Appleton Estate 21 Year Old Rum

Appleton Estate 21 Year Old Rum will be for many the top of the tree in terms of Appleton tasting.

With the Appleton Estate 21 Year Old coming in (depending on how savvy you shop), at just over £100, the 30 Year Old now largely unavailable and the Exclusive only available at the Appleton Distillery, it is unlikely many will make the jump from a £100 rum to the next readily available rum.  The 50 Year Old.  The £3500 price tag will put off most of you reading this review.

In 2012 Appleton Estate 21 was upgraded in terms of presentation from a blue stubby bottle to the decanter style we have now.  Other upgrades to the rum came with a cork stopper instead of a metallic screw cap and a more classy canister to store the rum.  The decanter style bottle was previously used with the 30 Year Old and Appleton felt the 21 deserved better presentation as well.  It is one thing which sets it apart from the 12 Year Old – which is a third of the cost of the 21.

Appleton Estate 21 is a blend of rums which have a minimum age of 21 years.  Whilst age statements cannot be relied upon I have tasted nothing in the Appleton range previously which would make me suspicious of their claims.

The rum is blended by Master Distiller Joy Spence.  Whilst the blend differs from year to year Joy attempts to re-create the same profile each year.  We are not talking about a different vintage each year.  Appleton 21 created in 2012 should taste near as dammit the same as the one produced in 2015. 12,000 bottles are produced each year.

Up to now a vertical taste testing of the Appleton range (including the soon to be renamed Special) has revealed a definite increase in quality with each expression.  I have noted that some find the 21 too “oaky” – a deficiency which I have also seen aimed at the 12.  The criticism of the 12 I find frankly ridiculous as it one of the best value rums on the market.  A true example of a great sipping rum.  Still people are entitled to their opinions, though some should keep them only for close family and friends.

Appleton Estate 21 is bottled at 43% ABV – for those wanting Cask or Higher Strength – its unlikely you will get this from a commercial bottler.  Sorry.  Still this Copper Pot Distilled Jamaican Rum so it should still have plenty bite even at 43% ABV.  It is a blend of pot and column distilled rums.

Many people will try Appleton Estate 21 as a extra special treat as they like the more easily affordable 12 Year Old.  For many this bottle will represent a Christmas or Birthday present.

For once in my reviewing process I have thought ahead.  With the inevitable comparisons between those two rums it is essential I have both rums on hand as I go through this review.

Will it focus on whether it is “worth” the extra money?  No because in all honesty such a difference in price cannot really be explained just by the rum being “better” – it is still likely to be too expensive for most to become their regular sipper – something which the 12 can offer (and does a bloody good job of it as well).

There are some rums which you simply just want to try – at least once in your lifetime.  Luckily this rum doesn’t come into the kind of price bracket which makes it ridiculously hideously, gratuitously expensive it is a rum which any Appleton fan will surely one day seek out.  The review will touch on the differences between the 12 and the 21 at the end.  The 21 will also be reviewed in its own right.

In the glass the 21 is a lovely gold/copper colour – a classic rum “colour” if you like.  The nose is quite light and sweet smelling.  The oak isn’t as big as some reviews have had me believe.  Its very good – nice chocolate and toffee notes.  Wafts of vanilla, cashews and a very pleasant hit of brown sugar holding it all together.

Tasted the rum has quite a lot of sweetness for an unsweetened rum especially up front.  Again nice brown sugar and toffee notes with a nice creamy nuttiness underneath. Nice tropical notes of sweet fruits a little orange zest and some nice notes of tropical fruit The oak is present heavily on the finish but it is nice and doesn’t become to dry or taste over oaked.  It’s burns slightly on the finish which is very long and satisfying.  Nice notes of oak and tobacco a hint of tar and smoke.

Much like the 12 year old it is very refined by Jamaican standards, very nicely balanced and has complexity in each sip.  New flavours emerge as you sip – a classic sipper.

As a direct comparison to the 12 the 21 does have more complexity.  It is sweeter and less dry.  It has an extra layer of complexity and a few more notes than the 12.  Unlike many I do not feel the 21 is over oaked or too old.  It really isn’t its a beautifully balanced and skilfully blended rum.

At the end of the day it is better overall than the 12.  Thing is the 12 is so good that at £35 it is undoubtedly one of the biggest rum bargains on the planet.  If you are an enthusiast of Appleton Estate’s rums then trying the 21 will be a must.  Its not hugely better than the 12, it is similar just slightly sweeter and with a little bit more going on.

You could pay £100-140 for a rum half as good as this!

5 stars






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4 comments on “Appleton Estate 21 Year Old Rum

  1. Just opened a bottle of this. Personally, it is probably the finest rum that I have ever tried. Currently discounted 33% so I picked up another two bottles to put away….

  2. In my collection i have V/X, reserve, 12yo, 21 yo, I have and keep an unopened bottle of each of these in both the old and new labeling. I also managed to collect 2 bottles of the master blenders legacy. In my opinion all of these are fine rums, but with no doubt in my mind the Master Blenders Legacy, is by far the best, and if you ever get a chance to try it i recommend you do so. I am going back to Jamaica next month, and am planning to get a couple bottles of the Exclusive if it is available, as well as search for any other rarities.

  3. I like the 12 year and would of course love to try the 21, but I still haven’t tried the El Dorado 21 and that’s going for around $100 hers or about £65. So many rums, so little money!!!

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