And now a break from bourbon cask whisky and indeed from all whisky. This is a rum—though as I think about it, it’s quite likely it too was matured in a bourbon cask. The distillery in question is Caroni, a very big name in the rum renaissance of the last decade. Caroni has been referred to by whisky geeks as the “Port Ellen of rum”, not least because it too has closed (in 2002). Now you might think that calling something “the Port Ellen of x” would mean that it was being sold at a king’s ransom but that was not true of this cask when it was bottled by A.D. Rattray in 2012. I believe it went for about $50. I’m sure it would be a very different story these days.
Caroni was located in Trinidad. I know nothing about the usual profile of Trinidadian rums—I don’t even know if there is a usual profile in Trinidadian rum—and so I will not be able to tell you if this cask of Caroni is representative or not of Trinidad rum. And as it may well be the first Caroni I’ve had I can’t even tell you how representative it is of Caroni’s own rum. Now that you know just how uninformative this review will be, let’s get to it!
Caroni 15, 1997 (46%; Trinidad Rum; A.D. Rattray; cask 107; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: Rich notes of brown sugar and caramel; some light herbal notes float up from below. Some fruitier, estery notes (plantains mostly) emerge as well as it sits. Very pleasant but there’s not a lot here of great interest or idiosyncratic character. Gets more straightforwardly bourbony as it sits. Fruitier and softer with a few drops of water.
Palate: Drier and funkier on the palate with some aniseed and some Hampden-lite funk mixed in with the caramel. The herbal note expands with every sip and some citrus (orange peel) emerges as well along with some oaky bite; increasingly spicy too (pepper, chillies). With more time there’s some machine oil and a hint of diesel. Softer here too with water: less spice (though the aniseed is still around), less oak, less burnt caramel.
Finish: Long. The aniseed expands as it goes and the caramel gets more bitter. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is, as I note, nothing very characterful but that’s not to say that it’s not good rum, because it is. At the price that was asked for it I would have liked to have socked a couple of bottles away for easy drinking. I liked it better neat.
Rating: 86 points.
Thanks to Florin for the sample!