Kill Devil Caroni 20 Year Old Cask Strength – The Whisky Barrel Exclusive – 65%

 

This review is of the sister cask to the 64.8% release reviewed a few weeks ago which can be viewed here

Kill Devil Caroni 20 Year Old Cask Strength – The Whisky Barrel Exclusive – 65% abv 

Again this Rum was distilled in December 1998 and it also saw a full 20 years maturation being bottled in January 2019. Maybe fully, but at least partially matured at Main Rum in Liverpool, this would’ve used Estate molasses. Drawn from a single cask that yielded 233 bottles, this Rum has been bottled at its cask strength of 65% with no colouring or additives. It is currently still available on their website here and will set you back around £150.

Tasting Notes

Nose: This Barrel is more giving than it slightly lower abv relative…..it not a cheap date by any means but it’s showing its personality far sooner. I’m sitting out in the garden nosing this rum and the glass, a good arms length away is giving up quite a malty aroma initially…..a hint of sweetness before that familiar summertime aroma (in the uk anyway) appears…..reminiscent of someone three doors away creosoting their fence. It’s quite woody too revealing freshly sawn timber and warm wood shavings fresh from the saw blade. There’s a sweetness running alongside the wood and creosote…..burnt citrus peel and a hint of mixed tropical fruit juice. Fighting to come through are a waft of smoke, spilt diesel and a freshly started petrol lawnmower. There’s the merest hint of chocolate alongside a slightly soapy note…..or maybe slightly more floral like washing machine softener from clothes hanging on the washing line.

Mouth: Far hotter entry than the other barrel…..I mean….yeah it’s higher abv…but only 0.2% higher. It’s a very, very hot and peppery rum. Quite acetone like in its approach with a hint of furniture polish. Very tannic, definitely brings the creosote along to play and that in turn brings heaps of wet wood and dryness with a bittersweet interplay reminiscent of sucking on a piece of liquorice root. It has those plummy, prune and stewed notes but with a hint of clove and cinnamon. The mid palate brings mixed nuts, bitter orange and a hell of a lot of dry and spicy barrel notes. The finish is a lengthy one and starts with that heat and wet wood before bringing the nuts and a hint of chocolate to the fore. Burnt citrus peel bitterness, diesel and a bag of raisins. It tails off with wood and smoke…..maybe just a hint of menthol.

4 / 5

Another enjoyable Caroni carrying continental maturation and another enjoyable one from 1998 which seems to have turned out a few good examples. They definitely work better for me at cask strength rather than lower abv offerings. Equally as good as the previous cask as far as the spirit in the bottle is concerned. This one, whilst immediately giving from the outset does have a slight inconsistency from nose to palate, or rather I find the nose better on this one than the palate. Hard to call….I’d say that overall I enjoy the nose on this 65% bottling better, but I prefer the experience of the 64.8%.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Kill Devil Caroni 20 Year Old Cask Strength – The Whisky Barrel Exclusive – 64.8%

Kill Devil, as you will have seen on these pages before are an independent bottler of Rums hailing from Scotland from the stable of Hunter Laing. This is one of two bottlings , sister casks if you will, that have recently been released as exclusives through online retailer The Whisky Barrel. It’s quite a saturated market for Caroni releases as there are many independent bottlers piggybacking on the reputation gained from the tropically aged Velier releases that always sell out and always end up on auction sites. I seem to personally walk the line between loving certain releases and despising others. Even the releases that I like are only really enjoyed when the mood takes me. The legendary Caroni Distillery that closed in the early 2000’s has somewhat of a cult following. I have previously written about a mix of Tropically matured and European matured Rums from the Caroni Distillery and that information can be found herehere, here and here.

 

Kill Devil Caroni 20 Year Old Cask Strength – The Whisky Barrel Exclusive – 64.8% abv

Distilled in December 1998 and seeing a full 20 years maturation, it was bottled in January 2019. Probably fully but at least partially matured at Main Rum in Liverpool, this would’ve used Estate molasses. Drawing from a single cask that yielded 214 bottles, this Rum has been bottled at its cask strength of 64.8% with no colouring or additives. It is currently still available on their website here and will set you back around £150. There is another release as mentioned above clocking in at 65% abv and that will be up on the site soon.

