Tue | Jan 28, 2020

‘Live’ liquor tasting at Appleton Estate

Published:Friday | December 13, 2019 | 12:22 AMAnthony Foster/Gleaner Writer
Master Blender Joy Spence was on hand to help patrons experience the real Appleton taste.
Master Blender Joy Spence was on hand to help patrons experience the real Appleton taste.

Last Saturday night, Freddie McGregor docked his Big Ship in the small ‘waters’ at Appleton Estate in St Elizabeth. But before patrons sailed away to the calming sounds of the Captain’s velvet tones, they were taken on a special Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience dubbed ‘Live at the Estate Night Tour’. Spence, who joined the company in 1981 and became master blender in 1997, helped patrons to experience the real taste of its Appleton Signature, Reserve Blend, and 12-year-old brands.

She explained that “Jamaicans have become so passionate about this facility [even though] a lot of them have no idea how rum is being made”.

Spence said that the tour is “an eye-opener for them, and as you can see … looking at the different components of rum, and how we appreciate it and taste it, it’s actually mind-boggling to them”.


Before the taste session with Spence, Tiffany Omeally took patrons on a tour of the estate. The first two stops were to show recreations of how cane was juiced in the 17th century using humans and donkeys. Then it was on to distillation – the only area of the tour where no photos or videos are allowed – where the rum is boiled in a pot sill, a method used from as far back as the 15th century, and a column still from the 1820s.

Patrons were also taken to the ageing house, the third smallest of 17 on the island. This is where a Appleton Rum gets its red colour from being stored in barrels. The location holds up to 18,000 barrels of rum. Each barrel weighs 500 pounds or 151 litres when full.

A special 50-year-old Appleton Rum, which was made to celebrate Jamaica 50, was recently sold out at US$5,000 per bottle. Plans are in place for another unique 100-year-old rum to celebrate Jamaica 100 in 2062. The estimated price will be US$20,000 to US$30,000.

Jelieceen Sterling, who participated in the tour, said it was “excellent, very informative. We learnt more about rum that we didn’t know before”.

“All Jamaicans should come here,” Sterling added.

Cecil Maragh, who travelled from Kingston, said, “It’s my second tour, [and I] always like it here. The rum is good.”