Review: Mount Gay Black Barrel vs Mount Gay XO

Today I am comparing the Mount Gay Black Barrel against the Mount Gay XO. Wish me luck!

Mount Gay Distillery, located in Barbados, is one of the oldest distilleries in the world with the earliest proving document being a deed of sale from the 20th of February 1703. The original estate was originally formed by William Sandiford. In 1747 the mill and distillery were sold to John Sober (the irony) who then asked for help from his friend Sir John Gay (who owned the Nicholas Plantation) to manage the operations. That’s how the Mount Gay rum was born (renamed in 1852 after Sir John). You can find the full story on their website.

Mount Gay Black Barrel is a blend of column distillates and double pot distillates which are aged a second time in deeply charred ex-Bourbon barrels and bottled at 43% ABV free of sweeteners. I am unaware of the age of the juice, but by the taste it seems younger than the XO (8-15 years).

On the nose it’s creamy, the oak definitely present, spices, vanilla, coconut cream, apricot, unripe strawberries and red apples along with some citrus.

On the palate I get the charred oak, caramel and… custard! Yum, with the vanilla, spices and creaminess from the nose although not as sweet. There is an egg yolk like flavor to it (hence the custard) which I usually find in very young whiskies, but unlike there, it actually works here. The red apples are also present along with hints of cinnamon. There is a certain burn to it that suggests a younger liquid, but I’m not complaining.
Mount Gay Black Barrel is set to be in between Mount Gay Eclipse and Mount Gay XO – both a mixer and a sipper at a decent price, and I have to say it does achieve that. Now on with the XO…

Mount Gay XO, is also a blend of column and double pot distillates aged in what should be ex-Bourbon casks for 8 to 15 years according to the website. I assume the lack of age statement on the bottle is because it can change for consistency in taste. Same story as the MGBB, it’s bottled at 43% ABV without any sugar added.

On the nose it’s rich with intense dry fruits like dried cherries and plums. A sweet aroma similar to maple syrup. The red apple is there like in the Black Barrel but this time it’s riper, sweeter along with some orange peel.

On the palate it is rich as well with raisiny flavors, like some PX Sherry minus the sugar viscosity. Creamy oak, some citrus and sour cherries with notes of dark chocolate. Oak spices on the finish along with some Luxardo Maraschino-ish cherry sweetness.
Mount Gay XO could easily be enjoyed by itself or in any cocktail that complements the spirit like an Old Fashioned (I am a sucker for a good Rum Old Fashioned).

Now for the “Vs.” bit, obviously I do love them both. Like I said the MGBB is set to be the “missing link” between the Eclipse and MGXO, logically placing it behind the XO but I would happily just sip it when the mood asks for it. MGBB is more creamy than the XO, smoother if you’d like (I don’t like that term), but the XO has more complexity and richness. Regardless of what you choose, they are both good value for money for what you can get in your glass.

Long story short:
Mount Gay Black Barrel: creamy with the spiciness being the main player.
Mount Gay XO: fruity, rich and more complex which gives it a definitive edge.

I wrote another “Vs.” before with other 2 well known Barbadian rums – Doorly’s 12 and Doorly’s XO – here.

Mount Gay Black Barrel score:
Flavour/taste: 44/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 74/100

Mount Gay XO score:
Flavour/taste: 50/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 80/100

Cheers!

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