Google Looking for malternatives at Appleton

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

February 19, 2017


Looking for malternatives at Appleton’s

All right, we had promised we’d do a nice verticale of Appleton, and now’s the time. Now what we’re going to do is not taste contemporary bottlings – because frankly, some do not totally live up to their reputation - this will only be about older bottlings. Although, I feel I should add that I quite enjoyed their latest 12 yo (WF 80) while I’m finding their 21 yo very disappointing and much too sweet (WF 60).


Appleton Estate V/X (40%, OB, Jamaica, 1l, +/-2000?)

Appleton Estate V/X (40%, OB, Jamaica, 1l, +/-2000?) Three stars and a half A recent bottling fetched 80 in my book. Not bad at all for a cheap entry-level Jamaican. Colour: gold. Nose: ah yes, it talks. It’s appropriately petroly, so Jamaican, but relatively easy and rounded. Above all, there’s this thing that I always totally enjoy in any spirit, olives. Someone will have to try to distil olives one day, even of you’d need to add tons of sugar so that they ferment. Or a maceration? Mouth: very good, olive-y, tarry, very liquoricy, smooth but not too smooth, and probably sweetened up a bit, but without excess. Nice smokiness as well, and perhaps, even, I mean, kippers. Really! Finish: medium, more on liquorice, with a touch of lime. Comments: this starts extremely well. I had thought we’d start from +/-80, but not so. What’s sure is that it feels more phenolic than the more recent V/X. SGP:552 - 84 points.

Appleton Reserve 12 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, ceramic jug, +/-1975)

Appleton Reserve 12 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, ceramic jug, +/-1975) Five stars Good, we’ve tried a similar jug, only a 20 yo, in 2015. It was utterly brilliant (WF 92, no less). Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh this is crazy, amazing, wonderful, and it just leaves you speechless. Who said good news, who? Amazing tar and tropical fruits combination, with an endless and relentless arrival of all oils, olives, tars, ashes, plastics (really), liquorices, papayas, bananas, guavas, sultanas… It really is a stunning nose. What I particularly enjoy is this herbal/meaty side, in the back, with some beef, tarragon, even lamb… Look I haven’t checked if they were using dunder pits in those days, or if they used to throw dead goats or poultry into them to further enhance/stimulate bacterial fermentation, but what’s sure is that this is one of most complex noses I could try. Ever. Mouth: oh get out of here. First, it feels like 53% vol., not 43. And second, it’s totally ueber-rum, gathering every styles from Guadeloupe, Demerara, Barbados, and of course Jamaica. Enough said, please call the anti-rumoporn brigade! Finish: wait wait wait, the finish is a little less nice, perhaps a little dry and drying, with a chalky side that’s not always good news. Perhaps some kind of jug effect. But no worries, it’s still brilliant. Comments: legendary, big-bodied, and… eh, irrefutable. Whatever. SGP:562 - 91 points.

Appleton 12 yo ‘Rare Old’ (43%, OB, Jamaica, +/- 1980) Four stars They’re hard to follow, sometimes it’s Appleton, sometimes it’s Appleton Reserve, and sometimes it’s Appleton Estate. Not sure that means a thing. Bottled by J. Wray and Nephew in Kingston. Colour: gold amber. Nose: well it’s much lighter than the jug’s, much rounder, and in away, it feels ‘blended’, if you see what I mean. So a much gentler Appleton, without much ‘Jamaicanness’, and you could think it’s some fairly young rhum from La Martinique. Notes of cane juice/vesou, chocolate, ripe bananas, perhaps a little coffee… That’s pretty all. Mouth: not quite the same feeling, while it was shy on the nose, it now kicks you and starts to shoots chocolate and coffee beans. It’s actually much more molassy than the 12 from the jug, and certainly less salty/olive-y, but it does have tar and ultra-ripe bananas. Let’s call it mildly phenolic. Finish: good, it does get more phenolic now, with some salty olives (brine) and some smoked black tea. Nice earthy aftertaste (clay), also stewed pineapples and burnt sugar. Comments: suffers a bit from the comparison with the stunning jug, perhaps did they add too much caramel or something? Still extremely fine, even if it’s a little too El Dorado-ish. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Appleton Reserve 20 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, ceramic jug, +/-1975)

