title taken from “Rum and Soca” by Kes the Band on The Single Barrel Riddim
Touring the House of Angostura® in Trinidad
What is Carnival without rum? The two go so well together that songs have been made touting this symbiotic connection. From Lord Invader’s “Rum and Coca Cola” to Machel Montano’s “Bottle of Rum,” there is no denying that rum is as integral to Trinidad’s history as soca is.
I can almost hear you sigh “duh” as you read this. Yes, while rum is a staple in Trinidad, you may be surprised to learn that the largest distributor on the island is invested in more than just providing libation for Carnival.
During my recent trip to the land of rum and soca, I toured The House of Angostura® in Laventille. The company humbly started when Dr. Johann Siegert created the now famous bitters in 1824 to aid soldiers in Simón Bolívar’s army. Despite imitations appearing around the world, the family was successful in keeping the formula a secret to this day.
In 1875, the family moved to a small factory in Port of Spain, Trinidad to escape the political instability of Venezuela. Angostura bitters grew in popularity and has been used around the world in everything from medicinal elixirs to summer cocktails, which meant rum making was an inevitable next step. Today, a sprawling 20-acre complex is home to the distillery, the bottling plant, and the corporate offices. With such a large footprint in Laventille, Angostura is committed to being more than just a physical part of the community.
The company funds a Champions Award for community service, the Future Grower’s project that teaches and encourages young people to grow their own food to reduce their family’s food bill, and sponsors the Newton Playboys Steel Symphony.
Check out my interview with Marketing Manager Anthony Teixeira where we discuss Angostura’s mission to continually expand the product offerings as they simultaneously work to improve the lives of their Laventille neighbors.
Check out some pictures from the tour!