Rum Review: Appleton 12-Year
Appleton Extra / Appleton 12 Year
For my inaugural review, I have chosen the Appleton 12-Year, also known as Appleton Extra. Appleton’s Master Blender Joy Spence was kind enough to answer one of my questions during her recent Facebook chat, so I thought I would return the favor by buying the most expensive bottle of Appleton I could find (at BevMo, anyway). Fortunately for me, it was on sale for $29.99–a $5 less than its regular $34.99.
The first thing I noticed about the Appleton 12-Year was its color. Holding it up to my bottle of its younger brother the Appleton Reserve, it was noticeably darker with a rich red hue. The label also suggests this difference with the addition of a black background on the upper portion of the label.
To open the bottle, I twisted and broke the seal on the metal cap. At this point, I was reminded that I love the sound of a cork being removed from a bottle of rum. A quick online check confirms that even the 21-year has a metal cap. Only when you get to the 30-year does Appleton change the bottle shape and closure (available for about $350 online).
With the bottle now open, I poured a generous serving into my tasting snifter and swirled. The color in the glass is just as vibrant in the glass–more so when it’s held up to the light. If color was the goal, this rum would be perfect. Thick legs became pronounced as the swirled bits slowly cascaded back toward the bottom of the snifter, indicating a viscosity that would yield a nice and slick mouth feel.
Now to breathe in the aroma. As I passed the snifter under my nose, I was surprised by the astringency. A deeper sniff into the bowl yielded an altogether unpleasant result reminiscent of lesser spirits. Maybe I had breathed too deeply.
Now for a taste. The slick mouth feel suggested by the legs is here–it felt right, but the tingling that followed was again more than I expected for a 12-year old rum. There are pronounced citrus notes (mostly orange) as well as vanilla, caramel and of course the woodiness of oak. There is a bit of a smoky character coming from what I imagine is charred oak and burnt sugar. The level of sweetness is moderate. In the aftertaste there is a moderate spice flavor.
I continued taking small sips and breathing in the spirit for a while as I attempted to refine my notes and I kept coming back to the astringency of the aroma. As a sanity check, I poured an amount of another 12-year old rum from the bar–an El Dorado. Granted, this is a completely different (demerara) rum, but what I wanted to see was whether or not the level of astringency was similar. In short, it wasn’t. When I breathed deeply into the snifter of El Dorado, my breathing was unaffected. The same experiment with the Appleton 12 produced an unpleasant burn and cough.
In summary, I was hoping to enjoy the Appleton 12-Year much more than I did. While I prefer more mellow rums, I can see a scotch drinker loving this. So while I can think of many other sipping rums I would prefer at this price point, there is a silver lining: this rum is excellent in cocktails. When blended with Clement VSOP it makes a great Mai Tai, for example (as noted by Beachbum Berry here).
Now on to the scores:
- Appearance: 1/1
- Nose: 1/2
- Mouth feel: 1/1
- Taste: 3/4
- Aftertaste: 2/2
- Total Score: 8/10