Caroni 1998 SMWS 20 Year Old R13.1
'Deep, dark and brooding'
The Caroni distillery is said to have been established in 1918, however there are several historical references that suggest distilling was happening there earlier in the 20th century. It became part of the Tate & Lyle firm in 1936, who used it as a base for expanding their eventually considerable sugar operations in Trinidad. Caroni was a key ingredient of the British Navy rations, where its famous high-ester 'Heavy' rums helped to make up the signature flavour. Sadly, with the decline of the Trinidadian sugar industry, the island’s remaining rum producers became increasingly dependent upon imported molasses, making distilling less economical. Tate & Lyle sold a 51% controlling stake to the Trinidadian government in 1970, before it became fully nationalised in 1975. The newly established Caroni Ltd continued to lose money for the next 25 years until the government tried to minimise its ownership, selling off 49% of its share, just enough to retain control. Angostura were the preferred bidders, but a dispute over the value of Caroni’s warehoused stock scuppered the deal, and Caroni was closed for good in 2003.
Despite their name, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society do more than just Scotch malt whisky.
According to Chris Lutz of the Swiss SMWS, "This rum was produced by a legendary Trinidad Distillery that closed down in 2002." No prizes for guessing which one that is then. Distilled on the 1st of January 1998 (the last year that the distillery was using local molasses) in Trinidad, aged in a first fill bourbon barrel and bottled 20 years later. No indications on ageing locations, though given that they were able to draw 184 bottles from the barrel, it is unlikely it spent too much time in the tropics, which at 20 years old, might be for the best.