 

Tasting Notes

Nose: Needs a little time to stretch its legs. It’s not very revealing initially. Quite a tannic nose with some really heavy and spicy oak present. The tar and fuel like notes are present, definitely present, it’s Caroni after all…..but they are kept in check by what feels like huge oaken influence. This is a positive for me as I’m more of a fan of the oak and fruit led expressions. Butterscotch sweets, a candied fruit and burnt raisin creeps in with the vague hint of tropical fruit that gets beaten down by a touch of smoke and a hint of creosote riding the wave of oak. Time brings a lightly herbal quality with hints of root beer. A touch of acetone and wood varnish is accompanied by a menthol note. Water brings a creamy, almost dairy element to the nose and calms down the typical Caroni notes. It brings a hint of milk chocolate and sweetens up the oak.

Mouth: The full force of the oak really flexes it’s muscles on the initial entry. Very hot, very spice driven, extremely drying. There is a hint of sweetness present before the creosote kicks the door through. It’s heavy on the oil and lamp fuel with just a hint of tar. Respite comes in a developing interplay between fruit and bitter notes. Plum Sake and sticky dates….the sticky kind that we buy by the box here at Christmas but also big medjool dates stuffed with walnuts. The mid palate brings freshly cut ginger (and it’s juice) and more of that tannic oak spice. The merest hint of candied fruit, maybe pineapple, and a touch of clementine oil. Heavy on the eucalyptus and menthol with pine notes. Hints of pineapple mint. Water brings the sweeter elements forward and accentuates the walnuts and sticky dates. Makes the whole package more approachable as expected with chocolate coated raisins and it brightens up the oak making it a tad less dominant. The finish is long and remains very consistent with the mid palate. Fruit, oak, menthol and a hint of lamp fuel but an underlying sweetness.

4 / 5

It’s another good example of the type of Caroni that I enjoy. Fruity with dialled down tar, fuel and creosote which enables me to find what’s beneath the components that usually form a barrier to my enjoyment.

*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 64.8% – Measured abv 65% – 0 g/l additives*

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Velier Caroni 2000 TWE Exclusive

As the name would suggest, this release is a bottling from the legendary Caroni Distillery that closed in the early 2000’s. I have previously written about Rums from the Caroni Distillery and that information can be found here, here and here.

Velier Caroni 2000 The Whisky Exchange Exclusive Bottling – 70.4% abv

This Whisky Exchange Exclusive Velier bottling is a Full Proof Heavy Caroni distilled in 2000 and bottled in 2017 giving it 17 years of maturation in Trinidad. It is a ‘single cask’ bottling (#R4008) which yielded 238 bottles at a mammoth 70.4% abv. Loss to evaporation is stated as >75%. It must have been a consolidation of casks at some point into #R4008 given the release of 238 700ml bottles, unless a larger vessel was used. Anyhow, its Velier, so there will be no tricks at play. Honesty is their thing.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Proper heavy Caroni. The type that isn’t immediately petrol / oil / tar led. It’s initially a very medicinal, smoke and hedgerow fruit rum. Varnish. Linseed oil. Tar creeps in. The aroma of summer as a child….freshly creosoted fence panels. The petrol and oil are definitely present but very much under control. The longer you leave it, the fruitier and more baked goods it becomes. Bread and butter pudding with crispy burnt raisins and a sprinkling of muscovado sugar. Mixed candied fruit peels. It plays very well for such a brute with a solid backbone of oak and cedar wood wrap from a cigar tube. This is the kind of Caroni that I enjoy.

With water the addition of powdery cocoa and lighter floral notes.

Mouth: Wow. A huge explosion of smoke, antiseptic, heavy oak. Old Demerara Rum bitterness. Bitter burnt raisins. So intense.

With water and 20 minutes in the glass: Hedgerow fruit. Homemade blackcurrant and raspberry jam. Beautifully approachable and subtly sweet. Terry’s chocolate orange. Candyfloss. Caramel. Liquorice. A beautifully enveloping mouthfeel. Pencil shavings take over the spicy and peppery mid palate. Intense drying, spicy oak. The finish is heavily oak led, with smoke, bitter liquorice and molasses. Maybe a touch of eucalyptus as the long finish eventually fades.

Caroni is not my favourite Rum, I don’t possess the same fanatic obsessions as some…but when it’s good, it’s REALLY good….and this is REALLY REALLY good. It’s actually quite nuanced for a Caroni, dare I say it, at times delicate and approachable….but don’t let your guard down as it’s a bit like a wild animal…it should be respected or you could lose an arm! It’s amazing what plenty of years in a barrel in a tropical climate can do for something that must surely have been handled with caution straight off the still. It could have replaced the Velier Caroni 21 as my favourite Caroni as it has the fruit that the 21 has, but its just carried through in a fuller experience.

