Angostura 1787: A Rich, Ultra-Premium Rum Destined For Sipping Not Mixing
by Ken Gargett
In 2012, Angostura released a rum called Legacy to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of independence for Trinidad. It was, aside from some ancient bottles resurrected and offered, the most expensive rum ever offered for sale at $25,000 per bottle. Or should we say per decanter as the rum was released in an exquisite 500 ml silver and crystal decanter designed by Asprey of London, jewelers of royal appointment to Prince Charles.
Only 20 bottles were ever made. I would love to be offering you tasting notes for Legacy, however it seems my sample was lost on the way. I would guess I am not alone in that as the entire Australian allocation was a single bottle. Or rather decanter.
The rum was a blend of seven of Angostura’s oldest and rarest rums from a possible selection of 80,000 barrels, each aged for at least 17 years. One can only imagine just how extraordinary this rum is.
The team at Angostura has scored a lot of goals in recent years, but perhaps none quite so exciting. The rum was a collaboration between its master distiller John Georges and master blender Carol Homer-Caesar. Homer-Caesar heads an all-female blending team, which she trains in sensory appreciation, and is so highly regarded that she is also in charge of sensory training for the West Indian Rum and Spirits Association in Barbados.
Homer-Caesar also developed the Angostura Rum Flavor Wheel (I’m much more familiar with the Wine Aroma Wheel developed, I think, by Ann Noble, and am aware of how useful that has been to so many people). Georges has also received the ultimate recognition by his peers, winning the prestigious title of The Rum Grand Master at the Spirits Masters Awards for four consecutive years.
It is worth noting that both Georges and Homer-Caesar are firmly on board with the premiumization of rum, seeing it taking its place alongside the great spirits of the world. This is something I think is way overdue, but the benefit of the status quo is that the prices of top rums are not as horrendous as for the best malts and cognacs. Not yet (Legacy aside, of course).
Georges has been quoted as saying, “We are beginning to see that rums have a range and complexity far beyond the ‘rum and coca cola’ and ‘piña colada’ level.”
Although Angostura might be Trinidadian to its bootstraps these days, it actually had its genesis in Venezuela in the town of Angostura. The town’s surgeon general, Dr. Johann Gottlieb Siegert, created the famous bitters recipe back in 1824.
After Siegert passed away, his brother and son moved to Trinidad (other sources suggest it was Siegert’s three sons who made the move, while yet another has Siegert himself moving the family to escape revolution on the continent, but it matters little) and, in 1875, started producing rum infused with the bitters.
Subsequently, they made “straight” rum and then, in 1945 or 1947 (depending on your source), purchased a local distiller and became a serious producer. They purchased another major distillery in 1973.
Angostura uses molasses with a minimum 50 percent sugar content. The team uses up to five stills, going through several rectifications to clean the rum. Most of the rum is then aged in once-used oak bourbon casks purchased from Kentucky. A bespoke yeast culture is used for fermentation. Where there is an age on a label, it refers to the age of youngest rum in the blend.
Angostura’s impressive range
The Cask Collection has been terrific, though it is limited. If anyone has ever questioned Angostura, I have directed them to the Cask Collection and they never again doubt these rums.
Then we have the one-offs and extraordinary releases like the Legacy. The Infinity is even rarer with a single bottle blended from eight very special rums, made to be auctioned for charity to assist disabled children. It brought in more than $100,000.
To fill these rums out a little, the 1824 celebrates the founding of the house of Angostura by Johann G.B. Siegert almost 200 years ago. Homer-Caesar brings her full range of experience to this rum with hand-picked, selected casks. It represents a blend of three rums aged up to 17 years. Without question, an exquisite sipping rum and a favorite to match with a good cigar.
The 1919 was born from fire. Back in 1932, a fire destroyed the Government Rum Bond. The few remaining charred casks were purchased by a Mr. Fernandes, who discovered that they had been filled in 1919. So began this popular favorite.
The Fernandes Distillery was purchased by Angostura in 1947 (or 1945) and it has maintained this rum ever since.
In 2013, Angostura began a program of new releases, the Cask Collection. The first was the No. 1 Cask Collection ex-Bourbon Cask Rum with only 9,600 bottles made. The second was No. 1 French Oak Casks, a 16-year-old blend (15,030 bottles).
The third is the No. 1 Oloroso Sherry Cask (16,200 bottles). Master blender Carol Homer-Caeser is responsible for formulating the three No. 1 Cask Collection rums as well as Legacy in 2012 and the new Infinity Rum in 2019.
Infinity, as mentioned above, is a special blend of eight of Angostura’s best rums, presented in an exquisite crystal decanter and auctioned for a children’s’ charity.
Angostura has recently added another to its portfolio, the 1787. Why 1787? Because 1787 commemorates the year that the first sugar mill in Trinidad was established at the famous Lapeyrouse sugar plantation.
The 1787 is a blend of rums all aged for a minimum of 15 years. This is rum aimed at the ultra-premium sector of the market and one that is definitely for sipping.
The 1787 is a lovely rich rum with stone fruit, dried fruits, raisins, butterscotch, tropical fruit notes, and vanillin touches. Some oak is noticeable. Nicely balanced and with fine length. There is nougat and a touch of honey. A rum for those who like the full, rich styles with some sweetness. Hence, it won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but what is?
For those who enjoy this style, this will very quickly become a go-to choice for a sipping rum.
One of the things I love about Angostura is that it does not rest on its laurels, even though it has plenty of those, but is always looking to improve and offer exciting new rums. Those like Infinity and Legacy may be beyond mortals but the new 1787, at around AUD$150, is not.
A last word to Carol Homer-Caesar on how she likes to drink the 1787: “on the rocks, or simply as a sipping rum. Best match? 75 percent dark chocolate.”
For more information, please visit www.angostura.com/news/1787.