Sunday, 4 January 2015

Review 16 - Angostura 1919

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
The orange/lemon/lime variant of a rum. For better and for worse.
Primarily known for their amazing bitters used in a wide variety of cocktails all over the globe, Trinidadian Angostura are also well known for their rums.

Since the closure of the Caroni Distillery in 2002, Angostura is now the only remaining distillery in Trinidad & Tobago. If the bottle doesn't say Caroni, you can be pretty sure that any other rum out of Trinidad will have been born at the Angostura facility.

Of course there will be exceptions to the rule, but since a Caroni rum is something very special, you can be pretty sure that rum bottlers will be very interested in pointing out if the origin is Caroni.

Anyway enough about Caroni, what we have here is the Angostura 1919. The first attempt from Angostura at making a premium product in their own name.
The 1919 is a blend of rums having aged for a minimum of 8 years and the original story of the 1919 name is somewhat of a curiosity. Apparently a fire destroyed a facility in 1932 and the remaining charred casks was bought by a master blender, only to find that the casks were filled in 1919. These rums were blended and sold as ”1919 aged rum”.

The Angostura 1919 is a celebration of these events.

The rum arrives in a short cardboard box to protect it from the damaging effects of light. At first glance the box is primarily black with a label and a couple of sides with a list of all awards won by this rum, but also a deeper look into the history behind the rum. A story not told anywhere else.

First we have the store about the fire in 1932 also abbreviated above. But there is also the tale of how Angostura sent a bottle of 1919 to all the Trinidadian airmen who volunteered to fight in World War II. Supposedly the Trinidadian airmen shared their rum with fellow soldiers and that is what made Angostura 1919 known throughout the world. I am a sucker for those kinds of stories.

Looking closer the seemingly black sides of the box shows of pretty watermark-ish pictures in the form of the bottle in side. On the top of the box one even finds a butterfly.

The bottle is square in shape and a little too tall to be squat. It is quite thick in the glass and therefore quite heavy.

The front label is the same as the label shown on the box and tells you all the important stuff, like name, origin and the ABV of 40%. Furthermore we are reminded that this is a premium rum.

On the back we find the mandatory sales nonsense. This time we are told that ”…we believe that you will drink no smoother rum than Angostura 1919”. That is what I call self confidence.

Cork-wise we are treated to a tightly fit natural cork with a large wooden stopper.

The liquid inside has a golden straw and almost yellow color. Interesting.
Given a twirl it shows off a quite light profile with thin legs made by fast forming and fast flowing droplets.

Already when pouring the liquid it gives off a tease of what to come, and when putting my nose to work it is all confirmed.

Vanilla, Irn-Bru soda, flowery perfume, caramel. Boatloads! And by boatloads I mean Maersk Triple-E container ships.

The perfumed scents are almost too much and it comes off almost synthetic. I’m intrigued but not a fan.

The first thing that hits the palate is a very warm and rubbery taste. It stays just long enough for you to identify it, and then comes the surprise.

The neatly balanced perfume notes from the nose are translated into gargantuan perfume notes which seem to spill into every single taste bud and then explode into a synthetic flowery field.

As soon as your brain starts to cope with these extraordinary tastes, the heat increases drastically and some oak starts to come out.

After the heat starts to subside you are treated to lovely citrus fruits – oranges, lemons, limes. Actually this might be the Irn-Bru from the nose.
The first few sips hits you the hardest with this odd composition of flavours, but when your mind has stopped being blown long enough it is actually a very nice change from the usual molasses/vanilla/oak/dried fruits-type of rums.

The finish is quite long and mainly consist of more perfume, some oak, and oranges. In the end it transforms into a pleasant warmth and soda-like flavour – the Irn-Bru is back.

Rating and final thoughts
A very interesting spirit! No doubt about it.

The insane perfumes and the orange/lemon/lime combination is something quite unique. It might be a little too adventurous for me, but I am sure that some will just love it.

I found it quite funny how the oak was almost non-existing and that it wasn't actually very sweet.
After a couple of glasses there is no doubt that this is a rum, but you have to look for it underneath a plethora of oddities.

It starts by blowing your mind and then leaves you confused. Then it hurts you, calls you useless and tries to remove your tonsils. In the end it slaps you in the face before starting to caresses you for a few minutes and then it disappears completely. The most unbalanced and unhealthy relationship I have ever had.

But still very enticing and attractive enough to make me want to finish my glass. Pain and suffering aside.

Considering that this is almost top of the line for Angostura the price is surprisingly low. I paid around €30 for it and I doubt I will ever see anything as exciting or surprising in the price range again. So if you are looking to expand your experience with rum, this is definitely a must.

If you are ever in my vicinity I will be more than happy to supply you with a sample for free as long as I have anything left in my bottle. Otherwise I am afraid that I will never be able to finish this bottle.

All the adventure and love/hate-relationships aside I can’t go for top scores on this. It is way too weird, unbalanced and synthetic for that. I acknowledge that we are dealing with some serious Caribbean heritage here, but as a sipper this is just to strange of an acquaintance.
Or perhaps it is just too much of an acquired taste.

So that justifies the…
Rating: 59/100

On a side note, I found this rum absolutely amazing in a rum'n'coke, with just a splash of the Rum Nation Jamaican White Pot Still and a wedge of lime as a twist. That is how I managed to get the bottle emptied without doing the unthinkable.


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