Appleton 12yo “Rare Blend” Rum
Single Blended Rum – A blend of only pot still and traditional column still.
ABV Hydrometer Test: 43% ABV @ 20°
To most rum drinkers, Appleton is familiar territory. As one of the world’s largest producers of rums, they have a range in their portfolio to encompass most tastes and budgets, from their £15 Appleton “Special” to the 21yo at £85 or so a bottle along with several special editions along the way such as the wonderful 25yo “Joy” named in honour of Appleton’s Master Blender Joy Spence or Master Blenders’ Legacy that celebrated a unique rum created by three of Appleton’s “Master” Blender’s.
Today I am reviewing the 12yo “Rare Blend” that typically retails around £30-35 in the UK. Following a rebranding in 2016, Appleton dropped their age statements for their “Signature Blend” (was VX, 5-10yo) and “Reserve Blend” (was 8yo) rums, but thankfully they did not dumb down, nor reduce the quality of, their 12 or 21yo rums in the same way. The significance of the rebranding for me is that the Signature, Reserve and Rare rums are now all described as “Blends” – whether or not this is just part of the marketing I do not know, but it does bring the range under a very similar umbrella and after all they are indeed blends, not only of rums of varying ages, but also of both pot and column still rums. The importance of the 12yo age statement has never been more relevant as the “Rare” Blend does carry something of great significance – a guarantee that every drop in the bottle is AT LEAST 12 years old. No Solera system, no average age, no dumbing down, no added sugar, glycerine or other stuff, no b*llsh*t, just honesty. Wow that is refreshing in the rum world nowadays.
As a result in the past I have used the Appleton 12yo as my “go to” rum, a barometer by which I measure or compare other rums. If Appleton can sell a 12yo rum at £30 or so, then if another rum costs more, I want to know why and what it is that justifies the cost. It is this that leads me to always say to other rum drinkers to be aware of what they are paying for with their rum purchase. If you spend £50-60 on something, is it because of the liquid in the bottle, the actual bottle itself (and packaging) or some dodgy pirate-based marketing story? At least with Appleton, I know my £30 is being spent entirely on the rum!!!
But I digress….Let’s get on with the review.
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. As this is Jamaican rum, we know it has not been altered, but just to make sure, I tested it with my hydrometer, which confirmed the ABV as being 43% implying no sugar has been added to it.
When I visited Appleton’s distillery, the tour guide told me that the regular Appleton bottle is male – treat it rough, put coke in it etc. But these bottles…..he gestured towards the familiar curvy Appleton bottle used in the Signature, Reserve and Rare Blends. These are the ladies, they have curves, so treat them gently and do not spoil them with coke.
Although the bottle is a distinct shape and looks great, it still carries a very cheap screw top. Despite looking very ‘premium’, the label carries very little rum information. At the very least, I would like to see that it is a guaranteed aged statement and a confirmation of the types of still used.
More often than not, the bottle is presented in a metal tin.
The rum is a medium-amber, almost bronze-like colour with light hues on the surface. Swirling the rum around the glass reveals thick, heavy legs that are slow to drop down the sides of the glass.
The aromas are very intense and powerful. Rich Demerara sugar dominates, followed by a touch of oak that becomes stronger with more inhalations. There is Appleton’s trademark orange peel aroma, but it is not overpowering and is joined by raisins and smoky sultanas.
Taste, Initial-middle 35/40
The entry is full of the Demerara sugar that dominated the initial nosing. There is an abundance of rich dried fruits reminiscent of a Christmas pudding. The rum has a rich, creamy texture, too.
Taste, Middle/Throat 37/40
As the rum reaches the mid-palate there is a fantastic rum burn that warms the roof of your mouth. It feels like rum, if that makes sense.
There are rich dried fruits and marmalade accompanied by a pastry-like flavour. Some ripe banana and white pepper develop towards the rear of the mouth, possibly even a touch of nutmeg, too. More tastings lead to more oak becoming noticeable.
This rum has a beautiful afterburn to it. There is a medium-long finish full of dried fruits and oak.
Morning After Aroma
The glass is full of rich Demerara sugar and some long-lingering oak notes.
I never tire of drinking Appleton rum and the 12yo will always be a special rum to me. I think the guarantee of the age statement, quality of rum and zero additives makes this hard to beat and given the price point, nigh-on impossible.
For anyone who enjoys blended rums, this is as fine an example as you will find, without paying £50+. It is a true representation of the skill of Appleton to produce fine rums and blend them to perfection.
Although I prefer to drink my rums neat, this rum makes an excellent mixer but is especially great with something that does not spoil the flavours of the 12yo too much. Something like an Old Fashioned works very well.
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