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.

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London Rum Experience Week and RumFest Shenanigans

rum experience no dateGiven the huge amount of Rum based events going on in the lead up to this years UK RumFest, there is a high likelihood that if this performance is repeated next year we may have to take a short-term rental in South West London! We thought that by making the trip on Thursday morning clutching our Rum University and RumFest tickets that we would be experiencing a lot……but in truth we didn’t even scratch the surface. What we shall attempt to do though is talk you through some of the more standout points of our 2015 RumFest experience!

Friday morning saw us grab a cup of tea take a seat on the comfy sofas in the lobby of the Ibis Hotel. We were soon joined by John Coelho-Charles, Helena Tiare Olsen, Keegan Menezes, Robert Burr and Paul Yellin. Much chatting ensued with topics as varied as Santeria Rum, the weather and the strange fruit on offer at the street market outside of our hotel……As we sat waiting, Ian walked into the lobby, made a b-line for the sofas and greeted us all. Good start. A short while later due to London traffic (among other things) we clocked Tito Cordero enter the building which meant that Rum University could start. We were all ushered into one of the seminar rooms off the main hall with a few of us taking a cheeky glimpse of the exhibition space being set up for the weekends fun.

IMAG1033The Diplomatico Rum seminar kicked things off with a really open insight into the sheer range of distillates that can be produced at DUSA. Now irrespective of your opinion on the Rums produced and sold under the Diplomatico brand, they have a pretty special collection of stills at DUSA….and we got to hear about all of them.

Next up was a pretty special olfactory seminar presented by Kim Lahiri of Aroma Academy. It was all about reconstructing the aroma profiles not deconstructing them which is done via Aroma Recognition and Aroma Vocabulary. Very interesting and enlightening stuff. After a quick break for lunch which consisted of the amazing Fish n Chips from the on site pub….(just ask Helena for a review) we were into the afternoon session.

IMAG1051 (2)The afternoons learning opportunity was provided by Richard Seale of Foursquare Distillery who led with his own rather brutal assessment of the current state of the industry and a real insight into alcohol plants vs spirit production. He also brought proposals for the future classification of the Rum category. A proposal in conjunction with Luca Gargano that would see Rum categorised as follows:

  • 100% Pot Still (Pure Single Rum)
  • Pot / Column (Single Blended)
  • Column (Coffey Still)
  • Multi-Column

 

IMAG1049Off the back of this we got to try the upcoming Habitation Velier Foursquare 100% Pot Still release…..dazzling doesn’t quite cover it.

The seminar ended with a little food for thought….’Not all Rums with added sugar are bad…..but all of the bad ones will have added sugar’. A very interesting day spent and a learning opportunity that we will be looking to undertake again next year! We were then released into the quite amazing Boutique RumFest……

 

 

 

 

 

Boutique RumFest

This year saw some absolutely amazing Rums on display and the experience is probably best dealt with via a series of images….

Bushtea Rum

IMAG1052Bush Tea Rum is more of a botanical Rum….distilled in the UK it was quite a unique proposition and something that tasted quite different in a world of very ‘samey’ spiced Rums…

 

 

Ekte Rums

IMAG1053Coming from Denmark and with Daniel Nunez Bascunan at the helm, the range of Rums available was great with our particular favourites being the Light & Dry (Barbados and Trinidad) and Pungent & Geeky (Jamaica and Barbados). We really hope that these get a UK release as we are mad keen to try them again.

 

Bristol Classic Rum

IMAG1056

We were so so pleased to see the guys from Bristol Classic there. We are big fans of their output and the releases on display didn’t disappoint. Of the bottles on display, we already own the Worthy Park 8, Diamond Distillery 2003 and Foursquare 2004. Standouts were the simply sublime Port Morant 25yr, Haiti 2004 and Mauritius 5yr.We hope tobe able to pick up a few more Bristol bottlings over the coming year.

