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Tasty, but not quite great
I cannot believe how Appleton Estate has jumped into the glue rum wagon! Some older ones are slightly better, but the Reserve Blend is just nasty alcohol and glue to the nose and palate. Burn is nasty at the end. Struggles to earn a 3.
This appeared to be a high-end rum from Appleton, although it's age is unclear - Regardless, I was expecting a very good rum. The bottle itself is quite nice, and the colour a rich amber. The rum has a decent smell, a little oaky and sweet. This rum is too harsh for me to drink straight, although it has a typical Jamaican "dryness" and depth to it. OK for the price, but not a top shelf rum - Good with a nice sweet cola (I had it with Coke Life) though.
I love this. I'm drinking with mix, namely cola, and the bottom end on this is rich. Lots of round molasses and sugars on the bottom. Vanilla, caramel, titch of orange peel and spice. I started my rum journey on the Signature Blend, which is 4 years. I was enamored by that for the oakiness and the molasses. This is THAT with a sweeter, thicker mouthfeel and more oak in the finish. It is your friend. I cook with molasses a lot and am able to appreciate it's bitter finish and dark round profile. Molasses and smoky oak are why I drink this brand. The extra of both and the added sweetness make this my favorite so far. I plan on trying the 12 year. Most reviews indicate that rum is best at 12 years. And I plan on trying the El Dorado 12 year.. It has a lot of close fans.
Let's hear it for my first booze review.
Sugar: 0 gpl. Got a bottle of this as a present and quickly opened it as I thought it was something special. Must have been the new label or I had consumed too much rum already. It's okay as a mixer. It seems that Appleton is taking whatever they have left over from various barrels and calling it a reserve blend. There are some trace elements of tastes found in the higher priced Appleton's but it's my opinion that Appleton is aiming for the Bacardi section of the market with the price of this rum. It's still better than Bacardi, but the bar has been lowered. It's a fair to decent mixing rum. Spend the extra and get the Appleton 12 year old.
Not bad, but zero complexity. Balance is lacking. Thin with a short finish. Bite is a little rough. Definitely could have used more time in the barrel. It has some nice vanilla and dark fruit notes. Hints of oak and coffee. But overall, not up to this distillery’s standards.
Now that Appleton has downsized and discontinued the V/X, White, and Special Gold, there are only three rums below the $35 per bottle price tag. The Signature Blend is the entry level mixer, which I will not try. Then there is this one blended from 20 select aged rums with an average age of 6 years, followed by the Rare Blend 12 Year. I had the latter one a month or so ago and developed a love/hate relationship with it because of too much hogo Jamaican funk. This one has the hogo funk subdued quite a bit, which is alright with me. The aroma has the most hogo, but on the palate is perfectly smooth with natural sweetness from the wood and molasses with no added sugar. There is no bitterness going down the pipe. I miss the old V/X, which is a step up from their Signature Blend. I am so glad to be able to continue buying Appleton instead of giving up on them. This bottle was $27 and a better buy than the $33 Rare Blend 12 Year in the fancy box. It is also a very versatile mixer, making great Mai Tais and Goombay Smashes.
Update August 29, 2019: I have tried several Jamaican rums like this to come up with the perfect Mai Tai. This one wins for me. Using the wrong Jamaican rum in a Mai Tai will screw it up faster than anything. Well, not quite as bad as using too much orange liqueur!
Update May 31, 2020: I saw this one in a new bottle while stocking up on old favorites. There was a big number 8 designating the number of years on the front. It also said Reserve Blend. My original review was for the 6 year Reserve Blend. Does this new bottle and aging warrant another review? Not really. However, it is even better from what I remember. For only $25 US, this is a damn fine sipping dry rum with the hogo funk minimized. It is also not the same 8 year rum as what is shipped off to Europe. Appleton always keeps us confused. My overall ranking remains the same.
"A fruity experience. It’s initially quite sweet – nice fruity notes banana, mango maybe a little grape, which fade into an almost tangy dry zesty spice. The finish is medium long."
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