Recently I was lucky enough to be invited to an exclusive blending masterclass with Mount Gay Rum.
Mount Gay rums roots can be traced back over three centuries to the processing of Barbadian sugar cane, making it the oldest and continuously produced rum in the world. Through centuries of experimentation, the blending of single and double distillates has become an art form for Mount Gay. This year also marks a major milestone in Mount Gay’s history, as it celebrates 25 years of Mount Gay XO, originally known as Mount Gay ‘Extra Old’.
The evening was hosted by Miguel Smith, Brand Ambassador, and Allen Smith, Master Blender at the Mount Gay distillery.
Taking place at TT liquor which is a beautiful setting in east London that has everything you could think of – enough to make you kick yourself because you didn’t think of it first.
You enter via what looks like an off licence version of the wand shop from Harry Potter. Then to the side there is a door that leads to a secret bar, then upstairs there is a space for cocktail masterclasses.
The evening kicked off with a Mount Gay and ginger served with a slice of orange. Speaking with Miguel Smith (Brand Ambassador) he explained that he opted for a slice of orange, rather than lime which offered a great sweet and sour note to complement the rum.
The masterclass class kicked off with us taking a place at the cocktail station. In a great British bake off style we were told that tonight we are going to blend our own Mount Gay rum.
Allen and Miguel gave us some history and told us the various methods to making Mount Gay (without revealing too many secrets).
Using the instruments in front of us we then had 20 mins to blend our own rum using the single pot and column pot aged rums.
In true Heisenberg style I got my science on and started with the older rums as I wanted my rum to have more of an aged flavour and I found the older rums had a more mellowed profile. The aim for myself was to create something I can smoke a cigar with.
The goal was to make 60ml which we would then bottle and leave some for Allen and Miguel to judge. 20 minutes can go by so quickly when ‘you’re having rum’.
With 1 minute to spare I mixed up my blend, labelled it and placed it on the judging table.
We all then retired to the waiting area for the judges to do their thing. Normally I’m not very competitive but that night I became hungry to win. Maybe I’ve watched way too much Bake off.
We all waited patiently as the judge’s shuffled glasses around and whispered about the different blends we had all created.
We were called back in after around 10 minutes for the winners to be announced. They explained that the competition was fierce but 3 stood out.
Unfortunately the Cut The Cap blend didn’t make the final 3, but I was happy have played along and learnt so much about Mount Gay, as well as be in the presence of someone who does this day in day out for a living.
To end the evening we were treated to a glass of 1703 which has just re-launched to the market. (more to come on that at a later date).
If you are after a decent blended rum then try the Mount Gay XO, an opulent blend of the finest spirits aged for eight to 15 years. Where the original blend is floral and fruity, Extra Old blends significantly older barrels of mainly double pot distillates that have rounded the crisper notes of the spirit into a subtler balance. It exudes the finesse that only time can bring while offering a true taste of paradise – the recommended serve for XO is neat or on the rocks.
Available for around £49.99 at most specialist retailers including Selfridges.