 

 

 

Hamilton Ministry of Rum Collection

IMAG1059This collection was quite simply stunning. The St Lucian 9 yr 100% Pot Still at 66.7% abv (which we fortunately ended up leaving with the remains of) is an absolute triumph, once again singling out St Lucia Distillers as one of the better current producers. Produced by their John Dore still it is an absolute melting pot of flavours and a real demonstration of a beautiful pot distilled Rum. We also have to say that the Jamaican Gold and Jamaican Black were no slouches either. Both from Worthy Park, the only difference is the addition of extra caramel colouring. We also got to meet Ed Hamilton too which was definitely one to tick of the list! European bottlers were being sought on this visit….though sadly not for the St Lucia 9yr as Ed’s allocation has all already been bottled.

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Matugga Rum

IMAG1063These guys were a real standout for us. 100 % Pot Still Rum distilled here in the UK. There is a real signature profile running through both the Gold and Spiced with a real hit of smoke which keeps things interesting. We predict good things in 2016 for these guys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nine Leaves Rum

IMAG1066The Nine Leaves range of Rums from Japan have been on our list for a while and we finally got to try them. Three interesting cask finished including quite a powerful Cabernet Sauvignon Cask and an American Oak Cask were all very different and all offered something unique. As expected the wine cask was very heavy on tannins and not for everyone but I quite enjoyed it. The real star though was the Clear which displayed once again, a really large amount of character as a result of the fermentation and pot distillation. One to pick up in the future.

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Rum Nation

IMAG1068We are already quite familiar with a lot of the Rum Nation releases but it was great to see their Rums on display there. The new Caroni 1999 was another accessible Caroni from them and now resides on our shelves.

 

 

Hampden Estate

IMAG1071Hampden Estate were also present, or should we say that Christelle was present. We are more than aware of Hampden Gold which has no age at all but a hell of a lot of flavour. What struck us was the amount of flavour carried by Rumfire even given its 63%…..we don’t own it yet but we will be looking to pick it up soon.

 

 

Other exhibitors of real note were the sublime offerings of Worthy Park Rum Bar Rum, the amazing Real McCoy and St Nicholas Abbey with their slightly more mature 5yr and sugar cane syrup. A great evening where we also bumped into our friend Sian…this years Boutique really trumped last years (which was also good) and we came away from the event with a real sense of a proper progression and new direction for the event with an emphasis on a few more independent bottlers really helping shake things up.IMAG1074 (2)

RumFest 2015

Again, a series of images seems way more appropriate than paragraphs attempting to sum up what a photograph can do quite easily.

After the disappointing sweetness of the first Angostura No1 release (red), the second Angostura No1 release (purple) really redeems itself with such a beautiful concentration of flavours and a dryness that is really very appealing

After the disappointing sweetness of the first Angostura No1 release (red), the second Angostura No1 release (purple) really redeems itself with such a beautiful concentration of flavours and a dryness that is really very appealing

Sean Duprey giving us a little lectured tasting of Angostura Rums

Sean Duprey giving us a little lectured tasting of Angostura Rums

The Bacardi shack was again another highlight. So well presented and this year with an emphasis on Ocho (Bacardi 8) and its versatility

The Bacardi shack was again another highlight. So well presented and this year with an emphasis on Ocho (Bacardi 8) and its versatility

A few selected serves to highlight Bacardi 8.....the Old Cuban was particularly good

A few selected serves to highlight Bacardi 8…..the Old Cuban was particularly good

Pussers....just yes. We know the range, we love the range, we got to try the range...you NEED Gunpowder Proof in your life....and the new blue label at 40% is no slouch either

Pussers….just yes. We know the range, we love the range, we got to try the range…you NEED Gunpowder Proof in your life….and the new blue label at 40% is no slouch either

Great to meet George again and to see him getting so passionate about Pussers

Great to meet George again and to see him getting so passionate about Pussers

Matugga Rum proved to be a real head turner and a massive hit and Jacines Rum Cake was phenomenal

Matugga Rum proved to be a real head turner and a massive hit and Jacines Rum Cake was phenomenal

Matugga Golden.....a really pleasant hit of smoke running though it

Matugga Golden…..a really pleasant hit of smoke running though it

Don Q Gran Anejo......a really really great example of a well made and very flavourful lighter column spirit

