Booze Hound Approved: Mount Gay XO

We like our Mount Gay-and-whatever as much as the next sailor, but a special-moment upgrade with Mount Gay’s XO is worth every sip.

Mount Gay XO
Mount Gay XO, gets its sophistication from aging in bourbon barrels, producing a fine sipping rum for the post-race debrief.Dave Reed

It’s hump day in the editorial offices of Sailing World and it’s time to test. Clink, clink. I drop two natural spring-water ice cubes into a glass and decant a generous pour of Mount Gay XO, which we’ve picked up at the local liquor store for $60. Swirling the amber rum in my glass, I pause for a full-nostril sniff. It’s true: the aroma of “ripe banana and toast, followed by vanilla, pastry and warm spice” is there and ignites my olfactory receptors.

I then admire its rich color, how it’s several shades darker than our go-to Mount Gay Eclipse. I close my eyes, rest the glass to my lower lip and then let the chilled rum cascade over my tongue and down the back of my throat. What hits me first is its thickness, what an aficionado would say is its “roundness.” And then, boom! There it is: the smooth finish. Very nice. And the aftertaste: it’s as rich and oaky as promised. This, I pronounce, “is a lovely and smooth sipping rum.” The problem I have with a good sipping rum, however, is the rate of sip. When it tastes this good, it’s impossible to nurse.

Mount Gay’s XO, a premium blended from the Bajan craftsmen down in Barbados, is described as a blend of rums aged between 8 and 15 years in American bourbon barrels. I certainly get a hint of fire on the first sip, but it instantly mellows, especially after a few minutes on the rocks. “Wow, that’s quite the aroma,” one tester noted. “I get the fruity taste,” said another, “it really is very smooth.” “Smooth and palate pleasing,” opined our most sophisticated tester.

Just to be sure, we pour another sample round. Then another. And finally, a colleague reveals a four-pack of Regatta Ginger Beer she’s been hoarding under her desk. It’s probably sacriligious to mix such a fine top-shelf rum, but the premium ginger beer, and the bubbles, elevate the XO to a higher level.

The final verdict, once the bottle is emptied of its last drop, is that Mount Gay’s XO, served neat, on the rocks, or even mixed, is a hug and kiss in a glass.