Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Spirit Log: Appleton Estate Signature Blend

This week I am revisiting a rum brand that first made my acquaintance some time before my blog began. I can’t compare now and then, but I can do some vague comparisons with other spirits of the genre. That won’t be the primary focus of this post though. We’ll judge it on its own merits for the most part.
This one was £16 from Tesco, who claimed it was £8 off. That it was the biggest discount over another product I was looking at, swung the balance in Appleton Estate’s favour. It carries 40 ABVs and is identified as a dark rum, the flagship of the Appleton Estate range, blended from 15 rums, with an average age of 4 years.
That’s interesting; average age. Nothing further to say, I just find that interesting. I don’t think I’ve come across a spirit with an average age statement before – not that it is declared on the bottle. That’s just from The Whisky Exchange’s product description, so it must be fairly casual, easy to obtain information.
Appleton Estate is the oldest sugar estate and distillery in Jamaica apparently, and in Joy Spence boasts the first appointed female master blender. How enlightened.
Presentation is in a bulbous and stubby bottle that is oddly pleasing to hold, and sealed with a crappy screw cap. My brother-in-law spied it on a recent visit, and thought it looked interesting. He can’t drink whisky and, looking for something to fill that void in his drinking habits, thought rum might be the answer. I opened it and he was very impressed. He didn’t seem interested in trying the PlantationBarbados XO, for some reason, but as long as he was happy, that’s fine with me. I tried the Appleton the next night, and my immediate impression was a cheap alcohol nose and heavy dose of ketchup. Not good. It looks the part in the glass; glossy, but more orangey than the red shade you might expect. It’s quite rough on entry to the mouth, but it does develop quite nicely.
A week or two later I got around to trying a three way rum taste test, against the Plantation Barbados XO (of which less than a measure remained), and the Havana Club Anejo Especial. Against the Havana Club, something very odd about the Appleton Estate reveals itself. This is very, very rough spirit. It makes me wonder why they didn’t choose to make it a little better. That would surely reflect well on the brand as a whole. As it is, it is appearing over priced. The Havana Club Anejo Especial is generally priced around the same, and that comes off a little better. You do at least get the impression that you’re drinking something a rung or two above supermarket basic with that.
I tasted the Plantation Barbados last of the three, knowing it was likely to stand head and shoulders above, and it really did. So refined, full-bodied, and such sublime sweet vanilla. In general it is too sweet for my personal taste, but you can’t help but appreciate its quality.
Against competition then, the Appleton Estate didn’t fare too well. There was plenty of time though, for it to ingratiate itself with me over the coming months, though it never did. I rarely pulled it off the shelf, still less frequently pouring it into a glass. In fact, as I post this, there are still a few measures left in the bottle. I wouldn’t normally post a “review” of a spirit before finishing the bottle, though in all honesty, that isn’t so much a rule as an indicator of how far behind my drinking my writing is. Nevertheless, that’s still very telling.
I’ll finish with some recommendations then. First and foremost, I’d avoid this unless you’re intending to use it purely for cocktails and you’re getting a hefty discount. Even then, you may as well get a comparable supermarket brand. If you’re looking for a sipper, stay well away. In fact, you may as well stump up a few extra pounds and get the excellent Plantation 3 Stars. It may be a white rum (of some description), but it’s superb and easily overcomes any problems caused by difference in genre.
Thanks for stopping by once again. If you come back next week, I’ll be back on the peaty single malt trail with the Old Ballantruan. They don’t make it anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t read about it! Well, does it?!