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since 1703

Barbados

Refined Eclipse Barbados Rum is the most recognized label from this distillery. But the other products of this historic distillery should not be missed, especially while you are in Barbados. Mount Gay Distilleries Ltd. proudly traces its heritage to Ensign Abel Gay and Lt. William Gay. In 1663, they bought the St. Lucy estate in the northern part of the island. The details are a little sketchy, but the estate included a still and has maintained production since that time. Although much has changed, the pride of the people I met at Mount Gay is deeply rooted in the history of the distillery.

The Mount Gay visitors center on Spring Garden Highway is a nice walk from the cruise ship docks, north along the waterfront. Built like a typically Bajan house, the visitors center is in front of the rum warehouse and bottling facility in St. Michael. This is also the starting point for the informative tour.

After touring the aging and bottling operations, you will be invited to try the different Mount Gay rums at the elegant mahogany bar. If you want to see the coopers at work, come in the morning. But the afternoon is a little nicer time to sample the inviting spirits. The tours cost B$10, or US$5, and are a delightful way to spend an hour.

In Barbados, rum is made from molasses, all of which was, until recently, produced on the island. At the Mount Gay distillery the molasses is mixed with water and boiled to sterilize it prior to fermentation. The proprietary yeast culture used here is part of what makes Mount Gay rum unique. This special culture has been maintained for years at the closely-guarded laboratory in St. Lucy.

Once the yeast is introduced to the sterilized molasses wash, it is closely monitored for seventy-two hours. When fermentation is complete, the wine contains six to seven percent alcohol by volume and is distilled by one of two processes.

Mount Gay employs both a pot still, similar to the one it replaced in 1760, and a two-column continuous still, similar to the Aeneas Coffey still of 1832. The heavier pot still rum contains flavors not found in the lighter rum from the two-column still. The alcohol from the two-column still is condensed at about 95% alcohol by volume and becomes the bulk of the final blend.

After distillation, the raw rum from both stills is loaded in tank trucks and transported to the St. Michael facility, where it is diluted to 68% alcohol by volume for aging. This lower alcohol content requires more barrels for aging but allows the rum to benefit more from the time spent sleeping. According to a Barbados law of 1904, a distillery can not bottle its products at the same location where they are produced.

The aging warehouse at Mount Gay is one of the few that was specifically designed for aging rum. Small openings in the walls of the warehouse allow ventilation in this tropical climate where ventilation is critical. The barrels are stored in steel racks that nearly reach the ceiling. Storing barrels on their side increases contact between the rum and the barrel and allows better air circulation.

Two-hundred-liter barrels are used only three times to help minimize losses due to leaks and to maximize the effects of the aging process. Over 4,000 barrels of rum are sleeping within the moss-covered walls of the warehouse, undisturbed except by an inspection every three months to insure that the aging process is continuing properly. As you walk through the cool warehouse, the aroma of all of that sleeping rum is very agreeable and certainly better than reading about it.

Once the rum has aged from two to ten years, the contents of the barrels are emptied into large tanks where the rum is blended with other aged rum. As you might expect, the exact proportions of the blends are a very closely guarded secret. After the flavors of the different aged rums in the blend have married, the blended rum is filtered and chilled to a temperature of minus 10ºC or just above 0ºF. Chilling causes unwanted impurities in the rum to precipitate so they can be removed by filtering. Cold filtering insures that Mount Gay Rum will be consistent worldwide and will not contain any sediment in the bottle, regardless of the temperature it has been subjected to during shipping. Although not unique to Mount Gay, cold filtering is not widely used by other distilleries because few have such global distribution. After the blended rum passes the a final inspection where it is tested for purity, color and taste, it is sent to the modern 1,500 case-per-day bottling plant.

Mount Gay bottles five different rums. In addition to the popular, two-year-old Refined Eclipse, Mount Gay also bottles Premium White Rum, Barbados Sugar Cane Brandy, and Extra Old Barbados Rum. As the label states, Barbados Sugar Cane Brandy is actually aged rum, and according to the helpful bartender, is five years old. This sugar cane brandy is not available everywhere, and is certainly worth trying. If you have cultivated a taste for aged rum, you will definitely want to sample Extra Old Barbados Rum, a blend of seven, eight, and ten-year-old rums. This rum is a good example of what aging does for a quality rum.

Most Mount Gay products are bottled in one liter and 750ml. bottles. Refined Eclipse is also bottled in what is called a gallon, actually only 3.5 liters. When you sample the various Mount Gay rums, look for the smoky wood, sweet vanilla, and bitter almond flavors that are the mark of Mount Gay.

If you look closely at the labels on these pages, you should notice that the Refined Eclipse label is 154 proof. This, however, is not exported.

You will see the A.Y. Ward signature trademark on every Mount Gay product. Audrey Ward was the distiller and blender at Mount Gay for many years. Mr. Ward is credited with haveing the talent and taste to blend some of the finest blends in the industry. In Barbados he was well liked and as the story goes, Mr. Ward had nearly 100 children. At his funeral, his heirs ranged from senior citizens to youngsters still in their mothers’ arms. Some of his children didn’t even arrive in time for the funeral. One look in the local phone book will dispel any doubts about Mr. Ward’s reputation.
There are 6 products in our database distilled by Mount Gay Distilleries Limited.
Mount Gay 1703
Mount Gay Eclipse Barbados Rum
Mount Gay Eclipse Silver Rum
Mount Gay Extra Old Barbados Rum
Mount Gay Sugar Cane Brandy
Mount Gay Sugar Cane Rum

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Last updated October 11, 2008