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Velier Caroni “Hangar” 1992-2012, full proof (20 years)

 

Background: this one needs no introduction. Its reputation precedes it, but as they say, you can’t drink cachet. Does it taste as good as it sounds? I got this sample courtesy of a generous rum friend.

Nose: one of the more expressive Velier Caronis, for sure; a tropical fruit tart -- mango, jackfruit, kiwifruit, pastry cream, shortcrust, and a fruit glazed atop them all; a mix of muscovado sugar and gula melaka; more coconut, this time in pastry forms; kueh bangkit; kueh lapis; ondeh ondeh; more barrel influence now; sandalwood incense; talcum powder; Christmas cake; smoking a clove cigarette; some green woodiness, evocative of anise and tree bark; liquorice; Sarsaparilla; beef rib soup with Chinese herbs like gan cao and dang gui; it gets fresher for a bit; apple juice; grape bubblegum; in the background, the typical Caroni notes can still be found; I get soot, rubber, tar, cocoa butter, and mushrooms; the mushrooms here have a more obvious savoury character than I expect from a Caroni -- think dried morel and shiitake; the structure is rock solid.

Palate: twenty years of tropical ageing is immediately felt, but not in a bad way; very dark chocolate; Christmas spices; earl grey with an extra dose of bergamot oil; a burst of fruits in various forms; dried mango, canned peaches and fresh papaya; fruit bubblegum notes appear as the rubber creeps in; the mid-palate is sweet and confectionary; pandan cake; coconut pastries; orange butterscotch sauce; the back-palate is earthy and industrial; sweet and salty liquorice; tar and diesel; a bag of black olives.

Finish: rich, creamy tropical fruits, with some butyric funk; mango lassi; crystallised pineapples topped with grated parmesan cheese; wet burp after drinking a litre of papaya milk; the barrel speaks at this point in time, and I get an overbaked liquorice tart with a dollop of cream; savoury mushrooms return, this time with some beef and chicken stock, and more earthy, rooty Chinese herbs; the aftertaste suggest a Port Mourant by way of Caroni -- anise and pencil shavings, olive brine and light salinity, coupled with the standard Caroni rubber, plastic and tar notes.

Conclusion: finally, a Caroni to match “The Last”. This is so accessible and yet so full of character; so big, yet so elegant. This is a rum that assimilates the best traits of many others -- the meaty and herbal notes remind me of a top-drawer Diamond, the butyric funk alludes to a Hampden, and the aftertaste is very much like a Port Mourant. However, as a sum total, there is no denying this is a Caroni through and through. Is it the best Caroni ever? Maybe not (and maybe this is a meaningless question), but I figure it would be difficult to top this without splitting hairs.

Score (assuming a normal distribution with mean 50): 93/100

 

Image Courtesy of u/zoorado

 

u/zoorado



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