Appleton range - guest review
Updated: Aug 14, 2021
A guest review of Appleton rums by Nick Metcalfe
Today I'm tasting my way through the core range of Appleton and asking myself a question, which ones should I buy? I not going to get into explaining Appleton and their history. If you haven't heard of them I've no idea why you'd be reading a guest article on a rum website. Plus, you have Google, so have at it! All I'll say is, they produce some (probably all, name another?!) of the unadulterated, tropically aged Jamaican rums readily available in UK supermarkets and on the High Street. As a result, virtually everyone has drunk something from their range at some point. But which one to buy? I'll be drinking them neat but that won't be my only consideration in deciding which one/s I'd pick up. There's 5 to get through so let's get going.
Signature 40%, £20
Nose - Marshmallow, candied orange. The alcohol catches your nose if you try too hard to search. definitely some oak and vanilla too.
Taste - Black pepper and white chocolate, bitter orange, oak comes in with the alcohol and dries it out to a quick fade. It's thin and light easy to drink but not doing a lot for me. Some black tea comes in right at the end on further tries.
Eight year 43%, £28
Nose - much fuller, more oak, less alcohol. The orange is still there but not as bitter, more the flesh. Caramel sweetness, bit of leather and moist fruitcake.
Taste - Loads more body than the Signature, almost a sherry esq finish with the fruitcake and raisins. Bitter orange is back with some treacle, black pepper and the same black tea towards the end. never noticed it before with Appleton, always had it down as a Worthy Park signature!
Twelve year 43%, £40
Nose - As above but dialled up a bit with some added liquorice, black pepper and lemon. Black tea prominent in the nose now, like a very mild Worthy Park
T - The orange is much more prevalent, black tea and liquorice behind it. More raisin and vanilla. milk chocolate. It's more complex but less bite than the 8.
Fifteen (UK) 43%, £70
N - Spicier than other versions. Chocolate covered fudge, orange peel
T - More oak, more sweetness, orange less prevalent than the nose, no black tea this time. Instead there's coffee and cocoa, more baking spices and black pepper, also a nuttiness but can't place the nut. This often happens to me a few drinks in!
Twenty one (2018) 43%, £150
N - Lots of oak, can't find much past it on the nose. Probably some vanilla
T - Yes lots of oak which really dries it at the end. Orange peel and black pepper after your tongue gets past the oak, which isn't a chore. It's actually quite sweet and nutty and creamy once you acclimatise. Maybe some maraschino cherry too.
So, what does it all mean. I find it hard to evaluate rums without taking cost into account and there's a world of difference across the Appleton range. Considering they're all tropically aged, it's hard to argue with the price of any of them in terms of value for what you're getting but which one meets your needs? Well, that depends what you're wanting to get out of the experience.
I'm discounting the Signature as, to be honest, it doesn't really compete with the 8 year, and for an extra £8 I'd always go with 8 year.
The others all have their charms but at the top end, the sipping experience of the 15 is more enjoyable than the 21, even without taking it doubling in price into account.
The more difficult call to make is between the 8 and 12 years. The 12 year is a great all rounder. It's tasty and interesting enough to sip, well rounded for cocktails and I imagine rummy enough to taste with coke. The 8 year is less rounded and layered but is punchy enough to take on full fat coke (assuming you don't drown it). I've seen a lot of people lose their minds about what great value the 8 is and I agree, but I only drink rum neat or in cocktails, so for me, I'm sticking with the 12 year.
Whilst the 15 and 21 are both very enjoyable (and fairly priced) I'm still exploring the world of rum, so there are other bottles I'd want to try before dropping that kind of money on them. So, if you're wanting something to drink with coke only I'd get the 8. if you're wanting something to sip and be just about cheap enough to double up as a cocktail ingredient I'd go with the 12. Personally, if I was looking or something from Jamaica for over £50, I'd be reaching for Worthy Park or Hampden Estate before the Appletons.
So there you have it. Which one will be going in your glass?
And here, for your viewing pleasure - the author of today's guest review... Nick!