With the 1993 vintage you never know what you’ll get. There are very light and subpar rums such as the Origin R. Caroni 1993 21YO (really closer to neutral spirit than to Caroni), extremely woody weirdos such as the Bristol/ 1423 1993 21YO (that one was extremely bad imo) and then one of my very favorite Caronis with the Velier Caroni 1993 17YO, which was just incredibly special and unique. Today’s rums should fill the entire spectrum once again as we have a very light expression, one with a Madeira finish and one the vein of the Bristol bottling. For obvious reasons, a semi-blind tasting doesn’t make much sense today and I think we should start with the light one.
Compagnie des Indes Caroni 1993 22YO (48%): Light style Caronis really aren’t our favorites but perhaps they are a bit like Grain Whiskies: They can become quite good with age or fortified wine finishes. Now I am just not too sure if 22 continental years are enough. Nose: Indeed quite light and mineral. There’s a certain hotness/ spicyness as well but even after about 45 minutes in the glass I have a hard time calling out more. Sure, there’s quite some wood and perhaps even a slightly herbal, minty note deep in the background but right now that seems to be about it. Let’s hope that the palate is more illuminating. Palate: Very similar to the nose. The rums is hot and mineral with notes of wood and some spices. That’s all bad enough already but the alcohol is much more present than it should be. Between a sip and what I’d call the finish then more herbal notes. Finish: Medium long with woody and mineral notes. Here and there wood and the cask. Nah, let’s just move on. RTN (63/100)
Murray McDavid Caroni 1993 11YO “Malmsey Madeira Finish” (46%): Sherry and Caroni isn’t always the best combination. How about this Madeira finish from the pionners of wine finishes in rum? Nose: I am relatively sure that this used to be the same stuff as the Compagnie des Indes to start with but here the finish has added a few dimensions. The rum is still very light and mostly shaped by the mineral notes but I also get raspberries, leather, dried red fruits and sweet grenadine syrup. Later also the herbal nuances again. Judged soley by the nose, it is better than the previous rum, but still that might not be enough. We’ll see. Palate: Lots of Madeira and light rum. This is not exactly Caroni, nor is it anything special, but at least it is solid juice. The finish has done wonders here, even if the rum is entirely driven by it. Once again I get the grenadine, raspberry, nore more herbs and plenty of mineral notes. As I said, it is solid, but nevertheless nothing to write home about. It is just too one-dimensional and I feel as if this finish could have been done with dozens of other light rums. Finish: Short and unspectacular with the fortified wine, some wood, hints of herbs and the mineral notes again. I must say that I was hoping for an even greater impact of the finish here. This just feels quite interchangable. RTN (75/100)
S.B.S Caroni 1993 25YO “The Beast” (50,1%): This one should have the same general profile as the abysmal Bristol and 1423 co-production I was talking about in the introduction but I’ve heard that this one is supposedly a lot better – even though opinions seem to be very much divided on its quality. Nose: Oh yeah, Caroni! This smells like the heavy type and it is definitely not as woody as the Bristol. Instead we get the scrapyard, some tar, some burnt rubber, menthol, spearmint, lots of wood, fresh cane juice, hints of caramel and fresh caoutchouc. This is the Caroni we like and what is more, it is exceptionally good! Palate: Very concentrated, woody and bitter. It is here that the problems begin. It taste like it is 15 years past it zenith but thanks to the Bristol we know that it really seems to be the batch, not the maturity. I have no idea how this is possible but since we now have two of these rums I am quite sure that it is not just the barrel. If I hadn’t know better, I probably would have said that this is an extremely old Armagnac. The rum is entirely shaped by the wood and menthol/ spearmint note. If you like it… Finish: Extremely long, woody and bitter with some herbs and rubber here and there. The nose was really, really good, the rest is on the border of being undrinkable. Crazy juice. My recommendation is to just get a sample and don’t ever drink it. Instead, fill it in a sample bottle with a huge neck and sniff from it every now and then. Voila! RTN (78/100)