A quartett of Caronis from 1985 today. We have a blended one (meaning a blend of both, light and heavy type rums), a heavy full proof rum and a heavy rum that is not full proof but nevertheless comes in at a higher proof then the full proof. Clear? By the way, I absolutely adore these labels – aren’t they beautiful!?
Velier Caroni 1985 15YO (49,5%): Let’s start with this “Blended Trinidad Rum”, which is part of the ‘Old Legends’ that were designed to be bottled for the local market. It got to age until 2000 and has been bottled by Velier in 2005. Nose: Very light and perhaps even slightly sharp. I get pineapple jam, some citrus, pepper and cinnamon here and there, tobacco perhaps, maybe a bit of cocoa or coffee but all in all, it is a rather reserved one. Then a certain sweetness with vanilla, sugar and white chocolate. It is definitely getting better over time and while I initially thought that the nose is rather bad, I am starting to like it quite a bit. Palate: Unfortunately, this is much closer to phase I of the nose than it is to phase II. The pineapple is with us again, but then the flavours just get torn apart. The Rum has an incredibly fragile texture, but not in the good sense. Then milk chocolate, wood as well as a whiff of the “Caroni tyres”. Behind all of that lures this somewhat sharp bite with pepper and super dark chocolate. Finish: Super short and almost non-existent. It is clearly not my type of Caroni, and frankly, not even my type of Rum. (76/100)
Velier Caroni 1985 15YO (43,4%): The second “Old Legend Trinidad Rum”. Like the 49,5% one, it also aged until 2000 before it has been bottled in 2005 so indeed, a proper 15 year old rum. Nose: A really interesting and slightly different Caroni. I get (yellow) stone fruits such as apricot or yellow plums, roasted almonds, some old candy, caramel, hints of sulphur and some wood. This is a beautiful example of the wonders of dilution in the barrel. Palate: Thinner than the nose suggested but still sufficiently intense. It starts with wood, a mix of nuts, warm butter, honey perhaps, here and there vanilla and pimento. I like it, even though it isn’t what you’d typically associate with a good Caroni. Finish: Long and sweet with sugar (syrup), slightly floral notes and a mixed fruit jam with cinnamon and some wood. It is a very lovely sipper that should please almost all palates. It is smooth, mellow, sufficiently flavourful and all in all, just a nice Rum. Just not a top-notch Caroni. (85/100)
Velier Caroni 1985 21YO (58,8%): This is the full proof heavy type rum. Nose: Right on, this is what we came for, and it will have us sticking around for a bit longer. With its excellent balance of sweet, fruity and dirty, it reminds me a lot of certain 1996 bottlings. There’s tar, a lot of engine oil, avocado oil even, the familiar rubber, but also tropical fruits such as overripe mango or papaya. Then sweeter elements, that I’d still attribute to the fruits rather than to sugar or caramel. Deeper in the glass I find hints of ginger, almonds, and banana bread perhaps. If it were just for the nose, this would be one of my all time favorite Caronis I think. Palate: Not as magnificent but still amazing. It is very rich and smooth, a lot less sweet than the nose and instead really bitter. Compared to some other Rums that’s still absolutely tolerable though. That said, there’s quite some wood, the, what we’ve got to know as, typical Caroni notes, something between rich chocolate and mocha, cardamom, cloves, pepper but still few of the fruity impressions from the nose. Still very good though. Finish: Quite long and warming without being sharp at all. It comes with a mix of wood licorice and many, many spices from the cask. Crucially, it desperately wants to make you take another sip, yet I feel that the nose is the Rum’s raison d’être. One of the better Caronis from the 1980s. (92/100)
Velier Caroni 1985 20YO (62%): So even at 62%, this “Heavy Trinidad Rum” is actually not a full proof bottling. Nevertheless, after the previous one, I only expect great things from it as well. Nose: Somewhat brutal at first, but not sharp at all. It starts with a mix of caramel, butter, honey and wood, but eventually reveals metallic notes (scrap) and hints of caoutchouc. This one might need some time and indeed, eventually I find additional notes of chocolate, peanut butter and coffee. I am not yet sure what to make out of that, but one thing is clear though: it is not your standard HTR profile. Palate: Very smooth and creamy with more sweet notes than before. I’d describe it as sweet milk chocolate, with a few interesting nuances added to it. There are cranberries, tobacco leaves, rubber that’s starting to burn, freshly brewed coffee, peanut butter again and roasted marshmallows perhaps. The palate is a lot better than the nose here and it is really nice and easy to sip, despite the 62%. Going back to the nose, it isn’t really more interesting than before but once again, this is dangerously easy to drink. Finish: Quite long with wood, milk chocolate, tobacco and a few spices here and there. Good, but nothing fancy. I wasn’t sure how to score it but at the end of the day, it is simply a really good Rum. (90/100)