Fri | Dec 1, 2023

Rum, the Spirit of Luxury: Master Blender Dr Joy Spence’s seminar set to excite at Jamaica Rum Festival 2022

Published:Friday | June 24, 2022 | 12:05 AMKrysta Anderson - Staff Reporter
Dr Joy Spence. 
Dr Joy Spence. Contributed

The highly anticipated Jamaica Rum Festival (JRF) is scheduled to take place tomorrow in the nation’s Second City, Montego Bay, at The Aqueduct, Rose Hall. With many looking forward to the vibe, booths, concert, and, of course rum, in the midst of it all will be captivating seminars providing edu-rum-tainment. Headlining the day is the revered master blender, Dr Joy Spence, who is looking forward to giving you a taste of ‘Rum, The Spirit of Luxury’.

The journey is set to capture all the senses and whisk you off the specialty rum’s spirited birthplace that will highlight the exquisite charm of Appleton Estate’s ultra-premium range. Those selected to attend will not only be given the rich history of the timeless classic, but will have the unique opportunity to awaken your palate while enjoying the nuances, aromas, and notes of Appleton Estate 12-year-old Rare Casks, 15-Year-Old Black River Casks, and 21-year-old Nassau Valley Casks, all accompanied by the most enchanting pairings.

Living caught up with Spence who gave us a ‘rum-down’ on the spirit and her seminar. Here is what she had to say.

Living: What would you say are some of the characteristics that make Appleton Estate rums distinctive from other Jamaican rums and rums in the Caribbean?

Joy Spence (JS): Appleton Estate has several unique characteristics that distinguish it from other Jamaican and Caribbean rums. Our unique geographical location where the limestone-filtered water from our natural spring is used in our fermentation. Our copper pot stills are uniquely designed and create the distinctive orange peel top note in our rums. Our rums are aged in the highest quality barrels thus creating the purest complex flavours. We can produce very old minimum-aged rums in commercial quantities. We have handed down years of craftsmanship from one master blender to the next thus ensuring consistency

Living: How is Appleton Estate’s ultra-premium range compared to scotch and whiskey?

JS: Appleton Estate’s Ultra-premium range has a significant advantage when compared to Scotch and Whiskey. This is a result of tropical ageing where our rums age three times as fast as in a cooler climate, producing more vanilla and nutty flavours which makes our rum smoother and mellower. Our Appleton estate 21-Yea- Old Nassau Valley Casks rum, for example, would have to be aged for 63 years in a cooler climate to develop the same complex flavours as developed in Jamaica.

Living: Appleton Estate introduced the 15-year-old Black River casks during the JRF last year and this year released Ruby. What do you consider when creating a new expression?

JS: Creating new expressions involves a combination of market needs and liquid availability. Our advantage at Appleton Estate is that we have the most enviable stock of aged rums and this gives us the flexibility to create numerous new expressions each having their distinctive age and flavour profiles.

Living: In the wine world, there is debate about the influence the winemaker has on the finished product compared to the terroir. Since Appleton Estate is the only rum that can claim a terroir, what are your thoughts on this with respect to Appleton Estate?

JS: At Appleton Estate, the finished product is a combination of terroir and craftsmanship of the master blender. Being a master blender means thinking ahead and leaving a legacy for the generations to come, especially in Jamaica where rum has been such a huge part of our culture and heritage for centuries.

Living: Would you describe your role in the same terms?

JS: My vision is to leave a legacy for other master blenders and to inspire young scientists to join this profession.

Living: What makes your seminar different from the rest?

JS: Our seminar this year will be very interactive educating our participants not only about our unique process, but demonstrating the effect of ageing in the highest quality barrels, tasting our Luxury Expressions, Appleton Estate 15-year-old Black River Casks, and Appleton Estate 21-year-old Nassau Valley Casks using simple unique pairings, experience a tasting comparison between Appleton Estate and Scotch, learn how to blend your own rum and taking home components to blend with friends and family; and a very special surprise where each participant will be given a 200ml Barrel Select Reserve rum specially selected by me for Jamaica Rum Festival 2022. And lots of spot prizes.