For everyone keeping track at home, we’re now on the third release of Mount Gay’s Master Blender Collection. They kicked things off in 2018 with an excessively unusual Islay whisky cask-finished rum but reverted to the more traditional in 2019 with a less adventurous, but rather tasty, all pot-still offering. The 2019 release was the first from female Master Blender Trudiann Branker, and for her second go at it, she’s using a Port finish. Why Port you ask? I’ll let Trudiann explain:
“For this expression, I wanted to take our rum making to another level and utilize a cask that we don’t typically work with at Mount Gay, while still remaining true to over 300 years of brand heritage. After trying different casks and evaluating the resulting flavors, I selected Tawny Port casks for the bold expression of notes typically found in Port. I am thrilled to release this rich and multi-faceted rum, as well as create something unique and different as part of the Master Blender Collection.”
Specifically, The Port Cask Expression is a blend of Port-aged and Port-finished rums, rums distilled on a traditional column still and aged for five years in Tawny Port casks blended with rums distilled on a copper pot still, aged for 14 years, and then finished in Tawny Port casks for one year. The exact percentages of each aren’t specified. While port-finished rums are popping up here and there, this is the first time in Mount Gay’s history that they’ve used Port casks for aging. So, how did it turn out?
The Port influence isn’t immediately evident on the nose. It’s rich with baking spice, some stewed orchard fruit, and plenty of classic rum esters from the pot still. As it opens, more dried red fruits emerge with a bit of marzipan in the mix, but on the whole, it’s not nearly as jammy or fruit forward as some other wine-finished rums I’ve encountered. The palate isn’t as restrained, but the Port is still not the only star of this show. The same sweet apple notes that dominated Trudiann’s first Master Blender release shine through with the Port overtaking some of the traditional vegetal sugarcane notes and injecting currants, juicy prunes, and black cherry in their stead. At cask strength, there’s still that classic Mount Gay dryness and spice, despite the syrupy and sweet Tawny addition. It’s a velvety and beautifully balanced rum that finishes as rich as it starts with the Port influence on full display in a lingering rinse of raisin and cherry juice.