4.5 / 5

This Rum will be £299 on release. It is available via ballot only from The Whisky Exchange on this link: The Whisky Exchange Ballot

If you are fortunate, you will be charged on the 4th October. I want it, but I have tried it…and therefore I won’t use up a spot in the ballot to deny someone that hasn’t

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Whisky Barrel 10th Anniversary Berry Bros. & Rudd Ltd 19 Year Old Caroni

My dealings with The Whisky Barrel thus far have been limited although I did pick up one of the bottles in their 10th Anniversary collection….it was a particularly hefty 6-year-old Laphroaig. This Caroni represents the fourth release in the collection….and the first Rum. The intriguing thing is that they have chosen a Caroni….maybe they feel that it will resonate with whisky fans given that it is a closed distillery and the notes contained within may find favour with the whisky crowd…..or maybe they just enjoyed it. They have also paired up with Berry Bros. & Rudd who will be familiar to most. My experience with BBR Rum releases have seen all of them presented at 46% abv. What we are fortunate enough to find here is a substantially aged (continental age) Caroni at a far heftier abv. I have written about a few other  continental aged Caroni’s and have given a little background here and here…..What I have personally found is that demeraras and Caroni both suffer when continentally aged and presented at a sub-45% abv for the most part with a few Bristol bottlings of each being the only examples that I find do not fare as poorly……so I’m glad that we are in the 50’s with this release. I will state now that Caroni releases are far from my favoured Rums of choice. Even with the five Velier releases that I own, some I like and others I’m really not fond of at all. They run the gamete of typically oily, fuel like Caroni and my favoured style which has more apparent fruity notes bursting through. But what will this Rum offer.

The Whisky Barrel 10th Anniversary Berry Bros. & Rudd Ltd 19 Year Old Caroni – Cask # 165 – 55% abv

So what we have here is no-nonsense presentation of Cask #165….a 55% continental aged Caroni. But it’s what in the bottle that counts.

Glass: Mahogany / maple syrup in colour. Quite oily. Initial notes are immediately typically Caroni. Tar. Oil. Petrol. Not as heavy as expected though. Fortunately this is also displaying fruity, citrus oil notes. Burnt orange peel. It’s also a little ‘hedgerow’ too. Freshly picked blackberries and raspberries that have squished in your fingers. Light vanilla, powdery cocoa and pencil shavings. It’s also quite spicy with medicinal clove oil and fennel seeds. It’s unmistakably Caroni but the other more favourable aromas fight through. I’m left with the aroma of spent BBQ embers the next morning.

Mouth: There is an up front sweetness that is very short-lived as this is a very hot sip. Creosote bursts though and leaves a treacle bitterness. A little bonfire toffee and caramel. This gives way to a cooling eucalyptus vibe. It’s also quite earthy. Once acclimatised there are sappy, cedar notes bringing that hedgerow fruit and fresh apples. Medicinal clove oil. I’m enjoying the fruity character….a lot. It has waves of complexity. Salty, medicinal, fruity, bitter, Caroni. The finish is quite long and starts salty and briny. Preserved lemons, a whiff of smoke, drying oak. That familiar oily tar and creosote show up to round things out.

I always struggle with Caroni. Whilst I can appreciate a Rum, some are not what I would consider Rums that I would buy again and enjoy. This however has impressed me. I am genuinely considering buying one of the 310 available bottles…..that is if there are any left. It has enough fruity character to make me enjoy repeated sips and it has enough Caroni to make me recoil in horror. Its balanced and that is a rarity in continental age Caroni. I can see myself enjoying this Rum immensely, and that alone for me and a bottling of Caroni is worthy of praise.


© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

Rum Nation Caroni 1999

Rum Nation Logo

Back in July of 2015 I posted an article all about a previous Rum Nation Caroni 1998 – 2nd Batch which included a little information on Rum production at the Caroni Distillery in Trinidad. To refresh your memory that article can be found here. Right, now that you’re back we can get straight into it.

