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Mount Gay Extra Old Barbados Rum

Rum Review: Mount Gay Extra Old Rum 83.5/100
A Review Re-visitation by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on January 3, 2011

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 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 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, 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.

The Mount Gay Extra Old Rum (MGXO) is produced in a traditional style using copper pot stills. The rum is double distilled and aged in American white oak barrels which were previously used to age Kentucky bourbon. This is a well aged rum with the blend consisting of a wide range of rums from 7 years of age up to 15 years of age.

In the Bottle 5/5

As I indicated in my earlier review of the Mount Gay Silver Eclipse, the Mount Gay Rum Company has a new sleek bottle design. The new bottle has a slim oval shape with a modern, contemporary look and feel. It has a nice ‘wow’ factor when it sits on the shelf next to the other rums in my collection. I find the new bottle design slick and attractive. The label has for the most part has remained the same acting as a bridge from the old style to the new.

I am pleased that the closure for the Mount Gay Extra Old Rum bottle is a nice high density cork topper.

In the Glass  9/10

The Mount Gay Extra Old has a rich copper/bronze colour which upon pouring is already beginning to demonstrate a rich nose with a dark molasses toffee aroma rising up from the glass. When I give my glass a gentle tilt, and swirl the liquid slowly to cover the sides I am greeted with a thick oily sheen which imparts thick legs on the side of the glass.
As the glass decants, the aroma sweetens and I can smell a sweeter brown sugar within the molasses as well as luxurious baking spices. As I continue to allow the nose to develop, I get additional scents of roasted marshmallows, oak spices, ripe fruit, and scattered tea leaves. Hints of faint copper-like scents, unsweetened cocoa and an indistinct cigar-like aroma are drifting in and out of the breezes. This is deep and complex.

In the Mouth  50/60

There is much to like about the MGXO. The flavours of rich molasses, ripe soft banana, baked apples and pears, canned peaches and apricots, and an abundance of dried fruit including raisins and currants, all dance on the palate. But (and I hate it when I have to say but), there is also a dank element lurking in the rum that tends to ambush these flavours. This dank element seems to contain deep charred flavours reminiscent of caramelized brown sugar, old musty leather, and damp tobacco. Although those particular flavours are not necessarily a detriment, in this case they contain a certain bitterness which is unpleasant.

I tried adding ice to mute this aspect of the rum but it seemed instead to give more life to the bitterness.  However, I did find success mixing with a touch of lemon juice. The acidic juice seemed to be just the complement needed to mute the bitter and make the rum extremely pleasing to my palate. This effect was consistent with or without ice added.

In the Throat  11.5/15

The Mount gay Extra Old packs quite a punch of flavour in both its delivery and in its finish. However, during the exit, the dank elements of the rum have taken over completely and the ending is bitter rather than sweet. Because of the wonderful complexity I want to score this higher, but I admit the bitter ending does me in.

The Afterburn  8/10

The Mount Gay Extra Old rum seems to win an award every time it is entered into a rum competition. Yet when I sampled and tried this well decorated rum I find the experience lessened by dankness and a swampy bitter ending. It makes me wonder whether it is a peculiarity of my palate that makes me taste this differently.

To satisfy my curiosity I conducted a tasting of my sample bottle to several friends. They all tasted that same dank bitterness that I did. Mixed with a dash of lemon the rum is nice, but when sampled neat or with ice, and we all preferred to move down the Mount Gay ladder to the Mount Gay Eclipse.

Mount Gay Extra Old is rich and complex and my rating score reflects this aspect of the rum. But the rum also ends on a bitter note and my rating must also reflect that aspect as well.

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


Suggested Recipes

I tried a few variations in the cocktail realm but I found that the Mount gay Extra Old was not an easy rum to mix into a cocktail or bar drink. The traditional mixers like cola and lime juice just did not seem to work well. It seemed that dab of lemon juice I used in my tasting sessions was giving me the best result. So, my first suggestion for this rum is to serve it with or without ice with a dash of lemon juice. The lemon juice seems to act as a nice complementing element to the deeper darker flavours this rum possesses.

My second suggestion borrows the recipe I constructed for Mount Gay 1703. The recipe is of my creation and I affectionately call it Romantic Traffic. I tweaked the recipe a little at the suggestion of  Scott Parker of Select Wines who are the importers of Mount Gay Rums in my area.


Romantic Traffic

2 Oz Mount Gay Extra Old Rum
1 Oz  Gin
1 Tablespoon of Cointreau
dash of lemon juice
dash of bitters

Mix all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and strain into a rocks glass.

Garnish with a Lemon Slice

In case you are wondering about the name, it is also the name of a song by a Canadian “new wave” band called “THE SPOONS“.  The song is kind of funky like this cocktail.


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

6 Responses to “Mount Gay Extra Old Barbados Rum”

  1. Colin Foote said

    I really like the flavor but as you stated it just didn’t go down right. I don’t know if it is the higher alcohol content but I really liked it with coke. I will have to try the lemon idea.

  2. DC said

    I fully agree with you that nose promises more than the tongue delivers with this one. I really wanted to like this one, but was always met with disappointment. Perhaps my expectations were too great. For my money Doorly’s XO is a better sipper than this one, but both are a little weak on flavour. I like them with a bit more personality.

    I look forward to your Eldorado 8 year write up.

  3. I absolutely agree with you. That cruel bite at the end destroys this drink for me. And I don’t get the confusion in the literature either: the old and new labelling to begin with, but also the difference in components of the blend. Any idea what happened here? The new sleeker bottle is supposedly 15 year old while the older labelling is 7, 8 and 0 yr old rums blended together. Yet both are called Extra Old.

    • Interesting name Ruminsky, Welcome to my blog!

      I have very little information on the new blend for Mount Gay. It would not surprise me if the blend has gotten some older rums added as that trend tends to be in fashion. Personally I feel that in many cases, these added super aged rums do more harm to the final spirit than benefit. Perhaps we shall receive additional comment from someone more knowledgeable.

  4. This is my favorite rum bar none!

    • I was recently given a sample of the 1703 from some friends of mine. If you like the Mount Gay style, then you are in for a treat when you try that one!

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