A trio of Caroni cask Demeraras today. We’ve already had the very cool Le Gus’t Demerara 2002 14YO at 46% and today we shall taste the corresponding Optimum Proof bottling as well as the two follow-up releases.
Le Gus’t Demerara 2002 14YO “Optimum Proof” (61,6%): Nose: Unsurprisingly, this is relatively close in profile to the diluted version (it comes from the same barrel after all). It is a lovely melange of chocolate, the heavy-type Caroni notes (tar, roadworks, rubber and burnt sugar), muscovado sugar, salted caramel, pretzel and orange bitters. Great stuff! Palate: Ultra smooth. The chocolate is not as bitter as in the nose, rather milky in fact. Then dry, orange-flavoured marzipan, coffee and of course those heavy Caroni notes. Behind all of that slumbers a slightly salty note, not unlike as we get it with Albion for example. Finish: Long and “dirty” with rubber, wood, chocolate, cocoa and a few fresh herbs here and there. A really great Rum. Not only is it way more intense and aromatic than the 46% version, it is also just about as smooth, which is just crazy if you ask me. (90/100)
Le Gus’t Demerara 2002 16YO “Optimum Proof” (60,4%): I am pretty sure this is just a sister cask of the 14YO. Nose: What’s immediately apparent is that this is a lot sharper than the 14YO, which means that the alcohol isn’t integrated quite as well and that everything feels a little bit less aromatic. Relatively speaking, I’d say that the 14YO is closer to the Caroni crackers from the 1990s, whereas this is much closer to the good, but slightly less amazing bottlings from the 1980s. We get caramel, scrap metal, tobacco, muscovado, quite some wood and spices and while it is nice, it isn’t quite as magical as the 14YO. Then coconut, caoutchouc and chocolate. Palate: Way smoother than the nose suggested, but it still has this slightly sharp bite to it. I get caramel, vanilla, spearmint, wood, chocolate, some spices here and there and then more pudding-like flavours. The palate is actually really nice. Finish: Medium long and more an extension of the palate with a mix of chocolate and vanilla pudding, wood and the menthol note behind everything. All in all, it is extremely good but the nose is rather subpar, which really impairs the overall enjoyment of the Rum. (87/100)
Le Gus’t Demerara 2002 16YO “Full Proof” (66,9%): The full proof version of the 16YO, alas the same cask as the previous Rum but sometimes dilution affects the result as we’ve seen with the 14YOs. Nose: I don’t think this is any more alcoholic than the 60,4% version, perhaps actually even less so. This is an ostensible contradiction that we frequently get when comparing full proof with diluted Rums, even if it is only a small difference in abv as it is right here. Flavourwise, it is basically identical, so the water didn’t really affect the scents here. Let’s just move on to the palate right away. Palate: My impression here is essentially the same as with the nose: The full proof version feels smoother and more intense and aromatic. While the notes that I associate with chocolate are clearly stronger, I am also having more fruity impressions this time. There’s something between mango and papaya, which is another familiar Caroni note, but besides that, we are once again dealing with the same Rum. Finish: Longer, more fruity and just better in every department than the optimum proof. We definitely have to give a slightly higher score here. (88/100)