Don Q Gran Anejo……a really really great example of a well made and very flavourful lighter column spirit

Tiburon Rum brought their own Jack sparrow look-a-like to the event (pictures further down)....whilst we're not huge fans of pirate based japery....it was good fun nonetheless

Tiburon Rum brought their own Jack sparrow look-a-like to the event (pictures further down)….whilst we’re not huge fans of pirate based japery….it was good fun nonetheless

Our Rum of the Year thus far.....the Foursquare Port Cask

Our Rum of the Year thus far…..the Foursquare Port Cask

Steven eavesdropping on a deep discussion between two greats....Richard Seale and Dave Broom...

Steven eavesdropping on a deep discussion between two greats….Richard Seale and Dave Broom…

The next cask finish release from Foursquare....Zinfandel Cask....so unbelievably delicate and candyfloss like

The next cask finish release from Foursquare….Zinfandel Cask….so unbelievably delicate and candyfloss like

Richard magically producing a bottle of their first cask strength release.....it was way more delicate than you'd think and carried with it some amazing aromas and flavours

Richard magically producing a bottle of their first cask strength release…..it was way more delicate than you’d think and carried with it some amazing aromas and flavours

A real divider of opinions.....Mauritius Club...full on Bakewell tart in a glass.....I'm quite a fan

A real divider of opinions…..Mauritius Club…full on Bakewell tart in a glass…..I’m quite a fan

The new Gold Of Mauritius 5yr....Solera in this case merely means multiple barrels. It carries the same salty, nutty, chocolate profile as Gold just with a more balanced finish given a few years in oak...

The new Gold Of Mauritius 5yr….Solera in this case merely means multiple barrels. It carries the same salty, nutty, chocolate profile as Gold just with a more balanced finish given a few years in oak…

The range of Mezan releases presented by Eaux de Vie....the Guyana 2005 just had to come home with us

The range of Mezan releases presented by Eaux de Vie….the Guyana 2005 just had to come home with us

Lambs....their Alfred Lamb Cask Selection was absolutely beautiful

Lambs….their Alfred Lamb Cask Selection was absolutely beautiful

Botran....we are fans of the range here and it was great to reacquaint ourselves

Botran….we are fans of the range here and it was great to reacquaint ourselves

The anniversary release....very limited quantities.....the Rum was great and the experience of using the Spice and Citrus essences was a really good experience

The anniversary release….very limited quantities…..the Rum was great and the experience of using the Spice and Citrus essences was a really good experience

The seminars were also great fun this year too. We got to attend two separate versions of the Velier Seminar with the charismatic Luca Gargano and we also got the opportunity to attend the Rhums of Martinique Room with Jerry Gitany and Benoit Bail which was a great experience……

House of Velier Seminar(s)

Luca Gargano stating to warm up...

Luca Gargano stating to warm up…

Luca in full flow...

Luca in full flow…

Probably the most charismatic man that we have ever met....so much passion for Rum and all that it entails. An absolutely wonderful series of seminars giving great insight to the Rum, the man and his motivation...and of course we got to try some amazing Rums

Probably the most charismatic man that we have ever met….so much passion for Rum and all that it entails. An absolutely wonderful series of seminars giving great insight to the Rum, the man and his motivation…and of course we got to try some amazing Rums

Star of the show....the Habitation Velier releases...Foursquare 100% Pot Still

Star of the show….the Habitation Velier releases…Foursquare 100% Pot Still

Star of the show....the Habitation Velier releases...Forsyths 151 proof

Star of the show….the Habitation Velier releases…Forsyths 151 proof

Star of the show....the Habitation Velier releases...Forsyths Pot Still

Star of the show….the Habitation Velier releases…Forsyths Pot Still

Star of the show....the Habitation Velier releases...Forsyths Pot Still

Star of the show….the Habitation Velier releases…Forsyths Pot Still

A quite phenomenal Caroni.....

A quite phenomenal Caroni…..

