Velier has been founded by Casimiro Chaix in Italy in 1947 and is perhaps the world’s most well-known independent rum bottler. It is definitely one of the most prominent. For our interest, things got interesting when Gian Luca Gargano, bought shares of the company in 1983. Until then he was the head of marketing for Spiritis S.p.A., perhaps the biggest importer of spirits in Italy at that point in time. He brought in his brother Paolo Gargano in 1988 and in 1992 Velier released its first series rums and whiskies. Anticipating the path that rum would take, the company started to develope a Caribbean rum line, importing rums on a grand scale. In 2001 for example, they sold almost half a million bottles of rum. In the same year, they also bought the entire output of Damoiseau’s 1980 vintage, a rhum agricole that was believed to be unsellable due to some molasses in the rum.
2004 marks a crucial stage in Veliers history. Luca discovers a stock of old barrels from the closed Caroni distillery and Velier buys a stake in Demerara Distiller Ltd (short: DDL), the only surviving distillery of formerly over 300 in Guyana. Having developed a special relationship with Yesu Persaud, then chairman and director of DDL, Luca is granted exclusive rights into DDL’s warehouses. Velier subsequently releases a whole series of fully tropically aged full proof Demerara rums (Demerara is a river in Guyana along which many sugar estates have settled. Demerara is synonymous with Guyanese rum), which are by many connoisseurs regarded among the best rums ever bottled. When Yesu retired as DDL’s chairman in 2015, Gargano’s exclusive access to DDL’s barrels has been terminated by the new management since they want to use them for their own El Dorado brand. For some, this marks the end of an era as we will likely never see tropically aged full proof Demerara rums of such a quality again.
In 2008 Velier began to explore other parts of the Caribbean, starting a partnership with Bielle distillery on Marie Galante, Guaedeloupe. Having experimented with new distillation and ageing techniques, they launched the RhumRhum line. One of the ideas was to ferment the fresh sugar cane juice without water and then double distilling it in copper pot stills. Four years later, Velier bottled three completely unaged Clairins from Haiti, the local style of agricoles. Rumors are that Velier already bought huge warehouses on Haiti to produce aged Clairins. We will see.
The most recent addition has been the Habitation Velier series, which puts an emphasis on very young or even unaged rums. Among them is also the first fully tropically aged rum from Hampden Estate.
A more elaborate biography of Velier by The Lone Caner can be found here.
A few Velier bottlings I have got to try:
- Habitation Velier Foursquare 2013 2YO (2013-2015), 64%
- Velier Foursquare Triptych, 56%
- Habitation Velier Muller LL IV/3177 2015, 59%
- Rhum Rhum Liberation Integrale 2012, 59,8%
- Rhum Rhum Liberation Integrale 2015, 58,4%
- Velier Basseterre Vieux 1997 (1997-2008), 49,2%
- Habitation Velier Port Mourant 2015, 59%
- Velier Albion Full Proof Old Demerara Rum 25YO (1983-2008), 46,4%
- Velier Blarimont 1991 15YO (1991-2006), 56%
- Velier Diamond 1996 SSN 16YO (1996-2012), 63,4%
- Velier Diamond 1999 SVW 15YO (1999-2014), 64,7%vol
- Velier Enmore & Port Mourant 1998 EHPM 16YO (1998-2014), 62,6%
- Velier Uitvlugt 1990 17YO (1990-2008), 66%
- Velier Uitvlugt 1996 Modified GS 18YO (1996-2014), 57,2%
- Velier Uitvlugt 1997 ULR 17 YO (1997-2014), 59,7%
- Clairin Casimir (Barraderes) 2013, 54%
- Clairin Sajous (Saint Michel L’Attalaye) 2013, 53,5%
- Habitation Velier Hampden HLCF 6YO (2010-2016), 68,5%
- Habitation Velier Hampden LROK 6YO (2010-2016), 67%
- Habitation Velier Hampden LROK/ HLCF (2010-2016), 60%
- Habitation Velier Forsyths Worthy Park 2005 10YO (2005-2015), 57,8%
- Velier Caroni 12YO (2000–2012), 50%
- Velier Caroni 15YO (1998-2013), 52%
- Velier Caroni 17YO (1998–2016), 55%
- Velier Caroni “Guyana Stock” 23YO (1994-2017), 57,18%
- Velier Caroni High Proof 1998 16YO “No Smoking” (1998-2014), 55%
- Velier Caroni Extra Strong 2000 15YO “Millenium” (2000-2015), 60%
- Velier Caroni Full Proof 2000 15YO “Bottled for The Nectar” (2000-2015), 70,4%
- Velier Caroni 100° Proof 1996 20YO (1996-2016), 57,1%
- Velier Caroni Full Proof 1996 20YO (1996-2016), 70,1%
- Velier Caroni (Kirsch Whisky) 20YO (1996-2017), 62,4%