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  • Writer's pictureStuart Pearce

Foursquare Covenant Vs Isonomy

Updated: Jan 25

Covenant - release 23 of the Exceptional Cask Series from Foursquare distillery in Barbados.

Another year on, another Foursquare Exceptional Cask Series release from the 2005 'batch'. This line of rums, distilled in 2005 and aged purely in ex-Bourbon casks, began with the outstanding '2005' back in 2017 and has since offered the rum world iconic and memorable releases of increasing maturity... Nobiliary(14yr), Shibboleth(16yr), Isonomy(17yr) and now Covenant(18yr).

I compared the first three releases in my stupidly named article '2005 vs 2005 vs 2005' (here) and followed that up with an Isonomy review (here). As I mentioned in those previous articles, there are many levers available to the master distiller so let's not get too caught up on the extra year, there's a tonne of things that can influence the flavour beyond simply the years in cask.

However, it is worth re-iterating that this much time ageing in a tropical climate is a huge investment. Foursquare will have seen a loss through evaporation (the angel's share) of at least 70% over these 18 years!

Some have historically expressed concern about this level of tropical ageing - that it might produce a rum that's over oaked and too tannic. So far Richard Seale has silenced any and all doubters with outstanding rums time after time, so I'm in no doubt that this will be good, but, of course, I'm very interested in tasting it for myself. So let's get stuck in...

15ml of each rum, left to open up for as long as it took me to type this drivel (about 30mins). Nosed first, then tasted. They're both the same abv so I went in chronological order and started with Isonomy. Assisted today, after a timely reminder last night, by the outstanding Steely Dan.

Isonomy (right) is, unexpectedly, marginally darker to my eye

Foursquare XX Isonomy, 17yr, 58%, 8,400btls

Nose: Oh wow. An absolute knockout nose. Anise, menthol, polish, resin, orange zest - dark chocolate orange, caramel, very dark old fruit. Complex and beautiful. It has incredible depth, a rum you want to cuddle up to. These well aged ex-Bourbon cask rums really come into their own this time of the year [in the UK we've recently lit our fires, uncorked the stout and switched to red wine].

In time this gets even 'jammier' and with more pronounced chocolate notes. It's making me fancy a chocolate stout later :-)

Mouth: Sparkles on the tongue. Gallons of dried and fresh fruit. Cherries, currants, prunes. Yum. A big thick texture. Touches of good quality pipe tobacco, and a beautiful, super long, chocolate orange & caramel finish. [91+pts]

Foursquare XXIII Covenant, 18yr, 58%, ??btls

Nose: Predictably a similar profile to Isonomy, although this is a little fresher, slightly sharper, with notes of bright vibrant fruit. Less chocolate, more coconut. Still a tonne of polish and well-integrated lightly tannic oak. The ageing here is perfect in my opinion - no sign of wet wood or wet newspaper that you sometimes get on poorly managed barrel stock. The oak influence is tight and rich, but harmonious - adding beautiful depth and warmth to the spirit.

Mouth: A softer profile, the initial hit of flavour is more pronounced at the front of the mouth. Super clean. A little peppermint and spearmint. Lots of fruit, but less of the deeper varnish and anise notes. The extra year has provided even better alcohol integration but weirdly it feels less woody!

Less tannic, and less of the deep anise caramel. [90-pts]

Covenant is another excellent release and I hope to buy a couple of bottles when they arrive here in the UK - 18 years of ageing works! I doubt anyone will find this over-oaked.

As the scores show, I prefer Isonomy. It's warmer ... fatter ... 'jammier'. {I'm side-tasting 2005, Shibboleth and Nobiliary ... because, well, because I can :-) ... and today Isonomy is my favourite of the five}

**the + & - in my scoring indicates a direction of travel, ie: the way I feel the spirit has the potential to move after further tastings

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