Caroni 12yo 1996/2009 (69%, Krugers Whiskygalerie, Rendsburger Bürgermeister, Cask #1107, Trinidad & Tobago)

October always starts out with the best Whisky Festival in the world, The Whisky Show in London (UK). I visited it so many times already it stopped being about the Whiskies, although I tasted many of them. It’s a festival about people. Meeting the makers, the owners, the writers, the bloggers and its about meeting the friends I made along the way, your old buddies, so to speak. Missing those who could not be there this year. It’s always nice to meet some new people as well. I’ve just returned and it always takes me a while to adjust back to normal life. Many Whisky reviews were written before The Whisky Show and many were tasted at the show. So why not go cold turkey and do some Rums for a while, another passion of mine?

The Kruger in Krugers Whiskygalerie is Thomas Kruger, probably best known for his auction site. I actually don’t know if he auctions Rums somewhere, but he does bottle Whiskies and the occasional Rum. From Thomas’ bottling business, here is a Caroni! My heart always skips a beat when hearing that name, especially when it is un-diluted.

Caroni #1107Color: Orange brown.

Nose: Right from the start you get this utter balanced smell. It smells fairly dry, herbal and industrial, with a nice dose of heated oak (when sawing) and sawdust, just like a Caroni should. It’s also easily recognizable as a Caroni, leaning towards Rhum Agricole, with a splash of petrol in it, but not as much as other Caroni’s have. In and out come some whiffs of tar, burnt sugar, leather, Italian laurel licorice and again the wood of the cask. Past the usual suspects, this one boasts also some nice (red) fruitiness. The fruit, ripe raspberries, sugared pineapple (which I know are not red) and unripe wild strawberries. These fruits merge as a second layer and when that layer settles in, you get a more creamy, vanilla-like, toffee-sweet smell. It still is a Rum y’know. If I was presented with this blind, I would have argued it was an aged, rather dry, Rhum Agricole. Love this profile. Once you get the hang of it, there is no going back.

Taste: Starts out dry with a woody aroma, aided by the high ABV. Nevertheless very drinkable (for me) at this strength. I no way does it feel as 69% ABV. A little bit dirty, as Caroni should be. Petrol, exhaust gasses and licorice. Exhaust gasses, wow, never had that before! Not an aroma for the masses. Since the world prefers the flavour profile of Angostura, no wonder Caroni got closed, a fact that makes Rum aficionados break out in tears once in a while. It is so dirty I could also call this animalesk. It does resemble the nose, but seems a bit less complex. Powdery dryness. The high strength is duly noted when my lips start burning a bit and some heat clings to the roof of my mouth. Is it a problem? No it’s not. Blood comes out my nose. Just kidding. It does taste dryer than the nose lead me to believe. But when the dry spell passes, there is some residual toffee sweetness noticeable. In the taste, it is less of a “Rhum Agricole” than the nose promised. Not all returns for the finish. The finish is made up of the wood and (thin) licorice, but has lots of staying power with some very late, yet diluted, warm caramel to it.

I tried to compare this one to the Bristol 1998, but that is impossible, the difference in ABV is too big. From memory I know the Bristol has the petrol but is even more fruity. This Kruger expression is woodier. But I have another ace up my sleeve. The Kintra 1999 expression. Both seem remarkably similar at first. Lots of wood going on in both, but more of that in the Kruger. The Kintra has some whiffs of (clear) glue that can’t be found in the Kruger expression, and the Kruger shows some honey and even hints of Bourbon Whiskey (Buffalo Trace to be exact). On the taste, the Kintra is woodier and Kruger has more licorice and sawdust, but again they are pretty similar. Even the fruit profile matches. Always a good idea to do direct head to head (H2H) comparisons.

Points: 88

Thanks go out to Nico!

Advertisements

Angostura 12yo “1824” (40%, Circa 2014, Trinidad & Tobago)

Are you mad? Reviewing the same Rum again? Nothing better to do? Well, at first I didn’t want to write two reviews about one Rum. I actually wanted to write one review about two Rums, expecting both to be the same, with just an upgrade in the presentation. When I was on my way writing the previous review, I grabbed this more recent bottling of the “1824” and was quite surprised about the difference when smelling it. I poured it back, without even tasting it, and right on the spot decided to break up the review and write two of them. So here is number two. By now we already know there is a difference in smell, but does it also taste differently? Let’s find out…

Angostura 1824 (2014)Color: Copper brown, ever so slightly lighter than the 2008 version.

Nose: Dry and woody with only a distant funkiness. Well balanced yet very laid back in the nose. Nice red fruity acidity kicks in. Dry vanilla powder and sugared almonds. Sugary in its sweetness as opposed to honey, caramel and toffee. There is vanilla. Smelling very smooth, almost elegant and sometimes perfumy. Sweet black tea with a tropical twist. Dried pineapple? It smells nice, smells like a decent brown Rum, but lacking something. It doesn’t smell like something special, but it does smell rounded out and appetizing. Also performs a bit poor in development. Altogether very middle of the road. Yes, smelling like an Abuelo, but that comes from a different place entirely.

