Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | September 15, 2009

Review: Mount Gay Rum 1703 Old Cask Selection

mountgay 1703Mount Gay Rum 1703 Old Cask Selection is made by Mount Gay in Barbados. It’s a blend of Mount Gay reserve rums and is aged 10 to 30 years.  Mount Gay was first produced in 1703 and this rum is in honor of their tradition.

The very small sample bottle I received – hand poured from a larger bottle into a vial that can’t be bigger than four or five ounces – is a first. Usually I receive full fifths or a few airplane bottles for review. But the 1703 is too expensive to be sampling out to lowly cocktail bloggers like yours truly  (about $100 a bottle) and it doesnt’t come in small sizes either. Hence, improvization!

The rum has a tan, hay color. It is light in the glass, with almost no residue on the walls of the glass after a sip.

The nose is powerful, with heavy alcohol and burnt sugar tones. Vanilla is also strong on second waft. This really is a rum that is best wafted, high school science class style, rather than going straight in with a deep inhale. I was a bit casual at first and probably gave myself a stronger alcohol scent than it should have.

The 1703 has a very robust mouth feel. It comes in aggressively and lets you know that it is a rum to be reckoned with. I initially tasted very potent flavors of oak, cherry, brown sugar, and vanilla. There was a light pepper spice, but it fades quickly and gives way to a fairly strong alcohol burn at the back of the tongue. I also get light notes of tangerine and passion fruit. Letting the rum breathe for about 10 minutes and the alcohol flavors are much more subdued, though there’s still a spice in the aftertaste. The vanilla comes out a bit stronger and I also get a nice bit of honeysuckle.

Looking back at my notes, this is a fairly unusual mix of flavors for me to taste in a rum. There are the more traditional sugar notes, along with vanilla. And even the tropical fruits aren’t shocking, but also getting the stone fruit taste? It’s clear that this is a very robust rum that challenges the taste buds to discover its diverse elements.

The sipping rums I tend to enjoy are sweet and complex in their elements, but not so much in the amount of thought needed to discern the subtleties of the rum. Mount Gay 1703 Old Cask Selection is something of the opposite. It’s not particularly sweet and requires more focus to fully grasp the complexity it presents. As someone who is slowly developing my palette for rum, the 1703 presents a different challenge for me. It’s much more in line with what I thought of for sipping rums prior to actually getting into them – potent, heady, and involved. It’s a very interesting rum that is great for people who like complex rums best consumed neat.  The question will remain, do you want to pay $100 for this rum? Well that’s harder. For me right now, I don’t think I would, simply because it’s less what I personally enjoy in a sipping rum and at twice the cost. There are certainly other fine sipping rums that are much more reasonably priced. But if you’re a collector of fine rums, this should be on your list for bottles to try and add to your collection.

[background on rum]

The very small sample bottle I received – hand poured from a larger bottle into a vial that can’t be bigger than four or five ounces – is a first. Usually I receive full fifths or a few airplane bottles for review. But the 1703 is too expensive to be sampling out to lowly cocktail bloggers like yours truly and it doesnt’t come in small sizes either. Hence, improvization!

The rum ha

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Responses

  1. A Very nice review!

    I found my first experience wanting in this rum as well. I appreciate that you have the courage to be honest about the rum rather than catering to impulse to pretend that the rum was some kind of elixir of the Gods as I have seen in other reviews.

    My Sincere applause!

  2. Thanks AW, glad you liked the review.

    Spirits and cocktails are about taste. It doesn’t matter how long something is aged or how expensive it is – if you don’t like the taste, then it probably isn’t for you. And as I say in my post, I’m not an advanced drinker of aged rums. There’s more in this that I find enjoyable, but it doesn’t mean other people might have different experiences. They almost certainly will. I’m not going to tell someone to spend money on something simply because it’s billed as The Next Big Thing…

  3. Thanks for this review, appreciate the sincerity. Although it all depends every person’s taste, I believe this worth a try, however, I am not such an experienced drinker so my thoughts are not something to take into consideration. 🙂


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