Angostura – Caribbean Masters of Flavour
Angostura is the world’s market leader for bitters and one of the Caribbean’s leading rum producers with a superb collection of premium rum brands, rooted and developed in the spirit of their native Trinidad and Tobago. World-renowned for its bitters, the company now strives to enhance recognition with its premium rum portfolio.
Angostura’s roots go back to 1824 when Germany-born Dr Siegert perfected the formula for aromatic bitters to be used in his medical practice. In 1921, Angostura Bitters was officially founded in Trinidad and Tobago and remained a family-owned business until the late 1990s when the business was sold to a financial group. Today, Angostura is a stock-listed company, with the government of Trinidad and Tobago being the majority shareholder.
“Angostura is a unique company with a long, historical legacy of nearly 200 years. It stands as bitters and a rum company – there is no other company with these characteristics,” said CEO Peter Sandstrom. “One of the unique aspects of Angostura is the secrecy surrounding our products that has been maintained for over 196 years, remains true to this day and is still highly guarded.”
Mr Peter Sandstrom who came to the company as CEO in 2020, explained that the company is going to follow a newly defined vision – to proudly grow for the betterment of the environment and the people of Trinidad & Tobago.
“That vision is essential. We are located in one of the most beautiful parts of the world so it is important that when we grow, we make sure that our impact on the island is minimal, and that we are giving back to nature as well. We want to grow with the environment in mind and this attitude is also reflected in our innovations.”
World-renowned for its bitters, Angostura has set itself a mission to become world-renowned for its rums as well. And the company is well on track towards that goal – it is already one of the most awarded rum companies in the Caribbean, with 18 awards in its rum business this year alone, and is striving to accelerate that recognition for its rums further afield.
The secret blend
Amongst Angostura’s products, the most recognisable historically is the company’s bitters, – the product that made the company famous. Angostura® aromatic bitters, successfully marketed globally with a geographic reach into 170 markets, has not changed since the first bottle was introduced to the world in 1824.
The company uses its traditional knowledge and makes its bitters by infusing herbs, seeds, bark, fruit, peels, or roots in alcohol and then extracting their essence. While today they are used in small proportions to flavour various alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, hundreds of years ago they were prized primarily for their health benefits.
The success of Angostura’s first product led the company to go into rum distillation. While its rums have been enjoyed by generations in the local market, in 2010 the company entered into a rebranding initiative of its five major rum brands to reach out to new markets on a global scale, with impressive results.
Consumers around the world may enjoy Angostura 1824, the 12-year-old flagship rum launched in 2000, named after the year that Dr Siegert allegedly created the herbal and spiced bitters, the iconic Angostura 7; the premium range of 1919; and the high-quality white rum Angostura Reserve. The company also makes soft drinks with the original lemon-lime bitters, popular in the local market.
Not only tradition but also innovation drives the company’s growth. Just recently, Angostura expanded its portfolio with the latest product – ANGOSTURA® cocoa bitters, made using Trinidad and Tobago’s own Trinitario cocoa which is a unique and untapped resource. This latest innovation is part of Angostura’s bid to promote the local agricultural treasure, cocoa, around the world.
“Angostura launched orange bitters 13 years ago, and we are proud to announce that as part of our efforts to support our local agricultural industry, we are adding cocoa bitters to our portfolio. Angostura’s forecasts for the demand for cocoa will result in increased output in local cocoa production. We have already been in contact with many of the local producers to ensure a steady supply of cocoa for our production process; this has put local producers in expansion mode,” said Mr Sandstrom.
Supporting the community
Angostura has a long history of supporting its communities, employees and partners, and its undisputed role in supporting the country’s development has come under the spotlight during the current pandemic. Ian Forbes, Chief Operating Officer, explained how the company handled the Covid19 crisis, stepping out to help not only its employees but also the Trinidad and Tobago community.
“Facing the pandemic, Angostura has transformed its distilling capability to deliver all pharmaceutical demands while also producing 50,000 375ml bottles & 20,000 1.75 litre bottles of hand sanitizer to donate.”
This was not the only initiative to help the community. Rahim Mohammed, Executive Manager – Corporate Services, was behind another notable project as it became obvious that people with lower incomes were getting into difficulties.
“Our employees, with the support of the Trade Union, came up with an idea on how they could help families financially impacted by the pandemic. In an unprecedented display of goodwill, these employees decided to donate some of their vacation days to create a pool of funds that will be used to purchase foodstuffs for the most vulnerable, who are financially impacted by the novel coronavirus.”
“It all started very small, with just a few vacation days, but it slowly built up. The management, executives and Board of Directors have also financially supported the drive. This employee-driven initiative saw 341 Angostura employees giving up a total of 1,074 vacation days, valued at $1,000,000.00, to be used for food hampers for families who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“One of the most inspiring things about the whole drive was the collective nature of this effort. It was a family effort, reflecting one of the cultural values we have. While Angostura is a stock-listed company, we are a family business, we have had generations of people working for Angostura. The family orientation is a very important aspect of our culture. We are not a status-driven company, we just get the job done,” noted Mr Sandstrom.
Angostura is not only a people company, it is also an environment company, he further affirmed, adding that a considerable amount of money has been invested in supporting this aspect.
The company has just commissioned a new, state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant, making Angostura into one of the most environmentally friendly rum companies in the Caribbean. The multi-million-dollar project was completed within the international collaboration of major European and local companies and will ensure that the company operates within global environmental guidelines and best practices.
Mr Sandstrom affirmed that Angostura’s future will all be driven by innovation, bringing new brands into the market, the innovation that will go hand in hand with the company’s environmental programme around the distillery.
“As CEO, I want to see Angostura transforming from being seen as a global leader in bitters into being perceived also as one of the greatest quality rum companies in the world. To this end, we have been investing in our distillery and ensuring that its impact on the environment is minimal and its output maximised. We are gearing up for the future and that will be a very exciting place to be.”