Mount Gay has been dropping its luxe Master Blender releases at a steady clip for years now, but this fall the Barbados-based rum operation is doing something new: Launching a new annual release called the Single Estate Series, a first of its kind rum that will feature sugar cane farmed by Mount Gay itself. In 320 years of history, this is the first time that Mount Gay has ever grown its own cane.
The project began in 2015, when Mount Gay acquired 324 acres of farmland adjacent to its current distillery and began harvesting sugar cane. It’s been using it to make molasses, ferment, distill, and age all on site ever since. 324 acres isn’t much, though, and this first release is a blend of rums produced from the 2016 and 2017 harvest — a mix of 5- and 6-year old stock — all 100% pot distilled and ex-bourbon barrel aged. Focused on sustainability both inside and outside the bottle, the dark decanter is made with 70% recycled glass.
Only 1200 bottles are available for the U.S.
We were fortunate to get a sample and taste with master blender Trudiann Branker over a Zoom session. Let’s dive in.
For all the buildup, this rum cuts a familiar profile, thick with earthy, nose that is equal parts blackstrap molasses, turned earth, and pepper. One of the more savory expressions of Mount Gay I’ve had in recent years — in part because there’s no funky finishing to take the emphasis off the raw ingredients — cane, yeast, still, barrel.
The palate maintains a savory focus, powered up by the fairly high abv. Barrel char dominates with more of that earthy, slightly sooty note and a bit of a peanut shell element, before a sweet molasses character comes along to break the sultry mood. Some fruit perks up soon enough — figs and dates — then a chocolate character becomes clear. There’s a hint of saline on the finish, but the rumbling notes of pepper and char dominate matters for the long haul.
While the flavor profile doesn’t exactly break new ground here, this is as pure an expression of Barbados as you’ll ever find. As the series evolves over the years to come, I’m excited to check in on its progress.
A- / $400 (700ml) / mountgayrum.com