Rhum Rhum Liberation 2012....version integrale

Rhum Rhum Liberation 2012….version integrale

Barnali and Luca....the shot that we could use....

Barnali and Luca….the shot that we could use….

Steven and Luca.....how big should we make the canvas print of this one?

Steven and Luca…..how big should we make the canvas print of this one?

 

Rhums of Martinique Room

Jerry and Benoit giving the introduction....

Jerry and Benoit giving the introduction….

These guys must be at the forefront of experimenting with cask finishes....some really interesting HSE expressions to try

These guys must be at the forefront of experimenting with cask finishes….some really interesting HSE expressions to try

These guys must be at the forefront of experimenting with cask finishes....some really interesting HSE expressions to try

These guys must be at the forefront of experimenting with cask finishes….some really interesting HSE expressions to try

Jerry extolling the virtues of Rhum Neisson....we are now believers!

Jerry extolling the virtues of Rhum Neisson….we are now believers!

We were fortunate enough to pick a bottle of this Rhum Neisson expression up....so so good

We were fortunate enough to pick a bottle of this Rhum Neisson expression up….so so good

Every one of these expressions carried something interesting and flavourful....

Every one of these expressions carried something interesting and flavourful….

Onto Benoit and Rhum Saint James.....quite beautiful expression this one....another that we were able to pick up and bring back with us...

Onto Benoit and Rhum Saint James…..quite beautiful expression this one….another that we were able to pick up and bring back with us…

...and this expression was an absolute delight....

…and this expression was an absolute delight….

Onto Trois Rivieres.....

Onto Trois Rivieres…..

We really enjoyed this expression....

We really enjoyed this expression….

...and this was beautiful....very well rounded

…and this was beautiful….very well rounded

Having only ever tried La Mauny Blanc, we were very impressed with what the range had to offer....

Having only ever tried La Mauny Blanc, we were very impressed with what the range had to offer….

This being the particular stand out expression.....

This being the particular stand out expression…..

Emilie finishing off with a 'Ti Punch....or several....we are really going to miss her when she moves....

Emilie finishing off with a ‘Ti Punch….or several….we are really going to miss her when she moves….

Group photo.....Jerry, Benoit, Emilie, Audrey and Paul Yellin getting in on things....

Group photo…..Jerry, Benoit, Emilie, Audrey and Paul Yellin getting in on things….

Steven with Benoit and Jerry.....we finally got to meet these guys and can't wait until our paths cross again...

Steven with Benoit and Jerry…..we finally got to meet these guys and can’t wait until our paths cross again…

That pretty much concludes the photo tour of this years RumFest….as far as previous years go…there was a real focus this year on the hot discussion topic of ‘real rum’ and the seminars and exhibitors really did reflect this. Sure there were a few big hitters missing but our time was fully spent getting to talk to the exhibitors and to be honest if there had been a third day we would have had just as much to do and to see.

In terms of standout Rums from the Boutique RumFest and RumFest, we have several. The Rum Bar offerings from Worthy Park, Gold, Overproof and Rum Cream were all outstanding. Matugga Rum made a big impression on a lot of people including us. The Ed Hamilton Ministry of Rum Collection was a joy to try. The Ekte Rums and Nine Leaves also impressed us a lot. The new Foursquare releases have us VERY excited and the upcoming Habitation Velier releases are going to inspire some Rum Pokémon in us (Gotta Catch Em All). All in all, 2016 is lining up to be very exciting and very expensive!

We couldn’t sign off though without a story and a few pictures of the great friends that we met again and also met for the first time. We met a couple from the US, Timothy and Louann Mace who were very complimentary about this site and in fact used our updates on RumFest to plan their trip over here to the event which was great to hear as its good to know that we are pitching the right content…and that it is useful!

Barnali with Captain Jack

Barnali with Captain Jack

Steven with Darius and James from Trilogy Brands and Fred from Gold of Mauritius

Steven with Darius and James from Trilogy Brands and Fred from Gold of Mauritius

Ian and Helena....

Ian and Helena….

Steven judging his first cocktail competition in great company...

Steven judging his first cocktail competition in great company…

We finally got to meet Johnny...

