Appleton is on the agenda and we have a lineup that couldn’t be much more diverse. The new 8YO makes the start.
Appleton 8YO (bottled 2022, 43%): This is a recent addition to the core range and it replaced the V/X if I understand correctly. The V/X was a blend of five and ten year old Rums I think, this one is at least eight years old (they do stress that on the label!). Nose: Very standard and straightforward, somewhat boring but certainly not bad! I get a mix of nuts, toffee, oak, orange bitters and cocoa. Palate: Quite dry but a bit fruitier than the nose suggested. I get sweet apple, unripe pineapple, banana, nuts again, orange bitters and indeed quite some oak. Later a note that settles somewhere between bitter vanilla and honey as well as quite some toffee and caramel again. It is pretty decent. Finish: Medium long with walnut, oak, toffee, honey and spices. It is much better than the V/X, that’s for sure. Nothing I’d keep on sipping need but very good mixing material. (75/100)
We have a pair of recent 12YOs, bottled about three years apart. I am curious if we can detect any differences. They do come in different designs but I actually don’t think they really changed the blend.
Appleton 12YO (bottled 2022, 43%): The new version. Nose: Rather similar in profile to the 8YO but decidedly drier, with more oak and spices, which makes it more elegant if you ask me. We are missing this certain fruitiness that we’ve found in the 8YO, however. It does come with a certain soapyness (I don’t think that’s actually a word) but it is by no means as strong as with the older version (see below). There’s also a slightly smoky note, that can also be found in a lighter way in the 8YO but not really in the older 12YO. Palate: Spices (pepper) and dried fruits (banana, pineapple) shape the profile. They are supported by nuts and lots of oak. In a sense the oak actually took away a bit too much from the distillate already (too much subtractive maturation) as I am missing a few of the pleasant notes we’ve found in the younger bottling. With the third sip toffee, vanilla and honey. A bit too mellow if you ask me. Finish: Not too long with oak, vanilla, a few other spices and the dried fruits from the palate here and there. All in all I find this slightly more pleasant and sippable in direct comparison (to the 8YO and the older 12YO) but it just isn’t exciting to drink at all. What is more, I think that is the inferior mixer if you ask me. The leap from the 8YO just isn’t really there. (76/100)
Appleton 12YO (bottled 2019, 43%): The “recent old” version. Nose: Somewhat soapy which makes me change glasses but nope, that note is still there. Behind that we get a mix of spices and fruits and more dusty, antique notes slightly reminiscent of old furniture. This is very different from the bottle of Appleton 12 I’ve had about ten years ago, but that’s natural of course. All in all, it is a very bland and meaningless, yet solid nose. Palate: Once again this mix of fruits and spices, at an ester level that is kinda half assessed. I do like the pepper we get here and the 43% aren’t a huge problem at all, but nevertheless this Rum just leaves us in absolute apathy. Often times, that’s the death sentence of a Rum for us, but at the end of the day, this is still a decent product, just not what gets us excited these days. Finish: Rather short without offering any new notes. It is incredibly similar to the new version and blindly, it surely would be the same Rum I think. I think everything has been said. But yeah, these Rums still make a pretty good Mai Tai, believe it or not! (76/100)
So no real winner here. How about an even older version?
Appleton 12YO (~1980s, 43%): I am not even sure that this dates back to the 80s. It might also be 70s or 90s material. If anyone knows something, please let me know. Nose: Honey, vanilla, ripe oranges, lemon and lemon zest, bergamot perhaps, some oak… no this is different from the contemporary versions and frankly, much better. Palate: Honey, orange and lemon zest, definitely cloves, pepper, oak, fermented garlic, herbs such as thyme or coriander and some nuts. It is not earth shattering but rather solid. Finish: Medium long with pepper, chives, coriander, oak and orange. As much as we hate to say it, this old version of the Appleton 12YO easily beats the newer releases. They definitely changed the formula here. (79/100)
Let’s move on over to the vintages! Pure pot still.
Velier Appleton Estate 1995 25YO (63%): Nose: So this is Appleton as well? Wow! While I wouldn’t necessarily call this a high ester Rum, I’ve never found as many esters in an Appleton before. It starts with glue/ solvent, moves over to grapefruit and blood oranges and later culminates in oak, cocoa and tannin. Here and there also a few herbal notes but it always circles back to the described backbone. Really good! Palate: While I didn’t notice the high abv in the nose, the alcohol definitely makes its presence felt at the palate. As a result, we cannot capture as many notes as we’d like to. Wood polish, slightly medical notes in the sense of iodine, salted dark chocolate, oranges and lots of wood are my main impressions. Indeed, the nose is much more impressive than the slightly bitter palate but that’s a fate that many of these Rums share. Finish: Medium long with bitter cocoa, wood, peanuts, juniper and once again orange zest. This Rum started out incredibly strong but quickly lost me as taking larger sips isn’t enjoyable at all. But it is definitely worth trying! (86/100)
Velier Appleton Estate 1994 26YO (60%): Nose: A somewhat unusual profile. If you know it you will definitely recognise this as an Appleton but if you don’t, this could be anything. It smells kinda perfumed, but not natural at the same time – it is really weird. Honey, oranges, sweetened ginger, good chocolate, vanilla, oak, some caramel, a whiff of tobacco, thyme… there are incredibly many layers to this one and it just works so well! Palate: The palate kicks off with a pleasant sweetness but quickly shifts towards more spicy notes (think ginger). This might also be a good Cognac I’d say, or vice versa, certain Cognacs taste like this. I now get light stone fruits, oranges, chocolate, a pleasant support from the cask in terms of tannins and spices as well as mango. This is very good and probably even better if you don’t know what you are tasting. Finish: All of a sudden we get more of those perfumed notes again. Later more light stone fruits, oak, honey, oranges and ginger. Nice! Easily the best Appleton I’ve ever had. (89/100)
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