Velier Caroni 12YO

Hello and welcome to the first review on Single Cask Rum!

Making its debut will be a rum from a lost distillery that has almost been completely sold out. With a little luck you might still find it at your local specialised dealer however. You know, those small ones without online shops ;). I am talking about the Velier Caroni 12YO (2000-2012)!

The Bottling

When Luca Gargano, the face of Velier, “discovered” a stock of old barrels from the then already closed Caroni distillery in 2004, many rum drinkers probably haven’t even heard of the distillery’s name. Even though I wasn’t part of the rum scene back then (I was still in high school!), I am pretty sure that this discovery did not remotely evoke only the slightest fraction of the hype that these bottlings receive today. Distilled in 2000, The Velier Caroni 12YO is made of the last remains of Trinidad molasses and part of what could be called the “standard range” of Velier Caronis, compromising the following:

  • Velier Caroni 100% Trinidad Rum 12YO (2000-2012), 50%
  • Velier Caroni 100% Trinidad Rum 15YO (1998-2013), 52%
  • Velier Caroni 100% Trinidad Rum 17YO (1998-2015), 55%.

They all share the traditional Caroni label design and are the bottlings that featured the highest circulation of all Caronis. Rumors have it that 50.000 copies of the 12YO and the 15YO have been bottled. It is not exactly clear whether that’s 50.000 for each of them or combined. The 17YO is most likely somewhat rarer, but we do not have any definite numbers on this. After all, the stocks are not getting bigger and I doubt we will see many more Caronis in the future. And those that will come out surely won’t get any cheaper. Nevertheless, given that this year marks Velier’s 70th birthday, chances are that a few new bottlings will be released this year. There already appeared a picture with three new Velier Caronis on the web; two 1994 vintages as well as a 21YO, which would be the newest addition to the “standard range”. I do not know whether it’s a fake or not but I am inclined to believe in its authenticity.


Dégustation “Velier Caroni 2000 12YO”

Key Facts: The rum of this blend has been distilled in 2000 by Caroni in Trinidad. After ageing for twelve years on the island, it has been bottled at 50% in 2012. The angel’s share amounted to 60%, which is normal for tropical ageing. For comparison: the angel’s share in Scotland is roughly 2% a year. After twelve years, that would result in a loss of 21,5%. Alternatively, the annual angel’s share in Trinidad was about 9-10%.

Colour and viscosity: Tawny. Thin streaks flow down the wall of the glass reasonably quickly. A few fat pearls form inside the glass which slowly make their way back to the bottom. This indicates a good maturation for its age.

Nose: At the beginning there is the initial vapour of alcohol, which is not very keen. Some burnt caramel. Then the full spectrum of Caroni aromas blasts into my nostrils: freshly boiled tar, burnt rubber, petroleum and old liquorice. This is joined by nice, fresh oranges and papayas. It is hard to come by a Caroni that is this fruity, yet so dirty at the same time. I love it. The nose is rounded off by a good amount of processed oak and spices such as vanilla and cinnamon.

Palate: The fruit, which was so lovely in the nose, is now almost nonexistent. Instead we get roadworks with its boiled tar, petrol, jackhammers and oiled tools. The burnt rubber is all over the place and mingles with the other flavours. Only now can I find some of the oranges in the background, albeit these are not fresh and fruity any more. It is more like orange bitters. The texture of the rum is quite oily and even though the rum is quite dry, there is a nice touch of sweetness in the form of vanilla coming from the cask. Herbal notes are hard to come by and once you got them, they have already flown away again. I note anise and mint, but that is not much more than guesswork.

Finish: Dry and very bitter. The dirty aromas stay for a quite some time.


Verdict

The Velier Caroni 12YO is the type of rum that you can still smell the next morning. When it was still widely available it really was bang for the buck. While I personally would not pay the exorbitant prices that are currently asked, I still encourage you to at least try this rum when given the chance. As you can see, I just finished this bottle and, judged by the average life expectancy of a rum in my drinks cabinet, it didn’t take very long. That said, it isn’t nowhere near the best Caroni I have tried so far. There are other and dirtier bottlings that do a better job at expressing this unique style. It is however also a bit different from some other, older, Caronis you might have tried. I would describe it as rougher, more vehement and less mature. At its issue price it was probably one of the best rums you could have bought. Unfortunately, these days are over now.

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