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Old 10-31-2009, 05:39 PM   #1
Edward Hamilton
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Default Mount Gay 1703 Interview

Friday, I interviewed Allen Smith from Mount Gay in Barbados. Allen is responsible for blending 1703 and has worked on Mount Gay Extra Old. He talks about 1703 and how he came to have one of the best jobs in the world, tasting and blending aged rum.
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Old 10-31-2009, 09:37 PM   #2
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That was a great interview.

A couple of things really jumped out at me. The first was Allen's insistence that the quantity of extremely old rum in the blend should not be high. Amen to that. I have tasted more than one spirit ruined by the oak instead of complimented by it. The other thing that really stuck me was the very rapid development of the 1703. I guess that with the reserve stocks already in place it was more a matter of trial and error blending to get it right. But I guess I believed that it would take longer to get a new blend right.

The last thing that really surprised me was your voice Ed. In my imaginings your voice should be entirely different. More of a tenor and less of a baritone.

Thanks for the great interview.
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:34 AM   #3
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Well done Ed.

Thanks for bringing us members a little closer to those who have their "nose to the grindstone" in the industry.
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Old 11-01-2009, 01:01 AM   #4
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Excellent interview, very informative!!!! Well done Ed.
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Old 11-01-2009, 09:30 AM   #5
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In regards to the rapid development of 1703, Allen mentioned that after Mount Gay Extra Old was introduced in 1993 the company realized that the market for premium rums had been underestimated and that Mount Gay needed to put away more rum to be blended in their premium rums.

Part of the product brief for 1703 was for it to be a production product as opposed to a one-off limited production bottling. Though the production of 1703 is limited to a couple of thousand cases, there is more rum aging which will be blended in the future. Had 1703, or Mount Gay XXO been developed and released earlier both the Mount Gay Extra Old and XXO would have been suffered from quality issues.

Considering that the youngest rum in 1703 is ten years old, it is surprising that it has come only 16 years after Mount Gay Extra Old. In addition to funding additional production and product aging for Mount Gay Extra Old, the company also made a commitment to an even older product which came to be known as Mount Gay 1703.

Although the work on the final blend of 1703 began in 2008, Allen and a few others had been working on their next release since the mid 90s, as soon as Mount Gay Extra Old had proven itself in the market. As Allen says, the success of Mount Gay Extra Old was not fully anticipated. Following the success of Mount Gay Extra Old, it took some time and resources to be allocated to the new product before the blending could begin and only after there was enough aged product available could the serious work of blending the new, or rather old, XXO could begin.
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Old 11-01-2009, 09:39 AM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback on this interview. Allen shared other insight into the rum business and I'll be posting those in the coming weeks.

I'm also working on an interview directory so visitors can find these interviews more easily without having to browse thousands of pages.
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Old 11-01-2009, 04:42 PM   #7
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Great interview. I found it interesting how many prototypes they tried before they landed on the one for production. I enjoy the 1703. I picked up a bottle in San Francisco last month.
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Old 11-03-2009, 04:11 PM   #8
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Thanks for the interview! With each mention of the 1703, it moves another notch higher on my Most Wanted list. Great to hear that it is only limited to a 1000-2000 case/year and not limited to 1000-2000 cases ever. Also good that they will be able to kick up the production in the years to come as needed. I was under the impression that if I didn't pick up a bottle now, that I wouldn't ever get the chance. I still might pick up a bottle now though... Sounds delicious! I have a splash of cold water poised and ready to drop into a glass with some to enjoy it the way Allen Smith suggests.
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Old 11-04-2009, 08:38 AM   #9
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Good interview, I really appreciate the work Ed, it made my morning cereal that much better as I got to listen.
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