Mount Gay Extra Old or XO as they seem to have re-branded it. For those in the know Mount Gay Extra Old is often known as MGXO. The XO notation on the Mount Gay is pretty standard across the rum and spirits industry to denote an aged spirit (without actually noting how old it is!).
As the Mount Gay Distillery is the oldest official distillery in the world established 1703 as the label denotes, I don’t think we need to worry too much about the heritage and authenticity of the contents of this Extra Old rum.
The more established distilleries use labels such as XO because they cannot guarantee the exact blend of rum’s which will be used in every batch of rum produced. Each cask will be different and the skill in making rum “uniform” comes in the shape of the master blender.
The master blender at Mount Gay is in the shape of Allen Smith who has been with the distillery over 20 years. Again this adds a guarantee as to what you will get in the glass.
Mount Gay have recently re-branded their bottles and introduced a few new lines in the shape of Black Barrel and a few limited edition cask finish editions have also appeared.
The new presentation of the Mount Gay Extra Old Cask Reserve Rum is in keeping with the Eclipse (Mount Gay’s entry level offerings). The bottle is slightly shorter and rounder. It also has a very nice cork stopper. Like the Eclipse the MGXO has Mount Gay Distilleries etched into the glass of the bottle, as pictured.
I like the presentation of the MGXO and I also like the robust card sleeve which the rum is housed in. It isn’t cheap and flimsy and gives some nice information regarding the heritage of MGXO. Things like cork stoppers and cardboard sleeves may seem slightly superfluous but sometimes they can be very important when deciding which rum to take to the counter and buy.
Another nice touch regarding the MGXO is the product of Barbados seal on the lid of the cork. It’s very nice and like the green Guarantia labels on Havana Club adds a little extra bit of authenticity to proceedings.
MGXO is very highly regarded amongst the rum fraternity yet is often overlooked by rum snobs and the new breed of rum drinkers who have been influenced by “Premium” and “Super Premium” rums. MGXO is available for around £35-40 in the UK for a 70cl bottle and it is 43% ABV (slightly higher than most but not uncommon amongst the longer aged Bajan rums).
As mentioned earlier the rum does not have an age statement. The website states it is a blend of rums aged between 8 and 15 years. I personally have no problem with this. It has been suggested the quality of this rum has diminished over the years due to the competitive nature of the rum market and the aggressive advertisting used by Diageo and the huge tax subsidies afforded to the likes of Diageo. Nevertheless at the £35-40 price point I do not feel I am being conned. Age wise this is still a decent rum for your money.
So on with the tasting. I have deliberately been trying Jamaican and Bajan rums recently. Before publishing reviews on staples such as Appleton Reserve (8 Year Old) and R L Seale’s 10 Year Old I felt I had to have a good feel for those kind of rum’s. I also enjoyed revisiting a few (Appleton VX). In light of my impressions with this rum I have also decided to revist Mount Gay Eclipse. I have found in time that a few of my initial impression on rum have changed.
In the glass the rum exhibits itself to be a lot lighter than in the bottle. However it still shows to be a lot darker than the Eclipse. It is a nice dark reddish brown colour. Nicely aged.
The nose is very fruity. Raisin, prunes and currants with a little banana and some tropical fruits a little pineapple perhaps. There is good evidence of ageing on the nose with nice woody notes. There is still a very spirit like smell present but it is nothing in comparison to the Eclipse.
As part of the nosing (and tasting process) I also tried the R L Seale’s and Captain Bligh XO. Of the three rums I found Mount Gay to be in the middle in terms of fruit aroma’s. It was also in the middle in terms of oaked notes. Captain Bligh has a slightly more fruity sherried approach (much like Doorly’s XO). R L Seale’s more complex and woody to the nose with fruit only intermittently coming through.
Tastewise I found the Mount Gay to be very nice and quite easy going despite the 43% ABV. Whilst an ice cube wasn’t necessary due to the smoothness of the spirit I found it opened it up a little. I also found leaving the rum on the radiator for a short while enhanced it (especially on a freezing English winter afternoon). The rum does have a slightly sherried taste with strong fruit flavours. It is spicy especially on the finish and a little bit short. It’s not quite as dry or oaky as R L Seale’s but it is close in terms of overall profile.
I’ve found it really difficult splitting R L Seale’s, MGXO and Captain Bligh XO. In terms of presentation it is a two horse race between Seale’s odd ball offering and Mount Gay’s more contemporary approach. However, I don’t really give marks to the presentation (it might overall influence things subconsciously). In terms of taste I found MGXO to be slightly more to my taste’s than R L Seale’s. The difference however wasn’t enough for an extra mark or half mark!
In terms of my taste test I probably should have brought Cockspur 12 or even Doorly’s XO or Rum Sixty Six into the proceedings. Thing is these Bajan rum’s due to the fact they cannot be altered are quite similar. Much like the Jamaican and Demerara rum’s you get a very definite feel about these Bajan style rum’s. In all honesty in a blind taste test I would probably struggle to guess them apart.
MGXO is smooth, complex rum which is definitely best enjoyed without cola (if you want a Bajan mixer Cockspur Fine Rum has no equal). It is without doubt an excellent rum which anyone who is serious about rum should seek out.
However, in my scoring I found personally found a little extra something in the Captain Bligh XO (not even a Bajan but very similar in style). Still MGXO come’s very highly recommended. It is a beautiful well balanced classic rum.
A must try
This rum is available from