It is a rare thing for a country to be able to celebrate its independence with a spirit every bit as old as it is, but thanks to Appleton Rum, Jamaica has that honour. On 7 June, 2012 Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum officially revealed an extraordinary accomplishment: a 50-year luxury rum named “Jamaica Independence Reserve” in celebration of Jamaica’s 50 years of independence.
The unveiling occurred at Jamaica House in Kingston with no less than the Prime Minister, The Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, ON, MP taking to the podium to congratulate J. Wray & Nephew Limited, the parent company, for their achievement.
Appleton is a name synonymous with Jamaica. A major sponsor of numerous events and a favourite tipple of locals, Appleton produces a range of rums suitable for all occasions. The Appleton Estate line is particularly popular, ranging from Appleton VX perfect for mixing, up through Reserve, 12-year, Master Blender’s Legacy and the 21-year.
The older rums are designed to be savoured neat or on the rocks and are an excellent alternative to cognacs, particularly as after-dinner drinks. The 30-year was impressive enough, but now a 50-year has joined the market, the bar has been significantly raised.
Jacques Scott is the Cayman Islands’ distributor of Appleton, and has enjoyed a long partnership with the Jamaican producer. It held its local launch event on 23 July at Abacus in Camana Bay with Joy Spence, Master Blender in attendance. This remarkable woman took over the nurturing of the 50-year rum in the latter part of its life, and she was there in Jamaica when it was finally revealed to the public. She is an intelligent, vibrant personality and extremely knowledgeable; an excellent ambassador for Appleton as she travels the world giving talks and presentations about the blending and aging of fine rum.
Only 800 bottles of this exceptional spirit will be available throughout the world...ever. As you can imagine, the retail price puts it in a bracket normally reserved for elite whiskey and cognac, but then this is no ordinary rum.
The presentation bottle should take pride of place in any cabinet, and will be considered an investment by many. It is a crystal decanter featuring etchings and gold printing, with a gold-finished brass and cork stopper. The bottle resides in a black lacquer box with gold-finished brass hinges, and includes a commemorative booklet on the history of Jamaica’s independence and the 50 year-old rum.
On the launch evening in Jamaica many dignitaries were present for the momentous occasion. Paul Henriques, managing director of J. Wray & Nephew Limited, spoke to the crowd about the history of the rum. “Tonight we are here to launch a truly rare and exceptional rum which has a very significant meaning for the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence.
“You could say that J. Wray & Nephew Limited has been preparing for this function for 50 years, because it was 50 years ago as independence approached that our predecessors at Wray and Nephew set aside several barrels of rum from which we have now created this very special 50 year-old rum.
“This rum is believed to be the oldest rum for sale in the world.”
At the end of his speech, the prime minister joined him on stage to reveal the bottle to an eagerly waiting audience. Servers appeared with trays of glasses, each containing a generous shot of the evening’s star as Joy Spence prepared to give a brief talk on how to visually appreciate and savour the rum.
Once all had glasses in their hands, they took in the dark, rich colour of the liquid and the obvious green ring signifying its age. They indulged in its oaky bouquet with vanilla, cinnamon, maple and orange peel notes. Then finally they raised their glasses, made a toast and sipped for the first time the exquisitely smooth rum with its honeyed oak finish.
The Appleton Estate 50-year Jamaica Independence Reserve was officially declared a triumph.