With over a dozen years’ experience in spirits, degrees from both Chicago’s Siebel Institute of Technology and London’s Institute of Brewing and Distilling, and a dual passion for tradition and innovation, Branker is committed to honouring Mount Gay’s legacy while still exploring new distilling techniques. She’s also well aware that rum is entering a new age, citing social media as opening up a direct line of communication to younger, more curious rum customers. “There’s a new generation who’s paying attention to rum,” she told Forbes.com in 2019, adding, “Consumers want to know how you make [it]…They want to know about your company.”
Still, this burgeoning curiosity among drinkers doesn’t mean Branker is about to reveal Mount Gay’s secret pot-to-column still ratio anytime soon. Instead, she’s content to develop her own blends behind closed doors, experimenting with unexpected methods for ageing and distilling. Her debut blend, Pot Still Rum, premiered as part of Mount Gay’s exclusive “Master Blender Collection” in 2019––a drinkable nod to Mount Gay’s penchant for pot distillation back in the 1800s.
This year, Branker continues her pioneering efforts in rum with the release of The Port Cask Expression, a small-batch blend that makes use of two separate rums aged and/or finished in Tawny Port casks––a groundbreaking move for Mount Bay, which has never used such casks in their ageing procedures before. On her decision to utilise Tawny Port, Branker said: “I wanted to take our rum making to another level…After trying different casks and evaluating the resulting flavors [sic], I selected Tawny Port casks for the bold expression of notes typically found in Port. I am thrilled to release this rich and multi-faceted rum, as well as create something unique and different as part of the Master Blender Collection.”
Early tasters testify to Port Cask Expression’s wide array of palate-warming flavours, including cherry, oak, prune, currants, raisins, figs, vanilla, cinnamon, and clove (among others). Ideal for the holidays, this entry into the Master Blender Collection is certain not to last very long; only 6,570 bottles have been produced, with a mere 2,100 bottles to be made available on the US market. Interested parties are advised to seek out a bottle as soon as possible, especially if they hope to have this glorious expression accompany them throughout the winter season. Branker’s work, it seems, will no doubt be a highly-sought-after holiday spirit.
Score one for the ladies.
Approximately 6,600 bottles are being released, 2,150 of which will be made available in the US and in the Cayman Islands, Jacques Scott will have a few bottles available in early 2021.
The Mount Gay portfolio includes Eclipse, Black Barrel, XO and 1703. Mount Gay is owned by Rémy Cointreau SA. For more information, visit www.mountgayrum.com or follow them at @MountGayRum on Facebook and @MountGayRumUS on Instagram.