Caroni Extra Strong Navy Rum 90 Proof 1980s
The Caroni distillery is said to have been established in 1918, however there are several historical references that suggest distilling was happening there earlier in the 20th century.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.
This is an incredibly rare example of Caroni rum from long before its closure. This was produced in the late 1970s or early 1980s by the government-run Caroni (1975) Ltd, and it was shipped to the UK and bottled for E.D. & F. Man.
At this time the distillery operated both a cast iron pot still, commissioned in 1918, a wooden coffey still installed in 1936 and a single column still acquired from the Esperanza estate in 1957. The latter produced a particularly high-ester rum for flavouring, and is likely the origins of the Caroni we recognise today. The earlier two were replaced in the 1980s, meaning Caroni rum from this period is certainly likely to be similar, but not entirely familiar.