Dràm Mòr Rum (Clarendon & Foursquare)

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Dràm Mòr

Dràm Mòr are a family business that bottles single cask spirits. Until now, that meant Scotch whisky but their latest release delves, for the first time, into the world of Rum.

*Full disclosure: I was sent the samples free of charge. As always, I will strive to give an honest opinion on the quality of the drams and the value for money they represent.

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Foursquare 13-year-old 60.9%

Foursquare Distillery was established by Sir David Seale. The Seale family can trace their family in Barbados back to the 1650s and in the early 1900s Reginald Leon Seale founded a distribution business and created the R. L. Seale Rum brand.

Over the next century the business expanded with the acquisition of brands like Old Brigand, Taylor’s Falernum and Doorly’s. It was in 1995, however, that the Seale family became distillers in their own right. David Seale gambled on the purchase of a rundown sugar factory that dated back to 1636. The factory was converted into a distillery and Foursquare was born.

The distillery is particularly modern with a three-column vacuum still used to make lighter rums while a traditional pot creates the heavier stuff, distilled in small batches from fermented molasses. Foursquare matures its rums in American white oak ex-bourbon casks.

This Dràm Mòr Foursquare single cask rum was aged for 13 years before bottling at 60.9%. It retails for £65.

Smell: There’s a little bit of spirit heat to get over but beyond that is brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, raisins and over ripe bananas. Also walnut and tobacco leaves.

Taste: Molasses, dark chocolate and fiery spice. Nutmeg. Oak char. Toffee. Dried fruits. Figs. With water… vanilla pods, chewy caramel and cinnamon. Brown sugar.

Thoughts: Whenever I discuss rum I feel the need to point out that I’m relatively inexperienced with the spirit. Sure, I’ve tried it many times but I don’t feel anywhere near as qualified to give an opinion as I do when whisky is in the glass. That said, it is just an opinion, so here goes.

I don’t like bananas and I especially don’t like things that have a sort of synthetic banana flavouring. Banana being a fairly common flavour characteristic of rum can therefore be somewhat problematic for me. It’s definitely present in this Foursquare, especially on the nose but it’s fortunately nowhere near as prominent on the palate. Maybe if I just hold my nose whilst sipping it…

In truth, I found myself rather enjoying this wee dram. With water some of the rougher edges were smoothed off though I felt it lost a wee bit of body. Still an enjoyable and intensely flavoured drop and at £65 it seems to compare quite favourably with other bottles currently on the market.

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Clarendon 10-year-old 63%

Clarendon Distillers Ltd is located on the Monymusk Estate, one of the oldest sugar cane plantations in Jamaica. The distillery was built in 1949 by the owners of the Monymusk Sugar Factory. By 1976, however, it was under government ownership in the form of the Sugar Corporation of Jamaica. Today the distillery is run by National Rums of Jamaica which is jointly owned by West Indies Rum Distillery Ltd, Demerara Distillers and the government of Jamaica.

There are two sides to the distillery. The older area is equipped with pot stills, used to make heavier styles of rum. The newer section features column stills that produce a lighter spirit. Rum produced onsite contributes to brands like Captain Morgan, Myers, Port Royal and Royal Jamaican as well as own brand premium rum, Monymusk.

This Dràm Mòr bottling was matured for 10 years and bottled at 63%. It is available to buy at £77 a bottle.

Smell: Fascinating nose. Quite smoky in fact. Lots of dark, woody spice. Charcoal and charred oak casks. Cigar smoke. Dark chocolate. Orangey citrus. Marzipan. A splash of water seemed to heighten the smoke.

Taste: An absolute monster of a dram, this. At first it’s a bit like sucking on a bit of fire wood. Lots of oak, lots of spice and ashy smoke with a long, dry finish. Big, spicy arrival of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and chilli powder turns to dark chocolate and coffee. Water softened the spice and brought out some dried fruits and red berry notes.

Thoughts: This one is a little pricier than the Foursquare but to my taste, it’s a big step up in quality. It’s a rum of distinctive character and incredible depth. Perhaps it isn’t for the faint hearted, however, as that blast of smoke and spice gives the palate a serious working over but once you’ve acclimatised to it, the experience is a very rewarding one.

Great to see Dràm Mòr expanding their horizons whilst maintaining the high standards they’ve already set with their whisky bottlings. Whisky will always be my main focus but I’ve found it really educational to get acquainted with other spirits and would urge you to do the same, if you haven’t already. Not only does it open your palate up to new flavours, it can also help to remind you what it was you loved about whisky to begin with.

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