Some things just speak to your acquisitional (is that even a word?) genes. For some people it is that yearly release of the new iPhone. For others it is that new Mulberry handbag. And some just need that new Ford Focus. Although I might fall into the iPhone category, my Rum Acquisition Syndrome is much more severe (surprise).
There is quite a few bottles of rum which I have gazed dreamingly at ever since I started sipping the cane juice. Some has been out of my financial reach, others has simply been overlooked in favour of other must haves.
One of the bottles I have lusted the most for, is the Bristol Classic Caroni 1974. Yet I have still to actually get hold of a bottle. And soon it might be too late.
It reminds me of that early teenage crush on the class hottie, which I never mustered up enough determination (or courage) to actually take a shot at. And when I finally did, it was too late.
Thankfully in the rum world, we have samples. Some might argue, that interactions with the opposite or same sex (whatever your preference) also includes ”samples” if you are lucky, but I’m not going to go into that.
Ahem, back to the rum.
So, luckily I had the opportunity to sample this extraordinary rum on a couple of occasions, and perhaps it might even push me over the edge to actually buy a bottle.
Let’s see. What do we have here.
In short: A 34 year old Caroni from way back in the 70s.
Heck, my parents hadn’t even thought about creating me, when this rum was conceived. Actually, they hadn’t even met yet, and they were both still married to their former spouses.
After spending the amount of time in a barrel it takes to create an average, responsible adult person, it was finally released from its wooden prison in 2008 at an ABV of 46%. Looks promising.
Only 1500 bottles were made, so it is amazing that you are actually still able to find this rum in stores.
As I forgot to do a hydrometer test on it before starting my tasting, by the time I remembered, I didn’t have enough left to do the test. So I have to rely on other online test results. Thankfully, always industrious Johnny Drejer has this rum among his long list of tests, and it shows no trace of added sugar.
Even though this is clearly an extraordinary rum, Mr. Barrett didn’t take any special measures to make the presentation extraordinary. It is classic Bristol Classic.
You have the black, firm card board cylinder, with the actual label on.
Inside we find the typical Bristol barroom bottle with the unicoloured label on it.
It doesn’t ooze luxury or fine materials. But luckily we know that it’s the inside that counts.
The bottle is closed off by a natural cork, with a black plastic stopper. Again, nothing fancy, just the essentials.
When released into the glass, it displays a nice amber colour, and giving it a little twirl, creates a nice thick ring which transforms into some very fat and slow legs.
I’m expecting an oily treat.
Clearly, Mr. Barrett got the distillery right. This is Caroni alright.
First off we find thick, dominating rubber notes, which are so typical in the Caroni style.
It then gets backed up by a lot of nutty scents. I’m no great nut expert, but walnuts came to mind.
A little further back you get caramel and a little oak, along with some tire smoke.
Also a quite fruity expression made up by mangoes and green apples.
It does have a minor sting to it despite the manageable drinking strength, but nothing to intimidating.
My first impression was an intense and very heavy profile with a super oily texture.
Normally a Caroni will slap you around with a lot of sulphurous notes, but the most dominating part of this rum is actually its fruityness.
Concentrated green apple juice, much like the notes often found in Jamaican Hampden rums, is the most eager to stick its head out.
Close behind is a wall of rubber and tar, so there is no doubt about the Caroni-heritage.
Lots salty liquorice is fused with a heavy oak presence.
And underneath it all, you even get a soft sweetness.
Super complex and exciting drink. As soon as you think you have it all nailed down, it shifts and twists, and suddenly the nature of it is slightly different. The notes are still the same, but the balance has shifted.
After you let it exit, your throat will need some time to cool off.
It leaves with a fiery trail of oak, black pepper, rubber and green apples.
Everthing apart from the fire feels quite narrow and a bit sharp, but as soon as the sharpness is gone, you just want more.
Rating and final thoughts
For a very long time I have been in love with Bristol Classic without having any idea why. Up until now, every single Bristol rum I have tried, has disappointed me quite a bit. But it seems that my previously unrewarded affection is finally paying off.
This is truly one of the worlds great rums. And one of the oldest still available for a price, that most can pay if they really want to. Sure €200 is quite a lot, but for something this old and extraordinary, it is definitely worth it – if you can find it.
It doesn’t stray far from the Caroni-path, and lives very well up to the Caroni legacy.
The nose was a little weak, but this was made up for by the awesome palate. A super tasty treat indeed, despite being a manageable living room strength.
I know, at €200 you’ll have almost unlimited options. And I would definitely not recommend buying this bottle, if you are not already deeply in love with Caroni rums.
If you just want to experiment a little, start off with either a Velier Caroni 12 or 15, or one of the many other Bristol Caronis – perhaps even the Rum Nation Caroni.
There are plenty of Caroni rums to try out. But shelling out €200 to experiment is just a bad decision.
If your preferences lie with the sugar bombs from Zacapa, Diplomatico, Centenario and what have you, steer clear of this one. You will feel absolutely violated. Physically and financially.
Reaching the end of my review, I am left with a smile on my face. The 1974 turned out to be just as awesome as I had hoped for.
It was an absolute pleasure, and I will be rushing out to get a bottle of my own!
For all its trouble, the Bristol Caroni 1974 gets a…