What would we do without good rums?
I got a Caroni here…Caroni 1997 single barrel rum from Trinidad…it´s a full proof heavy rum ( 61.8% ABV) aged 15 years – 13 years in Trinidad and 2 years in England and then bottled in Glasgow, Scottland. The color is a beautiful dark mahogany.
The Caroni disitllery was closed down in 2002 due to industry consolidation and many of the barrels that were sold ended up in England.
This bottle i have here is a sample provided by the Swedish bottler ” Swedish Firewater” (Svenska Eldvatten in Swedish) and they are an independent bottler mainly specializing in Whiskey) This bottle is a bourbon cask #108 out of 114 bottles.
CARONI SUGAR FACTORY
There were originally more than 50 different rums brands produced in Trinidad – by 1950 that number had reduced to 8 and today there is only one left – Angostura. Caroni was established in 1918 on the site of the old Caroni Sugar factory and operated until 2002.
The Caroni sugar factory started to operate a cast iron still in 1918 and at that time there were some eight or ten other sugar factories operating, each producing different types of rums and these rums were bought up by merchants and sold to rum shops all over the island. There were all kinds of “blends” and concoctions being made by both the merchants and the rum shop owners and sold over the counter as “petit quarts”
Eventually Caroni increased the quality of the distilling process and went from the original cast iron still to use a wooden coffey still – until 1945 when they got a copper still which was followed by a single column in 1957 and then a four column Gerb Herman still in 1980.
For nearly 100 years Caroni has had large sugar estates on the island and was the major producer of molasses. Sadly now since it`s closed no more of their magnificient rums are produced and when it´s gone it´s gone.
And that is sad because the Caroni rums are unique. That said i must confess i haven`t yet tried many but the ones i`ve tried have all been outstanding and original in the same way as the demerara rums are.
And i must say the flavor DOES remind me quite a bit of a demerara rum, it has the same full bodied and smoky character but without that demerara flavor that only demerara rums have but it has the same type of character.
Caroni 1997 Single Barrel Rum
I must say i`m against ruining good rum with additives and sugars (yes sugar) and filtered to the point of losing both character and personality becoming a commercial anonymus product for the masses – sadly believing that what they drink is real rum…
But that`s not the case with this rum i have here – this is pure rum full of flavor. Since it´s so strong I`ve been sipping it very carefully, and then finally mixed it in a few rum cocktails containing juices, sugarcane syrup and ice.
The nose is strong and powerful, breathing closely it´s a bit harsh due to the alcohol strength but after letting the rum sit and breathe in the glass for about 10 minutes the initial harshness is gone and there`s wonderful aromas of oak, sugarcane, caramel, toffee and smoke…it´s just lovely…
Due to how strong it is I prefer to add some ice to the glass. I think this rum is in flavor like a fine cognac with sugarcane and caramel but too strong to drink neat. There is also a spicy smokiness to it that i like very much.
This is a massive rum!
This rum can be both sipped and mixed and I must say it`s a fantastic mixer and it makes a killer Mai Tai of the kind I have only made with heavy and full proof demerara rums before.
Caroni Mai Tai
1.5 oz Caroni
0.75 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz orange curacao ( i used Ferrand´s Dry Curacao)
0.25 oz orgeat
0.25 oz sugarcane syrup
Crushed ice and a fresh mint sprig
Half spent lime shell in the shaker and then dropped in the glass – to add the aromatic fragrant oils from the peel
Shake with ice and strain into a double old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Smack a mint sprig and put a short straw near the mint.
This recipe is the classic Trader Vic`s Mai Tai – i have only reduced the usual 2 oz of 2 different rums to 1.5 of the Caroni due to it`s strength and then also reduced the 1 oz lime juice to .75.
This Caroni Mai Tai is very addictive….
And for the second drink, i choosed a cocktail from the book “Cuban Cocktails” (by Anistatia Miller & Jared Brown) called Nacional Cocktail ( 1948 version) and changed it a little bit by adding a little sugarcane syrup and up the pineapple juice 1 oz and added 2 dashes of Boy Drinks World Serrano Cocktail Spice – which technically isn`t a bitter but a highly concentrated pepper tincture.
You may sub it by infusing the simple syrup with a fresh serrano pepper to get that serrano heat and flavor in the drink. Just cut up a pepper and let it boil shortly with the syrup when you make it and leave to cool.
Trinidad meets Cuba
1.5 oz Caroni
2 oz pineapple juice
0.25 oz apricot brandy
0.25 oz sugarcane syrup
dashes of lemon juice
2 dash serrano cocktail spice (boydrinksworld.com)
Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.
The combination of strong Caroni rum, Pineapple, lemon, apricot and the hot serrano flavor makes this cocktail really stand out, it´s very very tasty! The combo of serrano and pineapple is match made in heaven…
So my final conclusion is that this Caroni -97 single barrel rum is a real gem, fit to sip and excellent to mix with. It`s massive, powerful and untamed.
I like this style of rums, they got so much explosive and comples flavors.