Appleton “Joy” 25yo
Single Blended Rum – A blend of only pot still and traditional column still
ABV Hydrometer Test: 45% ABV @ 20°
The Appleton brand needs no introduction to rum drinkers. Nestled in the beautiful Nassau Valley in Jamaica, they are a producer of real, genuine and unadulterated rums – sadly, quite a rare thing nowadays in the rum world. Even their every day rums such as Appleton Special are top quality and they offer something at every price point for all types of rum consumers…..with the possible exception of the sugaraholics!
But, every so often, a special edition comes from Appleton and today I am reviewing their most recent offering, Appleton “Joy” 25yo.
This is a special blend of rums aged a minimum of 25 years and up to as much as 35years. It is created by, and named in honour of, Appleton’s Master Blender Joy Spence’s 20years at the helm of one of the world’s top rum brands. In Joy’s own words ““It includes two rum marques which are of particular sentimental significance to me: The first of these marques was laid down to age in 1981, which is the year I joined the Appleton Estate team, and the second is my favourite marque of pot still rum. The final blend is a wonderful rum that I hope will be become a cornerstone of my legacy.”
Just 1,000 nine-litre cases of the rum have been produced globally, with 1,200 bottles allocated to the UK market and 3,000 bottles in the U.S. This helps to explain the hefty £200 price tag, although to be honest, if I had laid some rums down 25-35 years ago, I would want to be paid a lot more than £200 a bottle, so with that reasoning, I should consider it a bit of a bargain.
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Single Blended Rum” – a blend of only pot still and traditional column still. When tested with my hydrometer, this measured 45% implying no added sugars, not that I would expect anything else from Jamaican rum.
This is presented in an exquisite decanter-style bottle, housed in a box that opens from the centre outwards. Whilst it looks and feels amazing, if I am honest, the box is a bit of a pain to open and close, but that is a minor gripe. It is what is contained within that I am more interested in.
On the rear of the box is some background info regarding the blend and its origins as well as some tasting notes. The bottle itself is bereft of info though, but it does have a beautiful wooden-topped real cork stopper that gives a very satisfying pop when opened.
The rum presents itself in a a very deep brown slightly coppery colour. There are orange hues that glisten when the glass is held up to the light and a slight greenish lip to the liquid.
There are medium density legs that form rich tears, slow to drop down the sides of a glass.
The aromas are incredibly intense, but not the least bit overpowering. At 45%, the rum has a soft and delicate alcoholic aroma, but nothing offensive comes from these fumes. The first impression is a combination of incredible oak and dried orange – the latter being Appleton’s trademark aroma and is instantly recognisable amongst rums. There is a feint hint of light citrus combined with orange peel along with some dried fruits, notably raisins. Further nosings reveal a slightly dry and smokey presence with a touch of vanilla somewhere in the background and some dark chocolate or cocoa.
The aromas are distinct yet mellow at the same time. There is a delicate balance. With my eyes closed I could even imagine this being reminiscent of a fine Cognac or even an Armagnac.
I do not recall nosing a better rum
Taste, Initial-middle 40/40
From the moment this rum touches your lips and tongue, it oozes class and sophistication. The entry has incredible oak notes with soft warming spices, a touch of light vanilla and even some subtle tropical pineapple notes. There is a slight orangey zestfulness, almost becoming like fresh orange.
It is super smooth, soft, warming and gentle, yet still has body and presence. There is a touch of nutmeg that develops with further tastings. As with the nosing, this could almost be a fine Cognac or Armagnac I am drinking, such is the classy feel to it.
Taste, Middle/Throat 36/40
In the middle of the mouth, the rum returns from its foray with the brandy-world and develops a little hint of rum-fire. There is lots of oak throughout the mid-palate, but it is not overly dry, bitter or unpleasant as the initial zesty orange is still present to balance the taste. Towards the back of the mouth, the rum does start to become much drier with a contradictory feel of leather and butter at the same time.
Allow this rum to sit on your tongue for a few seconds and it opens out and reveals some additional soft spice, notably more nutmeg and a hint of cinnamon, possibly even a little ginger in the background, too. An additional sweetness appears also – a cross between Demerara and butterscotch.
There is a little dark chocolate left in the throat after swallowing the rum. This rum feels like it lasts forever, such is the incredibly long and satisfying finish. It moves between dry oak, bitter orange, warming vanilla and a buttery creamy texture and an almost pastry-like flavour appears after several tastings. There is also a hint of citrus, too…..
It is quite sublime!
Morning After Aroma
Lashings of rich Demerara sugar remain along with a subtle hint of dried orange peel.
This is very close to a perfect rum. For anyone such as myself who loves Appleton 21yo, this takes it to a new level of depth of flavours. At £200, it is difficult to say it is 2 1/2 times better than the 21yo though although it is truly amazing.
The balance between the oak and fruit is an amazing achievement – it is neither too dry, nor oakey, nor too sweet or fruity. Given the difficulty in managing the oakiness of a spirit through such a long ageing process coupled with the huge angel’s share lost to evaporation, maybe I need to re-assess the value of the rum as being worth 2 1/2 times the price of the 21yo.
It really is a fitting testament and tribute to one of the spirit world’s truly great contributors who can rightly claim to have created some of the world’s best ever rums of which this has to be considered one of them.
Cheers Joy for your 20 years as Master Blender of Appleton. Your legacy will always be tasted and felt in this fantastic rum!
P Denotes the rum contains POT still distillate.
C Denotes the rum contains traditional/Coffey COLUMN still distillate.
B Denotes the rum contains a BLEND of POT and COLUMN still distillate.
M Denotes the rum contains MULTI-COLUMN still distillate or is a MODERN rum.
A Denotes the rum is an AGRICOLE i.e. from Cane Juice.
S Denotes the rum is presented in a SWEETENED style.
Bottle/Presentation Out of 3
Glass/Aroma Out of 10
Taste, Initial-middle Out of 40
Taste, Middle/Throat Out of 40
Afterburn Out of 7