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Mount Gay 1703 Master Select

Review: Mount Gay 1703 Master Select   90.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted April 07, 2017

1703 is a significant year in the world of rum. That is because this was the year that Mount Gay Rum was first produced on the Isle of Barbados which makes Mount Gay Rum one of the oldest, if not the oldest brand of rum in the world. Because Barbados is situated as a gateway from the Atlantic to the Caribbean, sailors from the Old World often used the island as the  first resting point on the way to the New World.  This meant Barbados was ideally suited for trade between the two worlds in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.  Part of that trade was rum which is why the island is considered the birthplace of the rum trade.

The Mount Gay 1703 Master Select Rum is a premium rum blend which features aged pot and column still rum stocks from well aged barrels within the Mount Gay treasured reserve. These barrels have an age range of 10 to 30 years and feature the some of the oldest rums that Mount Gay has to offer in the areas of Craftsmanship and Quality. Apparently Mount Gay Master Distiller, Allen Smith personally selected the 55 barrels used within the Master Select blend.

The 1703 Master Select Rum is bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume.

mt-gay_1703-bottle-no-boxIn The Bottle 5/5

My sample of Mount Gay 1703 Master Select was a 100 ml media sample; but the PR agency responsible for the brand sent me a nice selection of bottle shots as well. As you can see, the rum arrives in a rather attractive oval decanter with the year 1703 written in a large beige font with the rest of the brand name ‘Master Select’ written underneath. The label underneath is set at an angle to catch the consumer’s eye and it contains information about the rum. The year it was released (2016), the number of casks (55) aged from 10 years to 30 years that were used in the blending, and the individual bottle number (total out of 12000).

There is also a map of Barbados embossed into the glass decanter with a star showing the location of the Mount Gay Distillery. The bottles arrive in an attractive black box (not shown) and everything about the presentation of the 1703 Master Select Rum is class personified.

In the Glass 9/10

The 1703 Master Select Rum displays itself as a copper/bronze spirit in my glass. When I give my glass a slow tilt and twirl, I see the rum deposits an oily sheen on the inside the crest of which drops fat leglets down.

The initial nose is full of treacle and molasses tainted with tar and nicotine. Oak spice and orange peel begin to make their presence felt and soon dark brown sugar and rich baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon and cloves) begin to well up into the breezes. Wisps of dry fruit (raisins and dates) and bits of licorice stain the molasses while hints of spicy sap appear within the oak spice. There is a mild camphor (resin-like) quality in the air and a strong impression of canned apricots. The complexity of the rum is impressive, and a high score in this area of the review is well deserved.

In the Mouth 54/60

The impressions in the breezes translate well though the palate. There is a firm brown sugar sweetness which melds into the oak spice orange peel leaving impressions of Mackintosh toffee and orange marmalade. My hand written notes contain a plethora of taste descriptors, cigar tobacco, licorice, hints of herbal menthol, camphor, vanilla, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and clove; but it is the manner in which all of these flavour impressions join and play together that is most impressive. The rum is deeply complex with even a touch of briny seawater and iodine finding their way into the taste profile.

I added a little ice to my glass and noticed a welling up of chocolate and coffee-like flavours. It is hard to decide which is better, serving the rum neat, or on the rocks. In the end I settled on enjoying the rest of my sample neat over the next several days, however I truly wished the sample were larger such that I could have had the best of both worlds.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The aged rum has a light touch of oil in the mouthfeel which gives the rum both body in the mouth and length in the finish. That exit is quite spicy with orange peel and oak spices heating the throat just a little, but there is also an ebbing toffee sweetness and a touch of herbal menthol which provide soothing relief.

The Afterburn 9/10

Seven years ago I reviewed the Mount Gay 1703 Old Cask Selection. That rum was very similar in make-up to the 1703 Master Select also consisting of selected rums from Mount Gays Reserves which were aged between 10 and 30 years. When I compare this review to that review of seven years past, I find that either the rum has changed, or my appreciation of it has. Probably, it is a little of both. Any spirit blended from such a limited selection of barrels is bound to have batch variation; however, it is also true that the Mount Gay style has been growing on me over the years.

In the case of this particular Mount Gay Rum, I find that the Pot Still Rum within the blend has given the rum a strong complex character which is very engaging. However there is also evidence of very old column still rums which have provided a wonderful backdrop of fine oak spice which carries the spirit even further. I love what I taste.

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


Suggested Recipe

1703 Master Select Neat Serve

1 oz 1703 Mount Gay Master Select
Rum Glass

Serve at Room Temperature

Enjoy Responsibly!

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


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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