Taste: Starts with red fruity acidity, sugary sweetness with some toffee. Warm diluted, but thin, caramel. Sugary with an herbal quality (cannabis), maybe that’s the influence of the wood. I imagine splinters taste like this. Quite simple with a short finish. Luckily this doesn’t remind me of the “1919” but this new “1824” isn’t one to be overly enthusiastic about as well. Bugger. At least Angostura was able to show its potential with the old “1824”. By the way, this Rum tastes better in big gulps. You need to concentrate it yourself to get the most out of it.

Well, there goes batch consistency. Quite worrying, the difference between a 2008 and a 2014 bottling can be so great, especially when the newest one isn’t the netter of the two. New and improved? nope, alas. Obviously they didn’t change the taste profile of this Rum with the new glass container it comes in, but if I were you, I would still seek out bottles looking like the one from the previous review. That one had a lot more going for it. This newer bottling is not a bad Rum, but the older one is a bit better better!

Tasting the old and the new “1824” side by side I now notice that the old “1824” is more akin to the old “1919” I tasted earlier. Having said that, the old “1824” is still a lot better than the new “1824” and both are better than the old “1919”. Capiche?

Points: 80

Angostura 12yo “1824” (40%, Circa 2008, Trinidad & Tobago)

A long time ago I reviewed the 8yo Angostura “1919” and to be honest, great quality, but it’s taste is not for me. Since then a long time has passed, tried the “1919” on many occasions and it still didn’t manage to grow on me. Well, sometimes that happens. Something like the saying about the organic matter and the personal-cooling-propellor-device…

As I said a long time has passed without the urge to try more Angostura and why should I, since the now defunct Caroni Rum also comes from Trinidad? I somehow liked all Caroni’s I tried better than Angostura “1919”. Finally time has come to try the older brother of the “1919”. A distinguished gentleman from the drinks business personally recommended me this 12yo “1824”, so I just had to buy it. Here goes…

Angostura 1824 (2008)Color: Copper brown

Nose: Initially sweet, but soon more funky, and dries out over time. Nutty start with nice wet outdoorsy clay. Like running with Wellington’s through the fields in autumn. A wonderful depth I didn’t expect, why? Just read the review of Angostura’s 1919 which turns out to be something completely different from this. Soft elegant notes of wood and even some red fruit scents. Red berries. After the Rum got time to breathe more and more vanilla surfaces, and for a moment I got scared this is developing into the vanilla I remember so well from the 1919. No, in this one it stays in check, it is under control, so to speak. A slightly burnt note appears as well, giving the whole some more oomph. The burnt note combines well with the dry woody notes that lies underneath.

Taste: A thin kind of sweetness to start with, with some burnt caramel and toffee combined with hints of red berries. Nice sugared fruity sweetness. At 40% ABV, it tastes a bit thin, but the aroma’s are lovely. Not overly complex, but it works well as a whole. Nice sweetish and warming. You can sense there is more to this Rum than meets the palate, but it probably is reduced too much, weakening that mystery. I’ve said it before, and I won’t say it again. (Hint: it’s about reducing too much), there, I’ve said it anyway! The funkyness from the nose is present again in the finish and aftertaste, where a sweet and slightly burnt not have the longest breath.

I scoffed a bit at the Angostura 1919. I can recognize the quality of that Rum, but after drinking the whole bottle over a prolonged period of time, I never got around to like it. In the world of Rum it is my main example of a decent Rum I really don’t like. It may work very well for you, but it is most definitely not my cup of tea. This 1824 however very much is my cup of tea. With nice Rum funkyness we know from Jamaican high ester Rum, and Borgoe 15yo to name but a few. Nice.

Points: 85

Caroni 1998/2008 (40%, Bristol Classic Rum, Trinidad & Tobago)

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.

Bristol Spirits Caroni 1998-2008Color: Gold.

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.

Points: 86

Plantation 3 Stars (41.2%, Jamaica, Barbados & Trinidad)

Although maybe 90% of my reviews are about Whisky, essentially this is a drinks blog. I do prefer Whisky, but not all the time. There is more great stuff around, and mine is a constant journey in finding the best quality stuff to have around and enjoying my life with. I was on quite a roll of mostly nice Whiskies lately, but today I had a real craving for one step beyond the usual realm of Single Malt Whisky. Two days ago we had some guests over for an evening of Wines and Cheese, but already then I had an intermezzo of three Grappa’s. Today I’m getting off the road usually chosen and take a detour with a Rum. Long time since I reviewed Rum, which is also a fantastic and global distillate. This three stars Rum, blended by Cognac Ferrand, is made with Rums from three distinct places. Jamaica (partly an unaged Rum and a small portion of 12yo Rum), Barbados (unaged Rum) and Trinidad (a filtered 3yo Rum). So quite the blend. This may prove to be one of the best White rums around, at least on paper…

Plantation 3 Stars (41.2%, Jamaica, Barbados & Trinidad)Color: Colorless, ever so slightly green.

