Appleton rum starts with sugar cane. In Jamaica, rum is made with molasses, the thick, sticky liquid left over once the sugar-cane juice has been boiled and the sugar crystals removed. Pot-still rums are a Jamaican speciality – big-flavoured, robust rums with more ‘funk’ than their Caribbean cousins, particularly compared with rum from Spanish-speaking islands.
Where is it made?
Appleton rum is made on an estate nestled in the fertile Nassau Valley on either side of the Black River in the south-west of Jamaica. The origins of Appleton Estate date to 1655 when the English captured Jamaica from the Spaniards. Frances Dickinson, whose grandsons Caleb and Ezekiel were the earliest-known owners of the Appleton Estate, took part in that conquest of Jamaica, and it is believed that Appleton Estate was part of the land grant that Dickinson received as reward for his services.
After many generations of ownership by the Dickinson family, the Appleton Estate was sold out of the family in 1845. From then on, it was owned by a procession of prominent Jamaican families, each of whom helped to increase the size and potential of the Appleton Estate by purchasing additional acreage of land planted with sugarcane. During these years, the Estate was producing several different pot-still rums, and it began to gain a reputation as a reliable source for quality spirits, a reputation that continues to this day.
How to drink Appleton rum?
Appleton rums, particularly the 21 Year Old, are excellent sipped on their own. The Signature Blend, however, is also particularly good in a huge variety of cocktails – including rum favourites such as the Daiquiri and Mai Tai. Master blender Joy Spence particularly recommends mixing it with cranberry juice or Ting grapefruit soda. For its Reserve Blend, however, she recommends adding fresh coconut water to create what is known locally as the ‘Epic’ serve.
Types of Appleton Rum
Appleton is famed for its old rums, and the 21 Year Old is a particular favourite among connoisseurs. Thanks to the island’s warm climate there is a much higher rate of evaporation meaning that aged Jamaican rums such as the 21 Year Old show a higher level of maturation than similarly aged Scotch whiskies. The pinnacle of Appleton’s current offering is perhaps the 25-year-old Joy Anniversary Blend, a rich, complex combination of rums aged for between 25 and 35 years.
Character and Style of Appleton
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Joy Spence – Master Blender
Joy Spence, Master Blender at J. Wray and Nephew Ltd., has the distinction of being the first woman to hold this position in the industry.
Joy's passion for the art of creating rum was inspired by J. Wray and Nephew Ltd’s Master Blender, Owen Tulloch, who was her mentor at the company.
Joy joined J. Wray and Nephew Limited as Chief Chemist in 1981, and held a series of key positions including Product Development Manager, technical Services Manager and Total Quality Manager before she was appointed General Manager, Technical and Quality Services in 1996, a position she holds along with the position of Chief Blender, which she took up in 1997.