Karukera 2009 Velier 11 Year Old Japoniani
Velier was founded by Casimir Chaix in Genoa in 1947 as a wine and spirits importer and distributor. By the 1980s they were still a small family-company with less than ten staff. This all changed in 1986 when it was purchased by Luca Gargano, a former brand ambassador for Saint James who was at the time still in his twenties. Under his direction, they selected their first single cask whiskies in 1992, and their first rum in 1996. In the decades that followed, Velier have gone on to become one of the most collectible brands in the industry, and Gargano has positioned them as the one of the foremost authorities and bottlers of rum anywhere in the world.
This is a rhum vieux agricole from the Esperance distillery, one of the oldest in Guadeloupe. A 2009 vintage, this was bottled from a single cask at 11 years old. This is part of a trio of rums released in 2020, known as the Japoniani due to featuring labels sketched by Luca Gargano on a flight from Japan back to Italy.
The Esperance distillery was built by Louis-Philippe Henry Longueteau. He was working on the Sainte-Martine plantation at the time and spotted an opportunity to the build a distillery in its sugar factory, which like many others in Guadeloupe was beginning to struggle for profitability. He later also bought the Mon Repos distillery in the 1940s, bottlings its first rum in the 1950s. Mon Repos closed in the subsequent decade, but as the stronger brand, Esperance rum was bottled under its name instead. Financial difficulties then saw the Mon Repos brand weakened as the Longeteau family were forced to bottle a bad batch of rum in the 1980s, and having been poised to sell the distillery in the early 2000s, the father of current owner, Francois Longeteau went into significant debt in order to retain it. Intent on obtaining full control over their product, Longeteau converted the entire Sainte-Martine plantation to sugarcane cultivation, even buying their own machinery to harvest it. In doing so, Esperance became known as the single farm distillery in Guadeloupe. The Longeteau brand has gone from strength to strength ever since, and the Esperance distillery now also produces this Karukera rum as well.
Karukera is a collaboration between distillery owner, Francois Longuetau, and Sylvain Guzzo, are exclusively distils pure juice from crushed canne bleu (a rare variety renowned for its flavour) in Esperance's creole column stills, with maturation in French oak.