This year witnessed the release of several new rums to the market place. Mount Gay Black Barrel is a small batch rum that is blended using double distilled pot still rum and single distilled column still rum. It is aged for an unspecified amount of time in heavily charred used Bourbon barrels, then blended to 86 proof using Barbados coral filtered spring water.
The tall bottle has a long neck that descends into a flask shaped bottle. This is a variant from the standard Mount Gay bottle designs and I found I liked it. The long neck made it easy to handle and it popped off the shelf in the store and behind the bar. The wood and cork cap is sealed with a long security strip.
The front label is also a departure from other Mount Gay designs. One thing I liked is each bottle is individually numbered; mine is AZ 39740. The back label shares the history of the company and basic details about the rum in tiny, worth-the-read script.
The rum is much lighter than I expected when you compare it to Mount Gay XO or 1703, maintaining a pure amber hue in the bottle and glass. When I gave it a light swirl, thin bands appeared with fast moving legs that dissipated quickly.
All of these factors married with the lack of an age statement makes me believe we are dealing with a fairly immature blend of rums for this product.
The aroma has a pleasant vanilla note, followed by roasted almond, and finishes with light spicy charred oak notes.
I found the entry interesting. Right up front the tannins from the charred oak light up the mouth. As they settled to form the base note, I discovered a lush vanilla, roasted almond, caramel, followed by a hint of banana and dried fruit. The fruit notes carry into the finish, mingling with the char for a toasty, slightly acidic finish.
In my opinion, Mount Gay Black Barrel is a bold departure from the normal flavors that I have experienced from the Mount Gay line. This rum has the signature banana note that is present in all Mount Gay products, but has the oaky tannin rich profile one might find in a Whisky or Bourbon. When using it in a cocktail, think about how the char notes will play with the other components of your drink. I found going the route of a Manhattan variant or Rum Sour was the best way to work with it.
I found the char note created a pleasant smoky variant of a Cuba Libre, but did not enjoy it as much in a Classic Daiquiri as it did not blend well with the sweetness of the drink. The tricky complexity of the rum is part of the fun and worth the challenge. While comparisons with Mount Gay Black, which was briefly on the market, are inevitable, Black Barrel has long term stability that the gimmick of the “Black” label could not provide.
I look forward to seeing what the company releases next as it continues to diversify its line.