Pure Spirits: Mount Gay XO Barbados Rum & The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club

Today’s article focuses on two things: a rum and a cocktail. In terms of rum we are dealing with the Mount Gay XO, a molasses rum that won many awards, while the cocktail is also an internationally known classic: The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. When it comes to the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, however, there are a few inconsistencies and I hope I this article will bring some light into some confusing aspects, for instance why a Bermuda cocktail calls for a Barbados rum. (provided test product)*

First, let me tell you something about the Mount Gay XO Rum. As you can read in my article about the Mount Gay Black Barrel, the Mount Gay distillery is a historically very significant one as it is arguably the oldest still producing rum distillery in the world. Some further information and frame details about the Mount Gay brand can also be found in in that article. Now the Mount Gay XO, compared to the Black Barrel, inheres the nimbus to represent an older and more mature rum, so it makes sense at this point to have a closer look on the available details about this rum.

The Mount Gay XO is a blend of different, older distillates. To that point it keeps what I promises. On closer inspection, however, it is already noticeable that we cannot find an exact age anywhere on the label, only the indication XO (“Extra Old”) acts as a soft indicator. If you do some research on specific amounts of time, you will find various but contradicting information. So I’ve found some sources speaking of 17-year-old distillates and sometimes only of ten-year-olds. Ultimately, however, it is probably best to trust the information on the Mount Gay website, which speaks of a blend of eight- to fifteen-year-old distillates. The individual rums of this blend were stored in former bourbon barrels, which of course promises corresponding aromas. The matured distillates consist – also in comparison to the Black Barrel – for the most part of double-distilled pot still-rums, which after the maturation process were diluted to drinking strength with water from the distiller’s own spring. Finally the rum is bottled at 43% ABV. So far so good. But how does the Mount Gay XO perform in the tasting?

Tasting Notes:

Aroma: You can immediately notice the effect of the bourbon barrels on the nose! A nice, rich vanilla with fine orange notes, some cloves, ripe bananas, oak, a touch of cinnamon and also a little roasted coffee. Nonetheless it is unmistakably clear that we are dealing with a rum here from the very beginning. A very nice, complex and pleasant to smell rum blend.

Taste: On the palate, a spicy and full-bodied flavor evolves with oak from the long maturation process. Then there are oranges, vanilla and bananas making their way. Cinnamon, nutmeg and a hint of coconut initiate the finish.

Finish: not too sweet, spicy and with full barrel flavors. A great rum!

The Mount Gay XO is perfectly suited for the use in a true cocktail classic (but of course also for the use in other drinks) that brings some confusion with it: the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. Although Bermuda of course also makes its own rum (and with the Dark `N´ Stormy even owns its own, copyrighted cocktail), the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club explicitly calls for Barbados rum. And to make matters worse, not only does Bermuda have a Royal Yacht Club, but Barbados also has its own Barbados Yacht Club. So why the cocktail is not called Royal Barbados Yacht Club? Would be much more appropriate, wouldn’t it?

Well, the exact reason for this can unfortunately no longer be determined. For the first time, the cocktail appeared in Crosby Gaige’s “Cocktail Guide and Ladies Home Companion” in 1941, where the recipe is very variable and not very certain. It calls for “Falernum or sugar syrup” as a choice. In addition to that, you can also choose whether to use Triple Sec (Cointreau) or brandy. But how did Gaige (or anyone before him?) come up with the name for the drink? If he has ever been to Bermuda or not and why it should not be Bermuda rum in the cocktail…. To be honest these mysteries will probably never be resolved. But the now widely accepted variant made with Falernum and Triple Sec goes back to Victor Bergeron aka “Trader Vic”, who committed himself in 1947 in his Bartender’s Guide to these two ingredients. However, one must remember that the recipe is only a rough guideline, depending on which Falernum and which rum you’re using. I opted for the Revolte Falernum and adjusted the quantities a bit, because I found that the balance of flavors is simply best that way. Basically, the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is ultimately a variant of the Daiquiri with an alternative source of sweetness and aged rum instead of white one.

Recipe “Royal Bermuda Yacht Club”:

6.5 cl Mount Gay XO Barbados Rum
2.5 cl lime juice
2 cl Revolte Falernum
1 bar spoon Triple Sec (also very nice with the Clément Créole Shrubb)
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Preparation: Shake all ingredients vigorously on ice and strain into your pre-chilled glass.

Glass: coupette

Garnish: lime zest

Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online

*The fact that this product has been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.


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