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Tasting Notes On A Very Old, Very Expensive, Very Intriguing Jamaican Rum

Dark rum is a very broad category. There are myriad variations — from Central American rums aged on volcano slopes to South American rums farmed deep in Amazonia to the iconic rums of the Caribbean to the new rums coming out of the Philippines, Madagascar, Mauritius, and other crafty distilleries in every corner of the world. And with rum finally starting to get the attention it deserves among lovers of aged spirits, rare barrels and expressions from those distant locales are more valued than ever.

Today, we’re talking about a very specific and very rare rum, this one from Jamaica: Appleton Estate 30.

Just to be clear, this is a collector’s item more than anything else. It’s an extremely limited rare release from 2018, when only 4,000 bottles were produced. Three years on, the number of available bottles is most likely much lower — with most bottles having been drunk and/or stashed away in vaults. As you might imagine, this is not a cheap bottle of booze.

Below you’ll find our review of this 30-year-old treasure. If you’re interested in adding this to your dark rum collection, click on the price to see if there’s a bottle available in your area.

Appleton Estate 30 Very Rare Limited Edition

Zach Johnston

ABV: 43%

Average Price: $530

The Rum:

This blend comes from the master of Jamaican rum, Master Blender Joy Spence. This release from 2018 blends rums that are at least 30 years old with some barrels north of 50 years old. Like all Appleton releases, the juice in the bottle is a cane-to-glass spirit with everything from the growing of the cane to the aging and blending happening in-house at Appleton.

Only 4,000 bottles were produced with only 900 of those allocated to the U.S. market.

Tasting Notes:

The nose is bold, with a mix of burnt pineapple rinds next to coconut charcoal, a touch of ripe plantain, and a hint of dry tobacco leaf. The palate calms down all that charred wood and fruit for a slow-sipping essence of pineapple juice tied to black molasses, cinnamon, and anise, rich and oily vanilla, rips of cedar bark, dry grass, butterscotch candies, and a slight note of that Jamaican rum funk on the end. The finish on this is very long and hits you with an almost creamy and soft pina colada vibe very late that turns into a mild mango juice, leaving you with a satisfied palate coated with lovely dark rum.

The Bottle:

Appleton’s new bottle design suits this rum. It’s sleek and eye-catching while the label remains very understated. The embossed label lets you stare into the depths of the dark rum in the bottle and get sort of mesmerized by it.

Bottom Line:

There’s a lot of dark and charred wood to get through on the nose before you get to the sweet fruits within this dram. But, wow, the mid-palate to finish of this sip is extraordinary. It’s nuanced, balanced, and very enjoyable.

Is it worth over $500 per bottle? If you’re a collector or rare bottles, then perhaps. If you’re a passive dark rum fan, then there are plenty of rums out there for far less money that are all perfectly good.

Ranking:

90/100 — this is good rum but the very distinct nose will turn some drinkers off.


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