Food & Drink

Elements: Black Molasses

The master blender for Mount Gay Rum, Allen Smith, explains the importance of ‘black gold’

Back in the 17th century, when it was discovered that molasses could be fermented and distilled into a fiery spirit called rum, the Caribbean islands became an important part of the world economy. That’s how molasses got its nickname as ‘Black Gold’.

Molasses is a by-product of sugar production and is made when sugar cane is harvested and stripped of the leaves, and its juices are extracted usually by cutting, crushing, or mashing. This juice is then boiled to concentrate it in a process known as ‘first syrup’, creating a liquid with a very high sugar content. A second boiling of the liquid and sugar extraction creates ‘second molasses’, which has a slight bitter taste; it’s the third time that the sugar is boiled that creates the typical dark, viscous blackstrap molasses, with its robust flavour.

Mount Gay Rum has been distilling rum from molasses since 1703, and we certainly still regard it as our ‘Black Gold’. This element is so important to us that only last year, Mount Gay Distilleries purchased the historical Mount Gay plantation: the very land once managed by our founder Sir John Gay Alleyne in the 18th Century. We’ve finally reunited the historical sugar cane plantation with its original distillery.

Allen Smith is the Master Blender for Mount Gay Rum. He recently launched Mount Gay XO Cask Strength, a limited edition of the award-winning expression XO, in celebration of 50 years of Barbadian Independence