Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum Tasting

La Bodeguita del Medio Rum Society kicked off its first monthly session for 2012 with Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum. Presented by Stuart Reeves, Brand Ambassador of Brown-Forman, and hosted by James Carlin, Bar Manager of La Bodeguita, the tasting included five rums including the rare 30 year old.

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio
Mai Tai in Appleton Estate Rum bamboo cups

Guests were welcomed on the lower ground premises of La Bodeguita with Mai Tai cocktails served in Appleton Estate bamboo cups.

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio
Tasting room

Rum production dates back to the 1400s when Christopher Columbus introduced sugar cane to the Caribbean in late 1493. Appleton Estate’s history goes back to 1749, making it the second oldest rum distillery in the world, with Mount Gay 1703 being the oldest.

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio
Stuart Reeves, Brand Ambassador

In 1893, Jamaica had 148 distilleries and only 6 remain at present producing 4.5 million gallons of rum.

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio
Appleton Estate Rum on taste: VX, 8yo, 12 yo, 21 yo, 30 yo

Appleton Estate is located in the Parish of St Elizabeth, one of 14 parishes in Jamaica. Their rum obtains its character from a combination of several elements such as environmental factors (climate, soil, topography), the variety of sugar cane, fermentation process, the distillation process and the ageing and blending processes.

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio

Sugar cane takes between 10 months to 2 years to mature and at Appleton, it is harvested after 12 months. Once the molasses are extracted and diluted with spring water and cultured yeast, the mixture is allowed to ferment in a temperature controlled process that completes within 36 hours. At that stage, the fermented wash has 7% alcohol, called a dead wash.

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio
Jamaican Rum Pot Still Distillation

Appleton is classified as a medium to full bodied rum, a flavour obtained from the use of 5 pot stills and 2 column stills, to get the right balance. The distillation process takes 5 hours from start to finish before the blending process occurs by Master Blender Joy Spence.  Lower ester rums, the Common Clean (40-80 esters) and Plummer (180 esters) are used in the blending process.

Appleton Estate is aged in ex bourbon barrels, which is low tannins and gives the rum its vanilla notes. Due to tropical ageing, 6% is lost every year. Rum aged in Jamaica for 1 year is the equivalent of spirits aged in a cooler climate for 3 years, eg 21 yo Appleton is equivalent to 60 yo whisky.

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio
Appleton Estate Rum; Sensory Plate: chocolate, vanilla, nutmeg, orange, coffee

Five key flavours, which a represented on a sensory plate, are identified in the Appleton range: orange, chocolate, nutmeg, vanilla, chocolate, coffee – orange being the signature flavour of the brand.

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio

The tasting begins with the Appleton Estate 21 Year Old, a 43% ABV viscous rum with “legs” when tilted at 45 degree angle. On the nose, it has top notes of orange and as the glass is gently rotated, the flavours open up revealing more coffee and vanilla. On the palate, there are oak, cocoa, and vanilla flavours which come from being aged in ex Jack Daniels charred barrels. A rich sipping rum with complex flavours.

The Appleton Estate VX is a blended home-style rum with no minimum age. Known as the flagship product, it was created in 1987 from a blend of 15 rums. Designed to be a mixing rum used for cocktails, it has a top note of orange, more nutmeg, less vanilla and not too heavy on the oak.

The Appleton Estate Reserve 8 Year Old has a minimum age statement with rums between 8 and 12 years old. Equivalent to a 25 year old whisky due to the tropical ageing, it has 20 different rums in the blend with more chocolate, toasted oak flavours and spice.

The Appleton Estate 12 Year Old has a minimum age statement of 12 years and is a full-bodied rum. It retains the top note of orange but has a little more vanilla and oak due to spending more time in the barrel.

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio
Appleton 30 year old

The Appleton Estate 30 Limited Release Year Old has a minimum age statement of 30 years and is the oldest commercially available rum at present. 1440 bottles are produced worldwide, with only 32 in Australia and New Zealand. Viscous, rich with a more oak, this is luxuriant rum to sip after a meal.

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio
Banana fritters

A traditional Jamaican dessert of banana fritters laced with honey, rum and cinnamon from La Bodeguita’s kitchen was served with the 30 year old rum.

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio

After the tasting, a blending exercise saw small groups attempt to create a blend to matche the Appleton VX. Four aged rums were used in various proportions and presented to James Carlin for judging.

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio
James Carlin, Bar Manager at La Bodeguita, judging the rum blends

Team “Bob Marley” which included Gourmantic won the runner-up prize of 3 x 200 ml bottles of Appleton Estate Rum.

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio
Runner-up prize, 3 x 200ml bottle of Appleton Estate Rum

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio
La Bodeguita Rum Society group

Appleton Rum at La Bodeguita del Medio
James Carlin (L) and Stuart Reeves (R) in the Rum Locker Room with Appleton 30 yo

La Bodeguita del Medio Rum Society meetings are held monthly for members.

La Bodeguita del Medio
125 York Street
Sydney 2000

Gourmantic attended the Appleton Estate Rum tastings as media guests. Photography by @MrGourmantic.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.