Nose: A bit alcoholic and vegetal. Very green, with unripe banana, and ripe tangerine skin. It also shows a lot of potential. Initial smell is very appetizing. For a white rum it smells like something to sip and not let go to “waste” in a coke or cocktail. Mind you, I do enjoy them very much, and this Rum is designed for usage in cocktails. Tea and lots of spices and a tiny hint of wood. Sprite or 7-up, so citrus and brown sugar and cane juice, but in a very appealing way. Nosing it more deeply, even some cola seems to have found its way into the blend. Tiny hints of wood related mint. Wonderful stuff.

Taste: Sweet, green tea with too much sugar in it. Citrus again. Lemon and lime with refined sugar. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t make the rum too sweet. Very smooth and seems a lot lower in ABV than it actually is. Definitely good enough to sip, although it is obvious from the start this was meant to be used in another way. Very young and light, and without a real finish.

Nope, I wouldn’t sip this. It’s good, but there are so many golden and brown Rums around, that are way better and much more complex to sip than this three stars Rum. And that’s no shame. This was never meant to be sipped on the beach or around a fire-place. It was meant for cocktails and give you the chance to make the best cocktail you can make with this. Well made stuff and tasty too.

Points: 73

Caroni 1999/2013 (56%, Kintra, Barrel RR619, Trinidad & Tobago)

Erik Molenaar (again)Kintra is no stranger to these pages but up untill now, all Kintra products were Single Malt Whiskies, but this time Erik Molenaar surprises us with a Rum, and not just any Rum, but one form Caroni, a Rum distillery sadly closed for over a decade. Caroni is a rum from Trinidad (& Tobago). Founded in 1923 and in its final form, worked from 1975 to 2003. Caroni is known for its heavy style that was perfect for British Navy Rum.

Color: Orange-brown

Nose: Very vegetal and smells from under the bonnet. Oil, petrol and fumes. Industrial and automotive, but in a good way. Lots of dry oak and tree sap. Unlike Whisky, a heavy style Rum like this Caroni, can cope with lots of oak, especially this Caroni’s dirty style! Furniture polish, burnt sugar and some tangerine skins. Black tea and when snorted up vigorously, a little hint of mint. Perfumy like the best kind of Rye Whiskey or high rye content Bourbon. Leaps out off the class with lots of complexity and very good balance. It’s a Rum that you want to smell over and over again, it never ceases to give. Wonderful. Amazing how something can smell dirty and industrial, ánd elegant at the same time.

Kintra CaroniTaste: Again a lot of oak, but as with the nose, this Rum can cope with the wood. The whole is quite dry and very aromatic, but very balanced. yet less complex on the palate. It does resemble Rye Whiskey a lot on the palate. Just cancel out the burnt sugar note and some other slight markers that are typical of Rum… The oakiness is well masked, but it really shows itself on the slightly bitter, waxy and drying finish.

Truth be told, this actually stayed too long in the cask, but since the Rum itself is so overwhelmingly rich, it can deal with the oak that’s there in abundance. Is that a problem? No it certainly is not. It’s the only small issue, but Rum, like Whisky, is what it is because of ageing in oak, and we all want nice woody tastes to begin with but quickly complain when we taste too much wood. Finally here is a Rum that deals with a lot of wood and keeps it in check. I really, really hope this is not a one-off deal for Kintra. An excellent find from a beloved closed distillery and a very nice price to boot. Thanks Erik, keep up the good work. More Rum please!

Points: 87

Rum Week – Day 2: Angostura 1919 (40%, Trinidad & Tobago)

On the site is this snippet of a great story: “After a fire in 1932, which destroyed the Government Rum Bond, the master blender of Fernandes Distillers, J.B. Fernandes, bought the charred casks, only to discover they had been filled in the year 1919.” but also this: “Our rums are 100% Trinidadian, made in one distillery on one Island. Much like a single malt only better” – John Georges, Angostura Master Distiller.

WOW that’s quite a statement! I know a lot of maltheads or connoisseurs of single malt whisky are looking around for something beyond malts, since the original product is getting, more and more outrageous in price. yet, most will tell you that it is to broaden their horizons. Well I’m broadening my horizon here and am very curious how (this) rum will do.

Color: Gold

Nose: Sweet, but not overly sweet. A lot of creamy components. Enormous amounts of vanilla, toffee and custard. Also a little hint of smoke and there is a little bit of wood. Also a little bit of varnish or thinner, and a lot of toffee, caramels and such. Clay. (The blocks they make for children), but otherwise quite simple.

Taste: Sweet and thick. Caramel and woody toffee. The varnish or thinner component is here at the front of the taste, but dissipates with some air. After the initial sweetness, comes a more dry spell. Definitely more woody, like chewing on grand dad’s cedar cigar box. With that it also becomes more thinner and reduced. The finish is the part I liked the least. It has a little burned component to it, that would be great if there was any more, but the rest of the finish is rather thin, and more or less quickly gone.

In essence this is an eight year old blended rum from Trinidad (West Indies). Comparing it to the Diplomatico offering, there is no doubt about it this is the more interesting rum from a single malt point of view, but in all honesty I like the more aromatic and more complex Diplomatico better. Somehow, this 1919 is not my Rum, not for sipping anyway. I’ve drank a whole bottle of this and I think I’m allowed to say so.

Points: 75