Thursday, 14 March 2013

Mount Gay Extra Old Rum

Best served:
Rich dense oak, shortbread, tropical fruit, mulled spice wine  
In a nutshell:
An aged rum with great balance and not overly sweet  
Density, complexity and elegance that unleashes luscious complexity  
A little too "heavy" at times 

Mount Gay Extra Old Rum is from Barbados, and matured in Kentucky oak barrels for 12 to 17 years. Mount Gay has been producing rum since 1703, making it oldest brand of rum in the world. The box reads that it has been “expertly fashioned from rich sugar cane and with the pristine, coral filtered water native to the island”. Nice, eh? 

Flag of Barbados
Old rum is rare and hard to find. You are probably thinking: “12 to 17 years is not extra old! How can it be rare if lots of 30, 40 and even 50 year old whisky and cognac flood the market?”. Well, most of the world’s rum is produced in the very warm Caribbean and this means that a lot of rum evaporates from within the barrel over 12 to 17 years. One website says that the “evaporation rate can be as high as 10% a year in the tropical Caribbean, while it can be as little as 2% for Cognac or whisky producers in colder climates”.  This means that, after 12 to 17 years, not much Caribbean rum would be left in a barrel! Imagine 10% of a liquid in a barrel being lost to evaporation each year, it would deplete very quickly. This is why old rum from warmer climates is so very special (I do note the Appleton Estate 50 Year Old). 

The warm climate also might have a benefit to the ageing process. From what I understand, heat makes the pores in oak expand thereby letting liquid in and allowing a high level of interaction. This means that rum may have more interaction with the oak than whisky or Cognac in cooler climates, and so it takes on the benefits of ageing a lot more. This is probably why very old rums are hard to find, they simply don’t need to be aged as much! 

As you may know, rum is produced from fermenting sugar can or its byproducts such as molasses. It is then distilled and the distillate is aged in oak barrels. Here is a great video about how rum is distilled at Mount Gay:

Now, let's smell, taste and review this rum! 


Peach crumble gently lifts into the air together with raw sugar and vanilla. Sharp tropical fruit like ripe mango and guava cut through the fog of oak and leather bringing youthful spark to a backdrop of age and sophistication. Caramel also lingers in the backdrop, jumping up and down wanting attention!


Like buttery shortbread smothered with vanilla and sugary syrup, this rum provides a sweetness that has a spicy punch with a subtle fire. Like velvet it coats the tongue with almond praline and banana sharply weaving within bitter oak and dry red wine; mulled spice wine to be exact! Then comes the charcoal, like toasted coconut with bittersweet green mango. The sugar shines in the bouquet of flavours, but its sweetness does not dominate. This rum has a beautiful balance.


This rum has an exceptional finish, that is long and extremely enjoyable.


Much like the music of Barbados, this rum beats loudly with the luscious sophistication of age but is brought to life by the youthful spark of diverse fruits and spice which energetically delight the palate.

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