New Rums From the Angostura Cask Collection
If you make, or at least drink cocktails, chances are you’ve spent some evening of your life wearing the mark of appreciation - a deep orange/brown stain on your outfit, splashed there by an errant dash of Angostura bitters, which is undoubtedly the most widely used bitters brand in the world. But Trinidad and Tobago’s House of Angostura also produces a line of rums, which often take a back seat to that iconic bottle with the over-sized label. It’s time they got some much deserved attention.
Angostura celebrates their heritage of classic Trinidadian rum production with two releases from their Cask Collection - the 1919 and No. 1.
Angostura 1919: The best stories always involve a good fire. In this case, one in 1932 destroyed nearly all of the rum casks aging in the distillery’s warehouse. The only ones not burnt beyond hope were those filled in 1919. When they were opened and the contents within tasted, they were thought to have a pleasing, complex character influenced by the charred casks. To mimic the smoke-enhanced flavors of the original discovery, Angostura blends golden rums aged at least 8 years in charred American oak casks.
Nose: Charcoal smoke, butterscotch flavored hard candy, banana, grapefruit peel, citrus oil, bit of an astringent finish.
Palate: More of that citrus peel is prominent up front, toffee, roasted almonds, espresso. Very light in both color and weight. The charred oak is very present in the finish, so that the sweeter flavors arrive first, then the smokier notes punctuate with quite the exclamation point! Maybe even two of them!! Would prefer more integrated complexity instead of the sweetness followed by the smoke catching up to it so obviously, though fans of Tennessee Whiskeys will appreciate the similarity to that style. The literature recommends daiquiris or other citrusy cocktails, but this rum would be better off in stirred drinks, especially in a Rum Old Fashioned or Manhattan variant. You know, something that stands up well to the matching bitters bottle!
Angostura No. 1: This limited release is a combination of rich, mature rums aged 8 to 10 years, which then spend 12 months in first fill Bourbon Casks. Apparently the blend is in homage to Don Carlos Siegert, son of the brand’s founder, who had shared a vision of creating a similar blend.
Nose: Mango, red apple, pear, vanilla, brown sugar, sweet cocoa, toasted grains.
Palate: The fruits intertwine nicely with the biscuit-like flavors, almost like a fresh fruit tart. The charred oak here gives it a pleasant pop of malty bitterness to balance out all the sweetness. It has a rich gold color and pleasant weight. This one is a true neat sipper that I am looking forward to catching the last of on a cold winter’s night. Sure, you could put stuff in it, but why would you?
So it’s a fair split between a cocktail rum and a sipper, and winter is the perfect time for them. If you can’t make it to the tropical climes of Trinidad, at least you can journey there in your glass. Cheers!