We finally got to meet Johnny…

Steven with John and Kevin....

Steven with John and Kevin….

We couldn't leave this one out....Steven with the awesome Andy Abrahams...

We couldn’t leave this one out….Steven with the awesome Andy Abrahams…

Rum people truly are great people

© 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.

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.

Rum Nation Jamaica 8 Year

Rum Nation Logo

I’m quite excited about this post as it represents two stages of the same product. You see I had previously written about the Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still which is an unaged 100% pot distilled Rum. This expression is also from the same distillery (Worthy Park) in St. Catherine, Jamaica but unlike its younger sibling, this Rum has been matured……twice.

You can read up about the younger sibling and also get a little background on Rum Nation and Fabio Rossi by clicking here

Rum Nation Jamaica 8 Year Old Pot Still – 50% abv

Rum Nation Jamaica 8The Rum was distilled in 2006 and bottled in 2015. It was aged in ex-bourbon barrels in Jamaica for a period of 7 years before being shipped over to Piedmont, Italy, for a second maturation period of 1 year in first fill ex-Oloroso Sherry barrels. The Rum belongs to batch number L 15/020 with 5436 bottles being produced from this batch. I have a lab report in my possession that lists a figure of 1.67 g/l of ‘inverted’ sugar in the Rum. This bottling is not the biggest offender by a long shot and this specific topic in relation to this Rum has been discussed to death on other sites. Rum Nation have been honest enough to share the lab information with me and others and that displays a level of honesty in relation to this Rum……so I’m going to leave this information as just that…..information. Information allows you to make your own informed choices. Back then to the Rum…..

Rum Nation Jamaica 8 StampThe Rum is presented in the same stumpy bottle which all of the latest releases have been. I love the bottle size and shape as my shelves are governed by headroom not width therefore a shorter and wider bottle helps me greatly! That chunky timber topped cork is present along with the postage stamp that has become a sign of a Rum Nation bottling. The same label style as the unaged expression but this time it is presented in a striking gold to compliment the black which also works against the burnished red / mahogany of the liquid in the bottle. As presentation goes its pretty classy stuff. I’ve also been told that the Rum will come in at around £40 a bottle.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a dark gold with burnished orange flashes. A swirl of the rum in the glass shows an oily slab of liquid that releases reluctant droplets. A pot still character is immediately evident but it is slightly masked by tropical fruits and a subtle oaky undertone. There is a slight sting of astringency initially and a little of the heat from that 50% gives your nose a little bite. Raisins are definitely in there alongside a kind of solvent aroma reminiscent of glue. Once the alcohol dissipates and the Rum warms you are left with a very pleasant fruity and oaky aroma with the slightest whiff of cigar tobacco. Not the beast that I expected, more of a refined prospect than its younger sibling.

In the mouth: Straight out of the gate this Rum is very warming with a pepperiness at the front on your tongue and a slight but not dominant sweetness helps temper this. The pepper is accompanied by a clove like taste before raisins and prunes start to make you salivate………then the oak comes into play and starts to dry the Rum out. It’s not heavy oak but it is apparent. There is also a little burnt sugar in there and you can really sense dark stone fruits. The finish starts with cheek tingling raisins and soon dries into a medium length finish resplendent with pepper, cloves, dried prunes and oak. There is still that feeling of cigar tobacco but not overly so. The whole experience is very pleasant and very approachable given its 50% abv. It in no way feels like it is this strong and can catch you unawares after a few glasses (dependent upon how heavy-handed your pours are). Right at the back of the finish there is a really pleasing liquorice taste that clings on for dear life. It really is a flavourful Rum that always carries with it that strong pot still backbone to which all of the other character traits cling to.

I put this Rum into the obligatory Mai Tai along with its younger counterpart. I had never previously used a sherry finished Rum in this drink but it made for a tasty proposition. Again, the abv of 50% along with the 57% of the unaged expression is apparent but never too dominant….very powerful and very tasty as you’d expect. Very moreish! I would also bet that the facets of this Rum would pair well with a cigar as it carries just a hint of cigar tobacco on the nose. Versatile in cocktails, not overly dominated by the Oloroso finish and more than pleasant to sip neat, this Rum should be a big hit…..if only it were more readily available here in the UK. France is our nearest option for purchase.

