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Rum Reviews

Caroni 1994 Velier, 23 Years Old, Guyana Stock Double Maturation, 100% Proof Heavy Trinidad Rum

 

This Guyana Stock Double Maturation expression of the legendary bygone Trinidadian rum distillery Caroni is a very interesting niche in the Caroni story - while practically speaking it served as a little segue, materially it did yield some interesting results.

This is for the record, the 36th Caroni Release, released sometime in 2017, which as a matter of timelines, is pretty far into the Caroni story. It comes at a time when Caroni has been safely regarded as an iconic distillery, and whose bottlings are sold out in seconds, and prices particularly of Velier releases are skyrocketing. Gone are the days when no one cared for Caroni's rums, and the Italian juggernaut bottler, Velier, were still having to convince bars to carry them.

  

Caroni had long shuttered with its barrels sleeping in a warehouse left waiting to be discovered.

 

And as many rum observers would note, it is precisely for those dynamics that we see an inverse relationship to do with the profiles of the rums being put out. In the early days, when Caroni was not yet recognised, the cream of the crop was necessary to convince folks of its stature (and ironically the lowest prices). As it's come to be well-regarded, Caroni's stocks would have only gone down considering that the distillery is no longer in existence and there are only finite barrels left behind - I'll leave it to you as to what you might figure is the quality of the Caroni stocks as time goes by. Yet prices continue to rocket.

Then there's another dimension here - that the Caroni rums whilst earning their reputation around the world, continue to mature in the incredible tropical heat of Trinidad - this is a core aspect to what gives it its intense flavours, but at the same time begins to prove to be a double edged sword as the oakiness begins to concentrate, and angel's shares hit the high double digits leaving not much left. 

  

  

Whilst a big part of Velier's claim to fame with regards to Caroni bottlings is that they are 100% tropically matured, unlike most other independent bottlers, a trait highly valued by collectors and rum aficionados, this begins to become difficult to maintain.

Nevertheless around the mid-2000's when the Caroni rums were first to land into the hands of Velier, this was a pretty pivotal time for Velier in other regards - it was also when Velier had launched Guyana's Demerara rums into the pantheon of greatness - this certainly did wonders for Velier's relationship with Guyana's Demerara rum producers DDL (Demerara Distillers Ltd). Leveraging that relationship, the ever sharp-eyed maverick, Velier chief, Luca Gargano, figured that it would be a fairly interesting and unique dimension added to the Caroni story if some of these Caroni rums were moved over to Guyana for further ageing. Whilst both Guyana and Trinidad resides in the tropics, Guyana is more equatorial - it's certainly something unique and different, which seems to be a big part of Velier's bottling ethos. Thus the Guyana Stock Double Maturation Caroni's existence.

 

Guyana's massive Diamond distilling complex is the heart of the Demerara Distillers Ltd.

 

I have wondered if this was also in a bid to help mitigate some of that serious angel's share happening over at Trinidad. After all, eventually all remaining Caroni's would be moved over to Europe in 2019 where they were placed in glass demijohns to freeze any further ageing.

Today we've got with us the first of the Guyana Stock Double Maturation Caroni's, having been distilled in 1994 and then aged in Trinidad until 2008 for its first maturation, and then over in Guyana until 2017 for its second maturation, up until its bottling. At the time of its release, it was the oldest tropically aged Caroni to have been bottled and sports an incredible 57.18% ABV having endured a > 85% angel's share.

Let's give this a go! 

Caroni 1994 Velier, 23 Years Old, Guyana Stock Double Maturation, 100% Proof Heavy Trinidad Rum - Review

 

Tasting Notes

Color: Deep Copper

Aroma: Initially rather gluey, wood varnish, but also very mellow and almost syrupy sweet - brown sugar syrup, maple syrup, caramel, orange liqueur, light bits of charred wood, espresso grounds, cacao nibs. There’s a slightly herbal quality here too - menthol and eucalyptus. What is most outstanding here is how mellow and rich it is, with great depth as well. It proceeds towards a more supple and fruit profile - burnt banana, mango puree, creme brûlée, custard pudding, really rich and sweet.

Taste: Still very mellow and darkly rich, not much heat, but alot of mellow, rounded syrupy sweetness - brown sugar syrup, caramel, baking spices, cloves, chocolate sauce, cocoa powder, coffee candy, vanilla sauce, with a slight bit of blackberry jams and mango puree coming through. It’s very Demerara (El Dorado 15 Year Old) like. There’s a prominent woodiness but rather than being tannic, it’s more along the lines of wine soaked wood - like the staves of a wine barrel. More herbal minty sweetness - manuka honey, Pei Pa Koa ivy leaf cough syrup, eucalyptus, mint. Slight sappy, gluey-ness.

Finish: More of that herbal honey cough syrup (Pei Pa Koa) and eucalyptus. As it recedes, there’s more of a lifted suppleness of custard pudding, vanilla, and a slight bit more of that mango puree.

  

My Thoughts

I found this very tasty yes, but also rather surprising. It struck me a very unusual Caroni, which felt atypically incredibly mellow - it was rich, and had strong flavours but it wasn’t punchy or sharp. Instead it was very rounded and thick, fluctuating at times between brighter fruitier notes and denser sweeter syrupy notes. Even on the palate it was noticeably very mellow - none of the more aggressive tar or diesel that is what Caroni is typically known for (not that I’m complaining!). 

In fact on the palate it struck me how similar it was to the El Dorado 15 Year Old in terms of that confectionary chocolate sweetness, the baking spices, cocoa powder, coffee candy - again I really enjoyed that, but of course this held more complexity coming through with a more herbal aspect as well.

The blackberry jams and mango purees are obviously very delectable but they weren’t as prominent as I’ve found in other Caroni’s - it would be great if they were more forward with these flavours, which would be my only critique. I’ve read that some folks have commented that this was far too tannic - that wasn’t the case for me, in fact I didn’t get much tannins at all to be honest.

Overall, this was very cohesive and well-rounded, rich and big flavours, great body and very surprising mellowness. 

 

 

Kanpai!

 

@111hotpot