Appleton Estate V/X Jamaica Rum/Signature Blend

Appleton Estate Signature Blend rum review by the fat rum pirateAppleton Estate V/X Jamaica Rum was the entry level rum for the Appleton Estate brand. It has now been re-branded as Signature Blend – the juice I can reliably assure you all is exactly the same as before.

The rum is distilled, blended and bottled in Jamaica by J Wray & Nephew.  It is imported into the UK by J Wray and Nephew (UK) Ltd.  The Appleton V/X is bottled at 40% abv.  The blend of rums are between 5 and 10 years old.  The master blender at the Appleton Estate is Joy Spence, who was the first female master blender in the spirits industry.  Joy has been at the Appleton Estate for over 30 years now. She became the master blender in 1997.  The Appleton Estate has been producing rum since 1749, officially.

Over the past few years J Wray and Nephew products have become quite a staple in many UK supermarkets.  The infamous J Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum is stocked in both Sainsburys and Tesco.  The Appleton Estate rum’s are readily available in most specialist wine and spirits merchants throughout the UK.  Appleton Estate V/X retails at around £20 per 70cl.

The first thing that draws your attention to the Appleton Estate rum’s are the distinctive curvy, dumpy bottles.  The bottle makes the rum very easy to grip and pour (I’m not suggesting its ever really hard to pour spirit out of a bottle!) without any spillage.  All the rum’s in the Appleton Estate range have very similar packaging (which has caused me a little confusion in the past) there is a real brand identity to their rum’s, which I like.  I like a brand that has strong identity.  The front label is clear and concise, giving only the essential detail of what is in the bottle.  The age statement/marking is displayed on the neck of the bottle.  There is no marketing blurb involved.  This suggests Appleton have full confidence in the contents of the bottle!  The rear label is very small and is little more than a unit warning, which most spirits intended for the UK market display.  The closure is a metallic screw top.  I can’t really quibble about this as the only rum I have found in the £20 price range to have a corked closure was Sailor Jerry.

The rum actually looks a little different in colour depending what angle you view it from.  From above it is quite a straw like colour (as pictured – compare to the colour in the bottle) but from the side or in the bottle it looks a darker golden brown and orange colour.  On the initial nosing the rum gives a fairly pungent but not overpowering scent of molasses, black pepper and sweet alcohol.  It has made my nose tingle a little, almost to the point of a sneeze.  Jamaican rum’s are famous for their intense pot still flavours.  A more pungent Wedderburn rum is definitely present in this blend.  It is however,  quite well balanced and it is a quite subtle (by Jamaican standards) rum.  A touch of vanilla and ginger.  There is still a hit of molasses on the nose and some spiced black pepper.  On sipping, the rum is quite delicate initially.  The initial sip is quite smooth but the palate soon heats up and  feels the black pepper again, this time with some chilli and ginger spice.  It is a hot spicy rum.  Whilst the alcohol burn is quite strong it is not as rough as you may expect.  Whilst this isn’t smooth by premium sipping standards it could be sipped with a little ice and maybe a squeeze of lime.

This rum is nowhere near as intensely pungent as Old Salt Rum or Smith and Cross Jamaican Rum, which I found personally overpowering.  In terms of my rum experience it comes in profile terms, closest to Pirates Grog Rum.  (All these rums are reviewed on this site if you care to take a look) I will concede though that my experience of Jamaican rum’s is not huge.  I have tried Appleton Special and Appleton 8 Year Old.  I cannot judge the 8 year old as I only had a shot of it in a public house in Durham.  I will not review a bottle of rum unless I have had at least a bottle (70cl/50cl) or more.  I have had too many experiences where upon initially tasting a rum I have found it to be fantastic only to return to it at a later date and find I over appraised it.  Likewise, I have under valued too many rums on my first tasting.  I do not really agree with Rum Reviewers who review on the basis of small sample bottles.

imageThis is my 3rd bottle of Appleton V/X in around 2 years.  The first bottle I got was long before I had tried many rums at all and to be honest it was gone within a couple of days.  I was if I remember correctly, a little disappointed with it (I guzzled it down in pints of rum and coke just to get drunk one weekend). I had the second a few months ago again it didn’t last too long but I did enjoy it more than the first!

