This New Spirit Will Shake Your Allegiance To Whiskey

The Mount Gay Rum Master Blender Collection: The Port Cask Expression is here to shake you to your core.

mount gay rum
Courtesy of Mount Gay Rum

Imagine a spirit — it's oaky and distinct with notes of cherry, dried fruit, prune and almond on the palette and a rich caramel appearance. If you're like us, you're probably picturing some form of whiskey, but Trudiann Branker, Mount Gay's Master Blender, is looking to change that perception. The spirit we just described is not whiskey — it's rum. Her latest work, and her second edition in the limited series, the Mount Gay Master Blender Collection: The Port Cask Expression, is aimed at appealing to whiskey drinkers with a genre-bending expression that stays true to Mount Gay's roots while simultaneously pushing the distillery in new directions.

mount gay rum
Trudiann Branker, Master Blender at Mount Gay Rum
Courtesy Mount Gay Rum

The Master Blender Collection: The Port Cask Expression is an incredibly unique limited-edition spirit, which celebrates over 300 years of expertise, as well as innovation at Mount Gay. To craft it, Branker blended a selection of different rums distilled at the Mount Gay Distillery in Barbados — including a traditional column still rum aged for 5 years in Tawny Port casks and a rum double-distilled in a copper pot still before being aged for 14 years in American whiskey casks and finished in Tawny Port casks. The result is nothing short of eye opening, with notes of vanilla, caramel and almond on the nose, and cherry, dried fruit, oak, prune and almond on the palate. The best part? What you get in the glass is exactly as Branker intended — no additives for color or flavor and bottled at cask strength (55% ABV).

To learn more about the work Branker does for Mount Gay, what The Port Cask Expression aims to achieve and how a sipping rum can convert whiskey drinkers, we sat down with Branker to share a glass and have our minds opened.

How did the Master Blender Collection: Port Cask Expression come about?

Trudiann Branker: "The Master Blender Collection showcases innovation, so I wanted to create something unique, while staying true to brand heritage. I wanted to create something unique, while staying true to brand heritage. It was going through barrels that are new, that are different, and then taking those and coming up with something that's so complimentary to rum that you're like — 'Wow, great idea. Let's have this marriage happen.' I selected Tawny Port casks, which we don’t usually work with, for their bold expression of notes. And that's what really happened for Port Cask — that's how it came about. For me it was really having the experience be about rum first and port after, but being very recognizable about what that finish really is."

mount gay rum
Courtesy of Mount Gay Rum

Buy Now: $175

What's the biggest challenge in trying to change the stigma of rum, and trying to get people to see rum as a sipping spirit?

TB: "I think the biggest challenge is that everyone is not transparent. There are some producers that are, I will say that — but there are too many who aren't. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that [mass produced] model, but it's really not aiding us in being able to elevate the category. For me the only way that's going to happen is through transparency, education and more conversations happening."

What's the most rewarding part of your job?

TB: "The most rewarding part of my job, I would have to say is when distillers and the people in the distillery come up to me and say, 'This is a great one. We're going to do amazing things.' It's that support, because it really is a team effort. It's great liquid, but there's so much more that goes into it than that. And for me, it's really about doing them proud."

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