Caroni 20yo, 1998-2018, 64.6% – The Duchess

The guys at The Duchess seem to be on the rum train! I talked to Nils about this and he told this was mostly due to availability. The whisky market is booming and therefore caskes are scarce. With rum this is starting to happen but nowhere near the same level of franticness yet. So, like last time, rum it is!

Caroni is always a name that triggers people since it is a closed distillery that finally shut its doors in 2002, after the Trinidad government sold a huge chunk of shares (49%) to Rum Distillers Limited in 2001. Apparently they wanted to get the distillery out of the way.

What I know of Caroni rums, based on the few I’ve tried over the years is that they produce a very heavy and strong spirit that, after long maturation like this one (and the one I tried at Cadenhead’s last week) are very appealing to whisky drinkers. Deep, layered flavors with a lot of oak influence. Sounds good right?

It’s a true and rather sweet rum with a lot of oak. Very dry (maybe the insanely high ABV?) with hints of dried tobacco leaves. Deep flavors of waxed oak, some spices and crusty dark bread. Somehow, even a bit of whipped cream.

The palate is sharp and dry, but even though this is over 64%, it doesn’t taste THAT sharp. There still is a lot of alcohol of course, but that heat is offset by oak, sweet molasses and slightly bitter tobacco leaves. Very autumnal with old oak, furniture wax. That creaminess from the nose is present here too.

On the finish, the spiciness is getting a bit more in the spotlight, with pink peppercorns and wood flavors, some chili pepper, but a lot more gentle than before.

Honestly, without trying too hard, I figured I should be drinking this on a hot day, on a porch in a rocking chair. Something I normally associate with bourbon.

The sweetness with the wood spices is very reminiscent of America’s national spirit, although it is of a lighter profile than some of those heavy hitting bourbons (like Knob Creek, for example).

All in all this is one of the best rums I’ve ever had, although it’s hard to compare to some. For example, Diageo’s Zacapa is a tremendous rum too, it’s such a different beast that focuses more on smoothness and sweetness than on oak and depth, like this one does.

In hindsight it might have been wrong to close the Caroni distillery. Much like Brora, for example.


Caroni 20yo, 1998-2018, 64.6%, The Duchess ‘The Trinidad’. Available from Best of Whiskies for € 195

Thanks again, Nils, for the awesome sample!


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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