Appleton Estate Reserve Aged 8 Years

Appleton Reserve rum review by the fat rum pirateAppleton Estate Reserve rum for the world famous Appleton Estate distillery.  Appleton Estate is part of a portfolio of rums produced by J Wray and Nephew and Sons.  The company pretty much dominate domestic rum sales in Jamaica.

Appleton Estate Reserve highly regarded throughout the rum world and is seen by many as one of the best examples of rum for your money.

A 70cl bottle will set you back around £25 which for a 8 year old rum is more than reasonable.  The rum comes housed in the distinctive Appleton Estate bottle (which can lead to a little confusion as the V/X this and the 12 all come in roughly the same bottle) the Reserve has a screw cap and is bottled at a hefty 43%.  Which is fairly unusual for a single digit mass produced rum.  The V/X is widely available in Sainsburys but they are yet to stock the Reserve.

Appleton Estate Reserve is a mix of heavy Jamaican pot still rums blended under the guidance and supervision of master blender Joy Spence.  The V/X which I have reviewed previously is a great mixing rum and the Reserve is priced at a point where it could be premium mixer or a sipping rum.

My initial experience of Jamaican rums wasn’t one I enjoyed.  The intense flavours and my naivity meant they were just too much for my sweet tooth.  Over time and around 150 rums later I’ve begun to really enjoy the deep rich fruity flavours contained within these rums.

Appleton Estate are quite a good introduction to the world of Jamaican rums.  Rums such as Smith & Cross, Coruba 74 and Hampden Gold are very intense.  Whilst Appletons rums still have that fruity funky Jamaican feel they have a slightly more refined profile.  If Smith & Cross is for Blackbeard Appleton is for Admiral Vernon.

So onto the review.  On the nose the Reserve exhibits all the deep dark rich fruits, Appleton 8 rum review by the fat rum piratestewed banana, rich pineapple, hints of mango and red grapes.  There is strangely a slight Demerara feel to the nose.  There are hints of the Port Morant still from DDL in the nose.  Slightly funky and with a little bit of chocolate.

To be honest nosing Jamaican rums you could spend all day such is the depth of aromas contained due to their production.  It is to be noted that for two “classic” styles of rum so geographically close – Bajan and Jamaican the differences are quite astounding.  Then again there are elements involved in Jamaican rum production which are not for the feint hearted!  So moving away from the fantastic nose and onto the Reserve as a sipping experience.  To be honest the Reserve is surprisingly spicy on the tongue.  I wouldn’t use the term rough as that would suggest young and unaged spirit.  One word I wouldn’t use is smooth.  It’s very spicy.  Strong notes of black pepper and oaked heat break through following the initial burst of rich fruit flavours.  The rum has a lovely smooth entry which quickly heats up.  The initial notes of pineapple and dark almost to ripe banana give way to spicy all most curry like deep spicy heat.  The flavours linger and coat the taste buds with hot spice.  The barrel ageing gives the rum surprisingly little by way of an oaky profile.  Rich fruits and black pepper dominate.

There is a lot to be enjoyed from sipping Appleton Reserve.  It is surprisingly complex and offers an experience far better than many so called Premium Rums out theres in the £50 price bracket.  Whilst many think English Harbour and Angostura 1919 offer an affordable sipping option Appleton Reserve is simply an absolute steal.

I’m almost loathe to mix this as I’m enjoying the sipping experience so much. With my usual tipple of cola the Reserve surprisingly really smooth’s the drink out.  Whilst many drinkers seem to love smoothness (and even equate this quite wrongly in my view with quality).  I’m not a massive fan of this to be honest especially when I am mixing.  I guess I must like being a bit of a Pirate and drinking something with a bit oomph!

The Reserve still makes a very tasty rum and cola but personally I think I would have a bottle of V/X for that – it gives roughly the same flavour but without the extra smoothness I just don’t appreciate.

As a mixer go with the V/X if you a surprisingly good sipper at a very reasonable price then go for the Reserve.  The extra few pounds for a sipper as good as this is well worth it.

4 stars




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9 comments on “Appleton Estate Reserve Aged 8 Years

  1. I note Amazon are selling the ‘Reserve Blend’ for 25 quid (inc delivery with Prime). I wondered if you had tried it and if it was a replacement for the above. Cheers

    • I have now….

      • I’ll look forward to the review.

  2. As you gain more experience, you will appreciate the V/X more than you currently do. It’s really a shame that so many observers seem to toss V/X into what is euphemistically called the “mixer” category. I would offer two observations:

    First, that rums are either well and honestly made or they are not. A young rum has unique attributes that can be just as “sippable” as its aged version. They are simply different. Most agree that 4 to 7 years is a lovely zone.

    Calling a rum is either a denigration or a gift depending on the rum.

    Second, perhaps the most talented creators of mixed drinks must surely note the contributions of Trader Vic Bergeron, Beachbum Berry, and Donn Beach of the Tiki era. These were and are the real experts and all would agree that the best “mixers” are NOT the young, cheap, altered rums, but are actually some of the best aged rums you can find and buy.

    “Mixer” is a term we should banish.

    • It is not a poor reflection on a rum to rate it as a good mixer. Appleton actively promote the V/X as such. I have more of an issue with people rating ALL rum on its “sipping” quality when many rums are simply not made for that purpose.

    • In fact, I think the Appleton V/X is a very good sipper, though a bit primary in taste (you can still taste the sugar cane), the nose is complex and intriguing. Was a great discovery. Best bang for the buck (15€ in Spain) when compared to others in its price range. Anyway I am no expert and primarily a malt drinker. Cheers

  3. It’s fantastic. I’ve got the 12 on order now.

  4. I do like Appleton Reserve for both sipping and mixing.

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