Appleton Estate VX
Review: Appleton Estate VX Rum 80/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AkA Arctic Wolf)
Posted February 7, 2010 (Revised in October 2016)
Appleton Estate VX Rum is the entry-level rum in the Appleton Estate family of rums. It is a blend of up to fifteen Jamaican rums of various styles which have been aged in hand crafted oak. The sample of Appleton Estate VX rum which I used for this review was provided as a gift to me after a rum tasting event sponsored in part by Appleton Estate Rums. At the tasting I was treated to a small presentation by an Appleton representative who talked about the signature Appleton Estate taste and aroma which I would be expected to encounter. The power of suggestion should not be underestimated, and although I worked hard to form my own opinions; I must admit that my impressions both ‘in the glass‘ and ‘in the mouth‘ are remarkable close to the profile I was told to expect.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
The Appleton VX arrives in the typical squat (jug-like)Appleton Estate clear glass bottle. Even the 200 ml sample bottle which was provided me as a gift after the tasting event had that distinctive Appleton shape. For an entry-level rum this is more than adequate although the pressed metal cap caused me to deduct half a point.
In the Glass 8/10
The rum displays an amber colour with orange flashes. Surprisingly (to me) the rum when swirled left nice long skinny legs in my glass indicating a buttery oil present. The aroma is very spicy, and full of oak tannin. I smell a firm and distinct orange peel, and light brown sugar and molasses rising in the tangy oak spice.
In My Mouth 47.5/60
A light buttery feel in my mouth seems to make the spiciness of the rum ignite, and I find this is a little ‘rough and tumble’ for my taste buds. It is a fresh spicy oak which has a sharp bite. A light citrus flavour, a tangy orange zest, and a light rummy brown sugar compliment the oak but are to a point overshadowed by it. There is also an element of butterscotch which appears and disappears in the spice. The addition of an ice-cube helps to tame the spiciness to a degree; but for me, this is will a mixing rum.
The spicy flavours within the rum make the spirit an excellent base for many cocktails. The Appleton VX adds a really nice bite to a Rum and Coke, and the tangy oak flavour profile really adds depth to fruity cocktails like the Daiquiri.
In My Throat 12/15
This has a really long, spicy, ‘hot in the throat’ finish. I notice the citrus flavours and orange peel stay in the back of the palate during the finish. I find the bite rather sharp, and again; I found I much preferred the rum with an ice-cube added.
The Afterburn 8/10
As an entry-level rum, Appleton Estate VX is impressive. It has a fine complexity brought forward by the oak, and wonderful complimentary flavours of butterscotch, citrus fruit and orange peel. It is the sharpness of the flavours which brings me to the conclusion that I must quantify the rum as a mixer. I realize some will like it over ice, but I prefer to use that spiciness in nice bar drinks and cocktails.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
For my suggested cocktail I thought I would go in a slightly offbeat direction and work a little play on a popular and trendy cocktail, The Cosmopolitan.
My recipe is of course quite a different cocktail. I call it:
a cocktail by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
2 oz Appleton VX
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz lime juice
1 oz White Cranberry juice
flamed grapefruit zest
Shake all the ingredients over ice
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with a flamed grapefruit zest
For those who do not know a flamed zest is a small slice of citrus peel which has been touched by a flame along its outer surface. After wards the peel is squeezed above the cocktail over the flame such that the oils erupt in a dramatic burst of fire which caramelizes the oils before they drop into the top of the cocktail.
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)