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Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year old

Review: Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old Jamaican  Rum   (92.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AkA The Rum Howler)
Posted May 19th, 2017

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.

Sunset in the Nassau Valley

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 12 Year Old Rare Blend is crafted in small batches. This is a true 12 Year Old spirit as the Appleton Estate website informs us that it all of the rums which make up this blend are each aged at least 12 years.


In the Bottle 4.5/5

I like the squat jug-like bottle which Appleton Estate uses to house their rum. The bottle shape is distinctive and the labeling is crisp and professional. The shape of the bottle makes it easy to grab, and the medium long neck makes for easy pouring. The only flaw is the metallic screw cap closure. This can be forgiven to a small extent as the savings gained by the use of the same bottle for the VX (Signature Blend), the Reserve, and the Rare Blend have been passed on to the consumer. This is one of the best priced 12-year-old spirits in my locale.

In the Glass  9/10

When poured into my glass the rum has a pleasing  dark copper/bronze colour in the glass and when that glencairn is tilted and twirled we see that the spirit leaved a lightly thickened film on the inside the crest of which slowly releases a multitude of small to medium-sized droplets back into the rum.

The Appleton 12 Year Old Rare Blend has a classic aged rum nose. Dark brown sugar and toffee meld with oak spice, orange peel and marmalade. Baking spices in the form of vanilla, cinnamon, a touch of allspice and hints of nutmeg weave in and out of the oak spice with some nutty almond and crushed walnuts lurking just underneath. As I let the rum sit I notice a firm impression of pipe tobacco carrying notes of camphor and hints of menthol.

In the Mouth  55/60

Across the palate the 12-year-old rum brings firm flavours of oak spice and orange peel melded into caramel toffee and dark brown sugar. The pot still influence with the spirit brings impressions of sawgrass and pipe tobacco with hints of menthol and tar all of which complement the aforementioned oak spice and caramel. Baking spices ooze across the palate particularly vanilla, allspice, and cinnamon. There is an impression of fruited sweetness which reminds me of canned apricots and marmalade, and then some lovely underlying bitter flavours reminiscent of coffee and chocolate. Crushed walnuts and almond-like marzipan add to the lightly bitter yet lightly sweet character of this spicy rum.

In the Throat  14/15

The finish is long with a mildly bitter/mildly sweet flavour and a firm spicy bite which lingers in my throat and upon the palate. Some menthol and a hint of salty brine brings soothing relief and entices me to sip again. The empty glass has a rich brown sugar and baking spice aroma which is very pleasing.

The Afterburn  9.5/10

I look forward to each time I open a new bottle of the Appleton 12 Year Old. This is a rum which has really grown on me, and has become one of my very favourites. I also appreciate that although this is one of the best rums in the world, it is also one of the best rum bargains as well. Few spirits can give us the bang for our buck that the Appleton 12 Year Old Rare Blend does.

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


Suggested Serving

Rum Février
a cocktail by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)

1 oz  Appleton Signature Blend VX
1/2 oz Appleton Estate Rare 12 Year Old Blend
3/4 oz fresh squeezed Orange Juice
1/2 oz fresh squeezed Lime Juice
1/8 oz Campari
1/4 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
Orange Peel

Add the six ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with orange peel

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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