Golden Devil Caroni 1998 22yo...

Golden Devil Caroni 1998 22yo (62.1%): Today's bottle on my desk is filled with rum from long defunct Caroni Distillery. Caroni Distillery was established in 1923 on Trinidad island and operated by local government till it got sold to Angostura in 2001 leading to its closure for good only a year after. Although no one seemed to care too much about this story back then things have changed after a warehouse full of Caroni casks dating back to early 70s were discovered on the island by Luca Gargano, owner of the independent bottler Velier in 2004. He purchased all of those casks and started to bottle them one by one under his label. The story was good and the rum was even better. Word spread like a wildfire among spirit enthusiasts and collectors... In a very short period of time bottles of Caroni started to appear on online auction sites fetching premium prices and in speciality stores next to other highly allocated brands. This small batch (I don't know how many bottles got released but I know that it is not a single cask) rum I have a small sample of is 22 year old, distilled in 1998 and bottled at cask strength by Hunter Laing under their Golden Devil label exclusively for K&L Wine Merchants.

Color: Medium amber, copper penny color with an initial line of tiny teardrops around the glass simply refusing to turn themselves into legs till the last possible second.

Nose: Right away you can nose easily how high the abv is. Not burning your nostrils but hot and also kinda muted... Burnt sugar, inner tubes and wet clay. New sneakers and rubber garden hose. I am pretty sure that it can handle a few drops of water. Here we go... Flaky savory pastry: Meaty hand pies, yum... Thyme, sage honey and dried black currants. It is herbal, savory and rubbery. All spice and nutmeg... I am enjoying this thyme and oregano aromas on the nose very much right now.

Palate: Old school savory Caroni funk. Not in your face right away like young Jamaican rums but it grows slowly on both sides of the tongue. Coal gas, burnt firewood and rubber. Petrol and turpentine... After adding water: Overripe bananas, grilled pineapple rings and thyme. Tart and tangy barbecue sauce, burnt ends and fried plantains. A couple more drops and it gets little sweeter. Burnt rice pudding and quince paste.

Finish: Long and tongue tingling with grilled pineapple rings, rubber tubes and thyme again.

Overall: A very well aged and balanced rum... Great example of a good cask management about how to keep the character of the distillate in spotlight and manage not to overpower the spirit with oak even after more than two decades in wood. It is not an easy job with old rums especially if they started their aging in tropical climates but it looks like these ex-Bourbon barrels did very well. It is spirity, savory and fruity... Thanks to Julius Saita Smith once more for the sample.

Price: $210