Appleton Estate 8 Reserve

Appleton Estate 8 Reserve Rum Review by the fat rum pirateAppleton Estate 8 Reserve. Whenever a new bottle design is revealed in the rum world, it’s immediately met with suspicion of price increases and changes to the liquid. Downgrading of the liquid of course no rum gets better in time you must understand!

For once the conspiracists are right – well they are about the slight price increase and the change in the liquid. The blend in this is different to its predecessor. Quite whether the quality has increased or decreased, well I’ll come to that later in the review. First I’ll give you all the background I have on this particular release and the recent history of this “mid tier” Appleton Estate rum.

Taking aside Appleton White there has been five different Appleton Estate expressions available for quite some time now. Until recently we had Appleton Special (which has been re-branded as Kingston 62), Appleton Signature Blend, Appleton Reserve Blend, Appleton Rare Blend Aged 12 Years and Appleton Aged 21 Years.

This line up came into place around 3 to 4 years ago? Maybe slightly longer. Before that line up we had Appleton Special, Appleton V/X, Appleton Aged 8 Years, Appleton Aged 12 Years and Appleton Aged 21 Years.

Now most of the name changes were exactly that just changes to the name. However the “mid tier” Appleton Aged 8 Years was re-blended when it became the Appleton Reserve Blend. Still following? I’ll continue.

When the Appleton Aged 8 Years was available the rum which was available in Europe was a different blend to the one available in the US. As Appleton no longer wished to continue to produce two different rums for two different markets they decided to go with a blend more in keeping with the original Appleton Aged 8 Years in the US market. So effectively the rum known as Appleton Aged 8 Years in Europe was discontinued.

I’ll concede now that this information (particularly the bit about the US and the European blend) I came across or had a discussion with some people in a rum group a number of years ago. I cannot recall the source exactly so if anything I have said is wrong and you can find a more reputable resource please let me know.

I’ll be honest and I was never all that fond on the new Reserve Blend. Now it wasn’t that it was a bad rum but it really didn’t offer enough of an upgrade on the Signature Blend to merit the extra price. The Aged 8 Years available in the UK was a worthy sipper and a lot of people preferred it over the Appleton Aged 12 Years. For me the Reserve Blend did not even come close in terms of sippability.

I said at the time that I didn’t see much of a future for the Reserve Blend and it looks like I might have been right about that. Providing this new Reserve 8 is a genuine upgrade to the Reserve Blend. Or it might also be short-lived.

Appleton Estate 8 Reserve is a blend of rums aged a minimum of 8 years. So every drop of rum in this bottle is at least 8 years old and some will inevitably be a little older. In fact the front label notes that “this rum blend includes select reserve Pot Still stock from our renowed aged inventory” Where the Reserve Blend sat at a price point of around £25, here in the UK. The Appleton Estate 8 Reserve is priced slightly higher at around £28.

Appleton Estate 8 Reserve Rum Review by the fat rum pirateIt has been bottled at 43% ABV like both of its predecessors and is a blend of Pot and Column distilled rum from Appleton Estate, Jamaica. The rum is aged in Jamaica for a minimum of 8 years in ex-bourbon barrels. This rum was introduced as part of the celebrations of 250 Years of Appleton Estate and has been blended by Master Blender Joy Spence. It is widely available in most of the usual online stockists in the UK. It is also available at Waitrose for those wanting a physical store experience.

Now the bottle has been updated and the new taller bottle is much more in keeping with a premium product as is the more stylised and more sparse label and design. It definitely looks more expensive and premium then the old Reserve Blend. Previously the Reserve Blend and Aged 8 Years rum were enclosed with a screw cap we now get a synthetic wooden topped cork stopper. Appleton Estate 8 is printed on the shiny copper coloured lid of the cork. I think the prominent 8 and the sleeker profile will attract more first time consumers.

So lets see what we the new blend is like then.

In the glass we have a dark brown spirit with a copper/reddish hue. It is a classic aged rum colour.

The nose is instantly much less “funky” and “boozy” than the Signature Blend and the recent Reserve Blend. It is immediately putting me in the mind of the old Aged 8 Years bottling.

To prevent repeating myself I will get the whole comparison between the old bottlings out of the way now. This is much more similar to the old Aged 8 Years European bottling and to me very different to the Reserve Blend. It is I will be honest what I was hoping for.

Nosing Appleton Estate 8 Reserve will also remind you of Appleton’s further aged expressions. It has more refinement and elegance than the Signature blend. On the nose there are notes of Banana and Coconut and a little splash of Pineapple but you get a lot more toffee, caramel, banana bread and milk chocolate. There is also an English Breakfast tea note which reminds me of Worthy Park’s rums.

I really nice back bone of oak and spiced fruitcake, allspice, vanilla and some crystallised ginger. All wrapped up in a wonderful note of sweet marmalade and orange peel. There is also a sweeter honeyed aroma as well.

It’s a lovely warming nose. It’s very much like an old leather armchair. Comforting. It’s worth reminding myself at this point that I have paid less than £30 for this.

Sipped the rum has a little more “fire” in its belly than the nose might have suggested. That said it is still very sippable at 43% ABV. It’s certainly not “rough” in anyway.Appleton Estate 8 Reserve Rum Review by the fat rum pirate

The initial entry is a nice burst of spice – black pepper, ginger and some warming oak and vanilla notes. Moving into the mid palate you get much more of the nose. Warming notes of cream, breakfast tea and some milky chocolate.

A nice fruitiness as well with banana and some sweeter notes of green apple. Pretty much everything noted on the nose makes an appearance. The long spicy and oaked finish is wonderfully well balanced with the sweeter richer notes found in the rum.

Again I’m reminding my self that this was under £30. At least trying a bottle of this is a no brainer. It’s certainly not what I would call a particularly big step down from the Rare Blend. In fact you might find this to be better or its equal. It doesn’t have some of the more “herbal” notes the Rare Blend has.

This isn’t “funky” high ester hogo heavy Jamaican rum. Appleton Estate rums are a very different beast to say Hampden or National Rums of Jamaica. If you want funk from Appelton Estate than Wray and Nephew White Overproof is what you want. If you want an afforadable and very nice every day sipper and a premium mixer – get this in your shopping trolley next time Tarquin takes you to Waitrose.

The old Aged 8 Years is back and I think it might even be a little better than I remember.







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