When it comes to rum, there are few distilleries that equal the complexity of the Barbadian Foursquare Rum Distillery. Other than being world renown for producing some of the highest quality rum in the world, they proved this by winning best rum producer at the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2019. One of their latest offering is the Foursquare Sagacity, and who better than the rum royalty himself Richard Seale to educated us on the wisdom and philosophy of the Foursquare Rum Distillery.
Richard Seale: Foursquare Rum Distillery
Richard Seale is the owner of the Barbadian rum distillery and was recently in Kuala Lumpur for an educational session with the bar industry, sharing his knowledge on how their rum is made, as well as introducing some of the new expressions of rum including the Foursquare Sagacity and the Foursquare Patrimonio in a private tasting.
Can you tell us a bit about how it all started?
My family started as blenders in the rum business in the 1920’s. Back then, distillers were required by law to sell only in bulk. So all rum distilled in Barbados was sold through many merchant blenders. Foursquare is a sugar estate that started about 1730. In the 18th century it would have made sugar, molasses and rum. By the mid 19th century, it was converted to steam and made only sugar and molasses. In the early 20th century it became one of the central sugar factories not only grinding its own cane but from nearby estates. It continued making sugar until the late 1980’s when it closed due to the reduced volume of sugar cane growing in the Island. In 1994, my family bought the estate and returned it to rum. It was a marriage of the blending tradition with the estate tradition.
Foursquare won rum producer of the year at the International Wine & Spirit Competition 2019. What do you think helped your distillery take the trophy for this award?
We have a strong entry with a handful of top end rums. If they all score well – and they did – it makes us hard to beat for the trophy.
What is your philosophy behind the rum you produce?
We like to push the envelope on making the best rum possible but we are contained to use traditional principles and most importantly to make rums true to the Barbados style and true to our own style. Anyone can make something different for the sake of difference and novel marketing. I want to make rums that impress but at the same time have the clear signature of Foursquare and Barbados.
Which are your best sellers and latest releases?
Doorly’s XO is our best seller. The latest releases are Foursquare Sagacity, and Foursquare Plenipotenziario. Foursquare Nobiliary is shortly to follow.
How important is it that there is a geographical indicator and why is it important?
As much as you work hard on the quality of your own brands, the rum category has to have credibility and the country of origin has to have credibility. If bad practices by other producers in the country bring down the reputation, it undermines all of your own efforts. The corollary is setting standards to enhance and protect the reputation of Barbados Rum helps all producers. From the county’s economic perspective, it ensures that all of the revenue earned when using the name Barbados Rum is earned within the country.
What challenges do you face as a rum producer that consumers might not be aware of?
The distinction between authentic rums and the rums with added sugar/ flavouring. The latter often have misleading age statement.
What has been the most common misconception of rum that you have come across?
That it is made from sugar. Rum is made from sugar cane, not sugar. It has no more to do with sugar than any other spirit. As sugar cane has a high sucrose content, it is used to make crystal sugar. Rum is literally made from cane juice before any removal of crystal sugar or from molasses which is the concentrated juice remaining after separation of the sugar crystals. You cannot make rum from sugar. Corn is used to make Corn syrup but thankfully no-one thinks whisky comes from corn syrup.
What is the Guardians of Rum and what are it’s aims?
Guardians of Rum is a group of producers who adhere to three principles – traditional distillation (no pure alcohol), no sweetening or flavouring and ageing at home. It is group of producers the consumers can trust.
Have you had the Junglebird?
Yes! I love it, when I want a cocktail, I want something relatively simple, elegant and refreshing.
Can you share a cocktail recipe that you like making?
Sure, it is rum, water, hold the water.
Can you tel us a bit about the charities you support?
We were proud to participate in a charity auction for Plastic Oceans. A unique Foursquare rum raised over USD7,000.
Do you have any speculation on what types of expressions of rum which will be popular in 2020?
I think consumers and enthusiasts will continue the trend for authentic unadulterated rum. They will continue to trend towards complexity driven from complex distillates and through ageing.
| PHOTOGRAPHY: FOURSQUARE RUM DISTILLERY | WEBSITE: FOURSQUARE RUM DISTILLERY |