Hello and welcome back to Single Cask Rum!
After having reviewed the Velier Caroni 12YO earlier this week, it is now time for another heavyweight from Trinidad. It is one of his older brothers, the Velier Caroni 17YO. Save for a few, severely overpriced, residual bottles it has just ben sold out. I have seen the last bottles being sold in official online shops for as much as 200€. That’s insane!
As mentioned already in the review of the Velier Caroni 12YO, the Velier Caroni 17YO is also part of what could be described as the Caroni “standard range”. Since Caroni is a lost distillery, standard range in this context merely refers to the relatively high circulation of these rums. After all it has now been available for about one and a half years. The recent history had some bottlings with a smaller edition that had been sold out within a few days or weeks. I know that many whisky drinkers are starting to explore the universe of rums, and Caronis in particular, since they are deterred by increasing prices and limited editions. Rum, or at least some bottlers and a few distilleries, is heading in the same direction and prices will only increase. While probably a few more Caronis will come out in the future, its stock will eventually be depleted. So if you want to show this style of rum to your grandchild one day, make sure to keep a bottle hidden in a save place in your basement. Or just finish it yourself.
Dégustation “Velier Caroni 17YO”
Key Facts: The Velier Caroni has been distilled
in a pot still in 1998 (edit: Velier didn’t provide any information on the still. My guess is that this is probably a mix of pot- and column distilled rums). After spending 15 years in Trinidad, it got to age for another two years in Velier’s warehouses until being bottled at 55% in 2015. The rum’s barrels had an angel’s share of 80%. This, together with the long tropical ageing suggest a very mature and flavourful rum.
Colour and viscosity: Tawny/ polished mahogany. A colour as we only not it from long tropical ageing (or caramel colouring in other cases). We are in for a treat! The rum flows back in thick streaks, partly moderately, partly relatively quickly. It is fairly oily, however.
Nose: First I smell ripe and bitter oranges, followed by bittersweet dark chocolate, papayas and persimmon. Only after this do we get some of the typical Caroni aromas. There is petroleum, tar and burnt rubber, which has not been burnt down completely. Compared to some other Caronis, these fragrances are a bit restrained. Generally speaking, the nose is quite complex and balanced. Deeper in the glass I get some tobacco and molasses, as well as a light herbary, where nothing is really sticking out in particular though.
Palate: Now we get more of the petrol station flavours, at the expense of the fruit however. Fuel, old tyres and fresh tar are the initial impressions, closely followed by the orange flavoured dark chocolate. The rum tastes quite herbal but again it is difficult to pick out individual aromas. At best, I could call out sage and fresh mint. It has just the right amount of wood and flavours from the cask. Most notably these come in the form of roasted cocoa and peanuts, tobacco and some vanilla. Having a larger sip reveals the freshness of cherry flavoured spearmint. Nevertheless, we are constantly reminded that we are located at the petrol station, or a herbary that has been spilled by fuel if you want.
Finish: The cherry-spearmint connection appears again, combined with sage, orange bitters, wood and petrol. The flavours stick together throughout a sufficiently long finish.
The Velier Caroni 17YO is a very mature and balanced Caroni that possesses the typical Caroni aromas. Compared to other and less mature Caronis these are not too extreme, however. I am not sure whether the lack of dirtiness and the subtlety of the Caroni aromas can be traced back to the vintage or the maturity. I have evidence for both. Do not misunderstand me though. If you are only used to drinking sweeter and smoother rum, this might be too blatant for you. There is a reason why this is often the entry ticket into rum for whisky aficionados. So if you come from the whisky corner or already have some experience with unadulterated rum, this might be for you. If you have never had a Caroni before, it is always best to get a sample before buying an entire bottle of it. The best place to do so is the web. For German-speaking people I recommend the forum “Der Rum Club“.