Review: Mount Gay Black Barrel vs Mount Gay Black Barrel Double Cask Blend

Mount Gay, one of the rum producers in Barbados, and arguably the oldest running distillery in the world, has recently updated its core range. MG Eclipse, MG XO and MG Black Barrel all got a modern new look, with the last two having their recipes tweaked by the fairly new Mount Gay Master Blender – Trudiann Branker. Trudiann’s first act as the new Master Blender was the release of the Mount Gay Pot Still rum last year that was praised by many rum enthusiasts including myself.

Following that it looks like Trudiann didn’t waste any time with the release of the new Mount Gay Black Barrel Double Cask Blend and Mount Gay XO Triple Cask Blend. Both have had their prices bumped up as the new blends are supposed to be improvements of the old ones while replacing them so let’s see if that’s backed up. Wes from The Fat Rum Pirate has already compared the XOs in his review so I decided to have a look at the Black Barrels.

Mount Gay Black Barrel was actually featured in one of my older reviews (1 year and a half ago), also a “vs” between XO and BB, so it will be interesting to see how my palate evolved since.

The distillery blends distillates coming off their copper coffey still and copper double pot still to make their core rums. They use closed fermentation for their column distillation and open air fermentation for their pot still distillation in order to impart more flavour. It states on the website that the main barrels used in ageing their rums are ex-Bourbon, ex-Cognac and ex-American Whiskey. I’m interested as how the ex-American casks would differ from ex-Bourbon ones – if anyone has details regarding this please get in touch. Now let’s get into it.

Mount Gay Black Barrel (MGBB) hit the UK market in 2014, meant to bridge the gap between Mount Gay Eclipse and the XO. Molasses based, blend of column and pot still distillates aged between 2 and 7 years in the tropics in ex-American Whiskey casks and finished for four weeks in heavily charred ex-Bourbon casks. Bottled at 43% ABV and free of additives.

On the nose it’s citrus and vanilla forward. Orange peel, marmalade, vanilla pods, green tea, peach and spicy burnt wood. Quite aromatic too with cardamom and cloves. Almonds, melon, yellow apples and honey. Pretty elegant with a creamy feel to it.

On the palate just as I remember, it has a custardy mouthfeel and aroma. Vanilla, apricot, coconut, ripe bananas, bit of strawberries, cloves again and orange zest. Hints of menthol and tobacco. From mid palate towards the end it becomes more spicy and woody with bold black pepper notes, some ground coffee and a touch of smoke – I’d say this is a layer added by the charred barrel. The finish is quite short with vanilla, cinnamon and a bit of smoke.

Mount Gay Black Barrel Double Cask Blend (MGDCB) hit the UK market 6 years later in 2020, just fresh in the shops. Molasses based, blend of column and pot still distillates with more pot still component than its predecessor and aged for a bit longer – the rum’s age ranging from 3 to 7 years old in the tropics in ex-American Whiskey casks. The finishing period is also increased to 6 months in heavily charred ex-Bourbon casks. Bottled at 43% ABV and free of additives.

On the nose feels more herbal and fruity than MGBB. Coriander, basil, pistachios, sweet cherries, red apples, grapefruit zest, vanilla, canned peaches, raspberries and marmalade. Roasted almonds and cloves. Some passion fruit and raisins as well. It definitely smells richer.

On the palate it’s actually very close in profile with MGBB, just everything dialed up a notch, I’m not just copying tasting notes. Vanilla and passion fruit again, apricot, green tea, ripe bananas with a touch of green chilies and basil. Pink grapefruit, pink pepper, red apples, sour cherries, touch of cacao, cloves and almonds. The smoke is there again, but I feel like the transition from the initial taste and mid/end palate is smoother. The finish of MGDCB is also short with some herbal notes and a hint of smoke.

I’ll be honest, this is quite a difficult one. While I do like the flavour profile of MGBB – young Barbadian rum spiced up by a heavily charred barrel, the MGDCB is definitely more complex. It turns up the initial profile a bit, it’s adding a layer of more floral/herbal notes and it balances the rum overall, but because of the lack of contrast, the spiciness of MGDCB doesn’t stand out as much. MGDCB definitely wins this from the complexity point of view, but I know I will definitely be nostalgic about the MGBB’s flavour profile especially paired with the amazing value for money.

Now talking about the price, on The Whisky Exchange website the difference between the two is less than £5, but if we have a look on Amazon, the gap is way bigger especially when on offer. Also MGDCB is closer in price to the old Mount Gay XO and I prefer the old XO over the new BB as well so I feel like, while the price increase is justified by the quality of the rum alone, I will definitely look to stock on the old Black Barrel while the budget allows it.

Mount Gay Black Barrel score:
Flavour/taste: 45/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 75/100

Mount Gay Black Barrel Double Cask Blend score:
Flavour/taste: 48/70
Value for money: 13/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 76/100

Cheers!

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