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Appleton Estate Reserve 8 Year Old Rum

Review: Appleton Estate Reserve 8 Year Old Rum ( 89.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published December 8, 2020

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.

Appleton Rum has made some changes to their core line-up in recent years adding a 15 Year Old Rum (see review here), and moving towards minimum age statements for a larger part of their family of rums.  In particular the Appleton Estate Reserve which was previously a blend of 20 rums with an average age of 6 years, is now an Age Stated Rum with a minimum age of 8 Years for the rums in the blend. The new Appleton Estate Reserve 8 Year Old Rum is also bottled at a higher bottling proof now 43 % abv instead of 40.

In the Bottle   4.5/5

Part of the shake-up to the Appleton Estate line-up was a re-imagining of the bottle display. Although the bottle concept has not changed drastically, the new bottle is somewhat taller and more rectangular than before. The shoulders of the bottle are sloped or curved as much as before either. The look is more masculine. The highlight though is the wood topped synthetic cork which now seals the presentation.

In the Glass 9.5/10

The Appleton Reserve displays a vibrant copper hue which has just began turning the corner towards bronze. 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 bring the glass to my nose zesty oak spice is foremost in the breezes. My opinion is that the reserve is more oaky than before which makes sense as the spirit when previously reviewed was a rum with an average age of 6 year whereas now the spirit is at least 33 % more mature. The oak carries a light butterscotch and vanilla sweetness with firm brown sugar and baking spices (cinnamon and nutmeg) apparent as well. Spicy orange peel and light aromas of the Jamaican pot still (camphor and resin, bits of menthol, and vague hints of tar) begin to arrive as well as a light grassy quality which has wound its way into the air. Almond and hazelnut seem to lie within the menagerie of nasal impressions as well.

In The Mouth 53.5/60

The 8 Year Old Appleton Reserve Rum brings a bevy of spice across the palate full of fine oak spice, citrus peel, cloves, and cinnamon. Underneath this spice are flavours of brown sugar, vanilla and grassy menthol. I taste banana peel as well as soft banana fruit as well as baking spices (vanilla,nutmeg, cinnamon and clove). The impressions are similar to the earlier version of the Reserve rum, but there is one major difference. This is that the oak spice and oak flavour are more prominent than before. This increased oakiness is welcome as if serves to better balance the intense orange peel flavour as well as the underlying punky herbal flavours of the Jamaican Pot Still

The rum, although intense is a welcome treat to sip neat or with ice.

In The Throat 13/15

This is a heavy bodied rum which helps to make the flavours linger on the palate well after the rum is swallowed. Herbal Pot still impressions seem to linger the longest, but then they are overcome by the oak and orange peel spice.

The Afterburn 9/10

Appleton Estate Reserve (8 Year Old) Rum is much better than the previous edition which had an average age of 6 years. The oak flavour is melded well into the orange peel and herbal Jamaican pot still flavours which spice which are typical of Appleton rums.  The Appleton 12 Year Old remains my favourite expression in the main family of Appleton Rums, but now the Reserve is almost on par with its older sibling.

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)

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