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Appleton Estate Rum

In 1655, the English under William Penn captured the island of Jamaica from the Spanish. With Penn’s invading force was a Frances Dickinson from Somerset. For his part in the capture of the island, he was granted 6,000 acres of land. Included in this grant was a sugar plantation that became known as the Appleton Estate in the Nassau Valley. This is far inland, about 80 miles from Kingston. Penn had three sons Ezekiel, Caleb, and Vickris, and the estate remained in the family until 1847. The first mention of this as a rum-producing estate was in 1749. Even then it was famed for the quality of its rum.

Appleton Estate was acquired by another famous name in Jamaican rum, Wray and Nephew, in 1916. In 2012 the company was bought by the Italian Campari group. Today, Appleton Estate is considered one of the finest rums in the world. Only sugarcane from the estate which covers around 11,000 acres is used.

Fermentation takes place using wild yeasts and lasts between about 36 and 48 hours. This relatively short ferment means that Appleton doesn’t have the big high ester flavours which occur during the longer fermentations used by certain other Jamaican distilleries. For distillation Appleton uses a mixture of pot and column stills. The pot stills are made in Scotland to Appleton’s unique specifications and the new make comes off at about 80% ABV. Most of the estate’s rums are blends of the two distillation styles but you do see some rare single pot still releases. Jamaican rum is very tightly regulated: the age statements follow the same rules as do those on single malt whiskies; the age stated must be that of the youngest spirit in the blend. All of the rum is aged in American oak barrels.

The current master blender Joy Spence has been in the role since 1997 and is the first woman to have held one of the most important positions in rum. Appleton has been instrumental in taking rum upmarket with its excellent age statement range like the exceptional 25 year old Joy Anniversary Blend (bottled to honour Spence’s 20 years as master blender). 2018 was a big year for Appleton as it opened a £5.4m visitor centre called, naturally, The Joy Spence Experience, and Jamaican rum’s Geographical Indication was approved which means that it has protected status like Champagne or Scotch Whisky.

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