If you’re at a bar in Jamaica, it’s the rum for rum lovers, the one to sip if you’re looking for something special.
In just about every corner of Jamaica, Appleton 12 is almost always the best rum you’ll find on the shelf, the one to ask for, the one you know will guarantee a delicious evening.
As one of the Caribbean’s rum-making powerhouses, Jamaica doesn’t lack for wonderful expressions, from the esteemed Appleton 21 and 30 to lovely expressions from smaller-production brands like Moneymusk and Hampden.
But the latter are particularly hard to find on the island — making Appleton 12 the universal standard for a fine sipper.
Plainly, you won’t often find any island’s best rum in every bar — what you want, then, is the best rum you can find with regularity.
There’s an Appleton 12 on just about every island in the Caribbean — like Mount Gay XO in Barbados or English Harbour 10 in Antigua, Ron del Barrilito Three Star in Puerto Rico or Angostura 1919 in Trinidad, the ones that marry ubiquity with extreme quality.
They’re the ones you know you’ll find and that you know will be good.
And even if you’re abroad, it’s the same — Appleton 12 (and sometimes 21) is the one you’ll consistently find on the shelves of most fine spirits shops in the US.
But now Appleton has added a new expression, and it’s something dramatic.
It’s called Appleton 15 Year Black River Casks, and it’s, well, marvelous.
The rum, a blend of column and pot still rums, all of which have been aged for at least 15 years, is more than just the next level up from the 12. It’s a whole new paradigm.
So what’s it like?
Appleton 15 has an aroma of oak, leather, spice and dark chocolate, with a hint of prune.
The flavor profile is marked by brown sugar, black currant; caramel; tropical fruit; almond and pepper.
It’s almost surprisingly fruity, with some of the signature Jamaican funk but not as much as you’d think. The finish is exquisite, concluding with a warm glow.
It’s a luxurious, velvety, wonderful rum. It takes the quality of the 12 and brings it to another stratosphere, more elegant and better balanced.
It’s a Joy Spence masterwork.
And it just might be my new favorite Jamaican rum.
Let’s just hope we can find it on the shelf.
Rum Journal Review: 96 Points
— Alexander Britell