We present the result of the collaboration between the legendary Lion’s Whisky and Distilia. This is the Caroni 1998 rum hand-picked by Diego Sandrin, bottled at the age of 24 in a limited edition of 220 bottles in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Lion’s Whisky.
Interview with Diego Sandrin, by Pietro Caputo
I met Diego for the first time in April 2016 thanks to my friend Gabriele, wine representative for the family company as well as a local Velier agent. Gabriele wanted to introduce Diego to Luca Gargano, as although they were both two of the best-known names in the spirits scene not only in Italy but in the world, they had not yet met in person.
Of that first meeting I certainly remember the impressive Lion’s Whisky warehouse, the wonderful tastings we had together, but also a nice anecdote: before leaving Diego gave us a box of samples.
We all took a photo holding the box, to post on social media to arouse the envy of collector friends, unaware that these boxes did not actually contain precious whiskey samples, but rather samples of products from his family company: the Rosa Micro: each box contained an assortment of sockets: multiples, extensions, Shuko… certainly useful but not exactly what we expected!
After that first visit, I had the honour and pleasure of returning to Lion’s Whisky several times, especially to exchange rums from the Cadenhead’s Cask Strength series, always taking the opportunity to taste some spirits and exchange opinions on the rum market.
During one of those visits, talking about the first bottlings of Caroni Velier dedicated to other independent bottlers such as Cremaschi and Juuls, I encouraged Diego to contact Luca to discuss what then became reality: the Caroni 2000/2018 18yo 65,4% cask#R4005 for Lion’s Whisky.
Today, after 5 years, here is another great Caroni selected with Distilia: Distilia Caroni Lion’s Whisky (10th Anniversary Edition), 1998, 24yo, 61.6%
I had thought of doing a complete interview with Diego, but I would have repeated more or less the questions already present in two websites that I will link later below, in which, if you want further information, you can read about how at 16 he began to approach the world of collecting, starting from empty bottles (that’s right! Just empty!) moving on to Macallan and up to the whiskey Olympus.
The fact of living in Italy was fundamental for the growth of Diego’s collection, both for the presence of the greatest selectors and bottlers in the world, such as Silvano Samaroli, Nadi Fiori, Bepi Mongiardino, and for historic venues such as the Barmetro in Milan and therefore for the ease of finding bottles even in limited editions, released in special editions.
Also, in these interviews you will be able to get a taste of Diego’s various lives, from that of a musician to that of an artist and of course as a father.
Diego, how did you come up with the name “Lion’s Whisky”? any reference to Venice Lion? Or are you the Lion of the whisky world?
No! I am not the lion of the whisky world! I picked up “Lion’s” because the lion is the symbol of Venice and because my son was just born when I opened the company. He is my first born and his name is Leone, which means lion in Italian, so I thought it was a good name.
You started with whisky, and you became a reference also for premium rum: looking at this Caroni for Distilia is impossible not to think about the Caroni for Velier: is Caroni your favourite rum style? What other rum do you like?
Well definitely my rum style if I want to have a geek night is sort of Hampden, something complex, while if I want a night with friends, definitely Caroni or Sherry matured demerara from Cadenhead’s or Moon Import. Hampden complexity is very intriguing for me, how it develops in time.
With this work I guess you have always to taste samples, bottles and so on… What is the spirit you would enjoy with friends after a good dinner at home?
“Well, I always said the the Nectar of the Gods is port which has been from a vintage year bottle: at least 20 years in cask and at least 30 years in a bottle. This makes the extreme sweetness go away and the bothering uncomfortable acidity go away (that new port have). So, the balance between the acidity and sweetness is perfect after 30 years in bottle.
So, for example 1940’s – 1950’s vintage year port which has been in bottle for 30 – 40 years, opening it now: that’s my nectar, with friends.
On this occasion I would like to thank Diego for his last gift to me for my 50’s anniversary: a Porto Noval 1973 LBV, my birth year. Now I understand and appreciate it even more as it’s one of his “Nectar of the Gods”.
There is one question, which bothers not only me, but I guess hundreds of our fellow collector friends. Diego, you seem to be a complete man – you’re a husband, a father of two beautiful boys and the owner of over 30,000 bottles that most of us could only dream of… What is your next aim? Are there any bottles you’re still looking to get? Or, the opposite, as you managed to own most (if not all) of all-time best bottles, are you willing to sell your collection at any point?
I am not going after any particular bottle right now, just keeping an eye open if any strange Samaroli, Moon Import, Sestante, vintage rare bottle come up. Sometimes they do, not often but you never know!
At present I am not looking at selling right now because it’s still lie therapy for me. When I have a bad day, I sit in front of my collection, I walk around it, I look at bottles, I think “where did I get this one? Where did I get that one? How did I find this one? And so on. I always feel a lot better after I spend half an hour with my collection!. So, for now I am not going to sell, as it is my own personal doctor.
Great, I share your feelings, I admit that for me even updating the Excel file with my bottle listed is kind of therapy, relaxing and bringing my mind to that friend that helped me finding that bottle, or thinking at a double one opened during a party… after all this is part of the spirit of being a collector!
last, but not least – seeing how well perceived this Caroni Lion’s x Distilia bottling is – BTW, it’s one of the best Caroni’s I tasted 😊 – tell us where we could get a bottle of that one?
And my last question is: shall we expect more of your bottlings hitting the market anytime soon?
Well, I am not saying ‘YES’ and I am not saying ‘NO’. Allow me to stay a bit mysterious (blinks). I’ll just say I have tasted some really nice cask samples with Jakub and Piotr recently. You have my word you will be the first to know.