As with all of these matters, feel free to pop in if you’re passing by and share a glass with us…

© 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.

Rum Nation Panama 21

Rum Nation Logo

This article marks the second Rum Nation release that I have been fortunate enough to cover here. The first was their Jamaica White Pot Still which you can read all about here whilst also getting a little history of the Rum Nation brand and the man behind it, Fabio Rossi.

Lets get down to business then…..

Rum Nation Panama 21 – 40% ABV

RNP21 BoxThe first thing that strikes you about this Rum is the presentation. The box, whilst having a simple matt black lid resplendent with silver text and bottle outline, has a mirrored cardboard base that just oozes quality. Within that base lies one of the most dazzling bottles that I own. Large satisfying silver topped cork? Check. Heavy decanter style bottle? Check. Silver band around the stubby bottle neck bearing the Rum Nation logo and age of the Rum? Check. Spanish text that I can’t understand? Check. Fortunately, the latter is easily resolved. Whilst if the Rum is good enough, it can be presented to me in a cardboard box with a plastic tap, there is something quite ceremonial about removing the bottle from its reflective home, uncorking it with a satisfying ‘pop’ (I’ll wait whilst you insert your finger into your mouth to make a popping sound) and then pouring the mahogany liquid into a suitable vessel whilst the aromas fill the room. The Rum itself is a blend created by Francisco ‘Don Pancho’ Fernandez. It is distilled in a continuous column still and is aged in ex-bourbon American oak barrels for a period of 21 years. From the information that I have uncovered online its origins are based at the Varela Hermanos Plantation and Distillery that also produces Ron Abuelo. RNP21 Inner BoxThe mature distillates are blended in Panama prior to being exported to Italy for bottling, fully certified in terms of both origin and age. The beautiful bottle that carries the liquid is produced in Italy therefore it makes sense take the liquid to the bottles to avoid sending empty bottles from Italy to Panama and then back again. Releases of this Rum are limited. The first release of 3600 bottles was in 2011 with a second release again of 3600 bottles in 2013. The last release of 5436 bottles was in 2014 (Lot Number 14258). I only wish that I were tasting this Rum is sunnier climes, perhaps on a sunny terrace overlooking the beach with the smell of cigars and the saltiness of a retreating tide in the air. Sadly I’m in Cheshire, it’s considerably less than tropical outside and I’m engrossed in the Arnold Bitner book: Scrounging the Islands with the Legendary Don the Beachcomber. Lost in the book and nosing the Rum, taking the occasional sip until it hits me again….that is why I love Rum so much….it has the ability to transport you to these places, no matter your location. It has the ability to paint pictures that are so convincing, they could be memories of a past adventure. But enough waffle, what does the Rum taste like?

RNP21 Bottle Glass

Tasting Notes 

In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a beautiful dark mahogany and a swirl of the glass releases slow reluctant teardops of Rum. The aromas bubble over the glass and the aromas of stone fruits such as prunes and dates start to fill your nose…raisins follow along with a sherry like aroma. Salted caramel sauce, chewy toffee sweets and a little brown sugar all follow the sherried notes and there is the lightest hint of smoke. It reminds me of a holiday that we once took to Newquay where we stuffed local fudge into bananas and put them onto the barbecue to warm through releasing warming smoky caramel aromas into the night air. Leather and tobacco are next to show up and really make me wish that I had a cigar to pair with this Rum….Chocolate and black cherries are also apparent in sort of a liquid Black Forest gateaux. An oaken element and more of that tobacco round out the nose which has been extremely pleasant.

