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Mount Gay 1703 Black Barrel Rum

Review: Mount Gay 1703 Black Barrel Rum  83.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on June 02 ,2017

The case can be made that the first rum distilled for commercial export was most probably distilled upon the Island of Barbados. In fact, the tradition of producing rum on Barbados has been dated to the early seventeenth century as there is evidence of small-scale distillation as early as 1637. The first recorded written usage of the word ‘Rum Bullion’ appears on the Island in 1651. (This is the earliest recorded usage of the word ‘Rum’ as it relates to the distilled spirit anywhere in the world.) Evidence dated to 1667 indicates that there were stills in use at the location which would later become The Mount Gay Plantation, and written evidence that a spirit called rum was produced at this site comes from the year 1703. This makes Mount Gay the earliest recorded commercial producer of rum in the world, and this also makes Mount Gay the oldest Rum Brand in the world. To highlight their unique place in history Mount Gay includes the year 1703 on every bottle of rum which they currently produce.

Mount Gay 1703 Black Barrel Rum was introduced in 2014. It is comprised of a blend of rums produced from both pot and column still distillation and aged in heavily charred bourbon barrels. According to the Mount Gay Distillery Master Blender, Allen Smith the Black Barrel Rum was specifically blended to give rum enthusiasts the best of two worlds:

“We actually launched Mount Gay Black Barrel in 2013 to give drinkers a complex premium rum that they could enjoy as a sipping rum or by mixing in cocktails, and it has become one of our most popular rums. It’s a small batch, handcrafted blend that has a balanced, but bold spicy flavor.”

The 1703 Black Barrel Rum is bottled at 43% alcohol by volume and arrives in the tall long-necked bottle shown below:

In the Bottle 4.5/5

I like the presentation of the Mount Gay Black Barrel. The tall long-necked bottle looks sleek and inviting on my rum shelf. The long neck makes pouring easy, and the flask-like shape makes the bottle easy to grab. The cork topper adds to the overall appeal letting us know that this rum rides on the premium side of the fence.

The label is constructed to give the impression of ‘small batch’ quality as each bottle is individually numbered and a faux signature of Allen Smith is printed upon each label implying that he has approved of the quality and craftmanship of this particular rum (which I am sure he does).

In the Glass  8/10

The rum has a nice amber hue in the glass (just starting that turn towards bronze), and when I give my glencairn a slow tilt, and twirl, I am greeted with a lightly oily sheen on the inside of the glass the crest of which drops slightly thickened legs which amble slowly down to the rum below.

When I inspected the breezes above the glass, I noticed sweet dark caramel and toffee aromas leading out in front of fruity scents of orange peel and banana. All of this is accented by impressions of light baking spices (vanilla and hints of cinnamon). Lurking within this sweetness are impressions of oak spice and ginger, faint hints of copper pennies and some mild indications of pipe tobacco. I let the glass breathe for a few minutes to see what evolved. I began to notice some indication of marmalade as the orange peel settled into the toffee, and some light almond impressions I had missed earlier. A vague herbal impression has also appeared.

The overall impression I have is of a lighter than expected rum which nonetheless carries a nice complexity forward. As Allen Smith indicated to me, his aim was to produce a rum which could be appreciated both as a sipper and a mixer, and based solely upon the nose, I would say that he has probably succeeded.

In the Mouth 50.5/60

When I sipped the Black Barrel Rum I noticed that the spirit was not so sweet as what the nose indicated. This is a good thing as the tempered sweetness allows the flavour of the oak to come forward across the palate. I can taste both orange and banana peel, light almond flavours and light baking spices with vanilla taking the lead as it did on the nose. There is perhaps a little unwanted alcohol heat which comes though beside the oak spice, and this makes me feel that ice should be added for comfortable enjoyment.

I added a couple of ice cubes to my glass and then added some more rum. The result is a pleasant rum which is just lightly bitter with flavours of oak, tobacco and chocolate pushing through.

Of course I needed to try a few cocktails. Allen Smith had indicated that he preferred to mix a Black Storm with this rum and so that is where I began. The mixed drink was refreshing and tasty. Then I decided to get a little creative. Allen had told me in a recent interview that his Mount Gay Rum was complex enough to be compared favourably with sipping whiskies. So I decided to play with one of my favourite whisky cocktails, Blood and Sand, replacing the normally used scotch whisky with his Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum. The result (shown below) was quite tasty. I may do some further tweaking with the recipe, but I definitely think I am on to something here.

In the Throat 12/15

The finish is a little heated with a both alcohol heat and orange peel spice proving more warmth than I would prefer in a sipping rum. With ice, the exit is tempered, and both oak flavour and hints of chocolate linger for just a little while before evaporating with the toffee caramel rum flavour.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Mount Gay 1703 Black Barrel is a nice summertime rum. I can understand fully why the Mount Gay Master Blender, Allen Smith considers the spit both a sipper and a cocktail mixer as it has the moderate complexity which is desired by the sipping enthusiast, and the light bodied mixability that cocktail gurus love. For myself the rum sits just a little closer to the cocktail wing of the room, and I shall probably enjoy a few more Black Storms during the hot days of summer, and perhaps a few of my newly named Crimson Cane cocktails when the fall approaches (see both recipes below).

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.

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Suggested Recipes:

Black Storm

The Black Storm

2 oz Mount Gay 1703 Black Barrel
Lime Wheel
ice
5 oz Ginger Beer

Add Ice and a Lime Wheel to Large Glass
Add Mount Gay 1703 Black Barrel Rum
Top with Ginger Beer

Enjoy Responsibly!

If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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Crimson Cane

3/4 oz Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum
5/8 oz Sweet Vermouth
5/8 oz Wisniak na Rumie (Cherry Rum)
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
ice
Orange Zest
Brandied Cherry

Add the first four ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with flamed orange zest and a brandied cherry

If  you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more mixed drink recipes!

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You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

 

 

 

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