I had the pleasure of attending the exclusive Mount Gay Rum launch party last week. The event took place at the iconic Bondi Icebergs Restaurant and it was hosted by Mount Gay Rum's International Brand Ambassador, Miguel Smith, who showcased new ways to experience rum, including innovative rum cocktails.
An invitation to taste the best rum blended cocktails at the iconic waterfront restaurant - Bondi Icebergs
Miguel was born in Barbados and he has over 15 years' experience in the UK and Barbados' drinks industries as a mixologist specialist. He is now permanently based in London UK serving his role as the dedicate Brand Ambassador for Mount Gay Rum in the European, Asia and Pacific regions.
A million dollar panoramic views over the historic pool and the iconic Bondi Beach.
All Mount Gay rums are handcrafted from a blend of single column and double copper pot distillates and matured in toasted oak barrels, delivering aromatic, flavourful taste, body and refined character.
Miguel shared with us that he fell in love with rum a long time ago and learned his craft whilst he was constantly pursuing his love for rum. Mount Gay Rum's roots can be traced back to three centuries ago and putting it in good stead to take on the increasing global demand in the rum category for premium blends. As such, Miguel is passionate about showing Australians the versatility and character of Mount Gay rums and how to optimise our palate with this super-premium rum.
Miguel Smith, Mount Gay International Brand Ambassador
"Mount Gay is the original rum - with the brand's roots dating back as far as 1703 in Barbados. Being born and bred in Barbados, I have a personal passion for this award-winning rum. I seriously enjoy working on the Mount Gay Rum portfolio, and feel proud to present and share what makes Mount Gay so unique and special: our unparalleled history, our British heritage, our Caribbean roots, our artisanal production and of course our complex flavours."
We were invited to explore new ways with rum in a series of cocktail tastings, music & fine dining.
Australian consumers are becoming more educated and interested in the rum making process and appreciate the complex flavour profiles. Miguel sees his role as a rum story-teller, to tell the true story of Mount Gay. He believes when people understand it has over 300 years of refinement into the quality spirit that it is today, they can appreciate and accept rum as a fine drink for all occasions.
Mount Gay Australia's Brand Manager, Matteo Fabbris, also commented: "We've seen a demand in the rum category for more premium and limited-release bottles, as well as a change in the way that rum is being consumed and thought about by consumers. Rum is now a spirit that is very much enjoyed the way whisky is enjoyed – neat or on the rocks, or additionally with a simple squeeze of lime."
Leading the way is the 1703 Master Select (RRP $199). An annual limited-edition release hand-picked and created by Master Blender Allen Smith. Each 1703 Master Select features a blend of Mount Gay's rarest and finest single and double distilled rums from Mount Gay's oldest reserves - ranging from 10 to 30-year-old rums. Due to the scarcity of barrels necessary for this level of maturation, Mount Gay releases only 12,000 individually numbered bottles a year, with every new edition having slight nuances in terms of tasting notes dependant on the Master Blenders selection.
There were 5 special-blended rum cocktails for us to try at this launch party. We started with Dark & Stormy. A slightly bitter start with Mount Gay Black Barrel infused with lime, Angostura Bitters and ginger beer.
Dark & Stormy (Mount Gay Black Barrel infused with lime, Angostura Bitters and ginger beer)
Mount Gay Black Barrel (RRP $67.99) is a small batch, handcrafted blend made of matured double pot distillates and aged column distillates. In a process called finishing, the blended rum is then matured for a second time in deeply charred Bourbon oak barrels which releases spicy aromas that are at once balanced and bold.
R&Btini (Mount Gay Eclipse, Cream de Peach, Lime, Vanilla Syrup and Thai Basil)
Next was the R&Btini. A lovely cocktail with Mount Gay Eclipse, Cream de Peach, Lime, Vanilla Syrup and Thai Basil. Peach and basil combined to make it a sweet and savoury style of drink that's clean, fresh and crisp. What a real mix up of flavours!
The cocktail recipe for this drink:
45ml Mount Gay Eclipse
20ml crème de peach
20ml lime juice
10ml vanilla syrup
2 Thai basil leaves
Add ingredients to shaker, fine strain into chilled coup, garnish lemon oil flame and a basil leaf.
This cocktail was sweeter, easier to drink for the ladies and perfect for those long afternoons down at the beach.
The cocktails were lovely but there was a limited amount of food that goes around the room. All of us were drinking on empty stomach and that was really not responsible drinking. We made repeated requests for some food, but service time was very delayed. When some food was ready, we were dismayed to find out there was only one serving staff serving one plate of food at a time. These finger food looked delicious but they were hardly sufficient in substance.
The next drink was the Barbados Brew. An intense drink with Mount Gay XO, Zucca, Cherry Brandy, Pineapple juice, lime, sugar syrup and pomegranate molasses. The alcohol content for the Mount Gay XO is over 62%! This was indeed a strong drink.
Mount Gay XO (RRP $67.99) is a reserve cask, handcrafted rum. An opulent blend of the finest spirits aged for 8 to 15 years. Extra Old blends significantly older barrels of mainly double pot distillates that have rounded these crisper notes into a subtler balance.