The Rum: Caroni 21 yo
Region: Trinidad and Tobago
Raw material: Molasses
Bottled: 2017- by Velier
Abv: 57.18% (100 Imperial Proof)
Nose: well, what to say? It’s Caroni folks. Molasses, warm herbs, big wood (although less wood compared to the Caroni Guyana-stock). Also iodine, the sea breeze in your nose. Still a remarkable freshness for a 21 yo Caroni, with a vegetal touch. Ripe bananas and salted caramel. The tarry rope, the asphalt you say? Hmm…only very subtle in the nose. After a good 10 minutes that smoky side ops up, but is still accompanied by a pleasant fruity and floral aroma, white pepper and allspice. Cassonade sugar (in case you wonder..that’s the light brown kind).
Taste: punchy but not aggressive. Again firm oak influence and slightly bitter herbs. A delicate sweet touch with exotic fruits. The tar is more present now. This is what one can expect from a Caroni, apart from the fact that this particular bottling has an extra with the tropical fruits adding a very pleasant extra touch.
Finish: the after taste quickly fades away, but only to come back again with burned molasses and..yes, again…the oak lingering through.
Score: ***** – yes 5 stars all the way! If you would taste this in a line up it would still be a great rum. But with a clean palate, this is so much more than another ‘in your face’ Caroni. I just love how the very subtle tropical fruits are supporting the warm, woody, herbal, and medium-tarry flavors.
A man (m/f) can never taste too much Caroni in his life. This Trinidad distillery has been closed for about 15 years now, and is slowly getting a rather iconic status amongst rum aficionados.
In our glass today, a 23 yo Caroni from 1994 bottled by Velier (who else).
The Rum: Caroni 23 yo Guyana Stock – 36th Release
Raw material: Molasses
Distilled: 1994, column still
Bottled: 2017 by Velier (Italy)
Maturation: 18 years in Trinidad, five years in British Guyana
ABV: 57.18 %
Nose: firm molasses open the debates, followed by an undertone of stewed greens and overripe fruits. Soft tar with a pinch of iodine. Some crispy bacon too. A rather typical heavy Caroni nose, but the high abv of 57.18 (well…relatively high…after all this is Caroni) stays rather discrete in the nose.
After a bit of aeration the salty sea breeze gets more clear, together with the aroma of cold coffee. The fruits still are there after a few minutes, but they keep playing their discrete part on the background. Adding some water releases strong aromas of bitter-sweet licorice, and even a bit of a floral scent.
Taste: hot, punchy alcohol with a big wood influence. A perfect degree of bitterness – if you like that in a rum of course. Cold coffee again. Some tropical fruits try to get out, but they are mainly overpowered by the alcohol and the wood.
Adding a drop of water helps to get a bit of guava in the glass. That typical smoky, tarry side of Caroni is present, but is definitely not playing first violin, as it sometimes does in some of the (35) previous releases. The heavy herbal notes manifest themselves after a good 10-15 miniutes.
Finish: Medium long to long with a drying touch of the wood. There’s really not much evolution in the finish.
Our score: **** This might not be the most complex Caroni. This might not be the smokiest Caroni. This is certainly not the fruitiest Caroni. This is not the punchiest Caroni – nor is it the weakest. But this is just a very good and rather typical Caroni. Expensive? With a price tag around €350 it most certainly is. Worth the money? Well..that’s for each and every-one of you to decide for himself.
The Rum : Caroni 1997
Origin: Trinidad and Tobago
Bottled: 2015 – 100 bottles
Bottler: Liquid Art (Belgium)
Nose: Herbal, spicy but yet very fresh, with even some hints of mint lingering through. White pepper and liquorice, together with a more maritime aroma. The alcohol is present, but not overwhelming. Also quite some warm vanilla and butter. And I even get something that reminds me of good old vintage port wines. After a while, the sweeter vanilla takes over.
Taste: Hot and spicy, with a firm alcohol punch. The typical notes of ta rand engine oil that Caroni so often has, is rather absent here. I do get, however, some smoked meat (filet d’Anvers). Dark molasses and old leather. Liquorice. Let’s say it’s a medium-phenolic Caroni, with a very nice balance between the spices and the wood. There’s also just a bit of fruitiness on the background, but it’s hard to put your finger on it. Adding some water makes the wood popping out, turning this Caroni somewhat more bittersweet.
