Some recent Velier Caronis

Two new ones and two we have some catching-up to do with. Anyway, we have only old and mature stuff today and some of the very last Caronis by Velier ever. Let’s hope they didn’t pass their zenith yet…

caroni-employeeskevonslipperymoreno-1998-21year-rum.jpgVelier Caroni 1998 21YO “Kevon Moreno” (69,5%): Be careful, we start with a harsh sequencing of sentences. 1998 can be hit or miss, depending on the exact batch. Mr. Moreno has been with the Caroni distillery for ten years. Nose: Hmmm. Sweet and a bit alcoholic with plenty of caramel and red currants. The latter is something that I’ve never picked up with any Caroni before but here it is really obvious. Then scrap metal, roadworks, fresh rubber, orange, toffee and foul persimmon. Not bad! Palate: My first impression is that the alcohol is integrated rather poorly and that’s also my second impression. Then caramel, engine oil, rubber, toffee and orange. If you actively look for them, you can also find the red currants again. The profile isn’t too complex but besides the alcohol I don’t have a whole lot to complain about. Rather lovely, if you can look past the alcohol that is. With the third sip I also get plenty of menthol/ spearmint, which gives the rum a nice fresh touch. Finish: Medium long with menthol, wood and red currants. Here and there some caramel and mild spices (pepper, vanilla). A really good finish indeed. I’ve heard quite a few disappointed voices with this rum beforehand but I cannot agree with them. I think it is a good one (nothin less, nothing more) and given enough time, the alcohol isn’t really that big of a problem anymore. It might get a lot better halfway through the bottle I believe and after about two hours I am willing to rank this a lot higher than I initially would have. Just make sure to give it enough time! Still not a bottling I would hunt, personally. thumb-60x60 (85/100)

caroni-employees-david-sarge-charran-1996-vol665-cl70.jpgVelier Caroni 1996 23YO “David Charran (66,5%): Let’s hope that this one is better but 1996 rarely ever disappoints. Mr Charran has worked at the distillery for 28 years. I hope he got a decent gratuity at least… The rum is a blend of four HTR barrels by the way. Nose: Quite nutty at first, with a mix of cashew, pecan and even the mighty madamica. The wood is really prominent but that was to be expected, of course. The slightly too alcoholic vapour was not. After a while it opens up and I must say that this one is a slightly unusual representative of its vintage. There’s some glue, fresh tar, some olive oil, hints of acetone and almost no fruit. I am a bit puzzled, I must say. After about an hour I am even picking up something that reminds me of cheap Tetra Pak ice tea… Palate: Quite sharp at first and more fruity than the nose suggested. We get very few of the nuts and instead plenty of lemon ice tea now, caramel, burnt candies, lamp and engine oil, black tea, plenty of wood, rice crackers/ puffs and soy sauce. All of this is very weird. Not directly bad but it doesn’t really knock me off my socks either. What’s disturbing is the slightly too pronounced alcoholic note, which really shouldn’t be that strong after 23 years if you ask me. Finish: Medium long with no particularly interesting notes, unfortunately. Rice crackers, wood and engine oil are my main associations here. It is clearly a good rum, but so much less than it could have been. I am starting to guess that we are only getting the “best of rest” with these last few bottlings, even though the first two employees were magnificent. thumb-60x60 (87/100)

caronitg (2).jpgVelier Caroni 1996 23YO “Tasting Gang” (63,5%): Blended Caroni can be phenomenal, but they seldom are. No matter what, this one already has a special place in Caroni history for the ugliest label ever (sorry folks!). Nose: At first I’d say this is actually closer to LTR than to HTR. I get a mix of nuts, some iodine, roasting aromas such as cocoa amd coffee as well as salted coconut. It is a very simple, yet nice profile that I occasionally do have some love for but at least the nose it is not up there with the really good blended Caronis in my opinion. In a sense it ever so slightly reminds me a bit of some column still Demeraras actually (Blairmont/ Albion). Palate: More of the iodine and salty notes (salted coconut), seabreeze, cocoa, coffee and clearly also peanut. Perhaps some rubber and a wee bit of lamp oil here and there but the dominating notes are clearly the roasting aromas. At first I thought that the alcohol is integrated rather poorly but given the LTR share and the abv it seems about right. Finish: Short to medium long and a major week spot. The lovely roasting aromas would have made for a glorious finish but somehow we are not getting that. I actually really like this rum, more so than many others I think. It is just that this is not what I’d be going for if I am in the mood for a Caroni. More something along the line of mature Column Demerara (as I said) or, let’s just name it, this one. For what it is, it is very average but average Caroni is still better than most other rums. thumb-60x60 (85/100)

caronilsast (2).jpgVelier Caroni “The Last” 1996 23YO (61,9%): This is proper HTR juice, from one of, if not the best Caroni vintages. “The Last” doesn’t really mean that it is the last one by the way, only the last major big release outside single cask and the rest of the employees. On paper, it is probably the last chance to get an excellent Caroni that is not solely made for the collectors. Nose: Oh my holy cowbell. This is the Caroni DNA if you want, and even a sligtly sweet, pleasant version of that. The rum offers the full spectrum of dirty (tar, petrol, engine oil), fruity (overripe mango, papaya, persimmon), mature (oak, vanilla and ever so slightly bitter notes) as well as a complex potpourri of cocoa, burnt caramel, toffee, macadamia and Earl Grey. Wow! This is the nuts. I don’t think we’ve ever had such a balanced Caroni at this level. Palate: So smooth and mellow yet so intense and rich. I get burnt caramel, tar, lamp oil, toffee, mango, papaya, kiwi, gasoline, delicate wood, burnt rubber, vanilla, milk chocolate, and we could go on and on… The best part of the rum is that is just as easily sippable as it is interesting and complex. That’s a combination that you essentially never get. Ganz großes Kino, as we Germans use to say. Finish: Medium long with plenty of sweet notes (the fruits and sugar) but also spices such as vanilla, cumin or anise and wood. This one clearly isn’t too old and it is in fact the finish where, if we were to look for it, could find a tiny weak spot. It could always use more cowbell, they say. Except, that this one really does not. thumb-60x60 (94/100)