The Caroni rum distillery has been distilling in Trinidad and Tobago from 1918 until 2002, when it was closed due to industry consolidation. They still had an estimated 5300 casks of aged rum some ten years ago and lately many of these found their way to independent whisky bottlers that were looking at more affordable spirits (pioneered by the Italian importers Velier).
Not a sexy distillery, I’m afraid
We’re trying a brand-new Caroni 1997 in the Liquid Art series (probably a split cask) and we’ve found a sparring partner in the Caroni 1997 bottled by The Whisky Agency & The Nectar a couple of years ago.
Caroni 1997 (50,5%, Liquid Art 2016, 100 btl.)
Nose: sandalwood and incense first, nice. Then menthol and pepper. Moving towards pastry notes. A little milk chocolate, cinnamon and sweet bananas flambéed in the background. Gingerbread. Oakier than the TWA version, but in a nice, warm way.
Mouth: quite powerful again, with liquorice and quite a bit of wood smoke now – hints of tar even (though this is certainly not the most extreme Caroni). Walnuts and ginger, but all coated by just enough sweetness. Some diesel oil, as well as something lightly metallic. Ending in a coastal, briny way. Salt and pepper.
Finish: Long, but not as complex any more. Lots of spices and a vague sweet side.
Liquid Art selected a very nice compromise between Caroni’s heavy side and more accessible sweet / fruity elements. Very good. Around € 105.
Caroni 15 yo 1997 (52,1%, The Whisky Agency & The Nectar 2012, 324 btl.)
Nose: more on vanilla and coconut. Soft, creamy molasses. Gets a little drier over time, with more diesel-like aromas this time as well. It seems slightly thinner and a tad more narrow than the Liquid Art bottling. Orange oils. A little golden syrup.
Mouth: sweet start, but quickly getting oakier and spicier, with a light alcoholic touch. This one has more difficulty finding a balance. Hints of salmiac and dried herbs. Hints of wood resin and something medicinal. Peppery heat. Hessian. Touches of burnt sugar too.
Finish: long, bringing back a nice raisiny note and cinnamon syrup, underneath the menthol and oak.
A slightly bigger, more intense snapshot of Caroni. Equally good in fact, but it may be overpowering for some. More or less the same price back then, if I’m not mistaken. Price increases in rum are far less dramatic than they were for whisky.
Two intense rums, heavy style, with a lot of spiciness balancing the sweeter notes. Great after-dinner spirits, with a slight preference towards the Liquid Art selection.