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Rum Reviews

Tortuga No. 3 Caroni 1998, 24 Years Old, Mizunara Japanese Oak Finish, Precious Liquors and East Asia Whisky, 58.1% ABV

 

We ended the evening with something rare, something special, experimental even - the Tortuga No.3, a 1998 Caroni rum that was a collaborative project between @preciousliquors and @eastasiawhisky. Now into its third edition, this single cask #2092 Caroni was aged for 24 years and bottled in 2023 at cask strength of 58.1% abv and an outturn of 154 bottles. What sets this particular Caroni apart from its earlier Tortuga siblings, or all other Caroni rums for that matter, was the additional two years spent maturing in a mizunara cask, a Japanese oak cask that had recently surged in popularity after Japanese whiskey distillers decided for aging their whiskies in this particular type of wood.

Personally I have had very little experience with mizunara casks, and the type of flavours it might impart to rums, but from what I’ve generally read and heard, is that mizunara tends to be a lot less harsh when compared to French or American oak, imparting a soft sweetness to the distillates, floral sakura notes, while also carrying a tinge of incense-like smoke. It’d be interesting to see the effect it might have on something as intense and powerful as a heavy Caroni rum.

On the nose, there were a those classic heavy notes of tar and petroleum, although it was noticeably less intense and perhaps a slight more refined. It is rather difficult to describe because it wasn’t exactly gentle, but rather just a bit more rounded around the edges. There was a bit of cantaloupe and tobacco smoke in the mix too, followed-up with burnt caramel, that slight cola fizz that I often in Caronis, and interestingly a bit of beef jerky too.

The palate was a slight more tannic and woody than I had expected, although in terms of the texture it was perhaps thinner than some of the heavy Caroni rums I’ve had before. There was plenty baking spices paired along with the sweet cola profile, and minute hints of tar. And right at the end in the finish the rum got a whole lot fresher, uplifting with underlying notes of mint, soft tea tannins, and a spot of savoury nuts.

At the end of it all, I couldn’t really say if the mizunara finish did have an impact on the Caroni, given that I haven’t tried enough spirits aged in mizunara to discern its influence. But what I did note was that this Caroni was on the softer side of HTRs, more balanced, though not in the traditional sense of it (my definition of a perfectly balanced Caroni tends to be a Blended rather than the HTRs), and in all, a novel and interesting interpretation of heavy Caroni rums that we’ve become so accustomed to.

 

Image Courtesy of @weixiang_liu

  

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