Mount Gay 7 Year Old – TWE Exclusive Cask Strength

Amazingly Mount Gay have not featured on this site before, but that will change today. With a deed dating back to 1703, Mount Gay Distillery occupies a beautiful site in the North of Barbados in the Parish of St Lucy. I have far more information to share and images to post and these will appear on later articles featuring more of my Mount Gay collection.

Master Blender Allen Smith

Under the direction of Master Blender Allen Smith, Mount Gay are more famed for their entry-level Eclipse Rums along with Black Barrel and their XO. They have extensive aged stock and yet rarely bottle for others or sell to brokers these days. I have a Cadenhead’s bottling that I swear is from Mount Gay and I read only today of a release by a Dutch bottler that will be coming in December. Utilising both a traditional Coffey Column Still and multiple twin retort Pot Stills, Mount Gay produce Single Blended Rum. Their Pot Still House up in St Lucy really is a thing of beauty…..photographs can’t do it justice…but to give you some idea, this is an image that I took on my visit in April.

Mount Gay Distillery Pot Still House

But enough of that for now, you want to know about the Rum.

Mount Gay 7 Year Old Cask Strength – The Whisky Exchange Exclusive – 54% abv – Single Blended Rum

A blend of Traditional Twin Column and Double Retort Pot Still Rum, this Single Blended Rum sees a maturation period of 7 years in ex-bourbon barrels in the warehouses at the distillery in St Lucy. Bottled at 54%, which is Cask Strength, this Rum has not been chill filtered, it does not have caramel colour and it is a release of 2400 bottles from a total of 20 barrels. Losses to evaporation ranged from 37.3% to 47.9%. I have also been advised that it has a higher proportion of pot still in the blend than most other Mount Gay releases. It will be available only through The Whisky Exchange and is now available.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Peppery and spicy oak up front, as with all of the older MG expressions. The deep oak carries the intense vanilla of crème pâtissière and nutmeg topped egg custard. A bag of dried mixed tropical fruit. A hint of caramelised sugar atop a buttery Eccles cake. It’s a well-balanced and classically Barbadian nose with a little more power. Time brings a pleasant but not overdone note of pencil shavings and light molasses. Coconut chips in milk chocolate. Stewed stone fruit.

Mouth: Beautifully sweet entry. It doesn’t show it’s teeth initially. Very creamy….reminiscent of Banoffee pie with a spiced ginger biscuit base. Bourbon vanilla custard and warm fruit cake. The mid palate really allows the oak and spice to flex its muscles. The heat of black pepper and charred bourbon barrel notes. Immensely dry and with plenty of grip. Such a spice driven mid palate courtesy of the oak and the increased but never too aggressive abv. 54% just seems so right for this. Fiery freshly cut ginger, cinnamon and a touch of celery. It almost runs to being too dry and too oak heavy on the mid-palate but it manages to regain balance and a sweetness on the finish. Chorley cake with buttery shortcrust pastry resplendent with juicy raisins. A hint of milk chocolate. Caramelised sugar on creme brûlée. Walkers liquorice toffee. All pinned together with a solid, classic woody Barbadian backbone.

I tried this alongside a glass of the old label XO. Its youth, abv and more aggressive oak approach make it a very enjoyable step up as an experience as opposed to the XO’s calmer more easy-going oak and 43% abv. It’s good to see Mount Gay releasing cask strength Rums, albeit as bottlings for others and limited releases. I still think that their current cask strength releases have their pricing structure a little high to truly appeal to a bigger market, £150 for the XO Cask Strength (which I picked up anyway) and £200 for the Peat Smoke throw them into truly ‘special purchase’ territory. As a group, we spoke at length to Raphael Grisoni about this when we were at the distillery in April. This release is priced at just shy of £88 which brings it into a better price bracket and given the enjoyment contained within this bottle, it’s bang on the money.

