With its brand reset, Mount Gay has embraced more transparency, providing an in-depth look into its origins, terroir and its rum. The brand will also look to the future to ensure the continued innovation and growth of their craft, honouring the genuine rum tradition of Barbados through education, discovery and exploration.
With the introduction of Master Blender Trudiann Branker in April 2019, the distillery’s and Barbados’ first female master blender, Mount Gay began a new chapter for the distillery’s rich history. In her new role, Branker revisited Mount Gay’s core blends whilst simultaneously considering the discerning palate of the high-end brown spirit enthusiasts and appreciating Mount Gay’s steadfast brand loyalty. As a result, Branker has created a new blend for Mount Gay Black Barrel and an enhanced blend for Mount Gay XO, both of which she was thrilled to debut to global markets earlier this year.
Trudiann Branker’s lust for life is palpable and her passion for her work is second to none. When she arrived at Mount Gay in 2014 as Quality Assurance Manager, the thought that she would one day take the helm as the first female Master Blender of Mount Gay distillery had not yet crossed her mind. But just five years later, with a deep passion and overarching talent, she assumed the reins of a dream role, where she is now responsible for perpetuating more than 300 years of heritage and expertise.
Trudiann has been appointed to this prestigious position for one sole reason: she knows how to make a multi-layered, rich and flavourful rum with a uniquely distinctive character, and it’s her love, patience and dedication that make her a perfect fit for the job. Throughout her entire career she has dedicated her professional growth to the spirits industry. As a graduate of The Siebel Institute and the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, she possesses a strong academic background to which she adds over 11 years of experience working in the spirits industry.
Supported by this considerable experience and extensive knowledge, Trudiann has a strong vision for Mount Gay’s future, she shares: “My goal is to always get the right balance between science and craft. It’s true that for over 300 years we’ve relied on our expertise and artistry to ensure each bottle retains our signature character. While there is equipment that can give us measurements and parameters for what should go into each blend, the craft of tasting and experiencing the liquids is fundamental to getting it right. With the help of all the distillery teams, we honour the knowledge and expertise Mount Gay has merited over hundreds of years and I’m committed to creating exciting innovations to add to our current portfolio and making sure our rums continue to have a unique, rich and flavourful character for years to come.”
Trudiann’s joy and pleasure of making Mount Gay rum is reflected in her strong commitment and team spirit when working with everyone at the distillery. Her keen ability to understand the subtle balance between scientific precision and the nuanced instinct required for the production of rum is one of her greatest strengths. She embodies a natural curiosity, diligence and great professionalism that guarantees a prosperous future for Mount Gay. Trudiann’s pure enthusiasm gives her the passion to learn and the desire to create, explore new ideas, and establish a productive dialogue that is in line with Mount Gay’s ambition.
“It is an honour to be at the forefront of the exciting changes that Mount Gay has seen in 2020, and I’m proud not only to be the first female master blender in Barbados but to be part of the team that is taking Mount Gay from strength to strength,” says Trudiann Branker. “I am wholeheartedly committed to embracing the expertise that we have inherited for over 300 years and am passionate about looking ahead as we combine both science and craft to explore what makes Mount Gay more than a rum.”
Since April 2020, Trudiann’s refreshed versions of Mount Gay’s Black Barrel blend and its enriched XO blend have been on shelves throughout all markets and global travel retail. In addition, Trudiann has continued to develop limited editions with the new release of her second iteration of the Master Blender collection which is currently landing on shelves.
Mount Gay Black Barrel benefits from an older selection of rums being used for the blend, moving to a blend of 3 to 7-year-old rums as opposed to the previous 2 to 7 years, with a higher content of double distilled pot still rums. The finishing period takes place in deeply charred bourbon casks and has been extended to six months, greatly lengthened from the previous four week finishing period. These changes better reflect Black Barrel’s bold and robust flavour.
In addition to the work that she has done on Black Barrel, Branker revisited Mount Gay XO where she enriched the blend. Since April 2020, XO has benefited from a broader palette of rums selected for the blend, individually aged in three different casks – American whiskey, bourbon and cognac – for 5 to 17 years, rather than the previous 8 to 15 years. Overall, her adjustments to the blend aim to enhance the liquid’s ultimate complexity. Throughout the core range, each expression has been placed into new bottles with updated labels intentionally designed to give ultimate transparency to the rum inside showcasing further detail on casks used, style and tasting notes.
Each change has been a conscious decision to appreciate the true value of Mount Gay and honour its significance on the spectrum of high-end rum. Underpinning the packaging and liquid changes is a refreshed creative platform that promises to honour the genuine rum tradition and focus on what makes Mount Gay More than a rum through its dedication to education, exploration and discovery. Each touchpoint of the platform pays homage to Mount Gay’s Barbadian heritage, the people who craft the rum and its unrivalled terroir carefully harnessed since 1703.
