Savanna 1999 Velier 20 Year Old / Warren Khong Villa Paradisetto
Velier was founded by Casimir Chaix in Genoa in 1947 as a wine and spirits importer and distributor. By the 1980s they were still a small family-company with less than ten staff. This all changed in 1986 when it was purchased by Luca Gargano, a former brand ambassador for Saint James who was at the time still in his twenties. Under his direction, they selected their first single cask whiskies in 1992, and their first rum in 1996. In the decades that followed, Velier have gone on to become one of the most collectible brands in the industry, and Gargano has positioned them as the one of the foremost authorities and bottlers of rum anywhere in the world.
This 1999 vintage traditional rum from Savanna was bottled in 2019 to commemorate their 32nd and final year at their offices in Villa Paradisetto. Bottled at barrel proof after 20 years of tropical maturation. This is one of six exclusive releases, each featuring a specially commissioned label by long-time collaborator, Warren Khong.
The Savanna distillery is the oldest on the Île de la Réunion, established in 1870 by Olive Lemarchand and at the time known as Parc à Jacques. The Domain of Savanna was formed six years later, with records showing the distillery producing rum principally from a molasses wash. This facility operated until the 1940s when Émile Hugot consolidated a number of sugar factories, including Savanna, to form the Bourbon Sugar Company. The original Savanna distillery in Saint Paul continued to operate until 1992 when it was relocated to its current location in Bois-Rouge. Despite expanding the distillery in 1995 and again 1999, The Bourbon Sugar Company divested from rum in 2001, and the distillery passed through various hands to its current ownership, Tereos in France. The distillery’s creole column still dates from 1964, and under the guidance of master distiller and rum-savant, Laurent Broc, produces a wide range of traditional and agricole rums, including the much-lauded Grand Arôme. Some distilling also take place on a tiny alembic pot still.