Caroni TMCG 1998 Cadenhead's 21 Year Old
The Caroni distillery is said to have been established in 1918, however there are several historical references that suggest distilling was happening there earlier in the 20th century.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. Despite being self-sufficient in molasses, 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.
In the end, Angostura still acquired the majority of the circa 18,000 warehoused Caroni barrels for blending. These remained in Trinidad, as did a large batch of casks later acquired by Velier's Luca Gargano in 2004. A great number of casks also found their way over to Europe as well though, imported by Bristol Spirits and the Main Rum Company, resulting in a proliferating number of sought after continentally aged releases from independent bottlers like this over the years.
This example was distilled in 1998 and matured 21 years before bottling in 2019 by Wm Cadenhead.
Wm. Cadenhead may be Scotland’s oldest independent bottler Scotch, but its connections to the rum industry are just as lengthy. The company was founded in 1842 by George Duncan. His brother William Cadenhead joined the company in 1952, taking over after George’s death in 1958. William had a relation called Robert Cadenhead who owned a rum merchant business in Liverpool and London, and the two companies were amalgamated upon Robert's death. Wm. Cadenhead got into the whisky bottling business after 1904, when William's nephew Robert Duthie took over, and since its sale to J&A Mitchell in 1972, Wm. Cadenhead has become one of the most sought after names on the independent scene, and was one of the earliest brands to begin promoting single distillery bottlings of rum.