November 23, 2012 | 3:46 pm | Print
Above: the Mount Gay Distillery in Barbados (All photos by CJ)
BARBADOS — This is a rum mecca.
And making the pilgrimage to the Mount Gay Distillery on the outskirts of Bridgetown is a religious experience.
It’s here that the three-centuries-old Mount Gay brings its Barbados sugarcane for distilling and bottling.
And the rum may be even older than that — at the Mount Gay Plantation, which is located on the other side of the island of Barbados, there is evidence of stills being used as early as 1667, with the first written evidence in 1703.
In 1801, the owners of the plantation named it “Mount Gay,” celebrating Sir John Gay Alleyene, the longtime caretaker at the plantation.
By 1925, Mount Gay Distilleries, Ltd was officially founded by AF Ward, JF Hutson and JW Browne, and in 1989 the company became part of Remy-Cointreau.
Now, the rum that is exported to more than 80 countries around the world, is blended by Mount Gay’s Master Blender, Allen Smith, who makes sure that each bottle is the right reflection of the rum’s longstanding philosophy.
The visitor centre brings guests on an informative tour of the distillery — along with a tasting of the Mount Gay range.
Of course, it’s just a small part of one of the Caribbean’s great rum cultures — Barbados is a place where Mount Gay, and other excellent rums like Cockspur, flow freely.
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On to the tasting.
While we were particularly impressed by the recently-launched Mount Gay Black (which boasts a higher proof, 50 percent, than the Eclipse), our featured tasting takes a look at the top of the heap: Mount Gay 1703 Old Cask Selection.
The rum has an almost orange-amber colour, and an aroma of cognac, molasses and caramel.
The taste has strong hints of toffee, caramel, the slightest whisper of spice and dried fruits, and bourbon from the Kentucky oak in which it’s aged.
It’s is a blend of different rums aged between 10 and 30 years.
It’s defined, smooth and pure, and a reliable standard-bearer for the Mount Gay Brand.
Here’s to another three centuries.