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Appleton Estate Master Blender’s Legacy

Review Update: Appleton Estate Master Blender’s Legacy 93/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Revised November, 2012

In 1749, in the Nassau Valley of Jamaica, the Appleton Estate Sugar Factory was founded.  The Nassau Valley is a fertile, interior valley with a special mild micro-climate which is ideally suited to the growth of sugarcane. A water source which wells from a limestone rock formation provides an exceptionally soft pure water which used for the production of Appleton Rums. The Appleton Estate Rum is crafted from pot stills in small batches. After blending and aging the rums are ready for bottling. Unlike most rums produced in the Caribbean, Jamaican law forbids the use of an age statement unless the entire contents of the bottle are aged at least as long as the stated age.

The Appleton Estate Master Blender’s Legacy was produced to recognize three generations of Appleton Estate Master Blenders, Joy Spence, the current Master Blender, Owen Tulloch, the  previous Master Blender, and, David Morrison the current protégé of Joy Spence. All three blenders have set their mark on this luxurious rum.

The rum itself is a blend of rums which range in age from 18 years to 30 years.

appleton-master-blenders-legacyIn the Bottle 4/5

I will be a little critical with the packaging of this product.  The Master Blender’s Legacy is a limited release and is at a price-point similar to an expensive Single Malt Scotch. Yet the rum is presented in the same flagon style bottle as the younger rums in the Appleton range and arrives with a that same pressed on screw cap (only the colours of the labels and cap are changed). Unfortunately pressed on metal screw caps are fragile. They expand and contract at a different rate than the glass. These caps also have a tendency to distort and warp when they are first opened as the metal perforations must be broken to open the bottle, thus it is easy for a bottle with this style of closure to lose its seal. I expect a better presentation for what I consider to be a luxury rum.

In the Glass 9/10

The rum is a rich polished bronze colour which displays obvious flashes of red when held up to the light. When the glass is swirled it reveals skinny legs which quickly trail back into the rum.  The speed with which the rum trails down the side of the glass indicates to me a lighter rum than I would normally expect based upon the age of the rums in the blend.

The aroma of the Legacy is different from my expectations as well, based upon the other Appleton Rums I have been reviewing. There appears to be a light smoothness associated with the rum that makes everything on the nose more approachable than the other rums in their line-up. The orange peel which is very prevalent in the other Appleton rums is now combined with a lemon scent with both hiding behind or perhaps I should say melting into a light oak aroma. The brown sugar notes are softer as are other spices. Apricots, pears, pecans, allspice and nutmeg drift delicately in the air as well.

In the Mouth 57/60

I have visited this rum twice before and this time the body is lighter and cleaner than I remember. The flavour carries the tart spiciness of orange peel and lemon which are laid behind a backdrop of clean pure oak. Sweet flavours of baked fruit (apples and pears), brown sugar and honey are melded into this spiciness. I have read other reviews where the rum is said to have a smoky quality. I understand this perception, but to me I taste a presence tobacco mixed with pungent spices (nutmeg and allspice). These pungent spices in particular seem to act as a fulcrum between the tart and the sweet bringing them together in a nice balancing act. A light butter and nutty oil texture complement this balance.

In the Throat 14/15

This is a clean, long finish. Crisp oak and tart orange peel slip down the throat followed by brown sugar spices. The sweetness quickly disappears quickly on the exit.  A tinge of bitterness is left behind haunting the finish. If you go back to your empty glass later and take a wiff, you will notice deep scents of brown sugar and baking spices.

The Afterburn 9/10

The Appleton Master Blender’s Legacy is truly magnificent rum. I found this to be a true step above the 12-year-old rum (which is a great rum in its own right. The Legacy has a clean delivery, and the manner in which the flavours are so wonderfully balanced appeals to me a lot. The Appleton style is not one of overwhelming sweetness; but it is a style of complexity of oak and flavour that is marvelous to sip (especially in our cold Edmonton winters).

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


Suggested Cocktail:

This is a rum specifically designed by the Appleton Master Blenders to be drank neat, or on ice.  However, even the Appleton Estate website, talks a little about premium cocktails having their place within the family of their rums.  My suggested cocktails or very simple, constructed to bring out the flavour of the Appleton Estate rum without sacrificing its character.  The first suggestion is a very simple rum on ice with a twist of lemon. based upon the premium quality of this rum I shall call it The Appleton Legacy Cocktail.

The Appleton Legacy Cocktail

2 oz Appleton Master Blender’s Legacy
1 Large Ice Cube
a twist of lemon



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)


8 Responses to “Appleton Estate Master Blender’s Legacy”

  1. Rafael said

    I enjoy drinking Appleton Estate Master Blender’s Legacy, still have 1 or 2 bottles left which I bought a few months ago.
    But, to my surprise, I just checked a few minutes ago Appleton’s web page and they do not mention anything about it any more (nor about Appleton 21 years, nor about Mr. Tulloch).
    Do you think they stopped making Master Blender’s Legacy in order to support their new full 30 year old product?
    Thanks for your comments.

    • My understanding is that the Appleton Estate Master Blender’s Legacy was a limited Edition product. It seems to be running out everywhere. The 30 year Old product indeed seems to have usurped the MBL, but my understanding is that this product is also running out everywhere and in fact its price has risen dramatically in some markets due to the dwindling stocks. The 21 year old has a small production each year, but should remain available in limited quantities each year.

      I checked the Appleton Website,, and when I signed in as an English Canadian, I found a full description of the entire lineup to the 21 year old. (There was also a link to THE LEGACY of Owen Tulloch on the MBL page.) I notice that the Appleton website seems to direct the browser to country specific pages, so it could be that whatever locale you signed in as did not show those pages.

      • As a followup, I have noticed that the Master Blender’s Legacy seems to have been well stocked in Alberta Liquor stores this year.

        • Burlington Bill said

          Plenty available here in Ontario ($90/bottle)…. I did buy one bottle a couple of weeks ago; having never tried Appleton before. I had been previously warned that I would not enjoy Appleton. Unfortunately, the advise I received held true. I really do not like it at all. So what am I not understanding about Appleton?? Take Diplomatico Reserva, for instance. Enjoyed neat, it is ten times better for half the price. I bought the Masters Blend, hoping it was the best Appleton had to offer. I don’t think I will buy an Appleton product ever again. I doubt I bought from a bad batch?? I realize it’s all a matter of personal preference. I guess I can’t appreciate the attributes of Janaican rum?

          • The Appleton profile is full of spicy orange peel and many people do not appreciate the flavour. I would suggest mixing a few high end daiquiris, and you may find that you can enjoy the rest of your bottle in that format.

  2. Lance said

    To my horror, the Appleton 30 year old has the same problem on the finish.

    • Unfortunately the Appleton Estate 30 seems to revel in its bitter finish. Thankfully, in more recent bottlings of the Master Blender’s Legacy the bitterness of the finish has been tamed to some extent.

  3. nurryGopy said

    Truthful words, some unadulterated words dude. Thanks for makin my day.

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