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Caroni 1997 13 Year Old Rum (Cask RR1072)

Review:  Caroni 1997  Rum  (Aka Ron Sherbrooke Private Cask)   88.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
posted on September 21 2011

The Caroni Distillery in Trinidad and Tobago was established in 1918, and was operated at near full capacity until 1993. Like so many distilleries, it fell victim to industry consolidation and closed for good in 2002. This consolidation is amply illustrated in Trinidad and Tobago where there this small country once featured 50 distilleries. By 1950 only 8 had survived, and today there is but one, Angostura.

Fortunately for us, some of the last rum distilled at the Caroni Distillery has made it into the hands of a private bottling company called A.D. Rattray. A.D. Rattray is more commonly known for its Single Malt Whisky bottlings which are often from a single cask of Scottish Whisky. However the company has released a selection of cask bottlings from the Caroni Distillery. One of those cask bottlings, (Cask Number RR 1072) was sold in its entirety to the Signature Group (a collective of five independent retail liquors stores) in Edmonton, Alberta. Only 304 bottles were produced from this cask, and the rum may be found at Sherbrooke Liquor under the label, Ron Sherbrooke-Private Stock, Caroni 1997 – 13 year old Dark Rum.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

The bottle presentation for the Ron Sherbrooke Caroni is pictured to the left. Each bottle arrives in a tall ‘bar room’ style bottle which is placed in the standard A.D. Rattray black cardboard sleeve. The bottle and the sleeve contain important information identifying the cask number the bottle came from, as well as the date the rum was distilled (17-06-1997), and the date the rum was bottled (10-08-2010).

I wish every rum bottle I purchased had this kind of information on it.

In the Glass 9/10

The Ron Caroni Rum displays a brilliant copper colour in the glass, a quick tilt and swirl of that glass shows that the rum has only a lightly oily texture, and it drops only a few stubborn legs back into the liquid.

When I brought the glass to my nose I noticed a somewhat harsh oak updraft from the glass with the sharpness of orange and banana peel rising. I was actually expecting this, as a spirit with a 46 % alcohol content will often display an initial harshness that is not indicative of the fully decanted spirit.

After I had given the glass time to breathe (a full ten minutes) the aroma had changed significantly; rich notes of marzipan and marmalade were joined by baking spices and caramel toffee. All of these smells and aromas have blended nicely with the oak tannins in a nose which to my mind borders on being magnificent. It reminds me of a good Cognac, and my urge was to sit and enjoy the breezes above the glass rather than to begin my tasting session.

In the Mouth 54/60

There will be some who think I am crazy here, but I am going to ask a favour of everyone who buys this rum. Please indulge me, and refrain from sipping your glass after you pour it. Let the rum sit for a full fifteen minutes. You see, the rum has an initial harshness which is amplified by the higher than normal alcohol content. If you dive in and start to sip immediately after the first pour you will be disappointed with sharp intense flavours of orange peel, sappy oak tannin, and alcohol astringency.

However, if you allow the glass to breathe, you will be rewarded. Caramel toffee, baking spices, and a nice dollop of vanilla will join the oak and the orange peel, and you will experience a rum which is not only very different from any rum you have tried before, you will experience a rum with a rich flavour that matches the nose I described earlier. This is a rum straight from the barrel, aged for 13 years, non-chill filtered, and free of any additives. The rum is pure, and the flavour is pure. It tastes almost more like cognac than rum, except that cognac never had a caramel toffee accent like this.

In the Throat 12/15

If the 13 year old Caroni rum has a flaw, it is in the finish. The rum leaves the palate hot with a peppery exit that also heats the throat. In fact if you are not careful and take too large of a swallow it will leave you gasping as you try to re-align your tonsils that have been knocked asunder. The high alcohol strength and the sharpness of the oak tannins have the last word in the finish.

The Afterburn 9/10

This Ron Caroni Rum from cask number RR 1072 is pretty special. I will admit that it takes a fair amount of patience on behalf of the person holding the glass to realize its nature. It is almost more of a brandy or cognac than a rum, and it was perhaps bottled at just a little higher proof than it ought to have been. But this rum carries character.

Add a little water, and then allow the rum to breathe; it will grow in the glass and your appreciation of Ron Sherbrooke-Private Stock, Caroni 1997 – 13 year old Dark Rum will grow too.

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

My Scores are out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret them as follows:

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing spirit.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails.)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

7 Responses to “Caroni 1997 13 Year Old Rum (Cask RR1072)”

  1. Tiare said

    I´m just now reviewing the 15 year old Caroni -97 that was bottled in 2012 by a swedish company and i must say it resembles almost the same as you are describing here and it def is a rum with character. I also made a few mixed drinks with it, one was a fantastic Mai Tai resembling those i do with demerara rums.

    • Thanks Tiare

      I have tasted 3 different Caroni Rums, all single cask offerings, and they have all been very similar. The rum is sort of Demerara-like in that it has a full body with lots of flavour nuance to keep you interested in sipping. I think the heavy, full bodied flavour is what has brought your Mai tai to such a fantastic level.

      Cheers Tiare!

  2. Given that it’s 13 years old, I wonder if it’s from casks all laid down at the same time as the AD Rattray (for Co-op) Caroni 13 year old I liked so much.

    • A.D. Rattray seems to be selling the 1997 Caroni in quite a few markets right now so I suspect they bought quite a selection of casks.

      I am not sure I remember correctly, but I think you gave me a taste of your Caroni, and I did not really like it. I noticed (and mentioned in the review) that this Caroni needs to breathe to bring out the really nice flavours, was that your experience as well Lance?

      • Yes, absolutely: I felt that 46% was interesting and concentrated the flavours quite well, but did give it the same spicy finish you mentioned. Letting it breathe enhanced all aspects of it, I thought, and gave it a very complimentary review. I actually bought two more bottles of it, since I know once this is done, it’s done – Caroni has been closed for some years now.

 
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