The story of world-class Angostura rum began in Venezuela in 1820. A 24-year old Prussian army surgeon named Dr. J. G. B. Siegert, who came to South America to enlist in the cause of Independence under General Simón Bolívar. The highly decorated Siegert was appointed Surgeon General of the military hospital in Guyana.
There, in 1824, Dr. Siegert formulated a medicinal tonic intended to cure the numerous disorders prevalent in the jungles of South America. The compound made with tropical herbs, spices and a base of neutral spirits proved highly effective remedy and its reputation as a curative rapidly spread. Demand grew for what became known as Dr. Siegert's Aromatic Bitters. Less than a century later the product's name changed to Angostura Aromatic Bitters, which can literally be found behind every bar on the planet.
The rum industry on Trinidad can be traced to 1875 with the arrival of the House of Angostura to the Caribbean island. The Angostura distillery—now named Trinidad Distillers Limited—is one of the most technologically advanced facilities in all of the southern Caribbean. The company operates an extremely large, five-column still at its Port of Spain complex. All of their rums are molasses-based. After the molasses has been inspected for quality and the sugar content (brix) confirmed, it is transferred to a fermentation vat, where it is mixed with demineralized water and Angostura's proprietary strain of yeast. Fermentation lasts approximately 24 hours.
After distillation, only spirits obtained from the first and last columns are sent on to be barrel-aged. A large percentage of the rum Angostura produces is shipped to other producers around the Caribbean.
The Angostura took a giant leap into the aristocracy of rum with the highly successful release of super-premium Angostura 1824 Limited Reserve Rum. Introduced in 1999 to commemorate the company's 175th anniversary, Angostura 1824 Limited Reserve Rum is blended from select casks of mature, molasses-based, continuous distilled rums. The rums used in the blend are aged for a minimum of 12 years in charred American oak bourbon barrels. The rums are skillfully blended in small batches and then re-casked. When the rum has reached its optimum maturity, it is then filtered and hand-bottled. It is bottled at 40% alcohol (80 proof).
Angostura 1824 Limited Reserve Rum has an amber/bronze color, a satiny seamlessly smooth texture, and a full, well-rounded body. The bouquet is seductive and quickly fills the glass with the aromas of sweet molasses, vanilla, honey, spice and brandy-like notes. As delightful as the bouquet is, the rum's palate is even better, presenting the mouth-watering flavors of honey, fruit, chocolate, spices and herbs. The rum has a remarkably long and flavor-packed finish. It is far too delicious to share with the in-laws.
In the fall of 2001, the distillery released premium Angostura 1919. This marvelous añejo is made from a blend of light and heavy, molasses-based rums distilled in the brand's five-column continuous still. The constituent rums used in the blend are aged up to 8 years in charred American oak bourbon barrels. After aging, the rum is twice filtered through activated charcoal to remove impurities and particulate and bottled at 80 proof.
Be prepared to be impressed. Angostura 1919 has a velvety, medium-weight body and a wafting bouquet of caramel, vanilla, butterscotch and baking spice. The longer you let it breathe the glass, the more alluring aromatics come forward. The palate is a glorious assortment of tropical fruit, mocha and chocolate. The finish is long and flavorful.
Angostura 5 Years Old Caribbean Rum is a blend of pure Trinidadian rums aged American white oak bourbon barrels for a minimum of 5 years. It has a rich golden color, a satiny textured body and a maple, herbal, caramel, ginger, dried fruit and a slightly spicy bouquet. The palate is even more luxurious. It sports the added flavors of vanilla, chocolate and toasted oak. This is a tremendous rum, especially for the price.
Equally engaging is Angostura 7 Years Old Caribbean Rum. Its enticing bouquet immediately fills the glass with the creamy aromas of vanilla, chocolate, spice and oak. The rum is jam-packed with toasty, bakery-like flavors that dance over the palate with the flavors of chocolate, honey, toffee, and almonds. The flavors persist on the palate for an extended amount of time, eventually tapering off into a classic rum finish.
With the rum category on the charts with a bullet, it's a pleasure to see a distillery like Angostura so perfectly meet the trend head on with such savory offerings.