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New Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum Straddles the Bourbon/Rum Divide

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Mount Gay's new rum is finished in bourbon barrels. [Photo: Mount Gay]

With the weather swinging between suffocating heatwave and breezy almost-fall days, my drinking schedule is all confused. On Monday I might reach for a Dark & Stormy to beat the humidity, but then Wednesday rolls around and it's time for some whiskey to take the edge off a cool gray day. The rapid switching from spirit to spirit left me feeling unsettled. Enter today's rum, my recent salvation. It's a spirit that can keep up with changes in mood and weather.

The newest release from the venerable Barbados Mount Gay distillery, Black Barrel Rum is bottle of booze with an existential crisis. Both aged double distilled pot rums and single column distilled rums are blended to create the spirit, with a much higher percentage of the pot-distilled rum. It's then finished in heavily charred former bourbon barrels, and bottled at 86 proof.

At first sniff, it's a fairly traditional yet complex rum, with hints of vanilla, molasses, brown sugar, and a bit of a funky sea bite. But upon tasting it opens up into a whole other experience. Oak leaps out from the mix, creating a rum with an undertone of classic bourbon spices, and finishing quite dry. The molasses sweetness blends and balances with the wood influence, leaving a spirit that straddles the bourbon/rum divide.

While Black Barrel makes for a refreshing Dark & Stormy and a satisfyingly robust Manhattan, it's also a pleasure with club soda and a splash of bitters, or simply sipped neat. Truly versatile and fair deal at $30, it's a one-bottle solution for a multi-spirit application.

Have you tried Mount Gay Black Barrel yet? What did you think?

About the author: Andrew Strenio is a lover of all things potable. Since sneaking his grandmother's bourbon balls, he's moved on to touring distilleries and sipping snifters. He works by day making documentary television and films for an independent production company in Brooklyn.

Sample provided for review consideration.

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