Distiller John Georges | Angostura Rum  - Find. Eat. Drink.

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With Master Distiller John Georges

General Information

Angostura Distillery

Corner Eastern Main Road

and Trinity Avenue

Laventille, Trinidad & Tobago
T: +1.868.623.1841

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The Pros

- Master Distiller John Georges


Angostura Bitters Production

Photograph courtesy of Angostura Bitters

Bitters & Rum

What started as a cure-all elixir ended up being the path to making rum. In 1824, Angostura began making their classic bitters based on a recipe created by Dr. JGB Siegert. His aim was to cure soldiers' stomach ailments. He bought the raw rum spirit that was needed to extract the flavors from a variety of botanicals. Years later, Dr. Siegert’s great-great grandson, who was a chemist, decided that in order to have consistently good rum as a base, Angostura needed to produce their own. In around 1947, the modern Angostura distillery was established.

Creating a rum and defining the style is not something that occurs overnight says distiller John Georges. “They analyzed the style of rum that they wanted to make, rather than buying other people’s rum.” The development process required defining the fermentation and distillation parameters with extensive research and development. “Our goal is to make sure that Angostura rum has that same kind of iconic status as our bitters do -- one hopes that it will be there forever.”

Angostura Rum Barrels

Photograph courtesy of Angostura Rum

Making Rum

The production process involves just four steps and three ingredients: molasses, water and yeast. The molasses goes through fermentation; distillation takes place in column stills; the rum is aged in once-used bourbon barrels; it’s then blended.


“Molasses is the residue of the sugar making process. By definition, what’s in it, is what’s left. It’s what no one else wants.” But even this sugar by-product has varying levels of purity. “When it comes to distilling, we don’t like molasses that is too dirty. When you harvest by hand, the whole process is that much cleaner. With mechanical harvesting, you pull in a lot of stuff from the fields and that’s what ends up in the molasses.”

Originally, the molasses was sourced in Trinidad, but these days all the molasses Angostura uses is sourced outside of Trinidad, primarily from the Dominican Republic.


Fermentation of the molasses requires yeast and Angostura has used the same yeast that they isolated from the Trinidad cane fields in 1947. “Yeast is miserable. Critical, but miserable. It is very sensitive. It doesn’t work for you; you work for the yeast.” The skill in the fermentation process is making sure the result has all the right components and raw material as input to the distilling process. “Creating the right spirit is subtle. The fermentation process produces over 400 different elements.”


“You have a variety of distilling methods, from pot still rums to single column, multiple tray rums, to multiple columns. A whole variety of designs are available to you. Each of which will then concentrate and focus on different styles of rums. It is amazing. We have chosen something that is relatively clean, but not too clean. We distinctly believe that a little dirtiness makes things interesting.”

Angostura rum is distilled using continuous or column stills. When it comes to the type of rum produced John says, “everyone has their own idea of what a good rum is; it’s really a matter of choice.” He believes the column stills provide the right amount of refining of the spirit as compared to pot stills which, “are a fairly rough, not particularly a refining process.” He does admit that the spirits distilled from pot stills have a degree of “character” that have their place. “At the end of the day, there is an art to the distilling process. I fully appreciate the people who have stuck with it and they love their pot still rums. The rum world is a lot more diverse than people imagine.”

Aging & Blending

After distillation, the rums are aged for varying lengths of time in once-used bourbon barrels. This is where the blenders come in. “They are responsible for, not just bringing the spirits together, they are responsible for the look, the aroma, even the feel of the rum. Their primary role is to maintain consistency over time. They take rums at different ages and notice an element in there that they can work with. They can blend and really develop the rums to create the different rum bottlings.”


“When they are fresh off the still, our rums have a slight, sweet, pomelo, citrus note to them.” John describes the Trinidadian palate as looking for a lighter-style rum with a measure of aromatic qualities, but not too perfumed. They have a clean smell, with hint of citrus notes. “Anything more than that and we are not happy with with it.” Whereas, he describes Barbados rums as aromatic, but in a different range, more oily. For example, if you try Mount Gay rum, you’ll pick up a propanol note.

For darker Trinidad rums, he describes them as having primarily barrel notes from the wood, as well as having dried fruit notes in a raisiny type of flavor.

Angostura’s Range


The Reserva is a white rum with character. Three years in cask rounds off he spirit and “adds a little bit of the barrel character to it.” Its destiny is to be the standard rum in a cocktail. “You are using a spirit that is not just providing alcohol, but it has synergies with the ingredients of these cocktails. The rum will actually bring something to the cocktail.”

Cocktails: try it in the old standards like Daiquiris and Mojitos. In Trinidad, we love rum and fresh coconut water.