Appleton Reserve 20 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, ceramic jug, +/-1975) Five stars Not the first time we’re trying this star of rumdom, but this is from another jug. Yeah yeah, any excuses, really, I feel shame. Colour: amber. Nose: have you ever tasted Yquem 1967 or, perhaps, 1988? Although the 1988 is still a little young… Because, I mean, this is very similar. You’d even believe there was some noble rot on the sugarcanes, really. A-ma-zing. In no particular order, I would mention golden sultanas, longans, dried apricots, lilies, Swedish ultra-strong liquorice, burnt tyres, miso soup, dried bananas, olives (again and again), garden peat, pine bark, Bakelite, engine oil… And myriads of other smells, better stop there since you and me haven’t gotten all day. Mouth: oh sugar, what a monster! 43% vol., really? Are you sure? This is so thick and rich, and yet so elegant, tarry, liquoricy… Long story short, it’s one of the best rums available to mankind. Well, it used to be available. I’ll add that I totally cherish all these tiny notes of small herbs… I do get peppermint, for example, or borage (very obvious, really), oxalis… Wow wow wow! Finish: the fact that it finishes is the real flipside in this sort of case. Amazing, the finest kind of liquorice-based substance out there. Comments: I’ve been to niggardly last time, with my lousy 92 points. But yeah, that was another jug, and most probably another batch. SGP:562 - 93 points.

Okay, drum roll please…

Appleton Estate 50 yo 1962/2012 ‘Jamaican Independence Reserve’ (45%, OB, Jamaica, 800 decanters)

Appleton Estate 50 yo 1962/2012 ‘Jamaican Independence Reserve’ (45%, OB, Jamaica, 800 decanters) Four stars and a half Right, one of, if not the oldest rum ever bottled. Some are claiming to even older ages, but those are fake, really. It’s also said that the angel’s share has reached more than 90% of the initial amount of spirit that had been filled into wood in 1962. What’s a little troubling is that you can still buy this bottle, quite easily, but you’ll have to shell out around 4,000-4,500€. I agree, almost Scotch prices, no wonder few people ever bought it. Anyway, let’s proceed with caution… Colour: mahogany amber. Nose: oh, you’re in Kentucky. Really, blind, I’d have said A.H. Hirsch 16 yo 1974. Warm pencil shavings, burnt eucalyptus wood, Chinese lacquer, we’re almost at a cabinetmaker’s. Goes more towards small herbs and grasses after five minutes, dried parley, a little soy sauce, these notes of miso soup again, some kind of meaty mint sauce… Now what’s sure is that something very ‘rum’ remains, ripe pineapples! Oh and bananas. Mouth: quite miraculous, really. Sure there’s some oak, and this cannot compete with the stunning 20 yo, but this feeling of pineapples stewed in mint sauce and flower extracts (rose? Lilly?) is absolutely thrilling. There are unusual essences in the background, it’s hard to put words… What are they? Shall we leave them unnamed and mysterious? Only one flavour springs to my mind, tamarind. Other than that, I wouldn’t call this old glory ‘tannic’, even if it tends to become rather cinnamony. A little agave sugar, perhaps, but it doesn’t feel sweetened up at all. Not even philistines would add any sugar or sugary stuff to some good-to-great rum anyway! (wink, wink). Finish: medium, all on bananas and pineapples plus cedar wood, cigars, and sweet cinnamon. Perhaps a little burnt rubber in the aftertaste? Comments: frankly, this isn’t as oaky as you would have thought. There are many wood essences (-ols, you know), but yeah, it’s not ‘oaky’ as such. In fact, there’s only one comment I would make, it’s not very Jamaican. As if just like peat in old Islay, Jamaicanness would slowly vanish in the air after many years. Great rum, anyway! SGP:661 - 88 points.

(Many thanks to the Rumaniacs!)

More tasting notes Check the index of all rums I've tasted so far







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