I don’t believe in holding rum without trying it so I cracked it open. Tastes like Appleton 12, wouldn’t you believe it? My favorite rum. So easy to drink, without added sugar. And great in cocktails. Appleton 12 remains my recommended one-rum Mai Tai.
For the post today I thought I’d highlight my favorite rum: Appleton 12.
Back ten years ago, before I got deeply into rum, Appleton was my go-to answer for a rum to be gifted. Later, as I started to explore rum I saw that Appleton 12 was specifically called for in Mai Tai recipes from Beachbum Berry and Martin Cate. I obtained this expression myself and never looked back.
I’ve tried hundreds of rum since, and enjoyed most of them. Yet Appleton 12 remains my favorite for its rich, smooth taste, wide availability, and attainable price point. It is delightful when sampled neat. But not so expensive that you feel like you’re wasting money when you put it into a Mai Tai. It is my go-to “one rum” Mai Tai rum when ordering at a bar, and it remains an important part of my four-rum Ultimate Mai Tai rum blend.
Pictures are the last several vintages of this rum. The new Rare Casks edition continues the tradition wonderfully but I did make it a point to buy two bottles of the precious Rare Blend for safe keeping.
Jamaica won independance on August 6, 1962, so what better way for me to celebrate than with a Planter’s Punch with three of Jamaica’s finest rums? The Planter’s Punch is a historical cocktail but largely ignored in the native country these days (where overproof rum with Ting soda is far more popular). But, it is one of my favorites. Especially this recipe that Jeff “Beachbum” Berry shared in the Beachbum Berry Remixed book and in the Total Tiki app for iOS/iPadOS.
Rather than just the single rum called in the original recipe, Coruba, I split the base and added some higher end Jamaican rums.
Stephen Remsberg Planter’s Punch ¾ oz Lime Juice 1 oz Sugar Syrup 1 oz Coruba Dark rum 1 oz Appleton 12 Rare Casks rum 1 oz Hampden Estate Pure Single Jamaican rum 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
It is fashionable among rum nerds to naysay Myers’s but this White Jamaican rum ain’t bad for the price. Way better than the unaged Puerto Rican rums to me. Don’t get me wrong though, this is a mixer not a sipper.
Appleton Reserve is the “middle tier” of Appleton’s mainstream rum brands, sitting in between the lightly aged Appleton Signature and the long aged Appleton 12 Rare Casks. It’s a longer aged rum but is still generally positioned as a mixing rum.
The new edition is an updated blend at 43% ABV (up from 40%) and confers a full 8-year age statement. As with all Jamaican rums, the age statement is the minimum number of years for the rums blended in the finished bottle.
I loved the old Appleton Reserve and it’s wonderful in a Pampanito cocktail from Smuggler’s Cove, and of course in a 1944 Mai Tai. But the new blend definitely is more suited for sipping. I’m tasting a bit more of the vanilla and caramel typically seen in rum aged in oak.
I’m really happy with the new Appleton 8 Year Old Reserve release.
Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rum has been my favored rum for a 1 rum Mai Tai for a while now. Previously known as “Rare Blend,” it’s now called “Rare Casks” as part of the new label and bottle style that is moving across all three of the mainstream Appleton rum brands (Signature, Reserve 8, and 12 Rare). While the Reserve 8 is a assuredly a new blend (the ABV goes from 40 to 43), supposedly the 12 is not changing. But I heard from some people online that it was different.
In the Mai Tai: I prepared two Mai Tais identical except for the rum. I could not taste the difference.
In the glass: tasting the two rums neat, I do taste a slight difference. The older Rare Blend has more of an oak barrel taste, whereas the Rare Casks does have a hint more of a Jamaican funk present. Very slight differences. It’s still a great rum that’s available widely for a very good price ($33 at Costco, mid-$40s at fine liquor stores). Go out and get it.
The new bottle takes up a bit less surface area in my liquor cabinet, and now features a cork (!). It still features the gold and black color scheme and now more prominently displays the signature of master blender Joy Spence. I’m totally liking this new bottle style.