Now an annual release in its fourth iteration, the 2021 installment of Mount Gay’s Master Blender Selection is a truly unique offering. It starts with twice-pot-distilled rum that spends 14 years in standard bourbon casks before going into a virgin casks made from oak sourced from the Andes mountains.
Branker’s innovation began once she had discovered that virgin Andean Oak Casks had never been used in any previous Mount Gay Rum expressions. Over the course of 11 months, she carefully nurtured a specially selected batch of rum until she reached a beautiful marriage of flavors and aromas imparted on the liquid by this unique oak tree, the only oak native to South America. Standing at nearly 82 feet tall, Andean oak trees are found across the mountainous ranges of 18 departments of the Colombian Andes at an altitude ranging from 1,000-3,200m.
There’s definitely a much stronger wood influence here than in a typical Mount Gay rum expression, even one of this advanced age. Bold notes of lumberyard find a strong foil in aromas of cloves and a healthy grind of black pepper, tempering any hints of fruit or sweetness on the nose. The palate follows suit, showing a quite tannic body that is again dominated by the virgin oak barrel. The spice is layered on thick, sandwiching the tongue between lumber on one side, Caribbean herbs on the other, and a not insignificant level of alcohol in the middle, offering substantial heat. The finish keeps the spice flowing freely — offering lingering notes of gunpowder and barrel char, the tongue begging for a touch of sweetness to temper the fire.
It’s not the most beautifully balanced rum in the collection, but it’s one of the most expressive.
96 proof. 2760 bottles produced.
B+ / $195 / mountgayrum.com