Rum Nation Caroni 1999 – 55% abv

Photo 10-07-2016, 22 06 43 (1)

This particular iteration of Rum Nation Caroni was distilled in 1999 and bottled in 2015 and is noted as being a classic heavy Caroni….of course from a column still. This release, Batch number L 15/217, comprises 4480 bottles. This Rum was initially matured in Trinidad for 11 years in Refill American oak and 4 years is the UK. It was then shipped to Piedmont, Italy for a finishing period of 12 months in casks that had previously held Spanish Brandy and Sherry. The data that I requested shows additions of 9.42 g/L. The signature postage stamp is present and correct along with the same bottle style as the other release bottle and the same wooden topped cork…..Here we go

RN Caroni 99

In the glass: The Rum is a dullish dark mahogany and as soon as the Rum is poured you get that overwhelming and ever-present heavy Caroni signature petrol aroma…this is quickly backed up by an astringent varnish. A spike from the alcohol stings your nose and there is a freshly cracked black pepper to it. Burnt, almost bitter sugar is there along with something resembling pear drops. Adding a little water calms the savage beast slightly and the astringency gives way to tangerines and the petrol is subdued enough to make it more approachable but it still has a very oily feel.

In the mouth: Straight away the Rum is a very oily and full-bodied experience. It opens up with punchy creosote that really dominates and is all-encompassing for the first ten seconds or so. It is very astringent and carries an almost menthol vapour taste too. The sweetness from the additions fights through and there is a definite medicinal quality to the Rum. It’s a very warming mouthful and it carries black pepper and a hint of liquorice. The finish is of a medium length and is initially all about the petrol before a hint of that menthol leads into a drying oak laden ending. A little water still allows the Rum to retain its punchy, oily character but the petrol is subdued. There is a little more fruit present and the oaken finish is a little more like pencil shavings. The finish is shortened and pear drops make a return but the petrol is still present.

On the whole, again, yet another very approachable Caroni release from Rum Nation. 55% definitely seems to work well for heavy Caroni’s (in my eyes) and there is much enjoyment to be found in this bottle. For me, it doesn’t quite hit the heights of the 1998 2nd Batch which I thought was the most enjoyable (non Velier) Caroni that I have tried….and I still do.

3-0-star

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Rum Nation Caroni 1998 – 2nd Batch

Rum Nation LogoA few weeks off from writing but now we’re back with a rather nice proposition. Rum Nation Caroni 1998 – 2nd Batch. This is the first Rum that I have written about from the much fabled Caroni Distillery in Trinidad….I have a few Caroni bottles on the shelf so it may be worthwhile to start with a brief introduction and background to the history of Rum production at Caroni Distillery.

Caroni Rum Production

There were originally in excess of 50 distilleries in Trinidad but by the 1950’s that had fallen to just 8. Now there is only one….and that is Angostura. In 1918, the Caroni sugar factory begun distilling Rum (1923 is also mentioned. Clarity would be welcomed). It did so in a Cast Iron Still. During this period, there were several other sugar factories also distilling differing types of Rum in differing stills. As you can imagine, the process could be a little ‘changeable’ which when accompanied with blending that is perhaps done on a random basis, saw never to be seen again ‘one-off’ creations being commonplace. During its years of Rum production, Caroni improved their processes and also began to purchase and utilise new stills, moving from their original Cast Iron Still to a Wooden Coffey Still in 1943. The Cast Iron and Wooden Coffey Stills remained in operation until 1945 when a new all Copper Still was installed. Due to the Caroni takeover of the Esperanza Estate and therefore taking ownership of their Still, the Esperanza Single Column Still arrived in 1957. A Four Column Gerb Herman still was installed in 1979 and commissioned in 1980. This assisted in two ways. It helped increase the capacity of the distillery and led to a diversification in the number of differing products that the distillery could offer. The Cast Iron Still and Wooden Coffey still were replaced in 1984 by a Twin Column Still from Blair, Campbell and McLean of Glasgow and also a Pot Still.

In 2001, despite union protests, the Government of Trinidad sold its 49% stake in Rum Distillers Limited which was Caroni’s Rum arm, for $35 million to Angostura. The unions had actually offered to buy that same 49% stake for a higher price than that seen in the Angostura bid ($40 million) but due to negotiations with Angostura being at ‘an advanced stage’, the bid was refused. From 2002 the Caroni Distillery carried on its operations at a vastly reduced output but the sugar operation was closed in 2003 and that was followed by the closure of Caroni (1975) Ltd in 2004. No more Rum production. This coupled with the death of the sugar industry there, devastated Trinidad with the loss of upwards of 10,000 jobs and a knock on effect to other industries and countless thousands of employees family members.

