Mount Gay Rum is produced by Mount Gay Distilleries Ltd. of Barbados, the easternmost island of the West Indies. The oldest surviving deed for the company is from 1703, making Mount Gay Rum the world’s oldest commercial rum distillery. The current majority shareholder of Mount Gay Distilleries since 1989 is Rémy Cointreau. Mount Gay Rum is sold in 110 countries, and its primary export market is the United States of America.
Mount Gay Rum is named for Sir John Gay Alleyne, 1st Baronet of Four Hill. Sir John Gay Alleyne was a trusted friend of John Sober, who purchased the Mount Gilboa Plantation/Distilleries from William Sandiford in 1747. Sir John Gay Alleyne agreed to become the manager of the company at John Sober's request. Sir John Gay Alleyne was so effective at leading the company, and earned such a widely-respected reputation internationally as a business manager and community leader, that the company was renamed in his honour after his death in 1801 at the proposal of his longtime friend John Sober, whose estate benefited greatly over the years under Sir John Gay Alleyne's effective management. As there was already a Mount Alleyne in existence on the island of Barbados, the company was renamed Mount Gay Distilleries, incorporating the beloved Sir John Gay Alleyne's middle name. In 1757, Sir John Gay Alleyne was elected to the Parliament of Barbados, for the Parish of St. Andrew, a seat he held for the next forty years, with only a break in 1771 He became Speaker of the Barbados House of Assembly in 1767, serving until 1770 and after another two years was reappointed until 1779. Alleyne was named a Baronet of Four Hills on 6 April 1769. According to Hilary Beckles, historian and principal of the University of the West Indies - Cave Hill Campus, Sir John Gay Alleyne was a popular leader among the planter elite and a great philanthropist. He was also one of the most influential voices of his time to speak out against the institution of slavery. On 29 April 2010, while speaking at the Founder's Day service at Alleyne School, which was founded by Sir John Gay, alumnus and guest speaker Monsignor Vincent Blackett stated that Sir John Gay Alleyne should certainly be named one of Barbados’ National Heroes.
Mount Gay Rum is made from molasses and water that has been filtered through natural coral. This mix is fermented using an exclusively selected yeast and then distilled in both copper pot stills and column stills, before being aged in oak barrels.
Mount Gay Rum has been closely associated with sailing and a popular rum preference among sailors over the many years of its existence. Barbados, the most deeply British of the West Indian cultures, is often the first landfall for ships following the prevailing trade winds from Europe to the Caribbean. Despite Mount Gay being favoured by sailors worldwide, the island of Barbados is not considered to be an ideal cruising area for sailing yachts due to its open exposure to the frequent swells of both the northern and equatorial Atlantic, and the lack of generally calmer seas or the true natural harbors one finds throughout the rest of the Antilles to the west (i.e. Antigua's English Harbour, or St. Georges in Grenada).
Mount Gay Distilleries has released several limited edition rums over the course of their history to honor their nautical heritage or commemorate important occasions in the history of Barbados.
The little red star on the image of the island on Mount Gay Rum's former bottle label represents the capital of Barbados, Bridgetown, not the location of the distilleries, which are actually in the northern part of the island. In the Bridgetown area, Mount Gay maintains the Mount Gay Rum Visitors Centre on the Spring Garden Highway in Brandons, St. Michael. The Mount Gay Visitor's Center is a tourist attraction that hosts several tours and events.
The company throughout the 20th century was in the hands of the Ward family in the parish of St. Peter. The Ward family resides in the northernmost parish of St. Lucy, where they have extensive agricultural holdings, and where the best of the sugarcane on the island originates.
The distributors of Mount Gay rum are sponsors of the nonprofit United States Sailing Association. They also sponsor over 110 regatta events worldwide, with approximately 50 of those based in the United States. Of these the Newport Beach to Ensenada, Mexico race is one of the largest private yacht races in the world. Mount Gay gives away distinctive red hats to top competitors at its sponsored regattas.
Mount Gay is one of the key ingredients in Stirling Punch, a drink named for famous yachtsman, America's Cup winner and Vanderbilt Sailing Club founder Harold Stirling Vanderbilt. Mount Gay Rum is also commonly used in cocktails that call for Barbadian Rum because of its wide availability.
Mount Gay Eclipse rum has a very distinctive flavour. There are other rums made on the island, but Mount Gay is the oldest and most prominent.
Notable Spirit ratings for Mount Gay rums include scores of 95 ("Exceptional") for its Extra Old offering at the Beverage Tasting Institute's 2008 Competition and a Gold rating for Eclipse Gold at the 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
OVER 65 visitors were in Barbados (February 17–21, 2010) enjoying a welcomed break from their cold countries thanks to Remy Cointreau, the parent company of Mount Gay Rum.
Sir John Alleyne, as he later became, was a very close friend of John Sober. John Sober inherited Mount Gilboa Plantation/Distillery from his father William Sandiford in 1747, and upon doing so he appointed Sir John Gay Alleyne as the manager. Sir John did such a good job at managing the plantation that it was renamed Mount Gay in his honor after his death in 1801.
Without question, Barbados is the "most British" island in the Caribbean.
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