Caroni 16, 1997, Cask 87 (Duncan Taylor)

After a week of brandy let’s do a week of rum.

First up is the first of two casks of Caroni 16, 1987 bottled by Duncan Taylor in 2014. Caroni is the highly-regarded distillery on Trinidad (now deceased) whose rums now fetch kings’ ransoms. These casks, however, were bottled for the US market and because the rum revolution among whisky drinkers hadn’t manifested itself yet in the US in 2014 they apparently hung around for a few years at fairly reasonable prices (sub-$100, I believe). I was among the whisky drinkers who wasn’t paying attention to rum then and so I had no idea. Luckily for me, Michael Kravitz of Diving for Pearls purchased bottles of both and recently sent me samples. He hasn’t reviewed them himself so I can’t pilfer his notes and change a few words as I usually do. I’ve previously reviewed a 15 yo which I liked but did not think was amazing. Let’s see if I like this one better.

Caroni 16, 1997, Cask 87 (55.1%; Duncan Taylor; from a sample from a friend)

Nose: Rich notes of caramel and toffee and molasses waft out of the glass as I pour. This is as quintessentially rummy a nose as a rum could have. On the second sniff there’s some oak and quite a bit of fruit (fried plantains, orange peel, apricot jam); some light herbal notes too. Gets drier on the nose as it goes. A few drops of water pull out some aniseed and knock the richer notes further back in the mix.

Palate: Comes in less sweet with more vegetal/herbal notes and drier oak. Very approachable at full strength. The herbal notes expand with time and the bitter thing from the end of the finish starts popping up earlier. With water it reverses: sweeter and richer here now than on the nose and more citrus too.

Finish: Long. The herbal/vegetal complex expands a bit as it goes and there’s some bitterness at the end that actually works very well. With water the finish is longer still and now the herbal/vegetal notes yield to citrus (lemon). Spicier with time.

Comments: I realize my notes for this are not very different from those for the 15 yo. But I like this one a lot more. It has more oomph thanks to the higher abv; and it’s more complex with greater depth of flavour and more interesting development. Apparently, this stuck around for many years in the sub-$100 range. Wish I’d been into rum then.

Raring: 89 points.

Thanks to Michael for the sample!

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