Foursquare Distillery Tour
Updated: Jan 8
This week I realised a years long dream of visiting hallowed turf. Foursquare distillery in Barbados. As promised, here's a mini write up and some photos.
Foursquare is located in the south east of the island, relatively near the airport and within very easy reach of where we're staying on the south coast. To be fair - everything in Barbados is in very easy reach as it's only about 25 miles end to end 😁
I hired a charming and helpful guy called Fernando to drive me there & back, which made the whole experience very relaxing and stress free [thanks Steven James for the recommendation]
Foursquare is set over a large estate but retains traditional charm and character, without any industrial feel you might expect from a distillery with their volume of production. The site is clean, tidy and immaculately presented.
I believe Foursquare employ around 170 people on the island. The vast majority here at the distillery. Everyone I spoke to was incredibly smiley, friendly and helpful - an experience that has been consistent throughout our stay everywhere on the island.
Currently Foursquare buy in both molasses and locally grown cane but as you can see in the photo below, they are in the process of planting their first crop of cane in fields around the distillery. This will be a fantastic addition, ensuring consistent supply and quality of fresh cane, and making ideal use of the large amount of waste water from the distillery.
The cane that arrives is roughly cleaned before going through the crusher. Today, as this chaff is removed you can see small clouds of dust coming off. A stark reminder of the recent blanketing of ash the island received during the St Vincent eruption. Hopefully there will be a positive impact from this with enriched soil providing a bumper crop next year.
When harvesting their own cane this rough cleaning will be done in the field and the chaff ploughed directly back into the soil.
Next the cane is loaded and crushed. It was a great experience to see this in action. Each dry looking cane produces a surprising amount of juice!!
Next stop is fermentation. The photo below shows some of the large steel fermentation tanks for the molasses. These are sealed units with valves at the top capturing the large volume of co2 produced. This is used in local industries such as carbonate drinks. Foursquare are one of only a handful of distilleries employing this technique - a clear example of their focus on sustainability.
The fresh cane juice is open fermented. Here's a grinning fool enjoying the incredible smells this produces.
Next up - distillation. Historically the stills would have been heated by using these ovens to burn the cane chaff. It was hot & humid enough - that must have been a tough old job!
Foursquare generally produce single blended rums meaning that they combine the results of their column and pot stills. The column still is huge, you can see it in the distance here but it goes right up through the roof.
Foursquare are just in the process of adding a second pot still. What a beauty...
After distilling to the desired results, the master blender then completes his magic in the barreling area.
Foursquare use a variety of barrels with different previous uses to age their rums. From ex-bourbon to Port, Sherry, Madeira etc etc. The photos below show the empty barrels ready for filling. We popped the stoppers on a few and had a smell - incredible 😋
Finally the barrels are moved to one of the four giant aging facilities.
The tour finished with a much anticipated visit to the copper still bar for a tasting. 😁😁😁😋
The whole experience was absolutely fantastic and a huge part of that was down to my knowledgeable, interesting and charming guide Dario!! Yes, you do have the best job in the world!
For a cool 'virtual' tour, see George Brown's link here