Review: Appleton Estate Extra

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Count Silvio
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Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:30 pm

The history of Appleton Estate dates back to 1655, the year when England captured Jamaica from Spain, but the first known record of rum production at the Estate is dated 1749. It was during the English Empire when they discovered that rum that had spent a long time at sea, stored in wooden barrels, became smoother and more flavourful.

Appleton Estate rums are crafted using the traditional column still method and 'small batch' pot distillation method, which produces more flavourful rum than a column still. The rums are aged in 40 gallon (151.4 litres) oak barrels and are carefully hand-blended by the Master Blender, Joy Spence, who also has each barrel checked individually before blending to ensure the quality of the rum.

The approved blend is placed in a vat to 'marry,' which means that during the marrying process the flavours of the rums meld together in the vat, producing fuller and more rounded rum. Once Joy Spence is happy with the blend, it is certified for bottling.

The Appleton Estate rum range includes: Appleton Estate V/X, Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old, Appleton Estate Master Blender's Legacy, Appleton Estate 21 Year Old, Appleton Estate 250th Anniversary and Appleton Estate 30 Year Old rum. The last two are extremely limited editions and very difficult to find. The 30 Year Old 1440 bottle limited edition rum has not been released yet, however.
Read the full review of this specatular Jamaican rum on the frontpage!
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Capn Jimbo
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Thu Jul 03, 2008 12:50 am

Count, as you may know Appleton Estate Extra is one of the five reference rums I selected to represent the five basic styles of rum (Link). I am simply mad for history and tradition and Jamaica falls right behind Barbados in the glorious history of rum. Now I think many would agree that the Barbadian rums have a wonderful, classic character and it is fair to say anything made there is very, very good if not simply great.

Jamaica's full bodied and highly aromatic rums made them the leading rum of that day, and they were very appreciated by our own George Washington and Jefferson too. As far as I'm concerned Jamaica too can be relied upon for almost uniformly great rums. Appleton Extra is a terrific rum to review, especially considering its more than affordable price.

As it often goes in reviews, Sue Sea's and mine did differ a bit and are worth reading (Link). We found more fruit and fruit blossoms, less cream. We concur on the vanilla, leather, oak and spice. It may be that what you describe as creamy is our smoothness. In any case though, we appreciate your reviews and couldn't agree more that this is a smashing rum.

I have honestly had nights where I could nose my Extra all night long - the aroma is that good. Thanks again for highlighting this truly great rum...
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Capn Jimbo
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Count Silvio
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Thu Jul 03, 2008 11:19 am

If you like history and rum, you will like the book And a bottle of Rum by Wayne Curtis. It has nice descriptions of how rum evolved in the New World.

I'd say the cream in Appleton Extra was almost definitely just cream, it was perhaps slightly combined with vanilla. On the second day of tasting I may have noticed some very minor floral notes in the palate but I didn't include this in my tasting notes because I wasn't entirely sure about this finding and was unable to notice any floral notes on the other days I tasted this rum.

I am curious, do you have the old label or the new label of Appleton Extra? There have been reports of differences in taste between these two rums.
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JaRiMi
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Thu Jul 03, 2008 12:19 pm

Appleton Extra has not been my personal favorites, largely due to its taste profile (which I understand has now changed some in the most recent bottlings, so I must give it a try again soon). In general I find many Jamaican rums simply too strong in that roasted, burned molasses flavour - is this due to the use of "dunder" in the process, I am not certain but the rums are often somewhat aggressive at the expense of smoothness and pleasantness for my palate (I have tried Monymusk singles a few versions, as well as the different Appleton rums).

My very dear favorite amongst the Jamaican rums I have tasted in the Appleton 21yo, which is truly magnificent in its balance and finesse. Some see it flawed due to its dryness; indeed the finish is oaky, but this is surely to be expected from a 20yo rum aged in the tropics. As a matter of fact I am always very, very surprised (and suspicious) of other "aged in the tropics" rums which have no hint of wood in taste after a claimed 15+ years of ageing. It is good, perhaps, to remember that there is no unified law amongst the rum producing countries that would force the age statements to be that of the youngest distillate in the blend..

As for the history of english-speaking Caribbean, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Guayana all stand tall and proud I feel, each having produced a uniquely different style of rum from each other: Jamaica with their estery and pungent powerhouse of flavours, Barbados well known for excellent balance and smooth character, Trinidad with their lighter style of rum (which I cannot help to think might have given ideas to Don Facundo Bacardi in his days already) much praised by blenders, and Guyana with their world-famous Demerara region & its multiple distilleries (now sadly only one), producing rich and characterful rum. Add to these the British Virgin islands rum and voila - you get British navy rum's :P

Nowadays many rum consumers are genuinely surprised when they realize that even many "national" rums are blends of rums from several different sources - it is surprising to see for example where the 50 million litres of rum produced by Angostura end up (or where Caroni's rums have been shipped, only to be blended in hundreds of ways). Bulk sales & use of rum may be the less romantic side of rum business, but as someone said, blender's are able to create magnificently pleasant sippign rums by mixing different styles with great skill.

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Thu Jul 03, 2008 11:41 pm

Hear, hear! Well said "J".

Count I don't have a clue whether I have a new or old label, though I suspect it's new. I've purchased two bottles in the last couple months and they both looked like the bottle in your review, with the "aged 12 years" near the bottom of the label as shown.

JaRiMi, I think we'd all agree the Jamaican rums are powerful and aromatic, but those are the qualities that made Jamaican rums preferred over the former standard, Barbadian way back when. Jamaican rums commanded higher prices, and George Washington (and others who could afford it) would drink nothing else. Sue Sea and I have tried the 21 as well, side by side with Extra. We preferred the Extra as it was a perfect bridge between being too old and too young. And Extra is hardly a young rum.

This raises another issue that of the difference between age and maturity. I think Joy Spence's Extra is as close to a masterpiece as is Jerry Edward's Mount Gay XO or Barbancourt's Five Star. None are the oldest.
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Count Silvio
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Sun Jul 06, 2008 5:22 pm

Capn Jimbo wrote:Hear, hear! Well said "J".

Count I don't have a clue whether I have a new or old label, though I suspect it's new. I've purchased two bottles in the last couple months and they both looked like the bottle in your review, with the "aged 12 years" near the bottom of the label as shown.
If it is the same as in my picture it is definitely the new one. In the old ones the number 12 is not printed on the label.
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Mon Sep 22, 2008 2:27 pm

I just spotted a new website from Appleton where you can book rum tours: http://www.appletonrumtour.com/
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Count Silvio
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Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:58 pm

New note in aftertaste discovered: dark chocolate, close with the coffee notes.
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Dacaqa Fe Noyetuxuhe
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Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:48 pm

mmm. nice.

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