Appleton Special is a fine, medium-bodied golden rum, made up of full-flavoured traditional pot still rums and lighter character modern column still rums.
Nose: This is an instantly warming nose – on the nose it’s almost like a gentle, velvety brandy, with a strong hint of pear and warm, caramelly molasses. The Appleton Special nose is certainly all about warming spirit.
The nose has a slight alcoholic burn at cask strength, but it doesn’t nose its actual strength. Rather, the alcohol vapours bring a sensation of warmth. The nose is pretty inviting and charismatic overall; it’s a rum perfect for sipping and old-style drinking.
Palate: Appleton Special Rum has a smooth, soft entry, with a sensation of heat and a wallop of strong alcoholic vapours which gives the impression of spirits from a previous and perhaps more temperate time.
There is a marzipan-like flavour here which evokes a sugary, chocolate-smeared hard biscuit. There is also a spice – a bittersweet / mustiness, and a loose tobacco-infused Turkish coffee note.
Finish: Appleton Special finishes quite long, with a soft and lingering warmth which feels like the heart of winter. It’s calm, soothing and very nice.
Thoughts: Appleton Special Rum is part of a very modern approach to rum – it’s a properly high-strength rum – but it’s also very old-school. It has elements of something like an old Barbados Demerara with its strong molasses flavour – Rich, flavoursome, strong – and also something like an old Demerara style Demerara.
It seems Appleton want the rum to touch it all bases, to be something classic and modern, bold and subtle.
It’s a rum absolutely perfect for a festive tipple, and would be a fine choice for a party with cocktails.
It’s also a fine rum to heat with chocolate for dessert – I made a hot chocolate using Appleton Special rum as a base, and it worked very well.
It’s a good sipping rum, too, for when you want an instant warmth and a kick of rum flavour – it’s a fine rum, but I personally find it’s better suited to cocktails.
This is surprising because Appleton craft an amazing white rum, and you would think a white rum would have enough flavour and richness to stand up well to cocktails.
There are a huge number of distilleries there. Some of the distilleries produce light, high-sugar juice so they can boost the rum with added water and then market the resulting product as light rum. Light rums are typically low-quality for serious rum drinkers.
What I am saying is: where the distilleries aren’t selling low quality juice, they are adding water and selling that as an expensive rum.