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Caroni – 97 Single Barrel Rum

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 1993.

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 assume this rum isn`t heavily filtered and thus been keeping most of it´s flavor components – esters and sugars etc and so we have a heavy style full flavored and strong rum here.

I must say i`m against ruining good rum with additives and sugar (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 maybe that`s just me…

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 been sipping it very carefully, then added ice/water to dilute it and then finally mixed in a few rum cocktails containing juices, sugarcane syrup and ice.

Nose

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…

Mouth

Due to how strong it is i don`t recommend sipping this alone but add some ice to the glass or use it as mixer or as a float in cocktails. For this review i did sip a little diluted in water and leaving it in the mouth for a while bring forth the same flavors as in the nose but stronger and fuller.

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!

Cocktails

Strong rums like this i personally never sip but always mix in drinks or use as floats and i made four rum drinks and i must say this rum is 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. As a mixer this rum is a total winner.

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…

Trinidad Bird

1 oz Aperol

1.5 oz Caroni

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz sugarcane syrup

4 oz pineapple juice

Shake with ice and strain into a tall glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with an orange slice, lime slice, sherry and fresh mint.

This is a fruity drink but the rum still shines through.

Caroni Rum Punch

2 oz Caroni

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz sugarcane syrup

0.25 oz grenadine – homemade if possible and preferably hibiscus grenadine

3 dashes angostura bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a tall glass with cracked ice. Garnish with an orange slice and fresh mint.

In this drink the rum didn`t shine through like it did in the two others but it was a nice and fruity drink. I believe a poor commercial grenadine would ruin this drink so try make your own, it´s worth it.

Conclusion

So my final conclusion is that this Caroni -97 single barrel rum is a real gem, fit to sip with some ice dilution and excellent to mix with. It`s massive, powerful and untamed.

I like this style of rums, they got so much explosive flavors, are full bodied and complex and many of them are strong which is something i like since i mix a lot of tiki drinks.

2 comments to Caroni – 97 Single Barrel Rum

  • Roman Milostivy

    Dear Tiare,

    Thank you for the post, this just led me to taking a small miniature tasting bottle of Caroni Trinidad 1997-2011 at 46abv. … Now after learning the story (which I didn’t know before) my tasting would be a more exciting. :) but one question, is it really so that there are no more Trinidadian rums except Angostura – that’s really sad. What about Zaya, for example? I think there should be some more… no?

    Mahalo, Roman.

  • Hi Roman, well Zaya Rum is no longer being made in Guatemala but is now made in Trinidad. I haven`t been able to make any flavor comparasion between the old Zaya from Guatemala and the new from Trinidad – but i have read the new one has butterscotch, brown sugar and maple nose.

    I have read that mong rum experts, almost half prefer the new version, while others prefer the old and obviously, it cannot be the same rum that was distilled and aged in Guatemala.

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