‘The Last’ Caroni 1996 indeed, the latest bottling from a legendary batch of casks discovered by Luca Gargano (from the Italian importer Velier) back in 2004, after the distillery closed its doors in 2002.
The casks were moved from Trinidad to Guyana in 2008 before being moved to Europe in 2019, where they were decanted into stainless steel and glass containers. That’s 23 years of Caribbean ageing, responsible for an angel’s share of around 85%, no kidding.
This is a HTR rum (Heavy Trinidad Rum), distilled in traditional pot stills. A composition of 24 casks bottled at full proof.
‘The Last’ Caroni 23 yo 1996 (61,9%, Velier 2019, 5522 btl.)
Nose: sweet Shiva, such depth. Typical Caroni petrol, asphalt and car workshop, but also ripe bananas, blackberries, sour fruits (raspberries and passion fruits), kirsch and herbal honey. Mocha and dark chocolate underneath. Minty notes, leather, tobacco and crushed peppercorns. Molasses too, obviously. Exotic woods.
Mouth: dense, with the industrial notes in the foreground. Oils and exhaust fumes. Tar. Oak polish. Suddenly a burst of mango, roasted pineapple and pink grapefruit, against a background of baked apple. Figs. Some rye spices and charred wood. Musty, earthy notes. Liquorice. Menthol and eucalyptus. Herbal liqueurs. Dried mushrooms. It just keeps going on really.
Finish: very long, dry and spicy, with more tarry notes, dark brewed tea, cigars and plenty of mocha.
I’ve never scored rums but this is bloody excellent and one of my all-time favourites, no doubt. Intense yet balanced and extremely complex. An iconic last one and a must for all rum lovers. It doesn’t come cheap but nonetheless sold out now, at least in the online stores as far as I can tell.