In rum as in love, long-term affections have a tendency to go stale.
No one factor is ever to blame. Things just get staid; too familial, and thus less exciting.
To keep rum romances sizzling, distillers have increasingly started to add new and inventive techniques to the finishing stage of production. This is nothing new, of course (Remember these ‘beautiful’ examples?), but rather a nice trend yielding some wonderfully rich new dimensions to some old faves.
Volume 1 of Mount Gay’s Origin Series features two blends that I particularly love – Virgin Cask, finished in brand-new French oak casks, and Charred Cask, finished in American oak casks formerly used to age Bourbon.
Before I get into the why’s of my love, an instructive word or two on the difference between ageing and finishing from the great little booklet that comes packaged with this pair.
Ageing affects the maturation of rum by rounding out the fiery qualities of a distilled spirit and finesses the signature Mount Gay aromatics from copper pot distillation to bring certain notes to the fore. After years of carefully monitored ageing, mature rums are blended and put into contact with a seasoned finishing cask for a short maturation cycle that will significantly influence the rum’s final outcome.
Developed by Mount Gay Master Blender Allen Smith, the Charred Cask and Virgin Cask in Volume 1 of the Origin Series provide wonderful opportunities to taste and savor just how distinctive the outcome when the same rum is finished differently.
The Virgin Cask, finished in French oak barrels never before used to age any spirit, bears a sharp quality with a nice bit of burn harmonizing with pure wood spice drawn from tannins free from other flavor influence of other spirits.
The Charred Cask is altogether different, the Bourbon shining through to mellow things out considerably versus the Virgin Cask. There’s also a bit of sweetness here; a more robust flavor that’s right in my wheelhouse.
(Would’ve been nice to have a bottle of Mount Gay Black Barrel around to compare to the Charred Cask as it was the first Mount Gay to be finished in Bourbon casks, but that will have to wait for another time.)
Both are great on their own, but it’s the experience of sampling these two side-by-side that makes Volume 1 of the Origin Series so special, while also making me very anxious to get my hands on Volume 2…