Caroni 1997 Spirits Shop' Selection / LMDW
The Caroni distillery is said to have been established in 1918, however there are several historical references that suggest distilling was happening there earlier in the 20th century.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, Tate & Lyle sold a 51% controlling stake to the government in 1970, before it became fully nationalised in 1975. Despite being self-sufficient in molasses, the newly established Caroni (1975) 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.
A 1997 vintage, bottled for La Maison du Whisky and Spirits Shop' Selection in 2017. Matured in cask #21, this is one of only 236 bottles.
The Spirits Shop’ Selection was founded in Taiwan in 2014 by Dong Fang Ming. His goal was to create an “East-West cultural exchange,” importing the finest Scotch whiskies and rum, and bottling them with elegant Asian influenced label designs. The company worked in collaboration with Sansibar Whisky in Germany for their earliest releases, before striking out as their own standalone brand.