Mount Gay’s Mauby Rum is not widely available but since this is the festival season, I was lucky enough to land a bottle on a friend’s return. Before getting into the rum itself, one should know a little about what mauby is. It’s a common drink in the Caribbean and how it’s made will vary based on preference; fermented or not, from scratch or concentrate, fizzy or still. There is an earthiness to its taste which makes a lot of sense seeing that it comes from the mauby bark which depending on the country, is also called mavi. A quick search on the internet, and you will see variations on how to make the best mauby.
My first taste was at an event and since there are few moments where I hesitate about trying a drink except for that one time I wasn’t crazy about having chicha in the traditional spit/chew form. My first mauby-drinking moment wasn’t successful. I clearly remember thinking “yuck” and not wanting to order it again. It was really sweet and there was something off about it. It reminded me of a watered down flat Coke or maybe a flat diet cola of sorts. It just didn’t taste good to me. Fast forward a few years and a friend suggested I may not have had the best mauby. There’s a brand in Barbados called “Sweet & Dandy” which is a concentrate and I must admit, it won me over. I drank mauby so frequently that I am now wondering why I haven’t bought any recently. There will be some people that say mauby should only be made from scratch but I must admit this particular concentrate had just the right flavor for me.
In a way I feel mauby has the same appeal as soursop or sorrel. As a traditional drink, it may need some extra love to make it more enjoyable for those that don’t have an acquired taste but I’ve come to love it provided it’s done right. That said, there are two other good reasons to drink mauby: 1. there are reported health benefits, 2. Mount Gay just made mauby rum.
The one thing I have found, however, is that few bartenders have been able to tell me what to mix with the rum. When I was in Barbados in February, the bartender was quick to say he had mauby rum. When I asked what I should have as a chaser he replied, “just drink it straight man.” Now I am not afraid to drink anything straight but like Mount Gay Eclipse, there isn’t the same refinement one would find in one of their more aged products. One could mix it with the mauby drink but then, why not just throw some rum in mauby?
So lucky me that my good friend in Barbados, Sabrita, was thinking of me today. She was at the Rum Cafe at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (formerly the Sherbourne Conference Center) in Barbados where the Barbados Network Consultation was holding its 4th Diaspora Conference. The rum cafe featured a number of rums from Barbados, a rum fountain that I must now have for my house, and a Mount Gay representative who was happy to share a little info on Mount Gay’s Mauby Rum. As you will hear, the rum is distilled with the mauby bark and flavors from citrus peel and clove will come out.
So taking the advice of the Mount Gay representative, I have opted for ginger ale. I usually have my rum with ginger ale so it makes sense that I can compare the addition of the mauby bark. Neat, I taste the clove and there is the subtle mauby flavor that comes through. Mixed, I pour with a heavy hand (mostly rum) and with only a splash of ginger ale and a twist of lime. I appreciate how smooth the rum tastes and similar to how a spiced rum might change the way a typical/non-spiced rum & ginger ale tastes, I like how the clove mixes with the ginger ale. I lose most of the mauby flavor by mixing, but as a mixing rum, you want some type of chaser. This weekend I’ll get some apple juice and Sprite to see how they compare. I’m actually pretty interested to see how the apple juice pairs because in my mind I’m thinking of how I enjoy spiced apples.
This November 30th marks the 50th year of Independence for Barbados and I’m told Mount Gay has a rum to celebrate their golden anniversary. I’m VERY interested in grabbing one of these (obviously) and hope either a friend is able to snag one for me or that someone awesome awesome at Mount Gay/Remy Cointreau reaches out and says, “Hey Rummy, I know you would love this more than anyone, come get your bottle.” I have nooooo problem hopping on a plane to Grantley Adams Airport and honoring Barbados with a toast to this momentous occasion. That said, I wouldn’t place this particular addition to the Mount Gay lineup ahead of say a Black Barrel, but I love that there are unique additions to the brand; ones that you would never find outside of the Caribbean. I am enjoying my drink and I intend on sharing only a couple of shots worth. Unless I come across a couple more bottles, I will hold this one close and while it isn’t a replacement for my XO, it fits in nicely with my collection. Salud!
Update August 6, 2016: I received a suggestion this afternoon about what to mix the Mauby rum with. A recent visitor to the Mount Gay Visitor’s Center said the representative suggested equal parts of cream soda and beer. I just bought some apple juice but it looks like cream soda is on the grocery list for tomorrow. Thank you Bryn for sharing!