lots of tropical flavors going round and round.

This is another very special release and I’m happy to have been able to buy one and looking forward to sharing it with family (only the ones that know good stuff) this holiday! 97/100. Good luck finding it and if you can, but them all!

Re-reviewing an old favorite… Barrell Rum Tale of Two Islands

I don’t do this enough… you open a bottle, you take a sip, wait a week, write a review, and then forget about it.  Sometimes, after 6-9 months, it changes a lot… I also had a pour of it at one of my favorite bars in NYC last week, and it’s just as good as it was from my bottle at home.

My original review, link below, focused on brown sugar, coconut and tropical flavors on the nose and palate.  After the bottle is halfway gone and eight months have gone by, the flavors have intensified on the nose, and even more floral and brown sugar cookie.  The heat has diminished slightly as well.  The finish is even longer than I remembered it, completely enveloping the palate before a two plus minute grand finale. Last time I reviewed it I gave it a 96, but I might nudge it higher to 96.5 for standing up so well.

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/4-new-releases-from-barrell-bourbon/

https://www.barrellbourbon.com/taleoftwoislands

https://www.skurnik.com/sku/barrell-rum-tale-of-two-islands-barrell-craft-spirits/

Barrell Rum Tale of Two Islands

http://www.astorwines.com/SearchResultsSingle.aspx?p=2&search=38012&searchtype=Contains

http://www.klwines.com/p/i?i=1334885

Barrell Tale of Two Islands Cask Strength Rum 750 ml

Barrell Rum "Tale of Two Islands' Cask Streingth

 

 

Appleton Joy 25yr Rum is INCREDIBLE

I’ve been accused recently of only posting bad reviews and negative stories in order to get more hits and blog reads.  I’ll be honest, bad reviews absolutely get more hits than positive reviews, but that’s not why I’ve been posting so many bad ones recently; I’ve just been drinking too many bad things.  Today that changes.

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Appleton Joy Anniversary Edition Rare Jamaica Rum aged 25 years is blended by Joy Spence, bottled at 45% abv and bottled in a very cool bottle with a nice cork and wood top.  It comes in a nice display case and, spoiler alert, tastes amazing.  I paid $219.99 for it, and although it isn’t available at every corner liquor store, it is online and so far hasn’t been trading at crazy levels in the secondary market.  To the reader who says $219.99 is already crazy expensive, I’d argue that for a perfectly blended 25yr (25yrs is the minimum, also has much older rum in here too), the price is incredibly reasonable.  Compare to a (drinkable) Rye or Bourbon, and you’d be lucky to get it for 2-3x that price.

The color is dark amber with copper shininess.  The nose is so complex: it has the distinct characteristics of a high quality rum, molasses, cinnamon stick, cloves, but also has cocoa, leather, caramel, cream cheese based frosting and a hint of espresso.  The nose also has almost no heat at all, just incredibly inviting.

All the flavors on the nose come in so strongly on the palate and just keep evolving.  The mouthfeel is enjoyable and the finish just goes on and on.  This is one special rum, and the only one I’ve ever had that was better was the Foursquare 2006, which was cask strength.

This is such a special bottle that if you like aged rum, it’s a must have.  It’s also readily available, even though it’s above $200.  It’s a special sipper, and don’t let anyone mix this with anything.  Grab your bottle while you still can.  97/100.

Other people have also written about it, take a look at their reviews:

Rum Review: Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend

https://www.tastethedram.com/single-post/2017/08/31/appleton-estate-joy-rum-review/

Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend

Another Foursquare Rum, but this one is a miss…

I love Foursquare, just read my review I posted recently:  https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2018/02/18/foursquare-rum-distillery-2004-exceptional-cask-selection/

However… I just don’t like this bottle at all. It’s a little too sickly sweet, too much port. If you like port finishes you might like it. If you love MWND, maybe you will find this ok, but as you can tell from other reviews I’ve written about poorly aged port cask finishes, this just doesn’t work for me.

It’s aged three years in ex-bourbon casks then six more in port barrels. The other major concern is being bottled at 40% abv removes any sense of mouthfeel or complexity. I actually didn’t realize the proof when I bought it as all of the other Foursquare Rums I have purchased before are Cask strength. I’m confident that this does not belong in the Exceptional Cask Selection, as the others I have had are awesome.

Foursquare is for sipping neat, but this bottle is for mixers. 79/100.

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Other bad port cask finishes:

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/high-wests-tragic-whiskey-a-midwinter-nights-dram/

https://newbourbondrinker.wordpress.com/2017/11/23/quick-angels-envy-cask-strength-2015-review-strong-pass/

Foursquare Rum Distillery 2004 Exceptional Cask Selection

This is one of those finds that I credit to Fred Minnick.  I had my store in NYC specially order it for me (thank you http://www.MorrellWine.com).  This is the Exceptional Cask Selection Mark III Single Blended Rum aged 11 years in ex-Bourbon casks, distilled in 2004, released in 2015.  It’s full proof, 59%.

Dried apricot color in the glass.  Notes on the nose are pineapple, rose petal, dried cherries, candy corn, dried apricots, caramel, vanilla, molasses and coconut shavings.  Lots going on there.

For 59% alcohol, this is an incredibly easy rum to sip, yet still enjoyable warmth on the chest.  The mouthfeel is wonderful with both tannins and oils surrounding the mouth.  So much flavor too with caramel and tropical fruits coming in wave after wave.  The finish on this is extremely long, more than two minutes.

Although the 2006 Foursquare is a better rum, it’s impossible to find and insanely expensive.  For the price, you can’t do any better than this one.  The MSRP is around $70, and if you can grab it, grab two or three. 95/100