So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Caroni: Carribean XO Berry Bros vs Caroni 1997 The Rum Swedes #106 vs Caroni 12 yo 1996 Krugers Whiskygalerie #1107

This is the first rum head to head, I think Caroni would be an excellent subject. The Caroni Distillery, founded 1918, produced rum in Trinidad until it closed in 2002, leaving Angostura the sole remaining distillery. (Angostura as in Angostura Bitters). Rumours and allegations of corruption abound, and there was some doubt over the propriety of the 2001 sale by the Trinidad government of its 49% share to rivals Angostura, over a competing higher bid by the worker’s union. Caroni might have had the last laugh as Trinidad’s sugar cane industry collapsed shortly after, forcing Angostura to import molasses for its rum. 

If you are only familiar with Whisky and its copper still or tall columns, you would be shocked by the colourful variety of apparatus used to produce rum. Caroni once had a cast iron potstill and then a wooden coffey still, both finally replaced with modern coffeys in 1984. Caroni produced rum that once wet the tongues of thirsty British sailors. This Navy Rum, a heavy style built the reputation of the distillery and solidified the ‘heavy’ style it produced alongside a ‘light style’ which was almost pure spirit. The intention here is easily guessed – the 2 makes were blended for various lines.


Why noone seems to have a picture of the stills anywhere is anyones guess, but until authoritatively rebuffed, it is believed that potstills were also employed up to its closure in 2002. In any case it is known that Caroni not only used its coffeys to produce its light style, but also the heavy style that was not rectified as highly and came off the still at a very bourbon like strength of 65% -70%.

Caroni Distillery Brochure

(Image of brochure from Capn Jimbo’s Rum Project)


Caroni Estate Carribean XO Berry Bros 46%

Caroni berry


 Nose Nose: Warm and sweet, with cake and icing, and pungent ripe vegetals and a fibrous sweetness. Not a very heavy nose, and quite fresh somewhat like an agricole too. Like Lyle’s golden syrup or some spiced poaching syrup with cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla pods. But also has a gentle earthy side. Smells like the sort of rum to pour on fruitcake.

Taste Palate: Medium-light and mellow. sweet and fibrously chewy. Really quite what a simple rum would taste like to me. Touch of black earth, and just a hint of something petrochemical. Maybe some wood. Some caramel. Straightforward and enjoyable.

Finish  Finish: Medium, a bit more herby-phenolic here.



Caroni 1997 Single Barrel Rum, The Rum Swedes #106 61.3%

Caroni rumswedes

Nose Nose: Much thicker of course, and more wood, but also less immediate sweetness and more phenols. Emergency room disinfectant. Freshly torn plastic wrap. Brined pickles. A lot of depth here. Candy canes and sprigs of rosemary and spearmint. Hard to separate, but its clearly very good.

Taste Palate: Much thicker and spicier, much more compact on the tongue, delivery is tight. A little sweet but not really candy sweet, and quite a big but tight massing of pungent flavours. Black tea, earth, scratched iron, that very phenolic plastic-wrap sting again, and woody aromatics. Very good.

Finish Finish: Long, almost dry, lots of little flavours…. and bananas?



Caroni, 12 yo 1996/2009 Trinidad Single Rum Krugers Whiskygalerie #1107 69%

Caroni rends

This is bottled by the guy who runs whiskyauction out of Rendsburg Germany. I hear the Continent prefers heavy estery rums so this should be up that alley. Also no error – 69%.

Nose Nose: Surprisingly it does not burn undiluted, but is rather closed. Needs water. Water shows a lovely sweet wood plus licorice and aniseed side. Closer to the Berry Bros though not as sweet. But it is a Caroni: Pickles, soy sauce, and Swedish Bitters give it much character. Brown sugar. And again some petrochemicals develop. Very pleasing.

Taste Palate: Wow hot even diluted to high 50s. Sweet sting, lots and lots of what I liberally call petrochemicals here, please take this to be an oily phenolic something between plastic wrapping and big spray. I know these descriptors are not the most whetting, but it really is quite tasty. Unless you really hate bug spray… But there’s lots of it here, more so than on the nose. Boiled bark and herby leaves, molasses and those sweet dark spices develop.

Finish Finish: Long, vegetal sweetness again. Petrochemical signature.



In some way there is a clear thread running through all 3 rums despite differences in bottling strength, vintage and sweetness levels. It’s hard t describe until you have drunk it, and if you have access to one or maybe Sugarhall has it, it’s really worth a go.

2 comments on “Caroni: Carribean XO Berry Bros vs Caroni 1997 The Rum Swedes #106 vs Caroni 12 yo 1996 Krugers Whiskygalerie #1107

  1. Carissa Hickling
    February 20, 2016

    Mmmm Caroni! Fabulous to see this rum featured in a head-to-head. I’ve only had a chance to sample a few but never head to head like this!

    • Whiskyrific
      February 22, 2016

      Highly recommended! Caroni seems on the more phenolic side of the spectrum when it comes to rums.

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