In 2015 we reviewed a handful of bottles from Jamaica’s rum powerhouse, Appleton Estate, with one notable exception, the ultra-premium 21-year-old. Like the Rare Blend 12 Years Old, this is minimum-aged rum, meaning there could be rums far older in this bottle but none less than the U.S. legal drinking age. It’s one of the older age-stated rums on the shelves today, so let’s see how it stacks up!
On the nose, there’s a gentle complexity. It’s lush, not overly sweet, and lacks the funky punch of many Jamaican rums. There’s plenty of vanilla-laced barrel notes that grow more exotic as the rum opens up, turning to sandalwood and incense. Subtle baking spice emerges, too, alongside buttery snickerdoodles and a bit of candied orange peel. On the palate, it’s oily and bright with a rich, pastry-like sweetness. Turbinado sugar, vanilla sheet cake, and crème brûlée all arrive by the mid-palate. Things begin to dry out a bit towards the finish with some damp, basement-tinged barrel notes, but the conclusion is still lengthy and vibrant with layers of stone fruit, hot chocolate mix, and light brown sugar. Beautifully balanced and an immensely enjoyable sipping rum.