When people think of Angostura, it’s usually as a bitters company. While Angostura has built its brands on bitters, it’s also an extremely large producer of rum. Angostura produces between seven and eight million cases of rum annually, which makes them one of largest distillers in the Caribbean. Angostura not only produces its own line of rums, they also produce rum for quite a large number of other companies.
Angostura’s distillery in Trinidad is pretty massive, with huge fermentation tanks and stills that pump out a mind-boggling amount of rum. Trinidad’s major industry is oil and natural gas, and as a result the energy costs are much lower than in other parts of the Caribbean, enabling Angostura to run an operation that simply couldn’t be feasible elsewhere.
The climate in Trinidad is ideal for rum, with sugar cane growing abundantly and the right balance of heat, humidity, and temperatures to age rum. Trinidad also has access to amazing water that runs from natural springs from mountain rain forests to the major city, Port of Spain, where Angostura produces their rum. When you consider that as much as 50% of a bottle of rum is water, the source and character of that water is very important.
Angostura uses molasses for their rums, which results in easy and sweet rums that mix and sip well. Rum is an extremely important part of island life, and each island in the Caribbean is noticeably nationalistic when it comes to their rum. Throughout Trinidad the predominant spirit is Angostura rum – you rarely see any other rums being served.
Angostura launched its rum line in the United States late last year and it includes Angostura Reserva (a 3 year rum), 5 year, 7 year, 1919, and 1824 rums. All of Angostura’s rums are blends of lighter and heavier rums aged in ex-bourbon barrels, each put together to create a symphony of flavors. The 3 year, Angostura Reserva, has soft, sweet vanilla on the nose with banana, toasted marshmallow, molasses, cocoa, and vanilla on the palate. The 5 year Angostura Rum has a sweet nose with caramel, vanilla, and spice with an undercurrent of dried banana, and caramel, vanilla, toffee, oak spice, and dried banana on the palate. The 7 year Angostura Rum has vanilla, caramel, chocolate, and coffee on the nose with deeper molasses notes, oak spice, chocolate, coffee, and vanilla on the palate.
Angostura’s 1919 rum comes from the acquisition of the Trinidad’s Fernandez Brother’s distillery. 1919 is based on a Portuguese style of rum making which includes a blend of 5-10 year old rums. It has a sweet nose with solid vanilla, caramel, and toffee. On the palate 1919 has monster vanilla, white chocolate, and toffee. 1824 is a 12 year old rum that is softer and more subtle than 1919, with a soft, thick mouthfeel with caramel, toffee, toasted marshmallow, and light oak on the palate.
Across the board, Angostura produces very affable and slightly sweet rums with subtle spice and very little fire. In addition to the rums available in the United States, Angostura produces a wide range of rums for other markets including Trinidad. These include White Oak Rum, Royal Oak Rum, Fernandes Black Label Rum, an extremely high proof spirit called Angostura “Forres Park” Puncheon, and an absolutely delicious and wonderfully balanced ‘single barrel’ rum.
In Trinidad, rum is commonly enjoyed with a mixer like Angostura’s LLB, which is lemon, lime, and bitters, or with coconut water, which makes a fantastic simple mixer for rum.
While its rum is relatively new to the American market, Angostura hopes that the familiarity and affection that many have with their bitters will transfer over to their rum and perhaps some day they’ll be know in the US just as much as a rum company as a bitters one.