“It’s ready when it’s ready, not before.” – Mount Gay Rum Master Blender Allen Smith
Back in February I was rushing through Grantley Adams Airport in Barbados, hoping that the unusual hour-long wait in immigration and security wouldn’t prevent me from getting my duty-free rum. I wasn’t worried about missing my flight because who wouldn’t like another day in beautiful Barbados? Additionally, when there are big delays with passengers lined up to get through security in a small airport, chances are, the airline will simply wait a few minutes and get you on that flight home.
I rushed to the duty free shop and grabbed a bottle of Mount Gay XO (always my first choice) and had to make a quick decision on my second bottle. In my mind I was thinking Mount Gay Silver, Black Barrel, or perhaps St. Lucia’s Chairman’s Reserve. I already packed St. Nicholas Abbey’s 18-year rum in my luggage (a gift from friends) and after buying the sampler pack from St. Nicholas Abbey, I was trying to budget my rum spending. I must admit I get pretty enthusiastic in the rum section of any liquor store. A box with the familiar gold lettering of Mount Gay that I would typically find on the XO bottle stood out. It was the first edition of their Origin Series: Cask Finishes. So much for my rum budget. I was not going home without that box. Honestly, I had no idea what was in the box aside from rum. I still had a flight to catch and it was last call.
Arriving in Miami with a connection to Orlando, I would have to pick up my duty-free liquor by the carousel. I didn’t see my box and was slightly frantic. I couldn’t miss my connection and hoped for the best. I’m not really sure what happened but after filing my lost bag form with American Airlines, I am happy to say, the rum was delivered to my dad’s front door the next day. I opened the box and was thrilled to get a better look at what I blew my rum budget for. Two 375ml bottles awaited me: Virgin Cask and Charred Cask.
According to the enclosed booklet that guides the drinker to this collection, we learn that with his apprentices, Master Blender Allen Smith created this series while developing the Black Barrel blend. For those that are unfamiliar with the process or just need a refresher, I found this part helpful:
“The first major point of difference between aging and finishing is that distillates are aged, and blends are finished. Aging affects the maturation of rum by rounding out the fiery qualities of a distilled spirit and finesses the signature Mount Gay aromatics from copper pot distillation to bring certain notes to the fore.”
The blend in most Mount Gay rums are finished in toasted whiskey oak barrels (charred bourbon oak barrels for Black Barrel). For the purpose of this posting, I sampled the Virgin Cask. Just as one would expect, the barrel used is only lightly toasted but virgin to any spirits aside from the Mount Gay Blend. French oak is used which is typically used to age sherry, cognac, and wine and in this case, creates a lighter Mount Gay “brown” rum. I still taste the familiar Mount Gay flavors tried it both neat and straight up. Neat, I was expecting more bite but it was smoother than expected. There was only a slight sharpness on the throat. I get the floral aromatics mentioned in the guide but more importantly, I like this rum. I prefer it with a cube of ice and hope to take the advice of using a simple syrup with a twist of lemon. I don’t think it’s necessary but since this bottle is mine and I really enjoy rum, why not?
I’ll get around to the Charred Cask soon and I hope to get hold of Series 2 by chance of luck. The next edition is slated for different pot distillations which as previously stated, will bring on different aromatics. Please Mount Gay…send a box for me!