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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

May 8, 2016


Six Islayrnatives from Trinidad

Sometimes nicknamed ‘the Ardbeg of rum’, the closed Caroni Distillery in Trinidad was maybe rather the Port Ellen of rum. Now, let’s not forget that unlike Port Ellen Distillery, they were also making some lighter style rum at Caroni, not just high-ester phenolic bombs. Let’s have a few, by ascending strengths…

Caroni 1999 (40%, Mezan, Trinidad, +/-2016)

Caroni 1999 (40%, Mezan, Trinidad, +/-2016) Four stars Mezan seem to favour spirit-driven rums, and we just cannot be against that, despite the very low strengths they also seem to favour. Colour: white wine. Nose: lovely. I often use that word, but this one really is lovely, with this subtle combination of engine oil and tar, dandelions, and cane juice. It whispers a little low, but it’s all delicacies and elegances. Very pure. Mouth: it’s Caroni’s lighter style, rather on lemon this time, only touches of salt, liquorice, and tar, and then more cane juice, which gives it a wee agricole side. Very good, one to sip while, ach, not noticing. Finish: medium, a little brinier and more olive-y. In other words, more Caroni. Comments: excellent, as expected. Once again, they bottled a very ‘pure’ rum, with a beautiful nakedness. We’ll have another vintage next… SGP:452 - 85 points.

Caroni 1996 (40%, Mezan, Trinidad, +/-2016)

Caroni 1996 (40%, Mezan, Trinidad, +/-2016) Three stars More oak influence in this one, according to the colour… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a rather grassier and drier Caroni, with indeed more oak, grass, fruit peel, as well as a little cigarette tobacco and perhaps cedar wood. It’s less bright and pristine than the 1999. Mouth: you’d really think you’re having a French agricole. Sugar cane, nuts, wood spices, touches of soft mustard, walnuts… It’s certainly excellent, but I really liked the 1999’s crystal-clean style better. Not sure I’d have recognised Caroni, had I tried this baby blind. Finish: once again, it gets a little saltier. Black olives instead of green ones. Comments: nah, it’s very good, no doubt. It’s just less, say singular. SGP:452 - 82 points.

Caroni 18 yo 1997 (51.9%, Sansibar, cask #861, 288 bottles, +/-2016)

Caroni 18 yo 1997 (51.9%, Sansibar, cask #861, 288 bottles, +/-2016) Four stars and a half More whisky people doing rum. They usually do that well. Colour: full gold. Nose: a wild one! Old leather jacket, Barbour grease, cigars, humidors, patchouli, hay, diesel oil, capers, Seville oranges, eucalyptus and myrtle… Everything’s quite wonderful, I have to say. With water: more old leather jackets covered with old waxes and oils, barnyard, pot-pourri, menthol… What a nose! Mouth (neat): it’s amazing how Ardbeggian this is indeed. And we’re talking 1970s Ardbeg, such as the few fino casks they had. Walnut wine, brine, oysters, smoked fish, hessian, tar, grapefruits… All that is coated with some spicy oak notes, more towards lemongrass and pickled ginger. A treat. With water: gets softer this time, with more oranges, and a wee bourbony side. Sweet cinnamon drops. Finish: long, but curiously narrower, and less expensive (pleonasm, S.) Perhaps a tad too oaky? Comments: I’m being too picky, this one’s excellent. SGP:462 - 88 points.

Caroni 18 yo 1997 (53.3%, Sansibar, cask #104, 266 bottles, +/-2016)

Caroni 18 yo 1997 (53.3%, Sansibar, cask #104, 266 bottles, +/-2016) Four stars and a half A sister cask. Colour: full gold. Nose: same-ish territories. Perhaps a little more oranges? And marmalade? And Triple-sec? I know, that’s all kind of the same thing. With water: get’s more vegetal and pine-y than its sibling, with a little more moss as well. Green apples. Just as lovely. Mouth (neat): same, very Ardbeggian, with this fat tarriness and, once again, rather more bitter oranges. The oak’s a tad louder too, with a little more pepper. Pepper and sultanas. With water: a little more sultanas this time, with a sweeter edge. Finish: long, mentholy and raisiny. Lemongrass. Once again the oak really starts to roar. Comments: not enough differences to come up with a different score. Great rum once again, you just mustn’t be afraid of a little oak. SGP:562 - 88 points.

Caroni 17 yo 1997/2015 (52.3%, Duncan Taylor, cask #883, 263 bottles)

Caroni 17 yo 1997/2015 (52.3%, Duncan Taylor, cask #883, 263 bottles) Four stars and a half Another sister cask, obviously. Colour: full gold. Nose: once again, same high territories. Perhaps a little more tar and even natural rubber? It is a little Port-Ellenish, in that sense. More Barbour grease and other things that our ancestors used to cover their leather garments with. With water: mint and grasses and tar. Mouth (neat): same. Perhaps a notch more citrusy? The feeling of salty black liquorice is huge. A few jelly babies in the background, orange-flavoured ones first. With water: we’re closer to cask #104, despite the numbers. This sweeter edge. Finish: very same-ish. Comments: same score once again. There are even less differences than in two songs by Coldplay. SGP:562 - 88 points.

Perhaps is it time for the last one. Let’s make it another 17 yo…

Caroni 17 yo 1998/2015 ‘Extra Strong’ (55%, Velier, Trinidad)

Caroni 17 yo 1998/2015 ‘Extra Strong’ (55%, Velier, Trinidad) Five stars Velier and boss Luca Gargano are the good people that brought Caroni to everyone’s attention. Their 12 has been a favourite at home. Colour: gold/amber. Nose: soft, and more pastry-like than the others. We’re talking praline and milk chocolate, then plantains, ganaches, and crème brulée. The phenolic/tarry/earthy notes are there, but subdued and working just as some wee seasoning. With water: mint leaves, Kools, pu-ehr tea, a real top three. Mouth (neat): superb. I know it’s molasses, but once again, there’s an agricole style that works beautifully. Touches of salt and lemon on a bed of orange cake covered with peach and maracuja syrups. There’s even a little honey. The lemon really lifts it. With water: goes towards herbal teas. When that happens with whisky, it’s great news, why would that be any different with rum? Lemon blossom, chamomile, dog rose… Finish: rather long, perfect, orangey, fresh. The oak never gets in your way. Comments: it’s aged in the tropics, you know. 70% angel’s share, but the flying buggers left the best 30% for us. SGP:652 - 90 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all rums I've tasted so far







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