You don’t need to convince us that rum is a year-round spirit. But if there was a way to marry the rich flavors of aged rum to the salty smoke of Islay whisky, we’d happily sip on it as the mercury descends.
Mount Gay has gone ahead and done that exact thing, in the form of their new Mount Gay XO: The Peat Smoke Expression. This was accomplished by taking a blend of column-distilled and pot-distilled rums aged 8 to 15 years in American Oak and finishing them in Islay whisky casks for six months. The resulting spirit was bottled at cask strength (114 proof) and released as a batch of 6,120 bottles, only 1,200 of which made it to the United States.
Mount Gay XO: The Peat Smoke Expression has a red-gold color, and features coconut, grass, straw, and dark cocoa on the nose, with a subtle trace of smoke. It starts light in body, with initial flavors of honey, roasted nuts, and banana flambé. The texture becomes more rich and viscous at the center, where flavors of dark powdered cocoa, caramel, and fudge appear. The texture of the spirit dries out again for the finish, which starts as a long, sustained spray of spice that lingers on the tongue. Once that spice dissipates, you’re treated to what feels like an encore: an entirely distinct, second finish that’s smoke and sea salt, pure Islay.
Despite that Islay-influenced finish—and this rum’s name—the smoke is measured. It’s by no accounts a peat bomb, but it is a remarkable contrast to the rich rum that precedes it. It’s as if you’re receiving two entirely different spirits in the same glass, which never exactly marry one another but take their turns sounding off in their own beautifully distinct ways.
— 57% ABV