At the launch of Angostura Cocoa Bitters, Company chairman Terrence Bharath hinted that a new product from Angostura would be launched in August.
Considering the timing for the releases of the last three editions of Angostura No 1, it was possible that this new product might have been a fourth edition of Angostura No1 with a new cask finish.
The company has also recently seen some success locally with flavoured variations of one of their most popular products, White Oak Rum.
Given this more recent trend, it’s unsurprising that the company chose to launch White Oak Watermelon as their third new product for 2020,
While flavoured rum is not particularly exciting, it certainly is encouraging that Angostura has an interest in developing new products. Here are my thoughts on three products that Angostura should consider making;
Gin is the perfect second spirit for a large rum distillery to produce. Unlike whisky or brandy, there is little strong association with any particular region that limits where it can be produced.
As gin sales continually increase, there is the growth of “world gin”, a style that sticks to the core gin botanicals while also embracing interesting ingredients from diverse regions around the globe.
Trinidad Distillers Limited once produced Angos Dry Gin, described as “the Gin of Trinidad” on the label. Interestingly enough, gin was once very popular in rumshops across Trinidad and Tobago alongside Vermouth in decades past.
While it might take some time for gin to reclaim its position of popularity locally, there are many reasons for the company to resume the distillation of gin.
The spirit is widely used in both Tiki drinks and craft cocktails, and Angostura Gin would help to strengthen the brand’s presence in the cocktail community alongside their Rum, Bitters, and Cocktail Competitions.
The idea of a gin produced in a Caribbean island just off the coast of South America by the same company that produces Angostura Aromatic Bitters and Angostura Orange Bitters already sounds magical… and profitable.
Angostura’s light distillate will earn far more money as a premium gin on the export market than it would as cheap mixing rum on the local market.
Most importantly, there is every reason to believe that Angostura Gin would be really good. The company already has a history with distilling gin, and they’re acclaimed for their experience in both blending and botanicals.
Angostura Spiced Rum
Spiced rum (and flavoured rum) has never really been taken seriously by the rum enthusiast community. It’s often seen as mediocre distillate masked with cheap additives. It’s also a bit infuriating that Captain Morgan Private Stock is seen by many as premium rum while far better and in some cases more affordable brands suffer in obscurity.
In recent times though, there have been some well-made examples that have earned some well-deserved appreciation.
Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple is a great example of this. This pineapple rum infuses both the flesh and the rind of the fruit in their Three Star Rum and Original Dark Rum. Another example is Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum. This is a tribute to the bush rum steeped with bois bande, cinnamon, and other spices that’s popular in the Lesser Antilles. This rum liquor is a bit more refined than what’s available at roadside stalls because instead of starting with unaged white rum; rum already aged in Bourbon barrels is used.
What Maison Ferrand and Saint Lucia Distillers did right with these releases was to start with quality rum and then use actual agricultural products as opposed to artificial ingredients by following time honoured traditions.
Angostura should follow their example and make modern incarnations of Siegert’s Bouquet or Angostura Pink Rum instead of flavoured variations on White Oak Rum.
White Oak Sorrel was successful for three reasons; Firstly sorrel is a staple during Christmas in Trinbago and the release coincided with the holiday season, also White Oak is already the most popular rum in the country, finally this was the first variation on the product in its entire history so it got people’s attention.
The response to White Oak Coconut was a bit more tepid. The concept of a flavoured White Oak was no longer original the second time around, and a coconut rum liqueur in 2020 was even far less original.
Even if White Oak Watermelon proves to be popular, the novelty of flavoured White Oak will decrease with every release while promotion costs would remain the same.
It would also be difficult to scale any success with White Oak Watermelon, Sorrel, or Coconut abroad. It’s the leading rum in Trinidad, Tobago, and Saint Vincent but it’s practically unheard of elsewhere.
The success of stand-alone spiced rum brands like Kraken and Sailor Jerry, the slowly changing perception of spiced rum, and Angostura’s already strong association with the word “Aromatic” is more than enough reason for the company to develop a quality spiced rum.
Limited Edition Angostura 1919 Releases
Limited editions from Angostura have never really lived up to their full potential.
Legacy by Angostura became the most expensive rum in the world at an auction in 2012. While the liquid would have undoubtedly been amazing, the high price was largely due to the bespoke crystal bottle designed by Asprey of London that was adorned with a bejeweled butterfly crown.
It was ironic when two years later, the record for the most expensive rum in the world would go to some old bottles covered in dust and mold found in a basement.
The more recent auctions for Angostura Infinity and Angostura’s Masters Blend Tribute barely got attention from the media or interest from the luxury spirits community.
Even the three releases of Angostura No1 have never attracted as much attention as limited edition offerings from Saint Lucia Distillers, Mount Gay Distilleries, Demerara Distillers Limited, and the Foursquare Rum Distillery.
One of the issues with Angostura No1 is that the name does not fit in with the established nomenclature of Angostura’s line of Premium Rum.
Ideally, a limited edition rum should have a strong link with a continuously released premium rum to increase and reward loyalty to those products.
It’s easy for a rum drinker to get excited about an El Dorado 15 Year Old finished in wine barrels or a Mount Gay XO bottled at cask strength when the drinker is already a fan of those products.
It’s also important for limited edition rum to tie into a brand’s mythology and reinforce their methods of making rum.
The Mount Gay Origin Series manages to do this very well; The first edition allows drinkers to understand and experience the company’s approach to ageing rum, while the second edition explains their method of distilling rum.
Both Mount Gay XO and Black Barrel are blends of pot still and column stills aged in American Whisky barrels. XO undergoes further maturation in Cognac Casks while Black Barrel is aged a second time in heavily charred ex-Bourbon barrels.
The Mount Gay Origin Series effectively deconstruct these two continuously released products and helps drinkers to have a personal connection with Mount Gay Distilleries.
Limited edition versions of 1919 would generate excitement about each edition as well as for regularly released 1919 Rum.
1919 was the rum that made Fernandes famous and when reintroduced by Angostura, it formed the foundation for their more upscale rums like 1824 and 1787.
It represents what Trinidad rum has always been about; artful blending rather than specially selected single casks.
1919 is an important element of the Angostura saga, and limited editions can allow John Georges and Carol Homer-Caesar to add their own chapters to the story through their own expressions.
This article was originally intended for a Food-focused website what has been delayed due to Covid 19. All opinions belong to the author.