Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
In the world of distilled spirits, rum is probably whiskey’s closest cousin. It’s usually a brown liquor, it’s usually aged in oak, and it owes much of its taste to the history of its barrel.
Foursquare Rum Distillery has long leaned into this connection. They age many of their spirits in ex-bourbon barrels. They also release vintages with age-statements, in the style of whiskey production. On the Bourbon Lens podcast, Master Distiller Richard Seale discussed this connection.
“Whiskey is a natural audience for us… at the end of the day, fundamentally, it’s a distilled spirit matured in wood…” Seale explains, discussing the similarities, “…bourbon and rum share a same wood, so now on a second level you’re obviously going to be picking up certain similar flavors because we’re using the same wood…”
Bardstown Bourbon seems to see the same connection, as they’re focusing on Foursquare Rum for a new expression.
For this entry in Bardstown Bourbon’s collaborative series, they finished a blend of 7-year-old rye with 17-year-old-bourbon in a Foursquare Rum barrel. The blend aged for 23 months on the top floor of its rickhouse, leading to a higher evaporation and concentration. After seeing so many Foursquare Rum expressions age in ex-bourbon barrels, there’s something poetic about seeing bourbon age in a Foursquare Rum barrel.
The exchange of barrels is one of the more encouraging aspects of the spirits production. It’s the kind of collaborative practice which we so rarely see in competitive industries. Through it, we see the different varieties of spirit take on new life as the backing influence of something wholly unique.
Whether it’s the spicy, caramel sweetness of bourbon influencing a rum or the fruity Caribbean notes of rum influencing a bourbon, these experiments in cask finishing are keeping the exploration of brown spirits interesting.
Tasting Notes: Bardstown Bourbon Co. Foursquare Collaborative Series
Vital Stats: 53.5% ABV. Mash bill: Undisclosed. 107 Proof. MSRP 159.99 USD.
Nose: The familiar scent of bourbon mixes with a flowing breeze of Caribbean spice. There are hints of vanilla, nutmeg, and orange peel all surrounding a rich thread of bananas foster.
Palate: The drink has the assertive, spicy-sweet feel of a bourbon, but at times leans more toward a dark rum. Even though there’s a familiar rye body, there’s a sweeter-than-usual, caramel quality to the flavor. This, combined with notes of coconut and orange peel, blurs the line between bourbon and rum. The grainy quality of bourbon is clearer in the finish, which has tropical notes to give the impression of a rich rum cake. Emerging hints of sandalwood punctuate the fading taste.