The bottle: Mount Gay Rum Master Blender Collection: XO The Peat Smoke Expression, $250
The back story: Mount Gay REMYY, -2.51% is a rum that takes a lot of pride in its past. In fact, the Barbados-made brand, long associated with sailing culture, calls itself the world’s oldest rum, with a history going back to 1703.
But old dogs can learn new tricks and Mount Gay has been pushing the innovation front, adding different expressions to its range. This new release is a limited-edition one — just 6,120 bottles of the pricey stuff are available — but it’s far from your typical rum. What makes its special? The rum is a blend of rums that have been aged from 8 to 15 years in American oak barrels, but once combined, they get additional aging in casks that previously held a Scotch whisky from the Islay region — yes, the peaty, smoky stuff. The idea is to create a rum that has, in the words of Mount Gay master blender Allen Smith, an “unconventional character, freshness and aromatic complexity.”
In any case, the new Mount Gay offering speaks to trends shaping the American rum market. The rum category overall has been fairly flat sales-wise in recent years, according to data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. But super-premium rums — that is, the most expensive ones — are enjoying an impressive uptick. In 2017 alone, that sub-category saw annual growth of 8.3% to $140 million, based on supplier revenue, according to the spirits council. In other words, rum producers are probably smart to be courting the deep-pocketed crowd.
What we think about it: We’ve always appreciated Mount Gay rums for their distinctly drier flavor. This latest expression takes that idea to another level. It is dry, with pleasant notes of almonds and a hint of fruit. But then the smoke kicks in — gently but decidedly. In all, it is a rum to ruminate over. And dare we say? It is well worth the thee-digit price.
How to enjoy it: This is a sipping rum, so no mixing with soft drinks or juices or putting into your blender for a frozen pina colada. The brand does say you could have it with a little ice to tame its intensity.
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