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Appleton Estate Reserve Rum

Review: Appleton Estate Reserve Rum  85/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted February 14, 2010

The Appleton Estate Reserve is much like its predecessor, the Appleton Estate VX.  It has the same signature Appleton profile flavour and aroma.  However, things seem to be brought up a notch with a higher level of smoothness, and more complexity.  The higher level of complexity arises in part from the additional rums used to blend the Appleton Reserve, 20 in all; and a longer aging time in selected oak barrels.

In the Bottle   4.5/5

The same stylish Appleton Estate bottle is used for the Appleton Reserve as was used for the Appleton VX.  Although I could not find a box display, I have been told that the bottles do indeed come packaged in a square cardboard box with graphics similar in quality to box display pictured in my Appleton Estate VX  Rum Review.  I like the Appleton bottle, but I have the same complaint for the Reserve, that I had for the Appleton VX.  The pressed on metal cap just does not do the task well enough.  I dropped the cap by accident on the floor, and when I tried to seal my bottle again the cap had deformed and would not tighten.  Fortunately I had a cork which fit the bottle. The saving point is that the Appleton Reserve is not an expensive rum, and I can be  forgiving of small deficiencies when my wallet is not pummeled.

In the Glass   8.5/10

The color of the Appleton Reserve is an amber/brown with a warm golden glow. Streaks of orange seem to appear in my glass as I swirl it, and long skinny legs are apparent on the side of my glass. The legs disappear quickly but a healthy shine is left on the glass indicating that the rum will be a touch buttery and should have a long finish.

The nose is more balanced than the Appleton VX.  Although a zesty oak spice is at the forefront, this time a tangy citrus zests (orange and lime) with hints of nutmeg and cloves arrive almost in unison with the oak.   Butterscotch and vanilla rise from the glass as well, but I seem to sense a guarded earthiness or herbal component underneath it all.

In the Mouth   50.5/60

This has a spicy zip on the tongue that is full of citrus peel, oak spice, candy apples, cloves, and cinnamon. There is, (in spite of the softness of the rum on my tongue), a sharpness and intensity in these spicy flavours. Underneath this spiciness are additional flavours of butterscotch, caramel and vanilla.  At the bottom of the  palate I find that earthiness, I sensed on the nose which seems almost brooding to me. I want to say this earthy layer has tastes of plantain and earthy herbs that sit at the bottom of the palate adding an additional layer of complexity that was not apparent in the Appleton VX. The overall effect is a richer, fuller taste experience. This has good balance in that I find all the flavours complimentary. There is a  robustness of the flavour profile meaning that the taste experience did not change for me throughout the different tastings that I completed.

In the Throat 12.5/15

I found that the Appleton Reserve rum is much nicer to sip in a glass of ice than it is to sip neat. The sharpness of the spice is mellowed with the ice and the effect is to bring the brown sugar and caramel flavours to the fore. Even on ice the finish is long with a spicy burn that stays hot on the palate  and becomes dry in the throat.

The Afterburn 9 /10

Going over my scores, I was a little surprised that they did not add up just a little higher. I find the rum has a nice complexity and balance of flavours. It is a rum with remarkable depth in the flavour profile. Since my overall impression of the rum seems to be more than the sum of its parts, I have scored the afterburn more strongly to recognize that this rum is more than it initially appears.

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


Suggested Cocktail

I found the Appleton Reserve to be a fine rum to sip over ice with a wonderful sharp and complex flavour.  The layers of spice and citrus and caramel are very well-balanced.  But, in truth, I think the rum reaches its full potential in a sophisticated cocktail.  Here are two I find particularly tasty:

The Reserved Gentleman
a cocktail by chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)

1 1/2 oz  Appleton Reserve Rum
1/2 oz   Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1/4 oz  Cointreau
1 tsp  Simple Syrup (Dissolve a sugar cube in 1 Tsp hot water then let it cool)
Large Ice Cubes
Lime Slice or Grapefruit Peel for garnish

Combine ingredients into a metal shaker with ice.
Shake until the metal shaker chills.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with lime slice, or a flamed grapefruit peel


Celebration made with Grenadine

The second cocktail I recommend is an interesting bar drink  I found called The Celebration.  I came across it in the 1937  publication, Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, Coronation Edition, compiled by W.J. Tarling,  printed in Great Britain by The Sidney Press, London and Bedford.  Surprisingly (to me)  I found a link to the same cocktail recipe on the Internet Cocktail Database.

The Celebration

1/3 daiquiri rum
1/3 grapefruit juice
1/6 Groseille Syrup (Red Currant Syrup)
1/6 Gin

Garnish with fruit which is in season.

The recipe is credited to J. W. Fish, of whom I could find no information.  Now I realize the red currant syrup is not something many people keep in their bar supplies.  Fortunately the Cocktail Database has a link to a recipe to make your own.  (Groseille Syrup link).  They also suggest Grenadine as a substitute, although I would recommend that you use a little less sweetener if you replace the groseille syrup with the grenadine.

Of course I could not resist tweaking the recipe to make it more suitable for my palate, and this is what I came up with:

The Appleton Celebration

2 oz Appleton Reserve Rum
2 oz  Fresh Squeezed and strained Pink Grapefuit Juice
3/4 oz  London Dry Gin
1/4 oz  Sloe Gin
1 teaspoon Simple Sugar (or grenadine)

Combine ingredients into a metal shaker with ice.
Shake until the metal shaker chills.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with lemon slice

And I just couldn’t resist putting the ice from the shaker into the cocktail glass as well.   I found this cocktail to be extremely refreshing, and now it is a staple of my entertaining repertoire.


And always remember the aim is not to drink more it is to drink better!


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 Reserve Rum”

  1. F Hoyos said

    I found the Reserve to be excellent. I have tried other rums from other makers and can truly say
    that the Appleton Estate Reserve is wonderful. I was introduced to the Reserve while on a
    Caribbean cruise a couple of years ago. At 70 it was truly an amazing experience. It is now my
    preferred rum for all occasions.

  2. I’m watching a thread on the MoR that links here, and was curious…did you ever find out what the true ageing of the rums in the blend was? My research suggested eight years, but this was never confirmed.

    • Hi Lance,
      Om the ministry there is a great interview with David Morrison a blending expert from Wray and Nephew where he discusses all of the Appleton Rums and the differences. He has blended these rums since the early 2000’s and knows them intimately. At about the 4 minute mark of the interview he begins to discuss the Reserve. Interestingly enough he says his favourite way to drink it is over ice with a splash of ginger ale and a squeeze of lime, yet another person who actually makes the spirit believing that a cocktail is the best way to serve it.

      As for age, he makes the statement that if a rum has the right elements of taste and aroma, then age is not really important (another statement I agree with). The conclusion I draw from this is that the Reserve is blended to a specific profile of flavour and aroma not to any standard of age. People like to pigeon hole the age at 8 years because that falls neatly between the VX and the 12, but such a conclusion is only superficially correct. If it requires a younger rum within the blend to maintain the flavour profile, then a younger rum will be used. Since from batch to batch the youngest rum in the blend will change, no consistent age statement is possible.

  3. Estazolam said

    Good article

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