As T&T’s sole producer of rum, Angostura Distillers hold a special place in the hearts of local limers. Trinbagonians stick by Angostura with a nationalistic zeal, declaring its rum the best in the world and adding a dash of its aromatic bitters to everything from drinks to marinades, soups and puddings, as well as swearing by the mixture as a cure for almost any ailment.
Angostura was founded by J.G.B. Siegert, a German surgeon who left his homeland to join Simón Bolívar in the fight for Venezuelan independence from Spain. Alarmed at the debilitating stomach ailments that plagued Bolívar’s troops, Siegert began experimenting with South American herbs and spices to concoct a remedy. He succeeded in 1824, creating the secret blend of botanicals that still make up the bitters today, and named his tonic after the Venezuelan town where Bolívar’s movement was based.
Popularized by sailors who brought wind of its curative powers to England, the mixture was first exported six years later, and demand increased rapidly. Production was shifted to the more economically and politically stable Trinidad, and the George Street plant soon dominated the small town of Port of Spain. After Siegert died in 1870, the company was taken over by his sons. The founder’s great-grandson Robert Siegert, who took the helm in 1928, steered Angostura to loftier heights, establishing the Caribbean’s most modern distillery in 1949 and exporting Trinidad’s beloved product all over the world.