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Cigar Spirits: Foursquare Principia and Velier 2009 Last Ward Mount Gay Rums

22 Aug 2018

France is known for its wonderful food and wine, and it has both in droves. When I visit France, one of the things I look forward to is, perhaps unexpectedly, finding some excellent rum that would be nearly impossible to find here in the U.S. Today, I review two rums I picked up on a recent visit.

Though France is geographically far from most rum-producing countries, the historic ties between France and its former colonies makes possible a certain a level of access. The result is, if you know where to look, a lot of good rum.

I’ve sung the praises of Foursquare before, and in many ways Foursquare Principia is a follow-up to the highly acclaimed Foursquare Triptych. Principia was distilled in 2008, then spent three years in ex-bourbon casks before being transferred to ex-sherry casks for six years until it was bottled, at barrel-proof, in late 2017.

Principia was bottled and distributed by Velier, which also bottles and distributes The Last Ward 2009, a limited offering featuring some of the final casks distilled at the Mount Gay Distillery under longtime owner Frank Ward. The triple-distilled rum has been aged nine years and is presented at cask-strength.

Foursquare Principia – $130 (62% ABV)
Nose: Oak, candied fruit, and roast almonds
Palate: Salt, pepper, integrated fruits, dates, figs, toffee, and caramel
Finish: Long with stoned fruit, port, and charred oak

Velier 2009 Last Ward Mount Gay – $110 (59% ABV)
Nose: Fresh tropical fruit of pineapple with mango, plus burnt brown sugar
Palate: An initial burst of alcohol heat, followed by apricot, oranges, pineapple, clove, and wood resin
Finish: Funky, almost rubber band-ish, notes with fruit and wood

Both rums are excellent. Despite their significant proofs, they are best enjoyed neat, or with just a few drops of water. The bright tropical flavors featured in Last Ward are like a momentary Caribbean jaunt. Meanwhile, the Sherry cask aging of Principia give it the heft and complexity of a single malt scotch. Both are quite limited with just 5,400 bottles of Principia and 18 barrels worth (after the angel’s share removed 64%) of Last Ward.

Both pair well with a fine cigar. Principia’s wood and sherry heft stands up to a full-bodied cigar like a RoMa Craft CroMagnon, Mi Querida, or Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970. Last Ward’s tropical notes go well with the subtle spice of a Cameroon-wrapper like the La Flor Dominicana Cameroon Cabinet, Partagas Ramon y Ramon, or Arturo Fuente Don Carlos.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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