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Appleton Estate VX

Review: Appleton Estate VX  Rum  80/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AkA Arctic Wolf)
Posted February 7, 2010

Photo Courtesy forrest

Appleton Estate VX Rum is the entry-level rum in the Appleton Estate family of rums.  It is a blend of up to fifteen Jamaican rums of various styles which have been aged in hand crafted oak.  The sample of Appleton Estate VX rum which I used for this review was provided as a gift to me after a rum tasting event sponsored in part by Appleton Estate Rums.  At the tasting I was treated to a small presentation by an Appleton representative who talked about the signature Appleton Estate taste and aroma which I would be expected to encounter.  The power of suggestion should not be underestimated, and although I worked hard to form my own opinions; I must admit that my impressions both ‘in the glass‘ and ‘in the mouth‘ are remarkable close to the profile I was told to expect.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

The Appleton VX arrives in the typical flagon style Appleton Estate clear glass bottle.  Even the 200 ml sample bottle which was provided me as a gift after the tasting event had that distinctive Appleton shape.  For an entry-level rum this is more than adequate although the pressed metal cap caused me to deduct half a point.

In the Glass 8/10

The rum displays an amber colour with orange flashes.  Surprisingly (to me) the rum when swirled left nice long skinny legs in my glass indicating a buttery oil present.  The aroma is very spicy, and full of oak tannin.  I smell a firm and distinct orange peel, and light brown sugar and molasses rising in the tangy oak spice.

In My Mouth  47.5/60

A light buttery feel in my mouth  seems to make the spiciness of the rum ignite, and I find this is a little ‘rough and tumble’ for my taste buds.  It is a fresh spicy oak which has a sharp bite.  A light citrus flavour, a tangy orange zest, and a light rummy brown sugar compliment the oak but are to a point overshadowed by it.  There is also an element of butterscotch which appears and disappears in the spice.  The addition of an ice-cube helps to tame the spiciness to a degree; but for me, this is will a mixing rum.  The spicy flavours will act as an excellent base for many cocktails.

In My Throat  12/15

This has a really long, spicy, ‘hot in the throat’ finish.  I notice the citrus flavours and orange peel stay in the back of the palate during the finish.  I find the bite rather sharp, and again; I found I much preferred the rum with an ice-cube added.

The Afterburn  8/10

As an entry-level rum, Appleton Estate VX is impressive.  It has a fine complexity brought forward by the oak, and wonderful complimentary flavours of butterscotch, citrus fruit and orange peel.  It is the sharpness of the flavours which brings me to the conclusion that I must quantify the rum as a mixer.  I realize some will like it over ice, but I prefer to use that spiciness in nice bar drinks and cocktails.

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.


Suggested Cocktail

The Appleton VX adds a really nice bite to a Rum and Coke, and the tangy oak flavour profile really adds depth to fruity cocktails like the Afternoon Delight. For my suggested cocktail I thought I would go in a slightly offbeat direction and work a little play on a popular  and trendy cocktail, The Cosmopolitan.  My handy-dandy cocktail book, 1001 Cocktails: 1001 Recipes for the Perfect Drink (Hardcover) ~ Alex Barker (Compiler) gives the recipe for the Cosmopolitan on page 178.

The Cosmopolitan

2 measures Vodka
1 measure Triple Sec
1 measure lime juice
1 measure Cranberry juice
orange peel

Shake all the ingredients over ice
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with Orange Peel

My recipe is of course quite a different cocktail.  I call it:

The Traveller
a cocktail by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)

2 oz Appleton VX
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz lime juice
1 oz White Cranberry juice
flamed grapefruit zest

Shake all the ingredients over ice
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a flamed grapefruit zest

For those who do not know a flamed zest is a small slice of citrus peel which has been touched by a flame along its outer surface.  After wards the peel is squeezed above the cocktail over the flame such that the oils erupt in a dramatic burst of fire which caramelizes the oils before they drop into the top of the cocktail.

A variation of The Traveler is the Arctic Traveler.  This is exactly the same recipe except that three large ice cubes are added to the cocktail, after the flamed zest.

The  Arctic Traveller
a cocktail by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)

2 oz Appleton VX
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz lime juice
1 oz White Cranberry juice
flamed grapefruit zest
3 large Ice Cubes

Shake all the ingredients over ice
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a flamed grapefruit zest
Add the large Ice Cubes

If Red Cranberry Juice is used the Cocktail may be called The Red Sunset or The Arctic Sunset if ice cubes are added.

Of course my good friend forrest helped me out with this cocktail and he even gave me the idea to use the flamed grapefruit zest, which really added a nice flair to the drink.  In any case the Traveler cocktails are all “forrest approved“.  (Visit his great site by clicking on his name above.)


You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

3 Responses to “Appleton Estate VX”

  1. Fat Rum Pirate said

    This is a fairly average rum and the review was pretty much spot on. It isn’t as good as similarly priced rums and is no better than Bacardi Gold or Cockspur 5 star rum.

    Its not even noticeably better than Appleton Special Golden Rum which is cheaper.

    Its nicely presented but it really isn’t as good as it looks.

  2. David Wallace said

    Excellent review. I thought the score was a little low myself as this is one of my Stock house rums. However, the point was that the spiciness that made it too hot on its own makes it an excellent mixing rum. And that is how I drink it, mostly with tonic, occasionally in a Cuba Libre.

  3. Maritimer said

    I really enjoy your reviews.
    Too many people try to compare middle shelf liquor to top shelf liquor. A liquor should be judged by comparing it to its peers. I think Appleton Estate V/X should be a very respected rum amungst its peers. I would have given a higher score, perhaps 84 – 85+. For those of us with an unrefined taste for good rum, this is an exceptional rum.
    You did a great review, I just felt it could have rated higher.


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