Caroni 1997 Thompson Brothers 20 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The Caroni distillery is said to have been established in 1918, however there are several historical references that suggest distilling was happening there earlier in the 20th century.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, 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.
This Caroni was distilled in 1997 and bottled 20 years later. One of 237 bottles.
The Thompson Brothers began their whisky bottling in enterprise in 2013, establishing the Black Isle Whisky Company in their native Dornoch. The brothers, Simon and Philip, renamed the operation as the Dornoch Distilling Company in 2015, opening the Dornoch distillery the following year. In addition to distilling their own whisky, their independent bottlings continue to flourish, with many exceptional tasting and fantastically labelled single malts and rums released under the Thompson Bros banner.