Caroni 2000

We are back from our summer break but admittedly, didn’t take a break from Rum. How can you resist those Rhum Blanc selections in French supermarkets after all!? Anyway, Caroni is on the agenda today and I thought we should catch up a bit on that 2000 vintage, which got already rather old. After a unicorn among unicorns, we shall proceed with two single casks and two “Employees”.

Vinmonopolet Caroni 2000 11YO (68,9%): At just 49 bottles and, to the best of my knowledge, being the only bottling of the 2000 vintage not released by Velier, this is a true unicorn. I have absolutely no idea what the story behind this Rum is but a certain book that has just been released probably shed light on that matter already. Nose: Did they just take some of the 12YO Velier before they reduced it and bottled it? There are so many parallels, it is not even funny. It totally sets me back to the vibes I got when I first tried that Rum, just with the extra power (which, admittedly, kinda just makes up for how dulled we have become – i.e. falling victim to having tasted so many Rums). This smells like a very dirty, vanilla intense Crème brûlée that we bought at the gas station, perhaps with a few slices of mango or oranges mixed in. After a while rubber, gasoline and spices such as cinnamon and, indeed, vanilla. Very cool! Palate: A bit less flavourful than the nose I’d say, but still heavy on oranges and mango. Sweet licorice, caoutchouc and old metals are other descriptors. I kinda really dig this right now, even though it is probably not as good as many other Caronis out there. I guess these are some extra points due to the memories it brings. Finish: Rather on the short side of things, with caramel, toffee, rubber, oil and milk chocolate. You may have guessed it already, but I am extremely happy that I got the chance to try this Rum, even though it is not one of those high-end expressions. (87/100)

Velier Caroni 2000 15YO “Juul’s” (70,2%): A single cask for Juuls in Denmark. Nose: Initially I thought caramel and toffee, but within a minute it becomes clear that this is an ester monster. Glue, acetone, mint, a few foul fruits but then clearly those dirty Caroni aromas that we adore so much! Next to that we get fennel seeds and fennel, oak, celery, roasting aromas, tar, old rubber and oil soaked chocolate. Wow! Extremely good stuff. Palate: Very aggressive and direct. The fennel seeds are still there, albeit way less articulated. Instead we get typical Caroni (tar, burnt rubber, rusting metal), a nice cup of coffee and high quality chocolate. This is very much to my liking. Towards the finish there’s even a slightly sweet note that reminds me of marzipan. Oha! Finish: Relatively long with the esters, oak, mint/ menthol, spices from the cask and something close to bergamot. It is crazy how different and, to a certain extent, hit and miss these 2000s are but some of them are really the nuts. (93/100)

Velier Caroni 2000 17YO “The Whisky Exchange” (70,4%): The Whisky Exchange sold this single cask only to those who entered and won a lottery. What was perhaps a good intention had exactly the opposite effect: way more so than any other bottling did it end up in the hands of flippers. But what can you do!? Nose: It really takes a lot of time for this one to open up. The progression is quite interesting however as we move from caramel to chocolate and the more dirty notes. Cocoa, roasted peanuts, allspice, oak, base oil and smoked paprika are my main associations here. Deeper in the glass we can also find tar, coconut and ultra thick, dark forest honey. Palate: The 70% are present but don’t feel quite like 70%. The profile is dominated by cocoa and the roasting aromas, but tar, engine oil, (roasted) coconut and spices can be found as well. I must say that this is a relatively unusual Rum for the vintage. Not bad at all, but different. Personally, I think I prefer the more ester-heavy expressions. I guess the cask has taken away a few of these flavours over time in this case. Finish: Medium long to long with cocoa, chocolate mint, oak, nutmeg and wood polish. Even though the score I am going to give is crystal clear, giving a meaningful verdict is not as easy. Let’s just say that I prefer other bottlings from this vintage. (88/100)

Velier Caroni 2000 19YO “Nita “Nitz” Hogan” (65,2%): The first realse in the Employees-series that featured a bottling from the 2000 vintage. Nose: A bit reserved at first, slightly in the vein of the The Whisky Exchange bottling but this one is way more elegant, mature and balanced if you want. While we are still talking about a highly “dirty” Rum (tar, base and lamp oil, burnt rubber, scrapyard), you can tell that it isn’t a kid any more. It did reach legal drinking age after all! That said, we are missing the power that those 15YO high ester glue monsters brought but we are compensated with a profile that is much richer and more nuanced than the 17YOs. I get a mix of dried berries (think cranberries, red currants), leather, cocoa, oak and vanilla as well as a mix of nuts, plums and olives. Really cool! Palate: Once again, talk about a balanced Caroni profile and there’s no way around mentioning this bottling. It just has it all: Dirty flavours (rubber, tar, oil), fruity nuances (dried red berries), a muted whiff of those intense acetone notes, rich chocolate and a pleasant spicy support from the cask. Picking out individiual flavours wouldn’t make much sense as this is a Rum that shines exactly because of said balance, even though it is still clearly a high ester Rum not quite unlike one of those amazing Monymusk EMBs from the 1990s. With the third sip this becomes even more obvious, as I now understand that the profile is actually much more shaped by mango and papaya than I initially tasted. Nice! Finish: The aforementioned fruits stick with us but we get more oak than before, a hint of tannins, nuts and cocoa. Another brilliant Rum. Right away, its magnificence wasn’t as obvious to me as it was with a few other Caronis of this caliber but there isn’t much more that you can ask for. (94/100)

Velier Caroni 2000 19YO “Basdeo “Dicky” Ramsarran” (64,3%): Nose: Extremely rich and intense. I get caramel, rubber, menthol, oak, overripe mango/ papaya, apricot perhaps, cocoa and even floral notes. Wow. We rarely ever had such a fruity and floral Caroni that it still decidedly “Caroni” at the same time. A truly great assemblage for which I have plenty of love! This might become a real favorite of mine. With more time in the glass we actually get more of both the fruity notes, and the dirty “Caroni” aromas. Really, it has been quite a while since a Caroni nose flashed me this much! Palate: Way dirtier than the nose and decidedly less floral. Some of those fruity notes are still there but come and go within the fraction of a second. I now taste ripe peaches and nectarine, paired with fresh rubber, green olives, caramel and toffee, but also oak and vanilla. At 19 years, this is as elegant as Caroni gets, without ever become boring. Think a well crafted, incredibly old but still fruity Cognac for instance. Finish: The Rum continues along these lines as the balance of fruity, dirty and high quality oaky flavours sticks around for quite some time. This is a truly remarkable Caroni for many reasons and towards the end of its stock, it demonstrates how versatile this style can actually be. Chapeau! (94/100)

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