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Mount Gay Distilled Its New Master Blender Collection Rum Like Bourbon

Mount Gay Distilled Its New Master Blender Collection Rum Like Bourbon

Barbados is home to some of the best rum in the world, and the distillery that has been making it for the longest there is Mount Gay (it’s also considered to be the oldest active rum distillery). The new Master Blender Collection release is a good example of why Barbadian rum is held in such high regard, a limited-edition expression that was made using a Coffey still instead of pot stills.

The Coffey still was patented by Irishman Aeneas Coffey in 1830, and the whiskey world would never be the same. Prior to this, pot stills were used in Scotland, Ireland, and other countries—and they still are used to make single malt scotch, single pot still Irish whiskey, rum, and other spirits. The Coffey still is a column still that allows continuous distillation instead of distilling in batches, and was considered to be much more efficient than a pot still, although it does result in a very different style of spirit. Today, the Coffey still or column still is widely used to make bourbon, although there are some exceptions, as well as grain whiskey in other countries. It can also be found at rum distilleries, including Mount Gay where an old Coffey still was recommissioned for use in 2019.

Master Blender Collection: The Coffey Still Expression is the seventh edition in this series, and the sixth under the watch of master blender Trudiann Branker who has held that position since 2019. This release was made from 100 percent Barbados molasses, distilled solely using the Coffey still, and aged for four years in heavily charred ex-bourbon barrels. On a recent Zoom call, Branker described the Coffey still as a “silent giant” at the distillery. “Mount Gay is famous for its pot stills, but this still is important too,” she said. “[It produces] a spirit that’s floral in nature, but higher in alcohol. Each batch run through the Coffey still takes on its own personality… It’s not only unique because of the still, but it was created using 100 percent local molasses fermented in our open oak vats, almost like an offering of provenance.”

Branker immediately noticed notes of grapefruit in the new make spirit, which she believes come through on the palate even after four years of tropical aging. I got to sample the rum, and there’s a hint of grapefruit but for me it reads more as fresh orange, along with notes of leather, caramel, banana, grilled pineapple, grape candy, and a bit of oak on the finish. This rum is non-chill filtered, there is no caramel or sugar added, and it’s bottled at a hefty 58 percent ABV. “It was about matching the nuances of the spirit with strength so it would be expressed at its optimum state,” said Branker.

The Master Blender Collection: The Coffey Still Expression is available now in a run of just 5,004 bottles (SRP $240), so check your local specialty retailer to see if it’s in stock. You can also find the rest of the Mount Gay collection, including previous Master Blender releases, available to purchase at ReserveBar.

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