Langhe meets the Caribbean - a limited release of Engine gin aged in Caroni barrels

20 ottobre 2023

engine caroni

The latest creation by Engine was presented on 5 October at Campamac osteria in Barbaresco, Piedmont - a limited edition of the Alta Langa gin aged in ex-barrels of Trinidad's premium rum. 

Engine Caroni is a limited 5000-bottle edition marking a unique stage in Engine's journey. It's the fruit of the partnership and mutual respect between Paolo Dalla Mora, owner of Engine and Velier's President Luca Gargano, who discovered the surviving stock of the legendary Trinidad-based Caroni distillery, shut down since 2003.

How Piedmont's gin and a historic Caribbean rum came together

Presented by Luca Gargano and Paolo Dalla Mora themselves on 5 October at Campamac osteria in the town of Barbaresco - which served guests an excellent carbonara with Castelmagno for the occasion - Engine Caroni is blazing a new trail in the history of gin.

"Four years after the birth of Engine, I felt the need to extend the product line," says Paolo Dalla Mora

"I am a fan of innovation, but innovating Engine doesn't mean making a variant with different organic botanicals - there will be time enough for that, the brand is still young. For me, innovating now means playing with our classic gin and with our heritage. That's why last year we started creating and producing our own tonic water using the same sage that goes into an Engine & Tonic. The drink comes in a can that doubles as a glass, so it's not ready-to-serve like most other canned drinks but ready-to-drink, meaning you can open it and drink right out of the can." "And now it's finally time to play with just our gin," adds Paolo. "With the help of my friend Luca Gargano, we had about ten ex-barrels of Caroni rum distilled in 1998 shipped to us and used them to bottle a reserve gin with a uniquely warm, citrusy and tannic taste."

Caroni, Trinidad's iconic distillery

Caroni's story might very well be the plot of an adventure novel. Founded in 1918 and attached to the eponymous sugar factory, it was Trinidad's state distillery. Traditionally famous for its congener-rich heavy rum, Caroni only bottled limited quantities for the local market and sold most of its rum in bulk to other producers, who used it to add personality to international blends.

Then, in 2003, the government decided to stop producing cane sugar and shut everything down, starting the liquidation process and leaving 13 thousand people out of work.

Until December 9, 2004, when Luca Gargano arrived at the by-now abandoned distillery together with photographer Fredi Marcarini during a trip to Trinidad. He asked if he might go in, was taken to a warehouse and found himself looking at an invaluable treasure - hundreds of stacked and abandoned barrels, some dating back to 1974 up to the 1990s.

engine caroni luca gargano

That was how, after getting in touch with the people owning the rights to the warehouse, Luca got samples for tasting, realized it was a fantastic rum and immediately bought the oldest barrels. He would go on to buy a total of 1,388. His decided to bottle the rum at cask strength keeping each year separate to preserve its unique characteristics as much as possible, as well as to continue aging in a Caribbean climate, where the angel's share ranges from 8 to 11%. This choice paid off. Caroni quickly became an icon all over Europe, gaining increasing value with collectors.

Engine's distilled energy

The pursuit and exploration of new frontiers has always been the hallmark of Paolo Dalla Mora's style. Since the beginning of Engine's adventure creativity has driven the production of this Alta Langa gin, including the unprecedented idea of combining the imagery connected to the passion for motors with Italy's long tradition of artisan spirits. Right from the beginning, Engine has always stood out for its eye-catching packaging design inspired from fuel and lubricant cans and immediately reminiscent of the automotive legends of the eighties. However, Engine is also a sophisticated premium spirit, a Distilled Gin produced in the Alta Langa region from 100% organic ingredients, with the most representative botanicals – sage and lemon – celebrating the noble and ancient tradition of Piedmont rosolio. Engine’s ambition is also to encapsulate this unique land in a contemporary way by distilling in a copper John Dore still, "the Rolls Royce of distillation."

In addition to Alta Langa sage and Sicilian lemons, the botanicals that contribute to Engine's distinctive personality include Tuscan juniper, Piedmont-grown damask rose, Calabrian Rossano licorice, grain alcohol and Alpine water, all from small organic farmers and producers.

Engine meets Caroni barrels

Engine Caroni could be described as the coming together of two very distant realities, one embodying modernity and one now consigned to history; one exquisitely Piedmontese, the other exotically Caribbean. But it's also the coming together of distant flavors, aromas and lands, made all the more explosive in their combination by their very distance. 

To create this limited edition, Engine gin is aged for six months in barrels that formerly contained Caroni rum distilled in 1998, selected with the help of Luca Gargano