Review: Mount Gay Black Barrel Cask Strength

Mount Gay is known as, arguably, the oldest running rum distillery in the world with a deed stating that distillation took place on their site since 1703. It’s also a quintessential Barbadian rum brand and, despite being owned by a big company such as Remy Cointreau, they are making rum using traditional practices.

I really enjoy the standard Mount Gay Black Barrel so when I heard there were releasing version at cask strength I knew I had to try it. Thankfully for me, Miguel Smith had visited Trailer Happiness and he brought a bottle of it for us to try – so I took a sample and some photos in order to write about it and, well, enjoy some of it in the comfort of my own home.

This was released in order to celebrate the brand’s 320th anniversary and it’s only available to purchase at their visitor centre on the island. Same with the original Black Barrel, it has been aged in former American Whisky casks before being finished in very charred ex-Bourbon barrels – hence the name. Presumably the blend isn’t the same as I’ve been told this would contain a higher ratio of pot still distillate than the standard expression.

Here is a video of the Mount Gay Master Blender, Trudiann Branker, talking about this release complete with her own tasting notes:

Mount Gay Black Barrel Cask Strength is molasses based, pot and column distilled and aged for an unspecified amount of time in ex-American Whisky barrels before being finished in heavily charred ex-Bourbon barrels. Bottled at 66% ABV without any additions with a limited amount of bottlings available.

On the nose it smells quite bourbony. Cacao biscuits, vanilla custard, coconut flakes and milk chocolate. Allspice, brown sugar and burnt orange zest. It smells like it would work amazing in some sort of rum cake. Leather, blackcurrant, black tea and treacle. Red apples, raisins and strawberry jam as well.

On the palate the wood influence is dialed up to 11. Coconut cream, vanilla biscuits, cacao nibs and black pepper. Black tea, molasses and a touch of rhubarb. It’s probably the heavy char finish, but it has a bit of a bitter, astringent note throughout. Sponge cake, maple syrup and cinnamon. Some dried fruits as well. The finish is long with bitter dark chocolate and coconut.

It’s quite tasty and interesting, but I have to say, this is not really a sipping rum. It’s too tannic, too rough, and it has that bitter note that’s quite prominent. It would make a really amazing Corn ‘n’ Oil, or, as Trudiann said, it could be easily enjoyed with soda. Is it better than the usual Black Barrel? Yes, just not by a mile.

Can’t really score the pricing given I don’t know for how much it’s sold on the island, but all rum in Barbados is more than reasonable so I’ll go with that.

Mount Gay Black Barrel Cask Strength score:
Flavour/taste: 51/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 81/100


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