Finish: Again spicy and warm, with a pleasant sweetness. The finish is rather long, starting with some punch but quickly getting softer. Again very well balanced and just a bit drying towards the end. The wood is subtle, yet there.
Our Score: ****
Not the most typical Caroni around. This Liquid Art is definitely no Liquid Tar, so if you’re looking for a very heavy Caroni , this might not be for you. But still it’s a great rum, and in fact a rather accessible Caroni. This is somewhere in between Velier’s heavy Caroni’s and Rum Nation’s lighter Caroni.
Price: expect to pay around €105-110.
Ah…Caroni…the almost iconic distillery in Trinidad that closed its doors more than a decade ago.
In fact, there are two different types of Caroni: heavy and light. And this has got nothing to do with the alcohol strength, but everything with the rectification of the rum. A light rum means distilled at …a higher alcohol percentage, but with higher rectification; and thus less “unwanted” congeners in the spirit. A heavy rum is distilled at a lower abv, but with more congeners; resulting in a more “dirty” rum, containing more sulphur and fusel oils, giving Caroni its typical tar, smoke and oil taste.
The rum: Caroni Rum Nation 1998-2014 2nd batch
Distilled: 1998 – no type of still indicated
Bottled: 2014 – 4580 bottles
Maturation: 9 years in Trinidad and 7 years in Europe – American oak
Nose: the first impression is soft and fruity, with some pepper, burnt sugar and a medium alcohol feeling. Rather fruity for a Caroni indeed, and really not aggressive. I also got a whiff of mocha and some liquorice, together with lamp oil and a vegetal touch. Camphor. After a good 15 minutes some orange peel and grape fruit. Adding some water makes it much softer, with vanilla playing a more dominant role now.
Taste: Firm alcohol now, but still rather sweet – brown sugar. Much more wood influence than expected. Fruity notes, but a bit more on the bitter side. Orange peel and grapefruit again. Herbal too. Adding some water makes the wood less dominant, with the fruits playing their part now – mainly papaya. More liquorice, and the water camouflages that little bitter side note. Pleasant rum…but where’s that typical Caroni flavour of smoke and fusel oils? This actually goes in the direction of a light Caroni.
Finish: Again lots of wood and herbal, without becoming too dry. The finish is rather long and warming. With some water it becomes a bit shorter and less powerful. Coffee with lots of milk.
In short: A rather a-typical Caroni, and certainly not the best Caroni around – but for this price (expect to pay around €56-60) a must have. If you still can find a bottle, don’t hesitate to buy!
Our Score : **** thanks to the excellent quality-price ratio
The Rum: Caroni 12 yo
Bottled : 2012 at 50 abv
Nose: starting rather alcoholic with some notes reminding of cognac. Heavy molasses with a hint of tar (asphalt) and vanilla. Dusty notes slowly making room for fresher fruity notes (dry raisins)
Taste: again rather alcoholic. Not too sweet, but with a lot of wood influence. Smoky notes that are so typical for Caroni.
Finish: Nice wood influences, refined bitter taste. The medium long to long finish slowly gets sweeter on the lips; but always with a bit of a strange metallic taste playing in the background.
Our Score: 15/20
Remarks: This is actually a piece of history in the glass, since this is the very last Caroni that was actually made with Trinidad molasses
Rum: Caroni Heavy 18 yo – 55 abv
Bottled: 2012. 23 barrels or 6943 bottles.
Nose: strong alcoholic, softening a little bit after some time. Fine but overwhelming molasses: burned Sugar. Herbal too: verbena.
Taste: the sweetness quickly makes room for more bitter notes from the oak. Maybe a bit too much, the whole is rather unbalanced. A bit medicinal. Hints of coffee caramels.
Finish: mediumlong and warm, still rather alcoholic. No wonder: after all this has an abv of 55. The bitterness goes towards chewing the peel of blue raisins – well..if you have ever done that of course.
Our score: 14.5/20
Remarks: First maturation untill 2008 in Trinidad, from 2009 to 2012 in Guyana