5 Year Old

“I like to call the 5 year old a teenage rum. It is a rum with a little bit of a spirit to it.” The 5 year old rum has more character due to the extra age and blending. Try it neat and John says you’ll feel it almost tingle on your tongue. He describes it as a rum with spiceness and liveliness.

Cocktails: John recommends trying the 5 year old in a mojito. “Bring a rum that can stand up to the mint a little more and you’ll enjoy the drink so much more.”

7 Year Old

“This is one of my favorites.” Of course, there’s some additional maturity, but it’s a little rounder and there’s less spiciness. The rum is more mellow and has a chocolatey, cocoa flavor to it.

Cocktails: Go back to a rum and coke with this rum. “The original rum and cokes were made with some pretty rough stuff and more likely than not, a dark rum. It’s fascinating, when you get the blend right, it is not as sweet as with a white rum. The coke gives up some of that sweetness and you get some of the dryness from the cask.”

Angostura 1919

The original 1919 rum was created at the Fernandez distillery (the other rum distillery in Trinidad that was purchased by Angostura). It was the result of barrels surviving a fire in their storage barns. The Angostura 1919 rum pays homage to the Fernandez rum and is a gentler, softer style of rum designed to be sipped. Surprisingly, John recommends pairing it with a steak, but also with dessert, especially chocolate.

Angostura 1824

Angostura’s second sipping rum, which if he could afford it would be John’s rum of choice. “It’s got a little bit of everything to it. It has a wonderful way of filling the mouth with a little bit of heat and then the flavors remain on the tongue afterwards for you to enjoy. It has some dark fruits and because it is a 12 year old rum, the barrel is there manifesting itself in a leathery and tobacco note.” From a pairing perspective, try it with smoked trout as an appetizer or more naturally with a cigar at the end of the meal.

Angostura No. 1

The newest member of their rum line is the result of the blenders expressing themselves. “It’s the fruit of labor where they’ve been working with some of our more precious spirits. Some of the ones that we just know have that x factor. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate the skill of our blenders and the depth of our warehouse.”

Cocktail Recipes

- The Mojito

- Daiquiri

- Cuba Libre

Distiller’s Trinidad Guide

Distiller John Georges passes along his recommendations for where to eat, drink and shop in Trinidad. His insider tips are available in the the F.E.D. iPhone app.


Photograph courtesy of Shakers

Drink Rum | Shakers

If I was going to take someone out to drink rum, I come to Shakers. They have quite a few rums and carry our rums too. We’ve done some blends specially for them.

Ariapita Avenue, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

T: +1.868.624.6612 | www.shakerstrinidad.com

The Cellar at Jenny’s

Photograph courtesy of Jenny’s On The Boulevard

Drink | The Cellar at Jenny’s On The Boulevard

It’s a nice and quiet little pub in a basement. It’s a combination of food and drink. You can have a good time down here and they serve local food.

6 Cipriani Boulevard, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago

T: +1.868.625.1807 (Book a Table) | www.jennysontheblvd.com

Roti | Shiann’s Roti Shop

They deliver great roti. No drinks, but great roti. You can pretty much get any kind of roti you like here.

Corner Tragarete Road and Woodford Street, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago

T: +1.868.625.1735

Octopus Carpaccio and A La Plancha at Chaud

Photograph courtesy of Chaud

French | Chaud

It’s a French, haute cuisine type place by chef Chef Khalid Mohammed. It’s fancier. If you want something a little more upmarket, this is somewhere you’d go. It’s a Trinidadian type thing with some chef schooling behind it.

2 Queen's Park West, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

T: +1.868.623.0375 | www.chaudkm.com

Sandwiches | Richard's Bake & Shark

You should not leave Trinidad until you come here and enjoy a bake and shark. It’s been described as the best fish sandwich ever tasted. It’s fried shark meat served in a fried bun [flour-dough], loaded up with condiments like mango chutney, chadon beni, tamarind sauce, and garlic sauce. It’s very Trinidadian.

N Coast Road, Maracas Bay Village, Trinidad and Tobago

Angostura Single Barrel Rum

Photograph courtesy of Angostura

Buy Rum | Angostura Distillery

In addition to our international rums, we also have local rums which are primarily sold in our local market. The Single Barrel Reserve is the rum you should bring home from a trip to Trinidad. I am surprised at how many people enjoy that rum and it is just not available internationally. It’s aged in oak and is between three and five years old. It’s a little heavier in character than the international rums and it doesn’t have the same spiciness. Flavor-wise, it is somewhere between the 7 year old and the 5 year old.

Corner Eastern Main Road and Trinity Avenue, Laventille, Trinidad & Tobago
T: +1.868.623.1841 | www.angostura.com