Many years ago I visited Mount Gay Distillery for the first time. I'm quite easily impressed when I see beautiful copper stills, but Mount Gay's still house always makes me feel like I'm walking into Valhalla. I can hear angels singing in my mind when I see those pot stills appearing in my sight.
That particular time I was very lucky, as my partner and I went to the distillery together with Steven and Barnali James. Steven is a rum blogger and runs the UK Rum Club on Facebook. We were all blessed that day as we got a tour from Fitzroy. He stepped in, as the regular tour guide wasn't available. This was extremely fortunate, as Fitzroy is a wonderful person who's worked at Mount Gay for decades in different positions, so he's incredibly knowledgeable. The stars aligned, since knowledge is what we came there for.
During the tour, when we got to the pot stills, Fitzroy introduced us to an older gentleman there. His name was Blues. He immediately felt like a celebrity. We had a short chat with him. Very nice, gracious man with a ton of knowledge and experience. He had his own desk right next to the stills. I remember saying to him that it's quite the dream location for your work desk to be in. Something very different from a cubicle! There were all sorts of little bottles on his desk which made us very curious. He was generous enough to let us taste some rum straight from the still. What an unforgettable experience! I wish I could have talked with him some more.
Fast forward a few years and I heard about his passing. Sad news, especially for his family and the Mount Gay family of course. I was able to visit the distillery again during the first edition of the Barbados Rum Experience in 2021. Very lucky, as I met Fitzroy once more, who gave me a private tour. It doesn't get better than that!
We chatted about Blues and then he introduced me to Blues's son. Another wonderful guy. He took me to the column still house to show me around. I don't want to sound too cheesy, but I feel truly honoured to see these gentlemen taking some time out of their busy schedule to share their knowledge and passion with little old me. I was so impressed that I forgot to film the column stills in landscape! Silly me.
At the end of that column still video you see the (badly filmed) gorgeous copper Coffey still and Blues's desk. This particular still had been out of service for a very long time and was recommissioned a few years ago. Blues used to be one of its operators back in the day. A little while ago, Raphael Grisoni, former managing director of Mount Gay, told me:"I’ve asked Blues, who worked at the distillery for 60 years, how the rum was from this still. When he talked about it, he had glitters in his eyes, telling me that sometimes they were drinking the rum out of the still, as it was so good. So i thought it would be a good idea to recommission it and release some proper Coffey rum from this very rare type of still."
I've been lucky enough to have tasted unaged rum from this still. It's wonderful. Very fruity. It makes you see column still rum in a totally different light. Looking at the label below, it seems Mount Gay is honouring Blues with a limited aged release of Coffey rum. This is from a batch that he distilled. What a great tribute!
I've taken a few photos from the front, back and top of the Coffey still:
Of course there is more to Mount Gay than the Coffey still. Here are some more photos: