zaterdag 7 maart 2020

Mount Gay Rum Experience

Wednesday evening I drove to the Indigo Hotel in Brussels to discover rums of a brand I hadn’t really tasted before. Maybe in a cocktail, but no proper tasting. Mount Gay is a distillery based on Barbados, a tiny island in the east of the Caribbean. It’s not just an average rum brand, it’s actually the oldest rum brand. The oldest rum on Barbados? No, it’s actually the oldest rum brand on this planet. Documents prove the distillery already existed in 1703. It’s probably much older, but these documents are the oldest legal proof of existence and there is no other rum distillery that old. It’s also the oldest distillery in the world (of any spirit!) which has produced spirit continuously until today. Most other distilleries have closed and re-opened a few times.

All the way from Barbados, brand ambassador Miguel Smith welcomed us to his Mount Gay Rum Experience in a bar filled with journalists, bartenders and industry professionals. We tasted four different bottles : Black Barrel, XO, 1703 and a very special pot still rum bottling which kicks a stronger punch.

This was certainly not my first rum tasting, but I learned a few new things which really separate this rum from others. We started with the Black Barrel, looking at the rum and nosing it. We were instructed to put our noses deep into the glasses and inhale strongly. Whaaaaat ? Doesn’t that block your smell for the rest of the evening by such a kick in the face from the alcohol. Actually it didn’t. Miguel wanted us to experience this difference. The rum is so well balanced that the alcohol doesn’t hurt your senses. He taught us the perfect way to taste and sample rums, step by step adjusting your body to the spirit.

A couple of tips on tasting rum :

  • Step 1 is looking at the rum, step 2 is nosing. Please notice that the nose of the rum will probably change when it’s longer in contact with oxygen. Step 3 is sipping the rum. 
  • Always start with a small sip to adjust your body. When you’re ready, take a second sip to really explore the flavours.
  • Never swirl your glass. You will create a small cloud of alcohol on top of your rum, masking everything else. Don’t panic, just blow it away if you did. 
  • Don’t suck air with rum in your mouth. This is rum, not wine.
    I’d like to add that the same applies for tasting whisky. Keep your mouth shut and you’ll be able to handle the alcohol much better, while still tasting all the rest.
In all Mount Gay rums you will discover fresh vanilla (from the ex-bourbon casks), almond, banana and dark chocolate. The rums are slightly spicy, but not spiced. They are produced with an excellent quality of spring water, pumped up from deep below the surface of the distillery. No solera aging, no sugar added, no artificial flavouring. Aged in the tropical climate of Barbados. Made from fermented molasses. They distill in column and pot stills, were the rum of the column stills is more flavourful, while the rum from the pot stills is more aggressive and kicks a punch.
Our tasting
Mount Gay Black Barrel (Double Cask Blend) 
Woody and buttery notes. Great balance of dried fruit and spices, a sophisticated spirit with notes of gingerbread, lychee and toffee. Matured in ex-American whiskey barrels and finished in heavily charred ex-bourbon casks. Dry spirit with medium to long persistence. Perfect for mixing in cocktails.
Mount Gay XO (Triple cask blend) 
Small batch blend of selected mature rums. Aged between 5 and 17 years in American whiskey barrels, bourbon and Cognac casks.
Vanilla, oaky notes, dry spice, sweet caramel, fig and plum, dark chocolate.
Rounder, smoother and creamier than the Black Barrel. Complex and balanced with long persistence.
Mount Gay 1703 (Master Select) 
Delicate rum with sweet caramel, ripe banana, notes of oak and citrus. A mouthful of toffee, cherry, butterscotch and roasted nuts with oaky undertones. Long and delicate finish.
This is a limited yearly release with 10 to 30 year old rums distilled in both column and pot stills. Matured in charred ex-American whiskey barrels and deeply charred ex-bourbon casks.
This release counts 4663 numbered bottles at 43% ABV. This was my personal favourite of the four rums we tasted.

Mount Gay Pot Still Rum (Exclusive limited edition) 
A spicy kick, followed by dried fruits, dark chocolate and oak. Delicate, silky texture.
Warm butterscotch interlaced with rich mocha and toffee with underlying notes of plum.
Pot Still rum at 48% ABV. Best to sip neat or over a large rock of ice.
Limited release of 4920 bottles.

After the tasting, a small break and a few snacks, we could also sample Mount Gay Rum used as a base for two delicious cocktails, created by bartenders Tim Devriendt (The Cobbler, Gent) and Ruben Patoor (Café Theatre, Gent).

Thanks for the invitation. It certainly sparked my interest to experiment with this rum.

Disclaimer : All pictures and texts are copyrighted by Geert Conard and Esito Management & Communications unless stated otherwise in the article. While some items might have been gifted by the producer or distributor, these are in no way paid promotions or recommendations.

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