The House Of Angostura, makers of the famous bitters, also makes a few rums. I’m sampling the 1919 and 1824 tonight.
This rum is the result of an intricate dance of doing things by hand. After 12 years of aging in used bourbon casks, a number of rums are hand-picked by Angostura’s master blender, hand-blended and then re-casked (by hand). After some time, when the blender is satisfied that the rums have properly married in the barrel, the rum is then hand-bottled into beautiful bottles, corked, and sealed with wax.
The rum is a very dark gold, with thin but very clingy legs. The smell is one of dark, sweet molasses, with vanilla and a dark toffee or butterscotch. The smells are bold and rich. The taste is not as sweet as the smell, and has flavors that seem slightly charred – pleasantly, not burnt. The molasses is apparent, as is the vanilla and toffee, along with a hint of raisins or other dark fruit. The finish is a little long and spicy, with a bit of a burn that surprises me for a 12-year-old. This rum certainly fills the mouth with flavors, each trying to grab your attention, and they succeed one at a time.
My third sip, quite large, packs a punch of flavors, burn, and spice. Though somewhat sweet and certainly complex – my desires in any rum – this does not have balance in its flavors. Each flavor is distinct and makes its presence known boldly. Though it’s far from unpleasant, it is also not quite pleasant enough to enjoy as a fine sipping rum. I have to wonder how this would fair in a cocktail whose ingredients would help balance this rum. It’s interesting enough, just not balanced.
This rum is a blend of rums aged at least 8 years. It’s a medium gold color, with thin dripping legs, and smells fantastic. Sweet molasses and creamy butter come to mind, or maybe caramel rather than butter. Hints of vanilla come through. The flavor is a little smoky, rich, and creamy with hints of toasted nuts. It’s not as sweet as the smell. The finish is quite mild but a bit long, with a tiny hint of spiciness and just a little burn.
Another larger sip is more of the same. This is quite good, and a very nice balance of some simple flavors. It’s fine enough and smooth enough to be a good sipping rum, though perhaps it doesn’t have enough of any distinct flavor to be sipped too often. It would make a very decent mixing rum though it might get lost in stronger cocktails. Very good, but could use a little something more.
Price aside, the choice between these two is a no-brainer: the 1919 wins. If considering the price, the 1919 wins easily at less than half the cost of the 1824 ($26 vs $55).
But neither is perfect. The 1824 is rather unique and distinct and contains some very fine flavors, but is too unbalanced to be sipped on its own. The 1919 is well-balanced and rich, but it’s just a little too bland to be sipped too often. Either could succeed in cocktails, though the 1824 would need some careful thought.
I don’t mean to seem down on both of these rums – they certainly have their good points. They both just miss the mark by a little. Even still, the 1919 will go into onto my list as “Recommended” whereas the 1824 gets branded as being “On The Edge” since it’s a little too unique to be blindly recommended.