Appleton Estate Extra – Aged 12 Years Jamaica Rum

Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 rum review by the fat rum pirate rumventAppleton Estate Extra is the “Ultra Premium rum in the Appleton Estate family and it is touted as unsurpassed masterpiece of oak ageing”.  Now I’m not one for re-producing a companies marketing material but I will make an exception in this instance.

The marketing material continues “As a Minimum Age rum Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old has been aged for a MINIMUM of 12 years in select American Oak Barrels”.

Now most companies that use the term “Ultra Premium” have some kind of fairly tale or historical figure as part of the sales talk.  Often this is backed up with a vague age statement or perhaps some complex solero ageing system or maybe some kind of sugar cane honey or unique underwater storage methods.  Very few companies can make statement such as “minimum of 12 years” and be taken seriously.  I can only think of El Dorado and Foursquare that makes such claims.

Appleton Estate Extra retails in the UK at around the £35 mark, which is in keeping with the price of other similarly aged rums from the likes of the afformentioned El Dorado and Foursquare.  It really is sad that so many rum drinkers are taken in by the marketing stories and will pay way in excess of £35 for much younger and in many cases inferior rums.  Still that is why the companies pay for the marketing!

For your money you get the signature Appleton Estate stubby curvy bottle and a very handsome and sturdy card sleeve with a metal like lid and a well done plastic label covering the whole box.  The presentation is very good.  The only strange thing I found is that the top is a metal screw top not a cork.  Still I quibble as the screw top isn’t cheap and nasty.  It’s well threaded and seals tightly.Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rum Review by the fat rum pirate

J Wray and Nephew/Campari have recently announced that the whole Appleton Estate range is to be revamped.  A press release has been issued and here is a link to that.  Personally I don’t really see the point but hey I’m not in charge of J Wray and Nephew/Campari.

Appleton Estate Extra is bottled at 43% ABV in a 70cl bottle.  The first thing you notice about the Extra is the mahogany colour of the rum.  The Appleton Special and V/X are a orange/brown and the Reserve is a gold colour.  The Extra is much darker than all three.

I’ve hesitated in reviewing the Appleton Estate Extra.  This is because I found it to be very different from the younger Jamaican rums.  With only a few distilleries on the island of Jamaica, I wanted to try some other Jamaican rum before diving into a review.  There were facets of the Extra which I was unsure about and wanted to try some other aged Jamaican rum to ensure my comments have been made from an educated viewpoint.  I will explain more as I take you through my experience with the Extra.

First up, when poured in the glass the rum keeps its dark rich coppery/red hue its very nice and does suggest the minimum 12 years ageing.  Like most producers I’m sure a little colouring is added for consistency but the rum does look very inviting. nose also draws you in.  Unlike many Jamaican rums it is not at all pungent.  The Jamaican funk of lesser aged rums such as their White Overproof or the V/X is not present.  It is a million miles away from the ester heavy Smith & Cross, Hampden or a Monymusk offering.  It is a very nice nose.  It remind me of Bajan rums and also St Vincent’s Captain Bligh XO.  It has that extra little spicy nose. The nose is all rich brown sugar/molasses, dry oak tones and mix of citrus and cinnamon and ginger notes.  It’s as good a nose as I have noted especially from a Jamaican rum – thus far.

I’m not sure many unfamiliar with the Extra would ever guess it was a Jamaican Rum.  Having tried a few Hampden and Monymusk offerings along with blends such as Myers’s and Smith & Cross I have come to realise that by Jamaican standards the Appleton Reserve rums are quite refined and less rough and ready.  Possibly slightly less in your face and a little more complex overall.  Especially the Reserve and the Extra.

I found the Reserve to be quite an enjoyable little sipper and very easy drinking.  The Extra offers an extra layer of complexity in its delivery.  When sipped the rum offers a lot of smoky spiced oak flavour.  It also has a nice note of cocoa and a little hint of vanilla on the exit.  The rum is smooth yet spicy offering a nice kick.  The finish is long and complex leaving a lot of flavour behind to savour.  It is quite a dry rum and I find myself reminded of Mount Gay XO, it is not quite as dry as RL Seale’s 10.

As you can tell from the rums I have compared it to, this is a very good, beautifully balanced and rewarding sipping rum.  Mixing isn’t really an option as the Reserve is available for £10 less and is well suited to that as is the V/X (which is even cheaper).

I’m sure anyone who spends time with this rum will appreciate the skilful blending and will also uncover notes which my review has missed.  It really is a great rum to re-visit from time to time.  It never fails to impress.

4.5 stars




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12 comments on “Appleton Estate Extra – Aged 12 Years Jamaica Rum

  1. Excellent review of a rum that I love. It really has a distinctive Jamaican character that is wrapped up in a well crafted and aged spirit. You mention R.L Seales and Mount Gay XO as comparators and I couldn’t agree more. Both excellent. This 12 year is complex and refined but with a Jamaican brashness thats is very unique. As it sits and maybe even with a drop or two of water it’s amazing what happens as it opens up.

    Keep up the great work! Cheers.

  2. Great review! As a red wine and scotch lover I have recently started to also sip this beautiful rum! Colour, texture, body and depth with real soul and sophistication. Also like scotch and red wine it is truly medicinal:)

  3. Excellent site. Getting into sipping rums and appreciate the reviews.

    Question — in some pictures the Appleton 12 year label says “Rare” on it, others it says “Extra.” Is there a difference?

    • Hello Chris. Thank you very much for your kinds words. The “Extra” and “Rare” on the 12 Year Old Appleton’s reflect an updating of the branding and labelling. The newer bottles are “Rare” the older ones “Extra”. I have tried them side by side and found them to be the same juice. You may find some of the older bottlings discounted

  4. Some of the most abused terms used in reviewing are the terms “premium” and “super premium”, et al. They mean nothing more that a marketing department run wild with bottling, labeling, fanciful stories and cheaper rums – “premiumized” and tricked out with massive amounts of sugar. Oddly, it seems the more “premium” a rum, the more sugar added. Hmmm.

    Thank the godz that you have not fallen prey to this, but instead have posted a reliable and useful review of one of the world’s great rums, just barely beyond the sweet spot (pun intended) of 7 to say 10 years.

    The 12 year has always been our favorite, even over the 21. Readers should also take a run at the V/X which honestly is not a bad sipper at all, with its bright and youthful profile. Thanks for the review.

  5. If you haven’t already, be sure to make a mai tai with the Appleton 12. It really shines in that application.

    • I’ll definitely give it a try Mike! Cheers

  6. best drank neat. I had the pleasure of finding a bottle at my all inclusive Mexican resort. I am not a huge fan of Jamaican rhums, but this did have a smooth draw, a little harsh end.

    • A spicy finish I found. Glad you found a bottle in your resort and pleased you found this review! Thanks for the comment!

  7. This is my favorite Jamaican rum and you’ve done it a great service with this review. I’ll be sharing it with some of my whisky buddies soon to see what they think.

  8. Once given time to breathe it gets better. However for me the signature Appleton’s taste is still present. I think you either love it or hate it. It is a drier rum in comparison to the El Dorados. I managed to taste the Appleton 21 and although very smooth and balanced I just can’t get over the Appleton oak taste. Last but not least the screw cap does not help. Lets hope they change that.

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