The World’s Oldest Rum: Mount Gay



After a few too many rough nights with what passes as spiced rum here in the US, I had all but written off the taste of the Caribbean.  Lucky for me (and my taste buds) I was recently introduced to Mount Gay Rum, a rum that, in all honesty, has the smoothness of a sophisticated Scotch and less of the bite we have come to think of.

Whether you’re a regular rum drinker, or someone who is about to be converted into one, listen up and pay attention because this stuff is delicious.


A Brief History of The World’s Oldest Rum

mount-gay-rum-distilleryphoto by NY Times

“The Rum that invented Rum” goes all the way back to 1703 on the Northern tip of Barbados where the first documented proof of distilled rum was ever recorded.  After changing properties and plantation owners a handful of times, the rum distillery was sold to John Sober (ironic, no?) who brought on Sir John Gay Alleyne to run the estate.  Alleyne brought some new methods, some new ingredients and enhanced the production of Sober’s rum so much that upon his death in 1801 he named the estate after him, with the rum holding onto the name to this day.

Time passed and and things changed, as they tend to do, and the Thornhill family bought the estate in 1858 with the intentions of making Mount Gay Rum the quality benchmark for all Barbadian rum.  Once again, new methods were adopted, different ingredients were played with and Mount Gay Rum became even closer to the mouthwatering rum we know and love today.

Fast forward to modern times and the Thornhill’s goals had clearly become everything they had hoped for.  With five premium Rums known as the best in the world you can taste the craftsmanship and quality in every sip.  Of course Mount Gay can’t be crafted by the same guys who were watching the barrels in the 1800’s, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t taken care of by today’s best.


Today the entire process is overseen by Mount Gay Rum’s Master Blender, Allen Smith (pictured above), who has been overseeing the brand’s blending and manufacturing facilities for over twenty years.  While you may picture a man who just loves rum (which I’m sure Mr. Smith does) handling these barrels, there is much more to it than that.  You wouldn’t be far off saying blending rum is a science, Smith has degrees in both Biochemistry and Microbiology, which apparently translate extremely well to rum.


The Real Reason We Love Mount Gay Rum


While getting there first is half the battle, doing it right is just as important.  As much as we love history and Master Blenders, what we really like about Mount Gay Rum is drinking it.  Grab a bottle of Mount Gay Rum 1703 Old Cask and drink it straight (mixing it is unacceptable), or try a more mixer friendly version like the Eclipse.  Whatever you decide to grab, this is how you should drink it:

Fish House Punch


The night before serving, freeze two large blocks of ice. Either a quart container or something larger will work.


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 quart lemon juice
  • 2 quarts Mount Gay Black Barrel
  • 1 quart Remy VSOP
  • 4 ounces peach brandy – Sub Peach


In a large bowl, stir together 1 quart water and the sugar until dissolved. Add Rum, Cognac, Lemon Juice and remaining Water. Stir until the color is consistent.

Add the large blocks of ice as you can procure.

Let the punch sit in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving.

Garnish with Lemon Wheels.

Individual Portions

  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons superfine sugar
  • 2 ounces spring water
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 2 ounces Mount Gay Black Barrel
  • 1 ounce cognac
  • 1/8 ounce peach brandy

Shake all briefly with ice. Serve in a cocktail glass. Lemon Wheel Garnish.

Bajan Sazerac

(a variation of a classic Sazerac cocktail)

  • 2 oz. Mount Gay Black Barrel
  • .25 oz. Cointreau
  • .25 oz. (Fernet/Pernod/Absinthe)-Pastis
  • 4 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Wash glass with Pastis. Stir BB, Cointreau, and bitters. Strain into empty rocks glass. Garnish with lemon peel.


 Red Cap

• 1.5 oz. Mount Gay Black Barrel
• .75 oz. Genepy de Alpes
• .75 oz. lemon juice
• .25 Grenadine
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters

All ingredients poured into a shaking glass, shake, poured over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange and thyme “flower.”

Mount Gay Rum for Your Next Party


So the next time you’re throwing a get-together at your place, need to bring a bottle somewhere to get the party started, or are just looking to stock up your bar at home, forget all the shit you drank in college and open your eyes to a wonderful new world.

I can say with complete certainty that I hadn’t drank rum in since my last trip to the Bahamas, and told myself I hated it for years after too many drinks made by one nautical “captain” or another.  Trying this rum has made me question so many other things I thought I was certain on… If rum can be this good, does that mean some tofu isn’t disgusting either?  I’ll leave that discovery for someone else.

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