Caroni 100% Trinidad Rum Aged 12 Years by Velier

Caroni Trinidad rum review the fat rum pirate VelierDistilled in 2000 from the last Trinidad molasses and bottled in 2012.  This rum from the famous Caroni Distillery has been bottled by Italian company Velier.

As my rum journey has progressed (I hope with my assistance some of you have a smoother journey than me!) I have read a great deal about the now defunct Caroni Distillery.  Caroni is famous for “Heavy Rum” and rums from the distillery can now fetch quite mind boggling prices.  I have been fortunate enough to pick up both this and a 16-year-old Caroni (The Ancient Mariner) for under £50 per bottle.

For anyone who has tasted Trini rums more modern offerings it is highly likely that it will be from the Angostura Distillery (which merged with the island’s only other distillery Fernandes in the mid 2000’s).  So the idea of a “heavy rum” might seem a little strange compared to the light almost floral rums of Angostura.  I’m thinking 1919 in particular.  When we talk of “Heavy Rum” it is very much the kind of rum that the British Navy used to give to their Sailor’s and likely the kind pirates guzzled.  As a quick reference point I would use Pusser’s.  Caronis have their own distinctive flavour and profile but Pusser’s gives the same kind of kick to the nuts Caronis offer.  Light and delicate they are not.  You can almost feel the hairs on your chest grow as you sip!

This Caroni was distilled in 2000 from the last remaining stocks of local molasses.  It was aged in Trinidad until January 12th 2012 and was bottled in Scotland in March of that year.  It is Extra Strong bottled at 100 proof (50% ABV) and it cost around £45 from The Whisky Exchange.

The rum comes in a non standard kind of 3/4 bottle – taller than stubby bottle but fatter and dumpier than the more traditional bar bottle.  The front and rear label give a lot of useful information (I’ve used plenty in this review).  The bottle is styled to be similar to the 1940 bottles when (so the label says) Trinidad rums where at their peak.  I like the presentation and think it is in keeping with the fact the distillery is no more.  It’s a nice little homage to the Caroni distillery.  The rum certainly won’t attract any of the trendy types who have been seduced by Diplomatico and Zacapa but as this rum is limited and cannot be re-created I doubt Velier are worrying too much about selling it.  Rums such as this will always attract the same niche market of aficionados.Caroni Trinidad rum review the fat rum pirate Velier

So there is the history lesson so lets see how this rum tastes in the now.  On with the sipping……..

Upon pouring the rum exhibits itself in the glass in much the same way it does in the bottle.  It is a nice golden to light brown colour.  It’s appearance offers no clues as to the heavy nature of the rum.  It could be any number of rums – some of which are very light and very sweet.

Upon nosing again the Caroni doesn’t offer a really strong powerful aroma.  It’s not what I was expecting.  There is smell of sweet alcohol and a oaked profile which borders on slightly musty.  It kind of smells old (and I mean old not bad!).  Theres a very distinct nose to both this and the 16 Year Old (Ancient Mariner) Caroni I have previously tried.  This rum doesn’t seem quite as pungent as the 16 Year Old.  It is only 4% ABV less than the Ancient Mariner but it doesn’t quite seem to have that extra little oomph that the Mariner had.  There is even a little hint of vanilla in the mix.  In some ways it reminds me of a more pungent 1919.

Onto the sipping and at 50% I am expecting to introduce an ice cube pretty early on.  The Caroni has a very dry profile.  It is quite hot and spicy and it has a very long oaked finish.  There is very little sweetness to the rum.  Where dry Bajan rums such as R L Seale’s still retain a fruitiness. The Caroni does not really include fruit flavours in its profile.  I had an ice-cube in an attempt to entice some further flavours into the mix.  The ice-cube/water really does open this rum up.  The hot and spicy entry is much smoother now.  The sipping experience at 50% was pretty fiery.  Although the rum isn’t rough and is actually quite smooth, the heat of the spirit still burnt through onto the palate.  The ice improves this.

Caroni Trinidad rum review the fat rum pirate VelierWith the introduction of ice we now have quite a smooth and tasty spirit.  I can see why these rums are called “heavy” in many ways they border on Whisky in terms of profile.  However, they do not taste like whisky.  The earthy peaty notes are not present they are replaced with a profile which represents the long tropical ageing in used oak.  There is a little vanilla in the mix and the spiciness in the mix is white pepper with a little ginger and nutmeg.

My best suggestion for enjoying this rum would be to leave it at room temperature for around 15 minutes allow then add a couple of ice cubes.  Once they start to dissolve (and this bugger makes short work of them) begin to sip the rum.

In summary a Caroni rum is a “must try” for anyone who is serious about rum.  If you can pick up a bottle of Caroni (2000 and earlier are best to get the full Trini experience) at a price you can afford then I recommend you do.  These rums will not be around for ever.  We are probably looking at around another 3 to 4 years if you wish to get a 2000 or pre 2000 bottle at a reasonable price.

This rum isn’t sweet so do not go from drinking Pyrat, El Dorado and Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva to this.  I fear the shock may be too much.  It probably won’t taste like rum should to you.  Experiment first with drier less sweet offerings such as Chairman’s Reserve, R L Seale’s 10 Year Old or even Bacardi Reserva.  This is not a rum which will appeal to everyone’s palate.  I would fully expect a lot of people not to “get this”.  At around £50 it’s not a purchase you should rush into.

As an example of a genuinely unaltered classic and historic rum this is a must have.  If you’re looking for something fruity to add to cola…..take a look at some of my other reviews.  This isn’t for you!

 

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