I don’t think much has to be said about Mount Gay, Barbados’ most consistent and prestigious distillery. If it really is the oldest rum distillery in the world or not is debateble, but it is the oldest one still producing today. At Single Cask Rum we do like Mount Gay but nevertheless this is the first cross-tasting of the distillery we’re having. Why? Because they just don’t release many exciting products and typically do not sell bulk. Their XO blend is as good as value for money gets with official bottlings if you ask me but the nerd in me wants more vintage releases and single casks. To the best of my knowledge, the 2000 vintage is the only batch that has ever reached the independent bottlers and today we shall taste all the rums from the batch we can find. For background information on Mount Gay, let me just refer you to the coutry page linked above.
Cadenhead’s Mount Gay “BMMG” 2000 8YO (66,3%): BMMG should stand for Barbados Main Mount Gay of course. Nose: Quite alcoholic but not disturbingly so. We get the batch specific notes of almond, marzipan and coffee, as well as cocoa and other roasting aromas. At just eight years it is rather balanced and intense (we should expect the latter but not the former) and given enough time not really alcoholic anymore. Nice. Later potatoes, barnyard, hints of citrus and fresh soil. Palate: The first sip is slightly sharp with almonds, coffee, cocoa, coconut, sour mango and citrus. With the second sip I can also find the aromas of barnyard and soil, but only deep in the background. Finish: Relatively short and still a bit sharp with peppers, almonds and hot coffee. It is quite good actually but not as great as it was in my memory. At the end of the day, it is still falling short of its potential, even though this was probably one of the better barrels. But then again, this is just eight years… (85/100)
Isla del Ron Mount Gay 2000 12YO (61,6%): This used to be celebrated when it came out and if I remember correctly, rightly so. Nose: In direct comparison, the nose is much more reluctant than that of the BMMG for example. I didn’t expect that. The coffee is a bit more pronounced (at the expense of almond and marzipan) here and other nuances I can pick up include paprika, multi grain bread, soil and wet cardboard. Unfortunately, time doesn’t really help here. Palate: In a sense the slightly lower abv is actually a plus as it makes for easier drinking. Flavour-wise, I am picking up the usual combination of almond, ground coffee, vanilla, tonka, cocoa and citrus. Sour mango can be found as well but the roasting flavours clearly dominate the profile. Additional notes include pepper, nutmeg, cumin and other spices. The finish is medium long with the aforementioned spiced, oak and lots of sweet coffee. All in all, the palate is much better than the nose for me and if the latter were just a bit more intense, we might be going quite a bit higher here. (85/100)
Duncan Taylor Mount Gay 2000 12YO (53,7%): This one used to be a secret favorite of mine. Unfortunately I never managed to get a bottle… Nose: Very strong on the roasting aromas, especially the coffee. Behind that peanuts, flips, chocolate, almonds and coconut. Oh yeah, this is my cup of tea. In the background I can also find some fruity notes which remind me of cherry, straw- and brambleberry. Palate: Sweet, mellow and once again with a strong emphasis on coffee and peanuts. Then vanilla, oak, cumin, cloves, pepper, paprika and only deep in the back some of the oh so lovely almonds. The fruity elements seem to be gone alltogether. Finish: Medium long with vanilla, mango, milk chocolate and cappucino. An awesome finish indeed! Some aspects of the rum are magnificent but all in all it just doesn’t feel very harmonious. Now personally, I like these edgy, rough and special rums, but for many of you it should probably be more balanced than this. A great rum nevertheless. (87/100)
Isla del Ron Mount Gay 2000 16YO (57,8%): The label is just once again that of the 12YO, please excuse this small misstep. Concerning the bottling, it ended up in the hands of very few people and the chance of getting one was slim to none. But there are always some nice people who share the precious stuff. Nose: Very strong on the spices (caraway, pepper, nutmeg, cumin and even anise) with coffee beans, cocoa, herbal tea, a tiny whiff of almonds and the barnyard/ soil mix again. The nose is solid, mostly because of its intensity but not because of its complexity. Palate: Quite sharp and the alcohol isn’t integrated very well if you ask me. The flavourprofile (a mix of nuts including cashew, coconut, almond and peanut as well as further notes of coffee and cocoa) is nice, even great, but the sharpness of the alcohol really hampders my enjoyment (and I wouldn’t really describe myself as being overly critical on that aspect). Likewise, the texture isn’t really great and the lovely notes that are definitely there cannot be transported apropriately. With the third sip I get more herbal notes (mint, thyme) as well as vanilla, some oak and green peppers. The finish is sharp, spicy, relatively long but doesn’t offer much more than the palate. Well… once again the potential is clearly there but with this one I would have taken the chance and leave it in the barrel for a bit longer to smoothen it. By the way, sticking the nose back into the tasting glass after the tasting shows a particularily strong barnyard/ soil note with this one, which I didn’t really notice as such before. (84/100)
Let’s squeeze in a reduced version right here.
