Tuesday 23 July, 2013

Scaling The Heights Of Mt. Gay Rum & Taking The Gold!

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Amid the explosion of new craft rums and other cane spirits these days, the classic brands tend to get overlooked–a point probably not lost on Barbados’ Mt. Gay, which happens to be the world’s oldest continuously operating rum distillery. As Global Ambassador Chester Browne points out, they may not be the biggest rum producers (that […]




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dscf2544Amid the explosion of new craft rums and other cane spirits these days, the classic brands tend to get overlooked--a point probably not lost on Barbados' Mt. Gay, which happens to be the world's oldest continuously operating rum distillery. As Global Ambassador Chester Browne points out, they may not be the biggest rum producers (that would be Bacardi), but they don't want to be.

Still, being a bit more popular wouldn't kill them, apparently, so Browne has been engaged recently on a tasting tour for their new Black Barrel expression (created to mark the 310th anniversary), as well as the "Extra Old" (a blend of 8-13 yr matured rums) and "1703" (a blend of 10-30 yr matured rums). I got to partake in one of the sessions this past weekend at Cinco, a new Mod-Mexican spot near Marina Del Rey whose partners are pretty passionate about spirits themselves.

Browne has a dry sense of humor that balances his obvious homegrown passion for his product. "If rum could speak, all the other rums would say 'I want to be like you when I grow up,'" he quips of Extra Old. Noting the strong spice notes on the nose of the Black Barrel, he points out that comes from aging and blending, not adding spice as other brands do "That is cheating! Mt. Gay will never make a 'spiced rum.'" Browne also imparted that "Tropical aging" is approximately 3x the speed of aging in the Scottish or Irish climate, which really puts 30 year old rum in perspective--and on that note, he added Mt. Gay doesn't employ a 'solera' method of adding newer rum to older in barrel (I asked). Most of their molasses is sourced from Guyana (Barbados doesn't grow much anymore) and Brazil.

A brief tasting produced the following notes:

Black Barrel: Rich gold color, Nose of ginger, cinnamon and white pepper, Mouth of creamy caramel with plenty of peppercorn and red pepper on the finish

Extra Old: Deep amber color, Nose of coffee, toffee, almond, vanilla and trace banana, Mouth incredibly smooth and soft, a little oily, vanilla and toast with a subtle bite on the end.

1703: Dark gold color, Nose of sweet caramel, honeysuckle, vanilla, glove leather, raisin and prune, Mouth of concentrated vanilla bean, pepper and cinnamon

The final part of the session involved a mixology contest, using Black Barrel and a variety of ingredients including pineapple, orange, lemon and lime juices, jalapeno and red peppers, nutmeg, cinnamon, Orgeat and.... Sixteen guests were divided into four teams, and I decided to take the lead with mine, and build a Tiki-style from scratch. I didn't want the juices to completely mask the spirit, so instead of just using liquid, I cut up about a quarter of pineapple and orange and shook them with the spirit and ice to bring out the natural juice, then added lemon and lime juices and orgeat. My teammates had the good idea to suggest jalapeno (we added just two slices), then we strained into a glass with fresh ice, topped with some ginger beer and garnished with mint, pineapple and orange. We also had to offer a team name, so I blurted out 'Go Gay or Go Home' (please don't ask why). Oddly enough, everyone liked it.

I won't go into detail about the other drinks in the contest except that they all leaned toward the spicier end of the spectrum for some reason. Long story short: we won! Yes, I know, it was only a contest against mere mortals, but I'm taking it! (the prize was a bottle each of Black Barrel and Extra Old--I let a teammate take the fancier one). The recipe doesn't quite fit the profile of most of my Minute Mixology (a few too many steps/ingredients), so we'll just include it here, with a new name:

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Sand in My Shorts

2 oz Mount Gay Black Barrel

1 oz Orgeat

1 oz each, lemon and lime juices

1/2 cup diced pineapple

one orange, cut into wedges

Shake all with ice, strain into parfait or similar glass with new ice, top with 1 oz Ginger Beer, garnish with a sprig of mint, orange and pineapple. Drink from the glass to get the mint on your nose as you sip.

Mount Gay Rum

 

 

 

 

 

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