Mount Gay 1703
Review: Mount Gay Rum 1703 Old Cask Selection 86.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted April 18, 2010
1703 is the year that the Mount Gay Rum was first produced on the Isle of Barbados, making Mount Gay Rum one of the oldest, if not the oldest brand of rum in the world. Because Barbados is situated as a gateway from the Atlantic to the Caribbean, sailors from the Old World often used the island as the first resting point on the way to the New World. This meant Barbados was ideally suited for trade between the two worlds in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Part of that trade was rum which is why the island is rightfully considered the birthplace of the rum trade.
The Mount Gay 1703 Rum is a premium blend which features aged rum stocks from selected barrels of the Mount Gay treasured reserve. These barrels have been aged 10 to 30 years and feature the best that Mount Gay has to offer in the areas of Craftsmanship and Quality.
In the Bottle 5/5
The Mount Gay 1703 arrives in a slick oval decanter style bottle with a brushed metal capped cork topper. The presentation just oozes class and luxury. This bottle is not adorned with fancy labels; a simple but classy metallic label simply states MOUNT GAY RUM in a black bold font. Underneath the bold lettering is simple 1703, OLD CASK SELECTION. The label includes a picture of the island of Barbados with a red star indicating the location of the Mount Gay Distillery. Sleek, elegant and classy!
In the Glass 9.5/10
The rum has a bright coppery colour with black stains. It looks very rich and lively in the glass almost like a shiny new penny. A swirl of the glass shows a nice sheen of oil on the sides with small legs tricking back into the rum. Dark molasses and baking spices rise to my nostrils followed by a smokey leather. Perhaps it is the colour of the rum fooling me, but I catch a scent of copper pennies in the air as well. (If you do not think copper pennies have a fragrance then I suggest you buy a fresh roll and break them under your nose,you will understand.)
This is deep and complex, with oak spices, ripe fruit (pears and apricots) and a lingering caramel toffee.
In the Mouth 52/60
This is one of those rums where it is obvious to me that the blenders are working overtime restraining the bitterness which comes with well aged oak barrels. The resulting rum is full of character with a remarkably deep flavour profile. However it is a taste profile which demands a certain patience on behalf off the rum drinker to realize.
The first impression in my mouth is of a dark smoke and leather flavour riding a wooden raft of oak tannin rum to the back of my taste buds. The rum hits you quite hard with rough flavours and a heavy alcohol aggressiveness. The rum is peppery and seems almost bitter at first tasting.
Patience is required. Allowing the rum to breathe (decant) brings about a much more pleasing and complex taste profile. Baking spices, canned apricots and ripe banana build under the smokiness. Baked pears and apples reveal themselves, and dark cherries pop in somewhere as well with traces of treacle and a hint of cocoa. At the very bottom of the rum, copper pennies lie providing support for the sweeter flavours rising in this stew.
As the rum sits in the glass, the sweetness, which lies under the initial smokiness, builds as does the baked fruit. We reach a point where the bitter and the sweet meet, and the complex oaky rum achieves balance.
In the Throat 12/15
The rum exits with flavours in my throat and the back of my palate which are more bitter than sweet. Dried plums and raisins slide down my throat. The aggressive smoke and oak tannin noticed during the delivery have returned to have the final word. The lingering bitterness of the 1703 well after my glass is consumed forces me to knock the score down a bit.
The Afterburn 8/10
Each time I sample the Mount Gay 1703 Old Cask Selection, I left with the vague unsettled feeling that the experience should have been better. The rum is full of character, and full of complex flavours. If allowed the time to breathe, the rum displays a great balance of those flavours. But…. (isn’t that a dreadful word), the rum has that lingering bitterness.
For some this will be the ultimate rum experience. the rum is like a fine aged brandy, or perhaps more like a well aged scotch. But for me, my final impression is that the Gods of the Oak Cask, were allowed to foil my enjoyment by choosing a such a bittersweet finish.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
I was provided only a small sample of this rum for my tasting and so experimentation in the cocktail realm had to be limited to one recipe. The recipe is based upon a quality Scotch Cocktail called the Automobile. Here is a link to the original recipe on the internet cocktail database: Automobile Recipe.
My recipe is only very loosely based upon this classic, and I call it, Romantic Traffic.
2 Oz Mount gay 1703
1 Oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
1 Tablespoon of Orange Curacao
dash of bitters
Mix all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and strain into a rocks glass.
In case you are wondering about the name, it is also the name of a song by a Canadian “new wave” band called “THE SPOONS“. The song is kind of funky like this cocktail. As well I assure you that this cocktail is “forrest approved“. Visit his great site by clicking on my link provided here.
You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)