Mount Gay 1703 (Old Cask Selection)
Single Blended Rum – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still
ABV Hydrometer Test: 43% ABV @ 20°
Claiming to be the oldest distiller of rums in the world, Mount Gay from Barbados is well known to any rum drinker. As they seek to branch out into the higher end rum market, they have released “Mount Gay 1703”, named in tribute to the year of Mount Gay’s formation in 1703.
The rums in this blend are aged 10-30years. According to Mount Gay’s marketing info, “Master Blender Allen Smith selected the finest single and double distilled rums from Mount Gay’s oldest reserves. 1703 is a discerning blend comprised of the rare and noteworthy barrels that Allen has carefully monitored over the years. Forty four blends were” used in this expression. That either makes Allen Smith a blending genius or might indicate that some of the reserves are only used in small quantities due to their flavour or quality.
In the UK, this retails at around £110-£120. I was fortunate to pick one up on holiday in Gibraltar for just £50 – knowing nothing about it at the time, I bought one to try. Sounds like a bargain, but that all depends on what it tastes like.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Single Blended Rum – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still.
When I tested the ABV with my hydrometers, I am happy to report this was spot on the 43% written on the bottle’s label. Not that I would expect anything else from an honest rum producer and an honest rum-producing country.
Presented in an outer box, the bottle within is a nice decanter style with some simple gold labels and a nice cork enclosure – it does look classy. But, I like to look beyond the image and marketing to what is actually contained within and the first step towards this means having some useful info on the packaging. There IS a lot of marketing tales on the box – talk of the Caribbean waters and Mount Gay’s history on one side of the box, whilst mentioning the age of the rum and some tasting notes on the other, most of which is erroneous. The most important things are missing from the box, which is how the rum was made (type(s) of still) and aged (type(s) of barrel(s)) – surely this is more important than the water type etc.
When you actually pour the rum, it is extremely difficult to avoid it dripping down the side of the bottle. It’s a shame – it looks great but lacks the full info required by a rum drinker.
This has a rich golden appearance with lighter hues on the surface. It has some lovely oak and wood aromas along with some light molasses or even brown sugar.
Underneath the wood is a faint hint of vanilla and some banana, too. The legs on the side of the glass are thick and rich.
Taste, Initial-middle 35/40
This has a very delicate initial taste, a lighter style of Bajan rum. There is a rich sweetness to this accompanied by some caramel and a hint of spice, probably nutmeg. The oak is subtle at this point and the rum is quite smooth and balanced. Has Allen Smith juggled those 44 blends to create a superb balance?
Taste, Middle/Throat 38/40
The sweetness disappears quite quickly replaced by a very oakey finish. The banana is present in the background but the initial spice is stronger along with some dried fruits and light vanilla. With a second tasting the rum’s dryness becomes leathery alongside some toffee flavours. There is a lovely balance between a nice fiery finish and the soft traditional Bajan style of light rums.
This has a medium-long finish and that oak/wood dominates long after swallowing. The fire is warming but not burning – again a nicely balanced level.
Morning After Aroma
The aromas of oak and leather are still very present along with some soft spice and a hint of smoke.
If this was a £50 rum I would be saying how it is great value and is a really nice tipple; in fact I would say it is amazing. But, at the UK retail of £110+ I am saying it is way too expensive for what it is and there are better value Bajan rums for a fraction of the price (Foursquare Port Cask at £30, for example).
It is a really good quality rum that offers lots of flavours. The blend is a credit to Allen Smith, who has proved with this offering that he knows how to hit the right notes for a high-end blend of rum. Throughout there is a nice balance… some sweetness, some dryness… some fire and some smoothness.
Mount Gay’s web site on 1703.
P Denotes the rum contains POT still distillate.
C Denotes the rum contains traditional/Coffey COLUMN still distillate.
B Denotes the rum contains a BLEND of POT and COLUMN still distillate.
M Denotes the rum contains MULTI-COLUMN still distillate or is a MODERN rum.
A Denotes the rum is an AGRICOLE i.e. from Cane Juice.
S Denotes the rum is presented in a SWEETENED style.
Bottle/Presentation Out of 3
Glass/Aroma Out of 10
Taste, Initial-middle Out of 40
Taste, Middle/Throat Out of 40
Afterburn Out of 7