Rum Journal: A Legendary Rum From A Lost Trinidad Distillery

Caroni.

If you’re lucky, if you’re there at just the right moment before dusk takes its evening bow, you can see a glimmer of something wonderful.

A flock of scarlet ibis birds flashes out of nowhere, a speckling of bright red in the green mangroves of Trinidad’s Caroni Swamp.

Photo by Bryan Naidu.

It’s a daily moment in Trinidad, an hour and place that bring visitors from around the world.

It’s not too far from here that Italian Luca Gargano found something on a trip to the island in 2004: the last glimmer of some legendary Caribbean rum.

A little more than a year after the old Caroni rum distillery had closed its doors, Gargano discovered that inside the old-state owned facility were hundreds of barrels of Caroni’s aging “heavy” rum, some dating back three decades.

Gargano, the owner of Velier, a specialty spirits importer that has made an art form of discovering rare and seemingly unobtainable old spirits (including rum), was able to acquire the rums and eventually bottle them, a treasure trove of rum archaeology.

Rum Journal was lucky enough to obtain a bottle, which is available in limited supply on the global market, including in the United States.

RJ tried the Caroni 17-year Old Rum, a 1998 vintage rum bottled at the end of 2015.

Housed in a beautiful bottle with a replica of a 1940s-era rum label, the 17-year has an alluring amber color and a funky, robust aroma of caramel and dried apricot and a hint of smoke; the moment you smell it you know you’ve found something very, very special.

The flavor profile is at first quite spicy before quickly rounding off into notes of dried mango, citrus peel, apricot and banana. Then come smoky suggestions of black pepper and oak.

The luxurious finish is perhaps the most remarkable quality: it seems to go on forever, somehow hinting at permanence.

Bottled at 55 percent ABV, this is no ordinary rum.

With each sip, the legend grows. But more special is the notion that this is truly a limited rum — it is the unearthing of a lost rum that will never be made again.

It’s the kind of thing that should be enjoyed every day, just at the edge of dusk.

That is, until it’s gone forever.

— CJ