Consumers who thought they were getting something special when they purchased Angostura brand rums may have been getting fooled.
The Trinidad & Tobago distiller has been buying bulk rum from Cuba and South America and simply repackaging it, without substantial changes, and selling it to export markets, according to an investigation of company documents.
Such an action would be a breach of the European Union's rules of origin with regard to rum blending integrity, and raises questions about Angostura's age claims for its rum blends.
The publicly traded Caribbean company is the owner of the world-famous Angostura Aromatic Bitters as well as several rum brands which include its 1919 rum. It could be fined for its ethics breaches, board minutes have indicated. Chief executive Robert Wong, who has been on administrative leave for two months, was officially suspended this week.
Contacted by the Trinidad Express, Wong said, "I won't comment just yet. I am not guilty of anything. It's unfortunate. I am not sure what the motivation is. I understand the present board wanted a changing of the guard and we had discussed it, but that action didn't go through.”
In an effort to put a positive spin on the scandal, Angostura today issued a press release quoting acting CEO Genevieve Jodhan saying, "The integrity of Angostura's international branded rums is not under audit. All our international branded rum products are aged and meet international standards."