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Mount Gay 1703 XO Reserve Cask Rum

Review: Mount Gay 1703 XO Reserve Cask Rum 88/100
Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on December 1, 2019

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.

The tradition of producing rum on Barbados has been dated to the early seventeenth century. In fact, there is evidence of small-scale distillation on Barbados as early as 1637. It is unclear from the evidence whether this early distillation can properly be called rum. However, the first recorded written usage of the words ‘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 site which would become the Mount Gay Plantation. The first 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. 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 XO Rum is produced in a using a combination of both column and traditional copper pot stills. The rum is matured in American oak barrels which were previously used to age whiskey or  Kentucky bourbon. This is a blended spirit consisting of a wide range of rums of various ages some reputed to be as old as 15 years.

Mount Gay 1703 XO is bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

Mount Gay recently changed the bottle design for their XO Rum. The current design is not as sleek and sexy as the previous design was, although it can also be said that the current bottle design gives the rum a more traditional look on the bar shelf.  I like that the neck has remained lengthened making the task of pouring the rum much easier, and I also like the corked closure which elevates the presentation.

Note: I do not like the ambiguous XO age designation which has no legal meaning with respect to rum. Although claims are maid that the spirit contains rums up to 15 years of age, there is no verification of this information, and the company website says only that the spirit is matured in charred ex-American Whiskey and Ex-Bourbon Casks, but does not say how long that maturation was. In the world of Cognac where the XO age designation has meaning, the designation may only be used for cognacs whose entire contents are aged at least 6 years.

In The Glass 9/10

Colour:  Copper with a strong tilt towards bronze

Legs: Thick leglets which fall slowly

Initial Nose: Complex with a mingling of oak, molasses and tar

Decanted Aroma: Oak spice, treacle and molasses as well as firm baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon and clove). Roasted marshmallow, coffee and cocoa. Fruity with canned apricots and orange marmalade. Herbal notes from the pot still are obvious as well.

In the Mouth 53/60

Alcohol push and Spice: Spicy and somewhat aggressive with a light bite from the elevated alcohol content (43 %).

Initial Taste: Mingling of caramel, oak spice and herbal pot still flavours.

Follow up: The Oak spice pushed through more firmly on second sip. Vanilla and baking spice merge with caramel and treacle. Sticky marmalade and apricot jam followed by rich coca and herbal tobacco. Very rich and delicious.

With Ice: Cocoa and coffee flavours jump out. Wow!

In The Throat: 13/15

Body and Length: Medium to full bodied with a long spicy yet smooth finish. The alcohol bit hinted at in the delivery is absent in the exit.

Flavours during Swallow: Dark Brown sugar with oak and baking spice

Lingering Flavours: Wood spice and herbal tobacco

The Afterburn  8.5/10

Final Thoughts:  My current sample tastes much better than my previous review in 2011 would indicate, and my score has jumped all the way to from 83.5 to 88 points. I think the Mount Gay Style has grown on my over the last decade. If you haven’t tried this rum recently, maybe give it another look to see it has the same impact on you.

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


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


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