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Rum Review: Appleton 21

Appleton Estate 21-Year Rum Review

Appleton Estate 21-Year Rum

Looking back through my reviews, I realized I hadn’t written a review of one of my favorite rums: the twenty-one year expression from the Appleton Estate in Jamaica. Time to rectify that!

The Appleton 21-year pictured is the older bottling. Since this bottle was produced, Appleton has classed up their older marques with much sexier etched bottles and proper cork stoppers. The screw cap shown here had long been thought inadequate for a rum of this age and price, and it’s nice to know the folks at Appleton finally responded to that criticism. Given the change in packaging, I won’t go deeply into the design here—essentially it’s the same as the Reserve/VX/12-Year, but with a distinctive blue color scheme.

In the glass, the rum is a deep mahogany that is more brown than red. You just know you’re looking at an older rum. A swirl produces a host of leggy brown goodness.

My first pass over the glass gets me almost no astringency, and I’m actually able to smell directly from inside the snifter without any discomfort. I could dive into the glass were it large enough. The aromas are entirely pleasant. There is a heavy dose of oak, but it’s not overly woody, and it’s blended expertly with caramel, melted brown sugar, vanilla and flamed orange peel. As I process the aromas, I find myself hearkening back to my experience with the Appleton 50. I can’t wait to taste it…

The first sip enters with a bit of heat (it’s 43% ABV) and as the oaky base coats the tongue, a bit of sweetness comes in and settles everything down nicely. At this point I struggle to pick out individual flavors because I’m enjoying the rum too much. Focus. Another sip and the oak is still persistent, but now I’m getting milk chocolate, coffee, cinnamon and allspice. Woven throughout the spices and sugary goodness is a hint of citrus with a bit of almond and walnut. What a beauty.

When I first got into aged rum, I didn’t fully appreciate the Jamaican style. In short, I was a damn fool. I gravitated toward the sweeter Central American rums as many do, but as I expanded my rummy horizons I found myself coming back to the Jamaicans—especially those of Appleton Estate. There is something about Jamaican rum that just feels true. It is smooth but unapologetic in its funky assertiveness. It’s real, and this is one of the best I’ve had.

On to the scores:

·         Appearance: 1/1

·         Nose: 2/2

·         Mouth feel: 1/1

·         Taste: 4/4

·         Aftertaste: 2/2

·         Total Score: 10/10

Buy Appleton 21 online

How do you score Appleton 21? Share your comments below.



3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 27, 2013 4:29 am

    Great review as your palate and skills continue to grow, kudos! For Sue Sea and I this was a tough one. While we will never taste the 50 year (as we hope to speak to the mass of humanity), the 21 is another matter. Like Mount Gay’s 1703 (which sells for about $95), it IS possible to find the 21 discounted to the low $100’s. And to be sure, the 1703 was simply exquisite.

    Fortunately we didn’t have to make that investment. As invited judges to a Tampa rumfest we were naturally butt-kissed by the Appleton table who made sure we got a decent tasting, not just the thimblefull normally handed out and only at gunpoint for a good one.

    At the same time we took a pour of Appleton’s famous Extra and did a good back and forth between the two. BTW, the Extra was one of a handful of tip top rated rums in our reviews. The result?

    When you strip away the hype and the myth that older and far more expensive surely must be superior – and this isn’t easy for any of us – well, the 12 prevailed on two counts – it displayed just enough additional vigor and thus interest and second, thus provided more value, more enjoyment per dollar. When a typical 21 costs four or five times the 12, it’d better be a LOT better and well-done.

    Compare to 1703 and MGXO. The XO can be had here for about $33, with the 1703 available for about $95. This is only three to one and for us, the 1703 was noticeably superior to the MGXO (a “10”) and was simply off-the-scale.

    Unfortunately – for us – the same relationship does not exist between the Appletons. Josh you are not alone in needing time to appreciate the Jamaican style, and I note that your review of the 12 comes from an earlier era preceeding your current appreciation.

    We’d love to see a re-review and comparison now…

  2. June 21, 2017 10:56 pm

    Nice post


  1. New Rum Review: Appleton 21 | Inu a Kena

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