Appleton: a rum like no other
When Jamaica celebrated half a century of independence in 2012, the island’s oldest rum distillery decided to mark the momentous occasion in style. The distillery’s celebratory creation entered the record books. The Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Independence Reserve was the oldest rum on sale anywhere in the world, priced at a jaw-dropping $5,000 (£3,100) per bottle.A superb rum it may have been, but few travellers have that kind of money to spend on their travels! However, we are happy to say that Appleton produces a wide variety of premium aged rums at much more affordable prices. Why plump for Appleton when there are so many other Caribbean rums out there?
Well, Appleton is special. The 11,400-acre Appleton Estate in Jamaica’s lush Nassau Valley where Appleton is made has its own ‘terroir’ much like a fine Bordeaux wine.
If you like to savour a fine glass of single-malt Scotch whisky or a glass of XO Cognac, then do consider giving Appleton a try. With over 260 years of rum-making know-how behind them, the team at Appleton distillery still take great care over every step of the rum-production process from the sugar cane field right through to the spirit in the glass.
The Nassau Valley in the south west of Jamaica is a true rum maker’s paradise. It enjoys its own microclimate, which is ideal for growing sugar cane and making rum. The mornings are warm, while the afternoons often see gentle rain showers. Planted in the valley’s fertile, volcanic soils, the estate’s special varieties of sugar cane grow wonderfully well in these ideal conditions.
The fermentation and distillation process used at the Appleton distillery is small scale and artisanal in comparison with other larger rum distilleries. All the sugar cane molasses used comes from the Estate as does the incredibly soft limestone-filtered water and the special strain of yeast, which give the distillery’s rums their unique, complex character.Small, squat copper pot stills, which are used alongside traditional column stills, help give Appleton rums added depth. The New make spirit is matured in oak casks in Appleton’s warehouses in the Jamaican capital of Kingston where the hot Caribbean sun ensures the maturing rums age much faster than either Scotch whisky or French Cognac. In fact, a rum aged in Jamaica for one year is the equivalent of a spirit aged for three years in a colder country.
The final piece of the Appleton jigsaw is the distillery’s vastly experienced master blender Joy Spence, the first woman to hold that coveted job title anywhere in the global spirits industry. Originally trained as a chemist, Spence has been in the job she loves since 1997, maintaining consistency, while developing news rums and blends and travelling around the world as a brand ambassador.
Appleton rums are increasingly available in many airports around the world, especially as the brand has a new parent company in the shape of Campari, which is eager for the rum to win new converts. But which Appleton rum should travellers opt for?
Here is our quick buyers’ guide to some of the brand’s most widely available premium rums:
Appleton Estate V/X
Appleton Estate V/X is a blend of rums aged at least five years. It’s a great all-rounder with lots of buttery sweetness, perfect for mixing in cocktails, but also of sufficient quality to be savoured neat as a sipping rum.
Appleton Estate 12 Year Old
Widely acknowledged as one of the best Jamaican rums out there, Appleton Estate 12 Year Old has a deep, rich mahogany colour and lots of trademark vanilla on the nose. On the palate this rum is wonderfully sweet with lots of vanilla, oak and dried fruit. Excellent in a Daiquiri, but also delicious sipped with ice after a long, hard day.
Appleton Estate 21 Year Old
This is clearly a rum to purchase for a very special occasion, anniversary or as a gift for a true rum connoisseur. Containing a rare blend of some of the distillery’s oldest rums, Appleton Estate 21 Year Old has a floral scent and a complex taste of dried fruit, warm coffee and cocoa. In short, it’s a real treat and as complex and satisfying as the very best single-malt whiskies and fine Cognacs.