In the mouth: The Rum leads with a little bite which is a nice surprise after its aroma packed easy-going nose. Maybe its a little bit of a dark horse! Smoky sweetness and those sherried notes are the first flavours to fill my mouth carried on its medium body….that’s medium…not the chewy behemoth that I was expecting. Prunes and raisins lead the next flavour assault wave before a beautiful oaky dryness starts to fade in and bring with it a little pepper. It has a bit of an attitude too with the pepper which shakes things up a little. Brown sugar, chocolate sponge cake with amarena cherries and cream is hitting me in a big way along with apricot before light dry orange peel appears….very much like a dry curacao. The finish is of a medium length and is medium dry with a heavy leather and tobacco influence. Oak and sherry are also there before the fade into a last peppery kick. Again…I wish that I had a cigar to pair with it as the leather influence is amazing with the tobacco leaving the same feeling in your mouth as when you are sitting out in the last of the evening sun finishing a cigar. It’s a strange one for sure in the fact that it appears on the surface to be a soft and playful puppy dog that eventually nips you with those needle like teeth…that’s what that little peppery kick feels like. At times it feels a lot stronger than 40% abv due to the little bites it keeps taking out of you but you need that little bit of attitude. It’s not the lazy old man of the Rum world given its 21 years…its grown old gracefully but retains its reckless teenage streak as the oak has not over influenced it.

The Rum itself retails for around £75 to £92 and when picked up at the lower end of the bracket is in the same price bracket as El Dorado 21…and although they are totally differing styles, this maybe has a shade more going on given its attitude….both warrant purchase though. I’d gladly extol this Rums virtues to anyone who would like to listen….pop around and be sure to bring a few cigars…Montecristo Open Masters maybe…nothing too heavy. Better still, fly me to that terrace overlooking the beach…I’ll bring the Rum.

© 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.

Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still

Rum Nation Logo
I have been more than aware of the Rums released by Rum Nation for a while. I have even had the opportunity to try a couple of them. I then started seeing images of a striking bottle of Rum appearing on the web but could not locate it over here in the UK and it was whilst making my first order from France that I noticed it for sale at what was the rather competitive price of £28. That price for a white Jamaican 100% Pot Distilled Rum at 57% abv……I’d be a fool not to snap it up….

RNFrontA little background on Rum Nation should start things off in earnest. The company founder, Fabio Rossi was born in 1961. His father, Mario Jr started to deal in wines and spirits in 1956 and was the first importer of Laphroig Whisky in Italy. He then proceeded to import brands such as Rhum Barbancourt. Fabio grew up around fine wines and spirits and took a degree in Oenology (the study of wine and wine making). During a series of business related distillery visits to Scotland in 1990, Fabio noticed old barrels of Rum from Jamaica and British Guyana stacked near the whisky barrels. These barrels had been sent there for maturation as the climate would reduce the loss to evaporation and also slow down the maturation process. With Rum only retained in memory, Fabio formed Wilson & Morgan in 1992, a company that releases an independent line of single malt whiskies. Several years later having never forgotten those memories of the Rum tastings that he had been a party to, Fabio asked Silvano Samaroli, himself a respected independent bottler, for advice on Rum and Rum styles. Fabio purchased his first barrels of Rum and their contents were bottled. Not wanting to release the Rums under the Wilson & Morgan name, in 1999 the Rum Nation brand was born. For the curious, those first Rums were a vatting of two barrels of 25 year old Jamaican Rum (1974-1999 Cask Nos 857 and 858) and a barrel of 24 year old Demerara Rum (1975-1999 Cask No 4111). These barrels were left to rest in an underground warehouse in Bristol (I’d hazard a guess that it is the warehouse of Mr John Barrett of Bristol Spirits Ltd). Apparently there is still remaining stock, some 16 years later.

A decision was made early on in the life of Rum Nation to not label the Rums after the distillery, but to make them single domaine Rums named after their country of origin, and as Fabio has been an avid stamp collector from an early age, one thing that runs through the range (and is particularly striking on the label of this bottle) is that each label contains an image of a postage stamp from the country of origin.

You can read more about Fabio Rossi and Rum Nation as there is a far more lengthy and colourful representation of this story available on the Rum Nation website, and you can find that by clicking here.

Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still – 57% abv

Rum Nation Jamaica

The rear label on the bottle hints at the distillery location in St Catherine, Jamaica. This therefore could be either the Worthy Park Estate (most likely) or the Monymusk Estate. For me there is something almost mythical about these high powered, high ester, Jamaican flavour bombs. They are often misunderstood as exercises in potent liquids much beloved of teenagers daring eachother to down shots. When taken in that context….yes, they can be pretty hellish. All brashness and aggression….but much like King Kong, they can be tamed. When treated with care and respect, they offer an honest glimpse into just how much flavour can be crammed into a distillate that is to receive no barrel maturation. You will have read my article on Glorious Revolution so will be aware of the principles of trying to cram as much flavour into the fermentation process as possible given that distillation strips flavour. In the context of this Rum, similar to Wray & Nephew Overproof at 63% abv, the fermentation and distillation method shapes the profile, but I wonder if the mythical ‘dunder’ plays a part in adding the meat to this Rums bones? Slow fermentation time and a pot distillation method are the building blocks of this quite remarkable Rum, and I can tell you that this Rum will not be for everyone. It is almost using itself as an example of how powerful can also be subtle…..a little like the aforementioned King Kong. The bottle is nice and squat (not easily toppled which is useful if you’re going to be imbibing a quantity of this Rum) and has really simple, clear labeling with a striking silver Jamaican postage stamp taking pride of place. As soon as you remove the wooden topped cork, the aromas jump out at you….

Tasting Notes

RN BackIn the glass: The Rum displays itself as a crystal clear liquid brimming with grassy, funky aromas.A swirl of the glass leaves little slow beads that are reluctant to move. Savoury is the first word that I’d use to describe this Rum. Initial aromas are of salty olives on cheese biscuits. A vegetal aroma then pushes through and the Rum starts to smell very fresh and green. It is quite astringent and spicy. Next up are the pungent, lacquer and varnish aromas bringing a real sting to the nose. There is also a nice waxy creaminess that brings oily citrus peel and ripe fruits such as mango and banana into play. It sounds strange but I then get what seems to be a wallpaper paste and superglue concoction. Finishing the experience are those funky grassy pot still aromas that could seemingly punch their way through a brick wall if asked nicely.

In the mouth: The Rum has an all encompassing mouthfeel that leads with a heavy dose of olive brine and white pepper. It initially bites quite hard with a kind of solvent flavour carrying liqourice which is the next flavour that makes an appearance, and with it comes a slight sweetness that feels like a custardy wave. It is very grassy and vegetal but along with this is the feeling of ripe bananas. The finish is very long and it stays around for a while with liqourice, molasses and that superglue. It is hard hitting and unapologetic but it also has those soft ripe fruit, oily citrus and banana flavours that hint at a softer and more approachable side to the Rum.

It feels like an experimental style of Rum, maybe even a reference Rum. A fine example of this style of Rum production to which others can be compared. I am massively glad that I seized the opportunity to pick a bottle of this Rum up and I urge you to do the same. It has a great deal of complexity both in it’s aromas and it’s flavours and I can imagine it working wonderfully in the right drink such as a daiquiri or maybe as a portion of the Jamaican component in a powerful Mai Tai replacing J Wray as the punchy element. There is also an aged expression of a Jamaican Pot Still Rum available soon from Rum Nation….I am trawling the online drink shops on a daily basis awaiting its arrival!

ValrhonaAn interesting opportunity has presented itself to me after I was sent a box of Rum Nation branded chocolates (more on those in a later post), each one different in style and hand picked to match the Rum Nation range of Rums. The recommended chocolate to accompany this Rum is the Valrhona Caraibe 66% which is from the same region as the Rum. So I took a little sip of the Rum to accustom myself to it again. Nibbled off a chunk of the chocolate and let it sit in my mouth, slowly melting. The chocolate itself has a beautiful flavour of intense cocoa and coffee. Sipping the Rum again, its bite is tempered by the cocoa and the bitterness cuts through the mouthfeel making the whole experience very pleasant. I look forward to delving deeper into the box of chocolates in the future and matching the Rums where possible.

© 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.