What is it? Single cask rum from Trinidad and Tobago, molasses based and distilled at the Caroni distillery in 1999. This was aged in ex-bourbon casks before being bottled in 2013 by independent bottles Mezan, making the rum approximately 15 years old. The Caroni distillery closed in 2002 and it had various stills to produce rum. There was a pot still (maybe 2) and various column stills (single, twin and four column). As we know, pot stills and single column stills produce a heavy spirit, and while there is no information on this type of still used in this rum it does seem to be on the lighter side of Caroni so it’s likely to come from either the twin or four column stills. I’d guess the twin as it is quite oily still.
Natural colour, light filtering only and bottled at 40% abv (booooo).
Sugar? No. States so on the bottle. Zero, zip, nil, nada.
Nose: Really beautiful, soft and rounded but with some weight lurking behind, slightly oily (it’s a nose, yeah, but you know what I mean). Some candied orange peel, honey, apricot, squishy banana and some papaya or mango….not quite sure which – all tropically type fruits mixed up. Ah, white jelly beans (English style) – I got this in a Bristol Spirits bottling too! There are white flowers (Jasmine, Sweet Pea etc) and after a while some spicy oak. A distant hint of new tyres and a whiff of smoke to remind you that this is indeed a Caroni.
Palate: Yep, this is a Caroni alright, just lighter, softer and dialled back. Oily, much more so than you’d expect given the colour and nose with a pretty decent mouth feel. Sugar cane, sweet grasses, those jelly beans again and a big punch of orange mid way through. Honey, a little coconut and a really interesting thick rum and raisin fudge taste as it moves to the finish. It says “raisin fudge” on the bottle, which I didn’t get for a while, but it’s definitely in there for a few seconds and quite obvious now.
Finish: Medium to long (needs more oomph regarding abv really here). Oh, dries, quite rapidly actually. Things start to get tannic, dry, spicy and maybe even a little bitter from the oak. It’s not bad, it’s just off centre from the sweeter fruit flavours on the palate and quite noticeable in the change. There is a throat lozenge type taste in there, maybe menthol or camphor….slight fennel maybe. Argh, getting quite mouth puckering dry now as it tails off, shame about that.
Thoughts? What a lovely little rum. If you want to give Caroni a go but think that the bigger rubbery, briney flavours will be too much then this is a perfect place to start, especially when you consider the price: £35. Ok, so you only get 40% abv, and Mezan are buggers for this, but bear in mind what else you’re getting here; a 15 year old, single cask, vintage Caroni, unsweetened and un-coloured. I think that’s pretty remarkable in todays market really. Now, moving away from the bargain that it is, the rum itself is good. It’s above average and certainly better than you’ll find in most official distillery bottles at the same price. The problem is (and always is with single casks) balance. It’s not there. If this were small batch produced with some other casks to sort out that drop off and bittering finish then it’d be hard to beat, but it’s a single cask so lets celebrate it for that and accept that you’re going to loose out on balance when you drinking from 1 cask alone.
Go get some.