Mount Gay Eclipse Navy Strength Rum Review

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Mount Gay Eclipse Navy Strength Rum Review

If there’s one thing that the tiki cocktail geeks of the world are always clamoring for, it would be more high-value overproof releases from some of the biggest producers in the rum world. There’s no shortage of brands available from the likes of say, Appleton Estate in Jamaica, or Mount Gay in Barbados, but why are cask strength expressions so tough to come by? How about a light-to-moderately aged expression, but with the strength to stand up in rum-forward tiki drinks or classic cocktails? That’s what Mount Gay has delivered with its new Eclipse Navy Strength Rum, a product that represents a pretty fantastic value at its $30 MSRP.

This is, of course, the upgraded big brother of the company’s flagship Eclipse Heritage Blend. That bottle has always been a lightly aged, blended rum–and when we say “blended,” we mean a blend of column still and pot still distillate. It’s not the smoothest rum in the world, thanks to a mere two years of aging in reused American whiskey casks, but at a mere $20 MSRP it’s not exactly a selection meant for neat drinking first and foremost. Eclipse is a classic blending rum for basic cocktails and mixed drinks, when you want some aged character rather than using a brighter unaged rum.

Eclipse Navy Strength, on the other hand, has been massively beefed up in pretty much every way a rum geek would want to see. It carries an older age statement, being a blend of 2-4 year old column and pot still rums, and the company notes that it contains more of the flavorful pot distillate in the blend than the original Eclipse. And rather than the introductory 40% ABV (80 proof), this is presented at the so-called “Navy Strength” proof point of 57.1% (114.2 proof), even though the historical accuracy of that particular figure is sketchy at best according to rum historians. Regardless, this is an older, richer and far punchier version of that flagship product, and the best aspect is easily the fact that it costs only $10 more, with a $30 MSRP. Given its “limited edition” status, it’s rather shocking that Mount Gay didn’t try to capitalize with a higher price point here, but we applaud the value this represents.

So with that said, let’s get to tasting this upgraded Eclipse Navy Strength and see how much it has grown in stature.

On the nose, this isn’t actually immediately as bold or ebullient as I figured it probably would be for the proof point. You do get plenty of ripe banana and a lot of fruit in general, touching on bright pineapple, but it’s not exactly exploding out of the glass on first inspection. I’m getting plenty of vanilla extract and a little milk chocolate as well. The ethanol is actually fairly mild here, although it does read as young or a little “raw” in nature. Regardless, if someone handed this to me blind, I really don’t think I would peg it as 114 proof just from the nose alone.

On the palate is where Eclipse Navy Strength really comes to life. Here it’s much more assertive, exploding with waves of allspice, molasses cookies, heavy vanilla and slightly syrupy sweetness. There are traces of grassy sugar cane that have held over, along with dessert banana, baked peach and some pineapple fruitiness. The vanilla in particular is a huge note, contributing a creaminess and hints of brown sugar. The oak isn’t particularly present, certainly not as it is in Mount Gay’s own roast-forward Black Barrel, leading the primary impressions to be of fruit, vanilla, sweetness and trailing spice. The additional pot still distillate is certainly being felt in this greater degree of flavor, compared with the original Eclipse blend. As on the nose, the booze character here is a little raw or solventy, giving away the still young overall age of the blend.

At the end of the day, this probably still isn’t a neat-drinking rum for most consumers, but where it’s really going to shine is in more potent and characterful mixed drinks and cocktails. For the $30 asking price, it fills the role perfectly: High-proof, lightly aged, blended Bajan rum that is bursting with flavor. I could see this becoming an instant classic in the tiki world, or in traditional Barbados classics like the Corn ‘n Oil.

Honestly, this feels like a product that should have existed all along. Why is this a limited release, again? Can it be permanent instead? There are plenty of cocktail geeks out there who would appreciate being able to find this on the shelves all year round. Regardless, this is one to stock up on while it’s around.

Distillery: Mount Gay
City: Saint Lucy, Barbados
Style: Blended molasses rum
ABV: 57.1% (114.2 proof)
Availability: Limited, 700 ml bottles, $30 MSRP

Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident beer and liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.

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