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Appleton Estate 15 Year Old (Minimum Age) Rum

Review: Appleton Estate 15 Year Old (Minimum Age) Rum  88/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Revised November 17, 2018

Sunset in the Nassau Valley

The Appleton Estate is located in Nassau Valley in St. Elizabeth which is part of Jamaica’s Cockpit Country. The Cockpit Country is a karst formation which was formed over millions of years as the underlying limestone was eroded by the chemical action of rain. Within a cockpit karst formation are valleys known as Poljes. They are formed where a river floods, then recedes and forms a flat valley over millions of years. The soil in the poljes is very fertile and rich in nutrients because of the sediments left behind after the river had receded. In 1749, within the polje known as the Nassau Valley, the Appleton Estate Sugar Factory was founded. The Nassau Valley has a special mild micro-climate which is ideally suited to the growth of sugarcane. As well, a water source wells from the limestone formation and provides an exceptionally soft pure water which used for the production of Appleton Estate Rums.

The Appleton Estate 15 Year Old Rum was recently introduced in Canada as a new Limited Edition Rum. This is a true 15 Year Old spirit as the rums within the blend (a mixture of column still and heavy pot still rums) have all been aged a minimum of 15 Years before being bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

The stylish bottle for the Limited Edition 15 Year Old Appleton Estate rum is shown to the left. I like the bottle and am particularly pleased that Appleton Estate has decided to include a wood topped cork closure as part of the presentation of this new rum. I also like the mid-sized neck and wide mouth which make it very easy to pour the rum without spilling. My only quibble is with the gold script written directly upon the glass bottle. The script kind of blends in with the colour of the rum and is extremely hard to read.

In the Glass 8.5/10

When I poured the aged spirit into my glencairn glass I saw that the spirit has a light copper hue. When the spirit is examined closely you can see that it has a very light olive-green colour at the crest of the meniscus which forms at the top of the rum where the spirit meets the glass. This pale green meniscus is the result of tannins drawn from the oak cask which have a greenish tint when held up to the light. The greenish tint reflects the years of tropical aging in white American Oak barrels.

When I gave the glass a slow tilt and twirl I noticed that the rum was not as heavily bodied as I expected. In fact the 12 Year Old Rum from Appleton (which I also own) has a noticeably heavier consistency. As well, when I gave the breezes above the glass a quick examination, I noticed that the heavy pot still esters which are a signature of the 12-year-old rum were subdued in this expression. I had the opportunity to ask Appleton Estate Senior Blender David Morrison about this, and he confirmed to me that the 15-year-old spirit has a higher percentage of column still rum in its blend. The spirit was apparently blended to be a lighter, more nuanced Appleton Rum than the 12-year-old, and is not simply an older version of the same rum.

When I bring the glass to my nose, it is greeted by zesty oak spice, caramel toffee and light funky pot still aromas (camphor and resin, bits of menthol, and vague hints of tar). Baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg) rise into the breezes as well. Spicy orange peel and a light grassy quality also begin to wind into the air above the glass. Firm impressions of almond complete the complex aroma. These impressions are in fact very similar to those which I wrote down for the Appleton Reserve Rum when I reviewed that spirit a few years ago. In fact I am tempted to describe the 15 Year Old Rum from Appleton Estate as an older more refined version of the Appleton Estate Reserve.

In the Mouth 52.5/60

The rum brings a firm spicy bite of oak spice which is full of citrus peel and baking spice (nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon). Alongside this spiciness is a mild brown sugar sweetness and some obvious vanilla and almond. The funk of the Jamaican Pot Still is subdued however its does bring light flavours of menthol, peppermint, camphor and resin which adds a nice layer of complexity. I continue to sip and notice a nice ribbon of chocolate as well as almond flavours moving towards marzipan, and the orange peel moving towards marmalade.

I like the rum, however the firm spiciness leads me to believe that the spirit may be more suitable for a classic cocktail like a Rum Old Fashioned than it is for sipping neat. After mixing one (see recipe below) I find that assessment confirmed, and before I retire for the evening, I mix a second.

In The Throat  13.5/15

The finish is long and heated as the palate feels glowing embers of baking spices (cinnamon and cloves) long after the rum has been swallowed. Fortunately a light caramel sweetness and cooling menthol soothe the back of the throat.

The Afterburn  9/10

Appleton Rums can be quite polarizing. The funk of the Jamaican Pot Still can be especially challenging and the strong flavours associated with the Jamaican Pot Still are not for everyone. I have found that the more often I sample Appleton Rums, the more that Jamaican funk grows on me.

The Limited Edition Appleton Estate 15 Year Old Rum brings a subdued form of the Jamaican Pot Still flavour profile forward. The benefit of this is that the rum seems more nuanced allowing us to enjoy some of the lighter subtleties within the rum. The rum is suitable for sipping over ice, or for short cocktails such as the Rum Old Fashioned.

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


Suggested Cocktail

Rum Old Fashioned

2 oz Appleton Estate 15 Year Old Rum
1 tsp Simple Syrup
1 dash Fees Whiskey Barrel Aged Cocktail Bitters
3 large Ice Cubes
1 twist of Orange Peel

Add the first three ingredients to a rocks glass over the ice cubes
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Drop the peel into the cocktail if desired.

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


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)


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