Below is a closer look at the brand’s updated core range and their latest limited edition release:
Mount Gay Eclipse is named after the 1910 total solar eclipse that was visible from Barbados. It is a blend of rums distilled in traditional copper pot and column stills, then matured for 2 years solely in American whiskey casks.
Appearance: Golden amber.
Nose: Vanilla, banana, spicy, caramel and summer fruit notes.
Palate: Light to medium body and persistence with oaky character and slight burnt notes.
Drinking recommendation: Mount Gay Eclipse makes an iconic Rum Punch or can be enjoyed with your favourite mixer.
Mount Gay Black Barrel is crafted from a blend of intense and aromatic rums, distilled in traditional copper pot and column stills, matured between 3 to 7 years in American whiskey casks and then finished for 6 months in deeply charred bourbon casks.
Appearance: Dark amber.
Nose: Lots of woody and buttery notes complemented with a great balance of dried fruit and spices. It’s a sophisticated spirit with notes of gingerbread, lychee and toffee.
Palate: Good balance for a dry spirit with medium to long persistence.
Drinking recommendation: Mount Gay Black Barrel can be enjoyed in craft and classic cocktails such as the Bridgetown Sour.
Mount Gay XO, the first XO in the rum category, is a small-batch blend of carefully selected mature rums. It is distilled in traditional copper pot and column stills and matured between 5 to 17 years in American whiskey, bourbon and cognac casks.
Appearance: Red/golden brown.
Nose: Vanilla, oaky and dry spice notes of clove. Sweet notes of salted caramel, baked fig and plum, dark chocolate.
Palate: Round, smooth and richly creamy. Complex and balanced with long persistence.
Drinking recommendation: Mount Gay XO can be enjoyed neat or on ice. It’s also excellent served as the signature Coco Hill, see the recipe below.
- 60ml Mount Gay XO
- 1 coconut water ice cube – we recommend a silicone mould 3-3.5cm high
- Place the coconut ice cube into an old fashioned glass
- Add XO and serve.
A unique blend of Mount Gay’s oldest reserves, 1703 Master Select is an annual limited release which includes rums, aged minimum 10 years, distilled in traditional copper pot and column stills.
Each year, Master Blender Trudiann Branker continues a tradition of selective blending to create 1703 Master Select. Each release has a common style even though the taste profile will vary slightly from one year to another.
Each annual release is limited to 4,000-6,000 bottles of 1703 Master Select, each one individually numbered.
Appearance: Rich amber colour with slow-running legs.
Nose: A delicate harmony of sweet caramel, ripe banana, notes of oak and a touch of citrus.
Palate: A balance of toffee, cherry, butterscotch and roasted nuts with oak undertones.
Finish: Exceptional roundness with a long, delicate finish.
Drinking Recommendation: 1703 Master Select is a sipping rum, so we recommend you enjoy it neat or with a large ice cube.
Following the relaunch of the core range signature Black Barrel and XO blends, Mount Gay has also released The Port Cask Expression, the third limited edition in the Master Blender Collection series. Originally created as a celebration of over 315 years of rum expertise, The Master Blender Collection is released annually to showcase Mount Gay’s passion for innovation.
The limited edition series debuted in 2018 with the release of XO The Peat Smoke Expression, created by former Master Blender Allen Smith. Last year, the award winning Pot Still Rum was released bearing the signature of Mount Gay’s new master blender Trudiann Branker.
For this year’s small batch release, Branker used a blend of rums distilled in a traditional column still aged for 5 years in Tawny Port casks, together with rums double distilled in a copper pot still aged for 14 years in American whiskey casks and finished in Tawny Port casks for 1 year. The result is a rich and multi faceted blend with notes of vanilla, caramel and almond on the nose and cherry, dried fruit, oak, prune and almond on the palate
Bottled at cask strength (55% abv), Mount Gay The Port Cask Expression is non-chill filtered in order to preserve its rich aromas and precious natural colour and will be limited to 6,570 bottles around the world
When creating this blend, Trudiann Branker wanted to focus on pushing the boundaries of rum making by incorporating casks not traditionally used at Mount Gay. She found Tawny Port casks to be the most interesting to work with this year, giving the pot and column distilled rums notes like almond and red fruit, typically found in Port. The result is a beautiful rum best enjoyed neat, slightly chilled with a piece of dark chocolate.
Trudiann adds, “For this release, I wanted to push my boundaries and expertise in rum making and work with a cask that we don’t typically work with at Mount Gay. After trying a few, I selected Tawny Port casks and am thrilled to release this wonderful, rich and multi faceted rum.”