So this review bottle is my third. There’s been quite a sale on rum lately in my local supermarket so I’ve been able to pick up a few bottles at knock down prices.  I tmentioned already whilst the V/X is sippable I would imagine that the Appleton 8 or 12 year old would probably be better bets for this purpose.  I have seen the 8 year old online for little over £20 and the 12 can be picked up for less than £30.  More than reasonable for rums of that age.  Well worth the money for a good sipper. The V/X seem’s to come into its own when mixed.  I enjoy a rum and cola.  Whilst the V/X doesn’t give me the greatest rum and cola I’ve ever tasted, the rum’s peppery-ness does give it a bit of a nice kick.  I find adding some lime adds a little balance a cuba libre if you may.  I’ve mixed this with Ginger Beer as well, for a Jamaican Mule (much better than with Morgans Spiced).  That made for quite a good drink.  I enjoyed that.  The Appleton has a very strong rum/molasses taste.  For anyone who has much experience of drinking rum you would not mistake an Appleton for anything other than rum.  The same cannot be said for some more premium efforts.

I’ve yet to experiment too much with cocktails but upon reading up on the V/X it seems that a lot of bartenders and mixologists (amateur and professional) seem to like using the V/X. Especially in Jamaican rum cocktails and tiki cocktails.  Whilst the Smith and Cross Jamaican Rum (57% abv) offers an even stronger “Jamaican” taste it seems that, in terms of taste and possible potency the Appleton rum’s are the preferred option.  Myers is also a popular Jamaican rum.  I have only really tried this when out socially and to be honest its never really excited me too much.  I would go for an Appleton over a Myers.

I can understand why this is so popular and is so many people’s “go to” mixing rum.  It is a strong fiery rummy rum.  It doesn’t shy away when mixed.  At the price point it certainly offers more flavour and complexity than most entry level rums.  Another bonus is it is easily available in the UK supermarkets so maybe next time your doing the weekly shop, instead of the Lambs, Morgans or Sailor Jerry you could perhaps try an authentic Jamaican rum?

3 stars





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11 comments on “Appleton Estate V/X Jamaica Rum/Signature Blend

  1. My husband has an Appleton Estate rum that someone gave him about 40 yrs ago. Aged 5 yrs. Is it worth anything today. It is unopened.

    • It’s worth drinking

    • You would need to try some sort of collectors marketplace I imagine. The only added value is in the age of the bottle, not the age of the rum. Rum does not ‘age’ in the glass bottles. So a 5yr old bottled rum is still only 5 years old even after being in the bottle for 40 years. So its not equivalent to a 45 year old rum. But if someone somewhere were collecting old bottles of alcohol they may pay extra for it. But you would need to look hard to find such a specific collector I imagine. Most of us would just drink or cook it.

  2. So a few years in I have little doubt that “Signature Blend” is a dumbed down version of V/X, which I had been drinking for close to 20 years. I agree completely with Christian below, and even wonder if it’s now eve bottled in JA since the label omits this info. The next step up–Reserve–is now the way to go.

  3. Love this stuff and will always have a bottle on hand but it gives me a dodgy tummy lol..

  4. Hi, noticed this typo in the above review “This bottmentioned already”. Don’t mean to be a pedant but you did mention somewhere you’d like people to point it out if they noticed any. Cheers.
    Btw, Tesco are doing Cockspur for £12 at present. Great rum for that price.

  5. Hi Pirate, now i made 3 tastings with the old V/X and the new Signature Blend. In 2014, when Campari announced the re-branding, i think in both bottles was the same rum. But now they are clearly different Rums. The SIgnature Blend smells and tastes much harder and more alcoholic. The V/X is smoother and has more character. The difference is clearly: my wife wouldn’t Even drink the cocktails made with the Signature Blend. The ones made with the V/X she liked very much?. Kind regards, Christian

  6. You wrote that the V/X and the Signature Blend would taste the same. I wonder how that can be. The V/X was made with 5 to 10 year old rum. The Signature Blend has an average age of 4 years (See the Appleton Homepage). It should taste clearly different. I have the Signature Blend at home and will order a bottle of the old V/X in the next days to make my own tasting.

    • Tasted them side by side – same juice

  7. Hi Pirate,
    You cancelled my last comment? Why?
    Kind regards

    • I don’t recall doing so. Post again it might have been marked as spam. Thanks

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