By Elizabeth Heath

USA TODAY 10Best

How a forgotten rum gained a cult following

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The Caroni Distillery in Trinidad was state-run, producing heavy rums made from its own sugarcane crops.

After years of being subsidized by the Trinidad and Tobago government, the sugar-growing industry on the island collapsed, and in 2002, the distillery shut down.

In 2004, Luca Gargano – the head of Velier, a Genoa, Italy-based importer and distributor of fine wine and spirits – was in Trinidad on a research trip.

Gargano was brought to a boarded-up warehouse and shown thousands of wooden casks of rum, some dating back as far as 1974.

Photo courtesy of Caroni

Gargano bought all of the barrels ,and Velier has been releasing small batches of Caroni to the market ever since. For rum connoisseurs, Caroni has become quite rare and valuable.

Photo courtesy Stefan Lercher

A bottle that might have sold for around $30 in the early 2000s now sells for closer to $400 – and some bottles can go for more than $1,000.

Experts say this rum is best enjoyed straight. Drinkers should expect Caroni to be quite strong.

If you want to try a glass of Caroni, there are only a handful of places in the world where you can do so, such as Hotel Quelle in Italy's Dolomite Mountains.

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