Founded in 1860 the Campari Group (Gruppo Campari), owner of the J. Wray and Nephew and the Appleton brands, is an Italian beverage company with a global portfolio. In 2012 they acquired the controlling stake in the Appleton brand and since have worked on elevating the product in the spirit industry. Per Jamaican age statement rules, the youngest rum in Appleton Estate Rare Blend is 12 years old. I was told that it was a blend of 12 to 18 year old rums. Distilled from fermented molasses, using both column and copper pot stills, the rum is aged in used American White Oak barrels then blended to 43% ABV.
I was in my local store looking for rums to review, as I perused the Appleton selection this one stood out for a couple of reasons. First, of the Appleton line it was the only one that came in a container, second anything with “Rare Blend” on the label is going to piqué my curiosity, and finally they happen to be running a sale on it that day. The container is a cardboard sleeve with aluminum caps at the bottom and top. It provides the basic information about the product which is actually a tad bit more than what is on the actual bottle. Speaking of the bottle, the 750 mL glass vessel is the standard design that is used by the Appleton line. The bottle is capped by a metal screw top that holds firmly to the glass.The liquid in the bottle and the glass is a ruby hued walnut color. Giving it a quick swirl creates a band that slowly thickens and then begins to bead before the first legs form large tear drops and meander down the side of the glass.
The aroma is interesting. Nosing the glass I discover that the rum leads with a light astringent alcohol note. As this clears I immediately detect sweet caramelized vanilla, dried orange peel, allspice, cinnamon, roasted pecans and almond butter.
The alcohol in the rum wraps the sides of my tongue as the flavors take center stage. The rum leads with sweet caramel followed by the dried orange peel as I had noted in the aroma as well. I catch a brief note of cooked banana before cinnamon and ginger dominate the flavor. As these notes fade allspice, clove and black pepper swirl in the profile before lightly dry and astringent charred oak notes take over leading into the toasted pecan/almond butter notes from the aroma. It is this final combination of flavors that form a long pleasant finish.
Before this review I had enjoyed Appleton 12 in cocktails for years, but do not recall sipping it neat. Knowing how well it held up in a variety of cocktails, I was pleased that I enjoyed sipping it neat. I tend to enjoy the 8 to 12 year age range of rums for their versatility and Appleton easily fits into my wheelhouse and comfort zone for that reason. Moderately priced for the age statement, like the Barbados Doorly’s line, if it was a Scotch or Whiskey I expect the product would be twice the price. Compared to some of the overpriced rums from other Caribbean distillers with less transparent age statements this rum is a good deal on every level.