The Caroni distillery was founded in 1923 and after 80 years of operation, sadly was closed in 2003. In 2001 the Trinidad government sold its 49% share in Rum Distillers Limited to Angostura for $35 million who were forced to close the distillery two years later, because that same Trinidad Government closed their sugar refinery on the island. In the first half of the 20th century Trinidad had some 50 odd distilleries, but today only one survives, Angostura. The demise of the Trinidadian sugar cane industry means that molasses today are mainly imported from Guyana. Because of its heavy style, Caroni was a favourite with the British Navy and yours truly.
Nose: Dry, funky and slightly industrial. Like a crossing between Rhum Agricole and Jamaican Rum, with added motor oil and petrol. High ester heavy style Rum. Different kinds of wood and waxy. Lots and lots of aroma. Hints of oranges and mushrooms. Hot butter. Orange skins at first, but with good nosing a deeper (and sweeter) kind of sugared oranges appear. I’m a big fan of Rums like these. Later on, some oak and earwax. Burnt wood and smoke. Bonfire and a fishy note. Grilled fish (hanging over the bonfire). When my mind wanders off, I will associate the hint of smoke and burnt wood with Islay Whisky. Nice side effect. When all the extremities wear off on the nose, the whole becomes slightly sweeter and friendlier. More salty and smoky vanilla. What a nose!
Taste: Dry oranges with some hidden sweetness underneath. Still a bit industrial, not saying that is bad, on the contrary. Nice hints of oranges again, all of it, the skins, the freshly pressed juice and the candied oranges. All quite dry and smoky, never truly sweet. The wood is trying to get some bitterness across, but that hardy is the case. The Rum itself is highly aromatic, the bitterness is pushed back, there is simply not a lot of room for it. Bitter orange skin and again a burnt note. I can’t help but feel that the orange oil you get with the juice from the skins also gives off a slight acidic note that doesn’t completely integrate with the rest of the taste. Something that also happens in the Abuelo 12yo. Only here it’s not that bad.
This is great stuff from a sadly closed distillery. Not your run of the mill easy-going overly sweet Rum, but something more daring and industrial. Maybe this Rum isn’t for everyone, but if you like the profile this was one of the best.
The 1998 Caroni reviewed here was bottled in 2008. In 2013 exactly the same rum was released, just 5 years older. That one would be nice to review sometimes. The picture on the left is from the 2013 release, but looks exactly the same as the 2008 release.