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Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum – Jamaica Independence Reserve

Review:  Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum – Jamaica Independence Reserve   89.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra
Published September 19, 2012

Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum – Jamaica Independence Reserve is bottled from a blend of rums which have been aged for a minimum of 50 years. This is the second oldest rum I have ever tasted, the oldest being another Jamaican Rum, (a 58-year-old Gordon and Macphail bottling from the Longpond Distillery).

I was able to taste this rare bottle when I was invited to a private tasting which featured the Appleton Estate 50,  30 , 21, and 12-year-old rums as well as the Master Blender’s Legacy. My host provided the 50 Year Old rum for the tasting, and I provided the other rums. Based upon how much money each bottle represented, I got by far the best end of that deal.

Here are my thoughts on the Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum based upon my tasting notes from that evening.

In the Bottle  5/5

The bottle and its packaging are very nice. I like that the Appleton style is preserved in this new bottle, but the entire look has been brought to a new level. The presentation is classy without being audacious.

In the Glass  9/10

The rum is a rich dark copper colour and leaves a thick film on the inside of my glass when it is tilted and slowly twirled. The thick film clings stubbornly to the inside of my glass releasing only a few big fat legs. I allowed the rum to decant a full ten minutes, and when I nosed it, I noticed the aroma had a light astringency even after decanting for ten minutes. The 45 % alcohol strength of the bottling is responsible I am sure; but I admit I was hoping that this alcohol tinge would have disappeared after ten minutes.

Putting aside the light astringency, I sensed strong notes of oak and orange peel zest rising above the glass imprinted with deep dark brown sugar and baking spices. The dark brown sugar smells grow stronger over time as do the baking spices which display scents of spicy nutmeg, and cinnamon. I also smell walnuts and a strong impression of vanilla. A vague herbal note is in the air as well, which is hard for me to decipher, lemongrass perhaps…

(My overall impression, based upon my side by side comparison with other Appleton’s is that the nose of the 50 Year Old is quite similar to the nose of the Appleton Estate Master Blender’s Legacy.)

In the Mouth 53/60

The really good news is that the Appleton Estate 50 Year Old does not run over your palate with oak sap and tannin the way that the 30 Year Old Rum does. Side by side the 50 is much smoother with the oak melded much more nicely into the flavour profile than either the 30 or the 21. The rum is soft in the mouth, and I taste dark brown sugar, baking spices (nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla), oak spices, orange peel, marmalade and walnut. There is much more in the rum, but my brief encounter left me unable to dig any deeper into the flavour than this.

What I was able to do was to compare my relative enjoyment with the other Appletons in the line-up. I found I liked the 50-year-old much more than the 30 or the 21-year-old. However, I felt the Master Blenders Legacy was clearly superior, and even the 12-year-old Appleton was slightly preferred.

In the Throat  13.5/15

The finish is long and spicy with an obvious (but light) bitterness (which tastes like walnut) lurking underneath. Oak spice, orange peel, cloves and cinnamon seem to linger forever. If not for that lurking bitterness this would score higher. (I think, to be honest, that the bitterness was there in the delivery as well which is probably what kept that score down a little too.)

The Afterburn 9/10

And there you have it. My impressions of the Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum – Jamaica Independence Reserve based upon a single tasting with four other Appleton Rums tasted side by side. I am really happy that the rum was not dominated by oak the way that the 30 and the 21-year-old rums were, but I also felt that the rum did not reach into the stratosphere and wow me as I was hoping it might. I think my score of 89.5 is about right.

If you are interested, here are links to my other reviews of  Appleton Estate Rums:

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


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)


4 Responses to “Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum – Jamaica Independence Reserve”

  1. Bill Quinn said

    Im sitting in airport in Kingston pouring (pun intended) over your website trying to pick a second bottle to take home. I was at Appleton estates and took tour and they had special limited edition bottle that was basically an 18 yr old rather expensive at over 200,000 dollars….Jamaican 250 Canadian …I did but the masters blend and now sitting here think I will buy a bottle of Eldorado 21 yr. I don’t see a review for Orronoco. It is a white rum and I’m not a big fan of white rims but I do think it is a very good one. It is Brazilian and as I said does have exceptional tast( my oppinion as well as friends) I don’t know where you r in Alberta … I’m in Calgary if you r near there maybe I could get a bottle to you. I’m very much liking your site and have favorites you and will look it up when home and have bigger viewing than phone

  2. Josh Miller said

    Thanks, Chip–now I don’t have to spend $300 for an ounce at my local source. Given that I’m not a big fan of the 12, I can’t imagine I’d like the 50 all that much.

    I always wonder what folks would say about these special releases if tasted blind. It’s nearly impossible to to leave your preconceptions at the door when you’re tasting something you know is supposed to be special or extremely expensive.

    • Hi Josh

      As far as taste goes, this rum sort of sits between the flavour of the MBL and the 21. I’ll betcha though that at $300.00 an ounce, the rum will sell out at your local store.


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