Tasting Gang Caroni 23-Year-Old Full Proof

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The second-last release of the Velier Caroni stocks, bottled to mark a large tasting held in Cognac, France in 2019.

On 9 December 2004 Velier's Luca Gargano discovered a large amount of casks from the closed-yet-famed Trinidad rum distillery Caroni maturing in a warehouse. After acquiring the barrels, he left them in the tropical climate of Trinidad and then Guyana to keep them in as pure as an environment as possible. The subsequent releases have built the canon of Caroni and the beauty of tropical aging in general.

This is the 38th and second last release of those casks. It's called 'Tasting Gang' after the 23-strong band of Caroni lovers gathered in France 12 April 2019 to taste the last 173 barrels from Trinidad and Guyana.  

A blend of 22 barrels, it's bottled at 63.5%. A 23-year-old, the angel's share was above a remarkable 85%.

The rum interests of Caroni, a government-owned sugar cane factory, was implemented in 1923 (or 1918, depending on who you read) in Trinidad and was a prominent, active distillery until the 1990s. With a guaranteed supply of molasses, the rums had a strong international reputation and the distillery often supplied the British Navy.

As Trinidads once-thriving rum industry began to shrink, the government sold a critical stake in Caronis rum arm to private distillery Angostura. Caroni as a whole, including rum production and a litany of other food-related activities, closed in 2003, with 9,000 workers retrenched from the national icon. With the countrys historic sugar cane industry essentially dead, it has been estimated that 35,000 people who were indirectly dependent on the plant suffered from its closure.

The closure itself has been the subject of debate locally in Trinidad, as the plant was seen by some as a key part of the countrys agricultural industry. It has been argued that the demise of the distillery may have been political as much as it was caused by market forces.

Caroni had both pot stills and column stills and produced a big, thick, sweet rum. While in production, the Caroni style was something of an industry secret that has since become an international fascination for rum drinkers since its closure.

Following its closure, the remaining maturing stocks were acquired by Italian spirits importer Velier and French whisky merchants La Maison du Whisky, who have largely been responsible for the Caroni rums that have taken on a cult status in the past ten years.

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