richard seale foursquare

Richard Seale: Rum's Supreme Champion

19 August, 2021

Foursquare Distillery icon Richard Seale talks about his career and recent achiements with Oli Dodd.

Foursquare Distillery in Barbados swept the board at the 2021 International Spirits Challenge. Its Redoubtable rum was named Supreme Champion after dazzling the panel of experts in a series of blind tastings. It also won Rum Producer of the Year thanks to its haul of a trophy, two double gold medals and three golds. There was individual glory for fourth-generation owner Richard Seale too, as he was named Master Distiller of the Year – a first for a rum producer.

You could forgive Seale if he was anything less than modest about his achievement, but he has no time for self congratulation, as his focus is always firmly on the progress of the overall rum category. “It’s more than pushing our brand,” says Seale. “We all have a twin objective of working on our brand but also working on the category. Other categories can be a little more luxurious – if you’re a great scotch whisky or bourbon brand, you can focus on your brand [whereas] many of us in rum have a dual role to not only be strong for your brand but for your category too.”

For Seale, the industry plaudits are nevertheless a welcome recognition of a mission that he began two decades ago: striving for rum to be as revered as any other elite spirit in the world.

“There’s nothing inferior about a leading rum producer versus a leading scotch producer. All the elements are there. It’s always been my mission that we must place rum where it is. Maybe the one element that’s not as pervasive is the investment.” That one missing element became a part of Foursquare’s mission, and the distillery has become a jewel in the region’s crown.

“At Foursquare, we’ve always prided ourselves as a complete showpiece for rum. Seeing a distillery operating in a pristine condition, with floors that you can eat off, that’s all about sending a global message that rum can compete.”

Having grown up during what he calls the “grim rum and Coca Cola era of the ’70s and ’80s,” the message seems to be being received and the mission is going rather well. Seale’s life has been spent in rum. As a member of one of the category’s most eminent families, he recalls “school holidays were the beginning of work”. 

“I was always raised to join the family business. It wasn’t that necessarily I was going to be involved in making rum. My father would tell you, ‘my grandfather was involved in rum’, he was a salesman who didn’t get into the technical part of rum, we hired blenders all through his period. So, it was never that I would necessarily have a role in rum or be involved in the making of rum – I might have been, god forbid, a marketer.”

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