BBR 18 Year Old Caroni Rum
Rum: Rum from a traditional column still.
ABV Hydrometer Test: 46% ABV @ 20°
Two iconic names in the spirits world come together for the bottle I am tasting today.
Berry Bros and Rudd (BBR), purveyors of fine spirits since 1698 have bottled an 18 year old rum from the iconic, but now closed, Caroni distillery in Trinidad. Sounds like a match made in heaven, even at £73 for a rum bottled at 46%, quite a low ABV nowadays for some of us rum-snobs, but the lower ABV does make it more accessible to other rum drinkers who can be put off by higher strength rums.
This molasses rum was distilled in 1997 and is a single cask expression from “Cask No. 63” and bottled independently by BBR and released for sale in 2017. The Caroni distillery originally opened in 1918 and closed in 2002 leading to its rums becoming much-sought after by collectors and connoisseurs alike and inevitably therefore, also leading to expensive bottlings.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Rum” – Rum from a traditional column still.
The bottle is a standard shape and size with a natural cork enclosure. The BBR branding is very prominent and both front and rear labels have some information about the rum and its flavours alongside the 46% ABV. No reference to the type of still nor numbers of bottles produced though.
The rum is between a medium and deepish brown in colour. The legs are slow to descend the sides of my glass when swirled around and are medium in size and viscosity.
Nosing gives off unmistakable Caroni-esque aromas…wood polish, paraffin, fusel oil, burnt rubber, light citrus, black pepper, treacle and stale dusty oak combined with pencil shavings reminiscent of an old pub floor.
Unlike many Caroni rums I have tried, this is not too overpowering. The relatively low 46% ABV is very much appreciated at this stage.
Taste, Initial-middle 30/40
The entry is delicate with a touch of honey and treacle creating some sweetness on the palate. It is lightly oaked but despite 18 years of ageing, it is not dry and bitter.
Taste, Middle/Throat 32/40
The rum lacks a bit of fire in the mid-palate – presumably the combination of 18 years of ageing and the low (ish) 46% ABV are the reasons for this. But, don’t be mistaken, the rum still has a good body to it. A touch of pepper develops alongside cracked caramel. There is a balance between the sweetness and some slightly bitter citrus and oak notes.
As the rum reaches the rear of the palate, it is super smooth and approachable. Further tastings lead to some peppery spice developing. With each sip, I feel it is becoming drier and more oaky with a dried tobacco influence, too.
The flavours linger long in the back of the throat. Plenty of dry oak, spicy pepper and citrus.
This is a relatively tame Caroni, which for newcomers to Caroni would serve as an ideal introduction to its unique taste and style. For those seasoned Caroni drinkers, many would say this is too light and at just 46%, it lacks some of the power and fire craved by Caroni lovers. Just when you think you are in for a treat, it leaves you somewhat disappointed.
For me as someone who is generally not a big Caroni fan, I think it is good quality although not one that I would describe as a classic. Nothing wrong with it but it is just a bit lacking overall really.
Review No. 122
P Denotes the rum contains POT still distillate.
C Denotes the rum contains traditional/Coffey COLUMN still distillate.
B Denotes the rum contains a BLEND of POT and COLUMN still distillate.
M Denotes the rum contains MULTI-COLUMN still distillate or is a MODERN rum.
A Denotes the rum is an AGRICOLE i.e. from Cane Juice.
S Denotes the rum is presented in a SWEETENED style.
Bottle/Presentation Out of 3
Glass/Aroma Out of 10
Taste, Initial-middle Out of 40
Taste, Middle/Throat Out of 40
Afterburn Out of 7