On Saturday Dec. 7th Appleton Estate hosted their first ever rum experience at night, headlined by a performance from reggae icon Freddie McGregor! The sizeable estate welcomed scores of patrons from various parts of the island. Winding down the day with Appleton’s golden rums provided a different experience from the day tour in a number of ways.
Joy Spence Appleton Rum Experience: Day vs Night Tour
- Time: The cool evening atmosphere was a contrast to the usual afternoon excursion. Coloured lights illuminate groves of small trees, creating a path to the central activity hub. As the moon became more visible, so did misty fog to blanket the sky. As night fell, aroma of sugarcane in the surrounding fields wafted through the air.
- Master Blender Joy Spence: We were honoured to be taught by Ms. Joy Spence, first female master blender in the spirits industry…ever! She enlightened us about various features, fragrances, and flavours included in rums, and how the topography of Appleton Estate gives the centuries-old spirit its advantage over others around the world.
- Altered Tour: The rum experience was slightly adjusted when compared to my previous visit. For example, the tasting session was pushed to the first item on the itinerary, and with an exciting addition of JOY! A couple aspects of the tour were trimmed, possibly to adhere to time constraints and number of groups. Even without a few sections, the essence of the rum experience was in no way lost nor lacking.
- Rum blending: During the rum tasting session, a unique twist was added. After the insightful session with Ms. Joy Spence, she provided 4 unlabeled Appleton rums plus a portfolio for a desired finished product that required exercising senses of smell and taste to create. The final mixed blend should’ve possessed flavours of orange peel, peach, nutmeg, apricot, and a hint of vanilla. Each person’s sample was evaluated by the master blender herself; I’m proud that mine was ranked 2nd in the room for a special prize!
- Dinner inclusive: On-site Black River restaurant served a buffet-style dinner in between the rum experience and featured act. The filling meal choices were:
- Spinach-stuffed chicken
- Pan seared fish fillet
- Bar-b-q pork chops
- 3-Bean stew
- Yellow rice
- Potato wedges
- Cake desserts
The adjacent bar area offered a selection of Appleton Rum cocktails to complement dinner, with indoor and open-air patio dining options.
- Live Music at the Appleton Estate: Live music acts began with soothing melodies in the lobby ahead of the tours. Soulful tunes were performed in song and instrument by soloists, providing a lovely background while patrons drink responsibly at the bar. The featured hour-long performance of the evening by Freddie McGregor included hit after timeless hit, with the audience pleading for an encore numerous times.
- Souvenirs: In addition to a special 200ml bottled rum from the tasting (in this case, everyone’s unique master class mix), prizes and goodie bags were also shared. For my 2nd place finish, I received a branded canvas tote bag filled with a 750ml Appleton Reserve blend, cocktail tools for my inner mixologist, and 4 branded cups perfect for sharing drinks with friends! Similar bags were also given as giveaways. At the end of the evening, everyone was gifted a small bag of a 200ml Appleton Reserve and sugarcane pieces perfect for snacking.
Choose Your Appleton Rum Experience
We also learned a few things that set Appleton apart from international brands. The tropically-aged rums are pure, meaning they have no carbs, proteins, or fats! Thanks to our climate and the nature of their estate, the flavour profiles are achieved 3x as fast as spirits of some other countries. If you’re like me who has limited knowledge about the various blends and ideal food & drink pairings, let me share some of the lessons shared by the master blender.
Appleton Rum Flavours
- Appleton Signature is a great choice for just about any cocktail.
- Appleton Reserve is a spicier and older blend, with tastes of gingers, nutmeg, and molasses. It’s great for both neat drinks and elevated cocktails (and often paired with coconut water – a favourite mix of many Jamaicans).
- Rums that boast their age actually refer to the youngest blend in the bottle. So for example, 12 year old Appleton rum possess spirits that have aged in a barrel for at least, but not limited to, 12 years. It is over 40% alcohol, with orange peel and vanilla resonating on the palate. Works well for elegant cocktails, and can act as a satisfying alternative for scotch lovers.
- The 21 year old Appleton blend is considered a luxury rum, inclusive of almond, butterscotch, molasses, vanilla, and coffee flavours. It can please a tongue that craves a taste of cognac.
Appleton Rum Experience hasn’t yet confirmed if the Night Tour would become a regular fixture going forward, but judging from this 1st staging I think I speak for all attendees when I say it has my vote!
Photo Credits: Love Not Likes Ja
What do you think of it, compared to the day tour?
Let me know in the comments.
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