It’s not every day you meet a Master Distiller.
I admit, I’ve probably met more than my fair share (and am lucky enough to be friends with a few). But still, meeting a Master Distiller like John George, with 34 years under his belt in Trinidad and Tobago – the man with the palate behind Angostura Rum is pretty special.
It’s even more special when he’s bringing with him a brand new rum from Angostura – so new in fact that we had one of only four bottles in the UK, and Manchester was getting to sample it first.
It’s a pretty damn awesome way to spend an afternoon off.
I know. I’m a very lucky bird.
Angostura is a well known name – most of us have a bottle of Angostura Bitters languishing on the back shelf at home somewhere (unless you like a Pink Gin like me, and it’s probably closer to the front). But oddly, even though Angostura Rum is the lead brand (it sells more than the Bitters worldwide) it simply doesn’t seem as well known.
Everything of course started with the Bitters. Used as a medicine initially, their use echoed from their creation in Venezuela, across the world, and after the death of creator Johann Siegert in 1876 – his sons moved production to Trinidad and Tobago, now the home of Angostura.
Angostura began by buying in spirits, before their own distillery was built in 1947. Now they have a slew of rums – Reserva – a white rum that is aged for three years before having being charcoal filtered, a 5 year old (oak casks), a 7 year old (ex Bourbon casks), 1919 (a blended rum, created to pay homage to the history of rum in Trinidad and Tobago), 1824 (a blend using rums that are at least 12 years old) and Legacy – one of the most expensive rums in world.
And now, 1787.
Previously, I’ve sampled almost all of the rums in the range (bar Legacy obviously). But a refresher was on the cards for comparisons’ sake.
We went in first with the 7 Year Old – which for me has lots of banana and toffee on the nose, moving into more banana, burnt toffee, molasses and vanilla on the tongue, with the tingle of spice on the tip of the tongue. The 1919, is lighter with floral banana notes (more like just unripe bananas), vanilla and milk chocolate, and that pepper moves back to the centre of your tongue. My favourite, the 1824, is different again – think fruit cake, liquorice, molasses and candied orange peel – a syrupy mouthfeel and a flavour that lingers. 1824 for me is a glass to cuddle and savour.
1787 is a whole different animal. Darker in colour – much darker and understandably so as it’s aged for 15 years in charred oak barrels. This depth translates to the nose and the palette. Overripe, almost fermenting bananas, oak, vanillin, spice, deep dark sugar and the rich spice. The finish is drier than the other rums in the range.
And as with the others in the range, the name has significance. 1787 was the date of the establishment of the first sugar mill in Trinidad – part of the Lapeyrouse Plantation.
I know I’m no rum expert, but for me this a rum that deserves a little time to enjoy, and I suspect would suit whisky drinkers like me – that dry finish is one to be savoured.
And I’m happy to oblige.