Samaroli Barbados (Mount Gay) 2000 18YO (45%): Dilution is rarely a good thing but Samaroli tend to have good selections so let’s not be too pessimistic. Nose: What we’ve just said seems about right. The dilution is visible, but the rum is quite intense and aromatic. I get almonds, coffee dregs, bio degradable waste, soy milk, some oat, vanilla, oak and even freshly brewed green tea. This smells extremely nice and some sort of dry marzipan and quality chocolate can also be found. Palate: Mhhhmm. It kinda bugs me a bit to say it but the strength is well chosen (even though Samaroli just have one “default” as it seems). We get a slightly herbal twist on the coffee/ soil/ almond side of the rum with the soy milk and chocolate from the nose mixed in. This is a very complex, yet also harmonious expression of the batch I must say and I don’t really feel that too much power is missing here. In a sense this is as good as “easy-sipping” gets I think. Finish: Medium long to short and I’d say that it is here that you feel the dilution the most. I get plenty of cold coffee, oak and soy milk. Oh I love this rum and the nose is easily the best of today’s bunch but for some reason I cannot quite put it on the same level as what we are about to get. (87/100)
Kintra “Bungehole Delight” (Mount Gay) 2000 18YO (55,6%): Names probably won’t get much more stupid than this. What have you been
thinking drinking, Dutch bros!? Nose: The cask has completely taken over the rum at 18 years and, at least at first, killed all of the sweet (marzipan) and fruity (citrus) elements that we’ve partially found in the other ones. Usually that’s a bad sign but here it is not at all. I get spices, coffee, roasting aromas and a mix of nuts without any elements sticking out in particular. Then vanilla, something close to raspberry or pomegranate (ah, fruity notes after all), just a whiff of the barnyard, warm milk and slightly syrup-y notes. This is a good one! Palate: Yum! The texture is almost bubble gum-y with vanilla flavoured milk, cookie dough, dry almonds, dark coffee, cocoa, a mix of peanuts and coconut, again this hint of raspberry and of course the full spectrum of spices (pepper, nutmeg, clove, anise, cumin). I’d love to have some more marzipan but hey, you cannot always have everything. Finish: Medium long to long, dry and dominant on the spices with additional notes of coffee, almonds and oak. So there you go, for me it is the best Mount Gay (the official bottlings don’t even play in the same ballpark) and also the best Bajan rum not named “Rockley”. That’s quite something, isn’t it!? (88/100)
Not fast, there’s one more from our buddies from The Rum Cask!
The Rum Cask Mount Gay “BMMG” 2000 19YO (55,1%): While Kintra often times reduce the strength of their bottlings, The Rum Cask never do and this tells us that ~55% seems to be the natural strengths of these rums at this age. Nose: It starts out rather reluctant but then quickly (within the first 1-2 minutes) turns sweeter only to reveal its full potential after about 10 minutes. I must say that I don’t really go through all the different phases of a nose with these cross-tastings enough… in fact, I basically only do it when I sip something for ‘pleasure’ without the need to write down notes. Palate: I now get a sweet balance of marzipan, coffee and cocoa paired with crispy cornflakes, white chocolate, a rather nice mix of nuts and a solid influence from the cask in the form of vanilla, cinnamon and wood. Really good and going back to the nose, I can find many of these elmements as well! With the third sip I get even more spices and roasting aromas and I’d attribute them roughly equally to the distillate and the cask. Finish: Medium long with oak, oat, spice and a ever so slightly disturbing alcoholic note. Well… that’s really just a tiny downside to an otherwise great rum! Did we just say that the Kintra is the king of Mount Gay!? Not really, or at least, it is only the co-King. I’d say this one is a notch better even, but ranking it higher wouldn’t do the other relations much justice. You cannot go wrong with either of these if you like this particular profile. (88/100)