Velier “The Last” Caroni 1996 (23 years)
Background: I am practically new to rum, and have been mostly a whisk(e)y drinker for the past few years. I started with bourbon, moved into scotch, took a little detour into cognac and armagnac, before I finally decided to go into rum. So over the past 3 weeks I have been reading and tasting and purchasing rum. I spent two of those three weeks in Japan, and made good use of the opportunities there to procure and sample some really good bottles. Inadvertently they set the benchmark for quality rums for me. Let’s start with the first bottle I bought.
Nose: dense and intense; stewed dark fruits; roasting mandarin oranges draped in dark chocolate; sherry in a car mechanic’s workshop; burnt rubber; liquorice; tobacco; molasses; toffee; a cloying sweetness that straddles between baklavas and exhaust fumes after a coolant leak; black and red fruits; rye spice; tropical fruits; running through all these is a backbone of polished mahogany, beneath which hides a hint of funk -- spoilt milk, cream cheese, baby vomit.
Palate: extremely chalky, mineral and tart; an intense hit of powdered lime, sulphurous funk, briny salinity and an earthy mix of tar, soil and buah keluak, all rolled up and moderated by the undertones of sweet toasted wood; pineapple juice and Kickapoo on burnt sour cream pastry; an amalgamation of smoke, charred wood, grass, liquorice and other spices, like a spiced cigar; fresh fruits like white grapes and apples; unctuous wood that is slightly acidic and savoury, like a mix of stout and bergamot oil; menthol.
Finish: baked apple pie; seaweed; liquorice; sweetened black tea; sweet rubber reminiscent of well-chewed mint bubble-gum; more tar, now with hints of gasoline; rubber tyre note that lasts forever.
Conclusion: I tried two other Caroni's at Bar Kitchen in Fukuoka -- a 20-year-old Bristol Classic Rum and a 22-year-old single-cask by Bar Lamp and Shinanoya -- and this bottle has got the best of both: the raisin, liquorice and brown sugar of the Bristol Classic and the musty, earthy funk of the Bar Lamp. In addition, it gives off the minerality and sharp tartness of a Lowland malt as well as a bunch of fresh fruit notes. I am a sucker for fresh fruits and this combination of dark and dank with large amount of freshness strikes me as something truly remarkable.
Score (assuming a normal distribution with mean 50): 93/100
Image Courtesy of u/zoorado.
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