The Hangar series contains some of the very best Caronis ever. If my memory isn’t playing tricks on me, that is. Perhaps the most crucial aspect is that the series contains half of all 1992 bottlings and the vintage is one of my absolute Caroni faves.
Velier Caroni 1992 20YO (55%): We start with the high proof. Nose: Ah, Caroni as we know and love it – and there’s so much to it. I get a mix of old scrap metal, wood, ripe papaya, caramel, cocoa, dirty rubber, a hint of mud, mango, hot butter, spices such as pepper or cinnamon, quite some wood but not too much… well, it is simply excellent and the more time you spent with it the more it reveals. Palate: Quite dry and the fruity notes are not as present as they were in the nose. Instead rubber and wood gain center stage but mango, papaya and something that I’d describe as non-sour Grapefruit show up every now and then. The ‘dirty’ aromas are rather elegant actually, with fresh tar, old rubber and rich olive oil. With the third sip perhaps even more wood. At 55% the rum never feels thin and while the strength probably hasn’t been chosen scientifically, it works extremely well. Finish: Long and intense with wood, caramel, the typical Caroni aromas and cocoa. A really, really great rum but nothing compared to what we are about to have. (92/100)
Velier Caroni 1992 20YO (60,21%): And here we have what is one of, if not even my favorite Caroni. Nose: Yes, this rum does it all. Very typical Caroni (tar, rubber, lamp oil, caramel, mango, papaya) at an intensity and maturity that is simply unmatched. The general profile is very close to that of the high proof but it is even more intense and aromatic and it may very well have been bottled exactly on the right day. Palate: If you have even only a vague fondness for the the 1996 batch, you will absolutely adore this one. Once again, this is the Caroni quintessence. The sweetness (sugar, caramel, ripe fruits) paired with the Caroni notes (burnt rubber, tar, scrapyard) and the elegance of the oak have no rival. The perfect symbiosis! Let’s add cocoa, caoutchouc, licorice, exotic barks and ever so faintly herbal notes. Oh yeah! Finish: Long and complex with different layers of the palate but also additional notes such as menthol, sunflower seeds and even something close to watermelon. I guess this is what you call a liquid legend. (95/100)
I was wondering if it doesn’t make more sense to keep the 1992 vintage together but in the end I decided that the series shouldn’t be seperated. Alas, we switch to the 1994 vintage, which has a very woody character from the distillate. Note that these “woody” notes are slightly different to the woody notes you get from long maturations.
Velier Caroni 1994 18YO (55%): This one is a first for me. Nose: I must say that I wouldn’t have been able to recognise this as a different batch blindly. After all, my internal image of the 1994 batch is really different but let’s give it more time. It’s relatively sweet but eventually we get some of the batch-characteristic notes (tannins, wood, barrique aged wine). Behind tar, burnt rubber and caramel we get dry Port or Madeira, dried grapes and plums, something that reminds me of Persian candyfloss and now also spices such as cinnamon, vanilla and pimento. Ultimately, we have to taste this to learn more. Palate: A really cool mix between sweet and woody, but also menthol, olive oil, sundried tomatoes and Ripasso (dark, red fruits). The scrapyard and this time gas station aren’t missing either. A very smooth and balanced Caroni! Finish: Medium long with caramel, sugar, olives and wood. Another very good rum but at the end of the day I am missing a few things here and there. On the one hand, it is not too typical for the batch, on the other, it is slightly too balanced in the sense that it could have been more edgy for my liking. I’d say this would be somewhat like a substitute for the 21YO of the “standard range” if you know what I mean, even though substitute doesn’t make any sense, of course. (88/100)
Velier Caroni 1994 18YO (62,59%): Nose: A lot drier than the high proof version but also with a bit more wood. What’s still striking is this balance, even though we’re also getting some more special notes here. Besides the characteristic wood, caramel, tar, rubber etc. we are getting more phenolic, slightly medical scents, tannins, menthol, and even smoky notes (bonfire, ash). It’s a bit like Laphroaig’s take on Caroni but these are only nuances, mind you. It’s really good though! After some more time I also get something I’d describe as cookie dough/ chocolate/ cream filled cookies – really cool. It is hard to describe but I think you get the idea. The palate is also great and I can find the chocolate chip/ cookie association once again. Then wood, tar, engine oil, creamy caramel, vanilla, an excellent cup of espresso, old tyres and an oil lamp. Right on, amazing stuff! The finish is rich and long with vanilla, toasted oak, tonka, coffee, engine oil and much more. Wow! This is another excellent rum that just slightly falls short of the even better 1992 FP. But both would probably make it onto my Caroni all-time fave list. (94/100)