Brand: The Exclusive Rums
Origin: Caroni Distillery, Trinidad & Tobago
Age: 19 years
I've been looking forward to diving into this review for a while, as it's another rare chance to try a taste of the "white whale" of the rum world. For a brief rundown of the Caroni story, check out our Golden Devil Caroni 1998 review, or some of the links in the Further Reading section below.
This sample came to me from my friend Jeff Coole, who runs 901 Wine & Spirits Market, which has– in my opinion– the best rum selection in the city. He's been kind enough to share a few pours of interesting stuff with me throughout the past few years, and brought this Caroni expression in for me to try.
The company that released this bottle– UK-based The Creative Whisky Co, Ltd.– seems to not be around anymore, or at least is not very active online. Info on scotchwhisky.com tells us the firm was founded in 2005 and independently bottled whiskies of various origin (including Scotch, Irish, and Bourbon) as well as rum, under their "Exclusive" labels. A discussion on /r/scotch confirms that– according to commenters– the company was sold to a yet unknown buyer, specifically for their whisky stock.
This Exclusive Rums Caroni 1997 comes from cask #112, and was distilled to the specs of the "HTR" marque at the Caroni distillery in 1997 via one of their column stills. There's no information about tropical versus continental aging, but in total, this single cask spent 19 years in an ex-Bourbon barrel. In 2016, it yielding 142 bottles at a strength of 58.1% ABV.
Dark amber, medium viscosity
Burnt tires, blackberries, permanent marker, vanilla, motor oil, flamed orange peel
Burnt rubber, tar, vanilla, molasses, charred oak, butterscotch, nutmeg, cantaloupe, star anise
Medium-long, smokey, industrial; peat smoke, burnt tires, charred oak, paint fumes, flamed orange peel, star anise
Although having only trying a few sips of Caroni, I can say that this Exclusive expression is a perfect specimen of the HTR style.
Among the burnt tire rubber, smoke, and other industrial notes, fruits like blackberries, cantaloupe, and orange peel emerge, before submerging back beneath the pool of oil and tar. While it sounds intense and overwhelming, I find this fairly well-balanced and not too astringent.
It's always fun to sample a Caroni, and this one is a real treat; it's balanced, but unwavering in the strength of its profile. This is a fantastic single barrel that despite this intensity of flavors, drinks well below its stated proof, and presents in excellent detail the profile of the storied Caroni distillery.