Friday Happy Hour: 50 Years in the Making, Appleton’s Independence Reserve Well Worth the Wait
It’s birthday week here at Uncommon Caribbean, as Patrick just celebrated his special day this past Wednesday, while I am prepping to hit the big 4-1 on Sunday. It’s also one of the biggest weekends in the history of Jamaica, with their vaunted Olympic Team getting set to continue its dominance in the Track & Field events to be contested over the next few days, and the country celebrating the 50th anniversary of its independence on Monday.
This weekend doesn’t just call for celebrating; it calls for a taste of Jamaica’s very best – Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Independence Reserve.
Easily among the most hyped and anticipated rums to debut in a long, long time (maybe ever!), Appleton 50 is nothing short of an unbelievable triumph of the rum-maker’s art that some in the rum world will, no doubt, find hard to believe.
Back in March, during my last tour of the Cruzan Rum distillery on my home island of St. Croix, I learned that each of the oak barrels the company uses to age its rums holds a maximum of 47 gallons when full. After the 12 years required for a portion of the rum that goes into making Cruzan Single Barrel Estate has passed, only five of the 47 gallons remain, the rest lost to the Angel’s Share.
Now consider Appleton 50, which is made of a blend of several different rums each aged for a minimum of 50 years! Even with the careful hand-selection of oak barrels that Appleton says it employed in the obviously meticulous aging process for its Independence Reserve, it is absolutely incredible to fathom how they pulled this off.
More easily understood is the fact that there are very limited quantities of this exceptionally fine rum available throughout the world. Only 800 bottles to be exact, plus a few stray sample sizes like the one pictured above, from which I was lucky enough to derive a taste last weekend at Da’ Conch Shack in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos.
I’ve got to stop here and give very special thanks to my friend, Bob Davies, a k a: the Rummelier. Bob lives in Provo where he works as the Distribution Manager at The Wine Cellar/Discount Liquors. A true connoisseur who has forgotten more about great rum than I will ever know, Bob was kind enough to share his sample bottle with me, and I am forever grateful. If you’re ever in Provo, definitely stop into The Wine Cellar. Not only will you find an amazing selection of rum and other spirits, but you might also find Bob.
Now, back to the Appleton…
In the glass: This stuff is dark and damn sexy, with that tell-tale mahogany hue emblematic of Appleton’s range of fine sipping rums. Despite being really anxious to get a taste, I was absolutely compelled by the beauty of the rum to wait a couple extra minutes to admire her.
On the nose: Woodsy oak notes predominate, affirming Appleton 50’s pronounced age and maturity. At the same time, though, it doesn’t come off as old, per se. Appleton 50 is more like a sexy cougar, defying her age in an alluring fashion impossible to resist.
In my mouth: Phenomenal. At 50 years old, I was expecting something a bit harsher with a flavor far afield from traditional Appleton sipping rums, like the difference you get comparing El Dorado 25 to its 15 and 21 year old blends.
Boy, was I wrong.
One of the big things I really like about Appleton 50 is the way it maintains elements of the signature Appleton flavor. The only difference is that the 50 is so much smoother than the 12 year old or the 21 (I’ve never tried the 30), another big surprise for a rum of such advanced age. I experienced just the slightest hint of a burn at the back or my throat with the first sip, the warmth and flavor rounding its way around the edges of my tongue before finally settling back at the tip urging me to try some more. I obliged, perhaps too enthusiastically, as before I knew it, the dream was all gone.
The full 750ml bottle of Appleton 50 will run you a cool $5,000, which means the two sips I had probably cost about a couple hundred bucks. The experience was priceless, though, as you can see on our very satisfied faces…
Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum is being sold through select, specialist premium retailers, exclusive style and classic on-premise partner accounts and select Duty Free stores around the world. If you have the means and appreciate the very finest rums, you can’t do better than this.