Caroni Rum Styles

Caroni was famed for producing both ‘Heavy’ and ‘Light’ Rums. With my basic understanding (plus a lot of help from a learned friend) this is a reference to congeners (both desirable and undesirable) which create the flavours within a Rum. ‘Heavy’ Rums from a column still have a higher percentage of undesirable congeners due to low rectification. ‘Light’ Rums have a lower percentage of undesirable congeners due to higher overall rectification. The ‘Light’ Rums produced by Caroni were close to neutral spirit territory at 96% abv…..though not all spirit at a higher proof is neutral. The ‘Heavy’ Rums produced by Caroni would probably be closer to 65 – 70% abv. Due to the high abv, the light Rum was reduced to around 80% abv prior to maturation to avoid excessive evaporation during that process.

There is a common aroma and flavour profile that seems to run through every Caroni Rum that I have tasted, regardless of the abv. It is in part as a result of the attempt to make a heavy, pot still style Rum via low rectification methods in a column still. This actually ends up producing a distillate heavier than that produced via a true low rectification still and a distillate containing a higher percentage of undesirable components, such as fusel oils, that a pot distiller would usually exclude when making their cuts. This alongside a higher sulphur content certainly makes them not to everyone’s liking. There is no doubting though the ‘Unicorn’ status that certain bottles of Caroni Rum have among the Rum Community…..I’m not certain whether this is as a result of their growing rarity or the flavour and aroma profile of the varying expressions.

With all that said, I suppose that its time to talk about the Rum in question.

Rum Nation Caroni 1998 – 2nd Batch – 55% abv

Caroni 98 WideAs per usual, you can refresh your knowledge of other Rum Nation releases and Rum Nation as a company here, here and here.

This Rum was distilled in 1998 and bottled in 2014, and is the 2nd batch of this expression. This release, Batch number L 14/349, comprises 4580 bottles. This Rum was initially matured in Trinidad for 9 years in American oak before being shipped to Piedmont, Italy for a second maturation period of 6 years in casks that had previously held Rum Nation Peruano 8. The familiar postage stamp is present along with the squat bottle and wooden topped cork. Time to dig in……

Tasting Notes 

In the glass: the Rum is a dark mahogany in the glass with bright orange flashes (darker than it appears in the photograph) and a swirl of the glass releases long thick droplets. Immediately and rather surprisingly given my earlier Caroni experiences, the first aroma that hits me is an oily, almost perfumed orange peel….then this is backed up with that familiar petrol aroma that I have come to expect from Caroni….but it is dialled down…a lot. Oak is quite apparent as is a varnish like aroma. Caramel, burnt sugar and something resembling freshly ground cumin round things off alongside something hinting at a raisin influence.

Given the 55% abv I added a few drops of water and waited for a while. The petrol takes a back seat now and fruitier aromas come to the fore. Tropical fruits, a heightened oak and a tingling spicy character are revealed.

In the mouth: This is a bruiser up front. There is a huge hit of that familiar petrol and tar like flavour and the initial experience is very astringent and tannic. Following sips reveal a fresh, almost menthol like pine note. There is definitely a clove influence and that oak detected on the nose is very influential. There is also an underlying savoury edge to this Rum with that cumin and also the floral, almost perfumed taste of biting into a coriander seed. This Rum is almost in the realms of slightly bitter or tart and it is all the more interesting for it. The finish is of a medium to long length and contains highlights of aniseed, petrol and that perfumed coriander seed…..it is still very tannic until the end.

With a little water, liquorice is really standing out for me as is a peach like fruitiness. This is far easier to drink as the astringency has been muted. The florals are far more dominant with that orange oil, pine and something medicinal on the finish.

Caroni 98 LabelFor me personally, this is one of the more approachable and enjoyable Caroni experiences that I have had. I can only assume that this is down to the casks used for the second maturation period. The flavours and aromas familiar to all are there, but they’re dialed down allowing more to shine through and maybe allowing a fuller impression of the spirit to be gained. Water makes it infinitely more sippable, or should I say it increases the palatability of the Rum over a longer period of time. If you enjoy Caroni releases, I see nothing to stop you getting enjoyment here. It is different enough to offer something new, whilst also being familiar. I’m really still not sure of my own feelings for Caroni bottlings. One day I can’t get enough of the flavour, another day I can think of nothing I’d like to taste less. It is certainly a mood thing with me but this release has seen more action in a shorter timeframe than any of my other Caroni expressions so that speaks volumes. Its different, so I’d say give it a try. It is almost, and I do mean almost, ‘Caroni-lite’. One thing that I will add is that I think the abv is about right for this release. The lower abv expressions that I have encountered (40%) have been almost over diluted and contain more of what I don’t enjoy in a Caroni. Having control to take the abv down slightly really helps me personally with Caroni Rums. As per usual, feel free to pop by for a drop.

3-5-star

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.