Trinidad-based Angostura Holdings has come under fire following local press reports that the company’s rum production is being “audited”.
The Trinidad Express reported on 3 December that Angostura has been buying bulk rum from Cuba and South America and repackaging it, without substantial changes, and selling it to export markets.
This action, if true, would be in breach of European Union’s rules of Origin with regards to rum blending integrity, and raise questions about the company’s age claims for its rum blends, according to board documents from the company.
World renowned Angostura known for its Aromatic Bitters, as well as other rum brands such as the 1919 rum could face fines for its breaches, as well as cause significant harm to the brand, which could lead to decline in sales and potential litigation.
The company’s acting CEO Genevieve Jodhan has refuted the allegations and said the company stands firmly behind the integrity of its international branded rum portfolio.
“The integrity of Angostura’s international branded rums is not under audit,” she said.
“All our international branded rum products are aged and meet international standards.”
According to the report by the Sunday Express, Angostura imports heavy rum concentrate (HRC), which is the first distillation from sugar cane molasses fermentation, and which has to be further processed and aged before being repackaged and sold.
However, the allegations claim that the company would repackage a product that originated from CARICOM countries, label and brand it as local and then export it. CARICOM is an organization of 15 Caribbean nations whose main purpose is to promote economic cooperation and trade amongst its members.
The Sunday Express revealed that Angostura’s management could not guarantee the integrity of the products which had been exported over the past few years as it had not been sufficiently transformed during the distillation process.
Accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) has been retained to do an audit at the company. Angostura, which is a subsidiary of CL Financial, a local conglomerate is one of the more profitable arm of the group’s businesses. So far this year, it has made $458.2 million in revenue, a 5.6% growth over last year, and $94.1 million in net profit.