Mount Gay 1703 Master Select Rum – 2017 Release

Mount Gay 1703 Master Select Rum Review by the fat rum pirate 2017 releaseMount Gay 1703 2017 release. Mount Gay probably don’t need much introduction to even the most casual of Rum drinkers. Putting aside the puerile/childish comedy that can be derived from it being a “Gay” rum, the Eclipse is omnipresent in most British supermarkets. It’s availablity in pretty much every Airport I have ever visited in Europe also ensures it is one of the Rum Worlds big hitters.

For all of Foursquare’s innovations and limited editions over the past few years Mount Gay and Cockspur are still Barbados’ biggest hitters in terms of volume and worldwide sales.

For many years Mount Gay were known for their Eclipse rum’s (available in Gold and Silver though the Gold is much easier to find) and their Extra Old or XO – often shortened to MGXO in enthusiast circles. Until recently they had a 50% ABV Black Label rum as well but they discontinued that in favour of Black Barrel. You will now find bottles of Black Barrel pretty much everywhere that sells the Eclipse. It’s worth keeping an eye out of the 1 litre bottles available in Travel Retail.

Contrary to popular belief the year 1703 is not the year Rum was first distilled on the island of Barbados. Mount Gay is often cited as the first Rum Distillery. It was the first legally recognised distillery but the noble spirit was produced much earlier than this date on Barbados.Mount Gay 1703 Master Select Rum Review by the fat rum pirate 2017 release

Mount Gay 1703 has been in circulation for a number of years. It was recently “revamped” with new packaging and more information on the actual rums involved in the blend. It is Mount Gay’s “Super Premium” offering and retails at over £100 in the UK.

The version of Mount Gay 1703 I am reviewing today is from the 2017 “batch”. This batch is one of 12,000 bottles issued annually. It is a blend of rums aged between 10 and 30 years. As far as I am aware it is a blend of Pot and Column distillates from 55 different casks expertly blended by Alen Smith. Alen is widely recognised as one of the best rum blenders in the world. The rums are blended and matured in ex-bourbon casks. I have no information suggesting anything otherwise.

In the UK a bottle of Mount Gay 1703 Master Select will set you back around £150 for a 70cl bottle. Presentation wise the new look is much more contemporary and looks much better on the shelf. It is much more appealing and less “old fashioned” now. It is bottled at 43% ABV.

I think that’s me done on the information side so lets see how good this rum is…..

Golden brown in colour. The nose is full of chewy toffee, banana, caramel, brown sugar and that signature coconut.

The coconut notes are particularly good. Its not very spicy. There is interaction with the wood but it doesn’t seem to have developed beyond a little buttery spiciness. This is a light and sweet bajan style of rum which has a wonderful balance to it.

Big and punchy it isn’t but it is a rum which has been developed by a master blender that knows his rums strengths and he’s very much playing to them.

Sipped the sweetness is dialled down a little. There is a nice spicy entry which is quite woody – ginger and a little hint towards a charred barrel and a little fire to the sweeter brown sugar and toffee notes.

Further sips reveal more of the sweeter notes. The coconut returns – this time tasting at times like a Coconut Ice. The finish is long and spicy but never overbearing. It lasts longer than I had expected. Ginger and a bit of caraway seed alongside a good measure of oak.Mount Gay 1703 Master Select Rum Review by the fat rum pirate 2017 release

It’s all very nice and polite and very nicely balanced. But its just not overly exciting. I think at this price point we need more from Mount Gay. They need to get out of that comfort zone. A re-brand is all very nice but they must be looking at Foursquare. St Lucia Distillers, Worthy Park and even Plantation and thinking – we must spice things up. We need to change, innovate, maybe try some different finishes – up the ABV (this is 43%) and just offer something more exciting and more 2018.

This would have been great 10 years ago. Heck its still a very good rum but you can get better for a quarter of the price. I like Mount Gay rum a lot but they really need to move way beyond the Eclipse if they want the “aficionados” money.

Safe – too safe.



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3 comments on “Mount Gay 1703 Master Select Rum – 2017 Release

  1. I agree that wood and maturation are a very important aspect, but personally I am not that excited about different casks. I wish it would be more about the distillate itself. As good as all the releases by Foursquare are, I think they play
    it a little bit too safe in that almost all bottlings are still blends of varying proportions.
    Compared to Jamaica for example, there are very few pure pot still rums from Barbados, and what little we have got comes all from the independent bottlers (with the deceased Mount Gilboa and the Mount Gay Origins as the only exceptions I am aware of).
    In my opinion Bajan distillers should all release more pot still rum. If they do not have sufficient stocks for standard releases, make them in limited batches. Perhaps even different pot still marks. In this day and age they would certainly sell.
    I am aware of the fact that for many people the blending of pot and column rum and the resulting balance is what defines Bajan rum. I do not agree. Sure, it has developed that way over time, but the original style was born in pot stills
    and that is where the heart and character of the rum comes from.

    • Well, St Nicholas Abbey only produces Pot Still rum, because that’s all they have.

      WIRD I expect will do some in the near future but their pots are very small and of odd design.

      Foursquare only produces three marques, one pot and two column, and only ages blends of both, though at high ABV. They focus on ageing and barrel management. Richard has only ever done two pure pot releases, both effectively unaged, one recently for Velier and one very early on that was sold to Scheer and reappeared last year.

      Mt Gay I expect to do some really interesting things in the near future because they have just rebuilt and installed a classic Savalle column in their batch production area which gives them some flexibility for blending. They are also doing a lot more cane management so I expect some juice distillates to come onstream in the next few years.
      They have four pots of two similar types, so definitely can produce different marques, but I strongly suspect the Barbados culture works against them for that – Barbados likes low ABV blended rum and traditional production has accommodated that. At Mt Gay they focus on consistency for export, and they also significantly reduce prior to ageing which will limit their ability to make higher ABV releases for a long time, though they do age the pot and column marques separately so can do pure still releases as the origin series showed.

      Jamaica is very different, culturally they prefer high ABV pot heavy rums, so production is optimised for that instead, and they generally reduce during the blending process.

      • Hi Brian,

        I did not know anything about a Savalle column at Mount Gay, thank you very much for sharing this. Since I could not find anything about it online, may I ask you where this information comes from?

        And could you please elaborate on your comment about the odd design of the WIRD pot stills? It is very hard to find pictures online and what I find never shows a complete still.

        Tell me if I am wrong, but I strongly assume that you are from Barbados?!?!

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