4.5 / 5

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Agapey Artisan Chocolate with Mount Gay Rum Caramel

This is a little out of the blue and probably not what you are expecting from a new blog post, but it was a chance encounter with a pleasant chap called Peter Martin at the Tatton Park Foodies Festival that led to me receiving a bar of the most amazing sounding chocolate I could imagine from his company, International Brands. I was told of a new product venture and Peter asked for my opinion……we also picked up several Tortuga Rum Cakes from him but before I go off on another tangent, a little background.

The ancient Mayan Cultures of Mexico and Central America were the first to have used cacao between 250 to 900 AD. They harvested the beans, fermented then roasted and ground to form a paste. This was then mixed with water, spices and chilli to form a frothy spicy and bitter chocolate brew called xocoatl. Later in the 14th century the Aztecs used cacao in their diets, as a currency and as a trade item. The cacao was used in offerings to their gods and the crude chocolate drink was a favourite of their royalty. Moving forwards to the 16th Century, the Spanish took the seeds back to Spain and eventually the use of cacao spread thro’ Europe. The rest is history……

Agapey  Close Up

The Agapey Chocolate Factory is based in Bridgetown, Barbados. They use cocoa beans from throughout the Caribbean and they also use locally grown Barbadian gold cane sugar to impart a unique flavour to their chocolate. Agapey use predominantly Criollo, Trinitario and Nacional beans in what is called a ‘bean to bar’ method whereby they don’t just obtain a product in its later stages and repackage, they carry out all processes from the receipt of the beans.

This bean to bar method consists of:

Harvesting – Fermentation – Packing – Roasting – Winnowing (de-shelling) – Crushing & Grinding – Refining – Conching – Tempering

The Agapey Chocolate that I have to share with you (my thoughts, not the chocolate……the chocolate is mine) is a specific venture between Agapey and the other well-known Barbadian institution…..Mount Gay Rum and it is a 70% single origin cacao dark chocolate.

Agapey Side

The venture was undertaken to rid the world of the awful liqueur type rum chocolate that causes pain and misery to all. The bar is packaged in an attractive, sleek black box with the Mount Gay and Agapey logos clearly displayed. Upon opening the box and removing the foil, the bar is divided into large chunks displaying the Agapey logo and smelling amazing. Really intense chocolate with very little sweetness.

Agapey Block

After removing a square and breaking it, the caramel slowly oozes out. The chocolate tastes unbelievable. I’m already a big fan of dark and bitter chocolate ( thanks Dad ) and it does not disappoint. The bitter hit is there with a creamy texture and a real cacao and almost coffee hit. The first taste of the caramel gives you an instant sweet hit but not overly so. There is the subtle taste of banana and it’s almost a little salted. The rum is next to appear. Not too overpowering but a very subtle edge growing more intense. It’s not until you get a big bite of the combination of chocolate and caramel in your mouth that the addition of the golden cane sugar gives the chocolate a sweetness that perfectly balances the soft rum and salty nature of the caramel. It works…and it works well! The Mount Gay Rum adds a real rummy hit that is very welcome. In fact, nibbling the chocolate around the edge and tasting with a glass of rum….in this case I chose Mount Gay Extra Old for obvious reasons, the chocolate in both taste and mouthfeel is a great match!

Agapey Cracked

I genuinely don’t know if I would ever be able to replace this bar as I’ve never seen it about and internet searches don’t turn up results, so I’m reluctant to indulge too much with there only being 4 pieces…….but its just so tasty. Peter mentioned that there was maybe going to be a move away from the large pocket for the caramel to a smaller one but I think that the balance is so perfect that I’d hate to see it change. If you see any on your travels, pick up several bars and some for me too, and if you make it to Barbados, go and tour the Agapey Chocolate Factory.

*UPDATE*

This post has been picked up by the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation and I have since made contact with Raphael Grisoni, the Managing Director of Mount Gay Distilleries Ltd who has been kind enough to confirm that the rum used in the product is actually Mount Gay XO…….no wonder the product tastes so good!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.