Mount Gay XO (2020 Edition)

Barbados

43%
£54

Single Blended Rum: A blend of pot still and traditional column still from a single distillery.

ABV Hydrometer Test: 43% ABV @ 20°
* B

Mount Gay are the oldest continuously operating rum distillery in the world having traced their history officially to 1703, hence “1703” often appears on Mount Gay products and marketing. In reality, rum was probably being distilled at Mount Gay before this date, but either way, Mount Gay’s heritage and pedigree is one of the finest in the world.

Mount Gay XO Triple Cask Blend, to give the rum its full title, recently launched in the UK (2020). It replaces Mount Gay XO, first launched in 1992, and sits around the £50 mark, a tad higher than its predecessor. This is a new blend of rums without an official age statement, which gives Mount Gay greater flexibility in their blending options from year-to-year. The rums are between five and 17 years old and aged entirely in Barbados. The “Triple Cask Blend” name appropriately comes from the rums being previously aged in casks that held American Whiskey, Bourbon and Cognac. New Master Blender Trudiann Branker has created this new blend from a combination of copper pot batch distillations and traditional continuous column still rums, making Mount Gay XO Triple Cask Blend a Single Blended Rum.

It is presented at 43%, the traditional ABV for a rum from Barbados.

Bottle/Presentation 2/3

Mount Gay XO Triple Cask Blend has an outer box with XO embossed in big bronze letters in the middle. Further down is useful info about the three cask types used, the “Round & Complex” style, tasting notes and the Master Blender’s signature. Opening the box reveals Mount Gay’s more recent bottle shape – a squat flask with an elongated neck. I say “more recent” as although XO’s bottle remains the same, the Eclipse and Black Barrel bottles have been revamped into the same shape. The label repeats the info from the box but also includes a bottle number (Mine is AP 08978). It looks and feels like a step up from the previous packaging.

Glass/Aroma 8/10

The rum presents itself as medium-amber in the glass but heading towards an orangey colour rather surprisingly. The rum’s legs are thick and slow to descend.

Aroma-wise…..caramel, tropical fruit, peppered spice, nutmeg, cinnamon, red cherries and a touch of menthol underneath everything. Further nosings reveal tobacco, green bananas and vanilla.

Taste, Initial-middle 37/40

On entry the rum glides very smoothly over your lips and tongue. It is buttery, creamy and delicate with hints of chocolate, oak and caramel. It is like an alcoholic, warm Häagen-Dazs Salted Caramel ice cream wrapped in Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Scrumptious!

Multiple tastings reveal warming black peppery spice and a build up of dried oak.

In the mid-palate, the medium bodied rum develops a touch more peppery spice and is joined by dark fruits, almonds and refreshing citrus.

Mount Gay XO Triple Cask Blend Box Label
Mount Gay XO Triple Cask Blend Box Label

Taste, Middle/Throat 35/40

The mid-palate spice continues to develop and towards the rear of the mouth becomes a bit fiery. Presumably the Mount Gay pot still distillate starting to dominate over its lighter column still counterpart.

Sipping again and the rum develops more of an oak presence to complement the warming peppery spice notes. A dry astringency coats the inside of your mouth accompanied by some now bitter chocolate notes – more like a 100% cacao than a vegetable-fat, milk-led Cadbury’s offering that the entry felt like. There is even a hint of something pastry-esque lurking underneath, too.

Afterburn/Finish 6/7

A medium-long finish with peppery caramel and smoky oak building alongside a dry and restrained hint of fire in the back of the throat.

TOTAL 88/100

Mount Gay XO Triple Cask Blend Box and Bottle
Mount Gay XO Triple Cask Blend Box and Bottle

Overall

A Barbadian modern classic, re-packaged with a new blend for 2020.

My first tasting was a very distinct meh, I preferred the previous XO. But spend some time with this little beauty and its powerful elegance woos you towards it and by the time you have had half a bottle, the previous XO is a distant memory of your rum-tasting infancy. Quite often when I am writing about rums I find that a couple of sips from a sample bottle in one evening is not enough, but spend a week or more with a whole bottle and you get a better impression about the rum.

So, what about putting Mount Gay XO Triple Cask Blend alongside the previous edition? Well, the most obvious thing of note is an increase in the level of pot still element in the blend. The new edition is more powerful and robust. The old XO seems sweeter and lighter by comparison, whereas the new XO has more fire and some rough edges that tend to come from pot still distillates. With that has come a price increase, too…..Around Christmas 2019, I could pick up a Mount Gay XO on Amazon for around £36, and that was often discounted to £30-33. A quick Google search shows it available at £33.49 (May 2020). Therefore, the new blend is a significant step up in price as well, but it is now more clearly placed well above the Black Barrel offering that was previously not too much less than XO price-wise. So, it seems that Mount Gay’s relaunch of two of its rums is not just a change of blend, but a different target audience – I think Black Barrel is mostly aimed at the cocktail sector, whereas the new XO is more to the sip and savour enthusiast.

It is interesting to see that Mount Gay includes “Barbados Rum” and “Est. 1703” wherever possible on its boxes and labels. Probably pre-empting the potential Barbadian Geographical Indication (GI) and the added value that brings by being called “Barbados Rum.” And naturally, they are very proud of their history and so they should be! There is no reference to the proposed Gargano reclassification of rums by calling it a Single Blended Rum though.

Mount Gay
Mount Gay

I do like the re-branded bottles – Eclipse, Black Barrel and XO all have the same bottle shape, following on from the special editions, such as the Mount Gay Peat Smoke Expression Rum.

Suffice to say that as a rum drinker that always enjoys Mount Gay rums, I have really enjoyed the new XO Triple Cask Blend tremendously. One of my favourite rums of 2020 so far

Value: 5/10

This was a tough call as Mount Gay’s rums are usually pretty keen price/value-wise. But the new blend is 55-60% more expensive, which is quite a price-hike. The quality is not in doubt, but it loses some marks value-wise as a result, especially compared to Appleton’s keenly priced 12yo Rare Blend at around £35, with which this rum will be competing. Although with Appleton’s impending rebranding/relaunch, that price will go up, too.

Flavour Profile:

Review No. 143

Mount Gay Twitter Tasting 2020 #MoreThanARum
Mount Gay Twitter Tasting 2020 #MoreThanARum

*
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.

Marking Guide:
Bottle/Presentation Out of 3
Glass/Aroma Out of 10
Taste, Initial-middle Out of 40
Taste, Middle/Throat Out of 40
Afterburn/Finish Out of 7
TOTAL 100

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