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Appleton Estate Extra Old 12 Year

Review Update: Appleton Estate Extra Old 12 Year  Jamaican Rum (92/100)
a review re visitation by Arctic Wolf (Aka Chip Dykstra)
(Revised November 2012)

It was in April of 2009, that I wrote my first rambling reviews on the Ministry of Rum. If you search their old threads you will come across my original write-up on the Appleton 12 year Old Rum. It was in truth the first ‘review’ I ever wrote. It really wasn’t meant to be a review; but more of a fun write-up to let the members of that forum know what I liked and didn’t and why. That rambling thread is responsible for all that followed. About 6 months later I started this website and that write-up on the Ministry of Rum became the first review I placed on my website, just a little more fleshed out but in essence that same ‘review’ I wrote originally.

In November 2012 I revisited the Appleton 12 year Old Rum and found that my appreciation of the rum had increased substantially. The Rum has improved over the last three years (or perhaps my taste has).

12 YO Canister

In the Bottle  4/5

The Appleton Estate Extra Old comes in the signature Appleton Estate Rum Bottle. This is the same bottle that is used in their entire line up.  I have no quibble with the bottle; it is a nice distinctive design which looks just fine.  My quibble is with the screw cap.  It is the pressed on variety which always gives me problems.  Metal caps expand and contract in heat and cold at a different rate than glass.  In my climate where temperatures can change drastically this cap makes me nervous.  As well these pressed on caps tend to warp easily ruining the seal on the rum.

In the Glass  9/10

This is a pleasingly dark spirit in the glass.  We have a rich brown colour with red inky highlights.   Swirling the glass leaves a nice thick coating on my glencairn glass which coalesces at the top of the swirl and then lays thick fat legs which slide slowly down the side of the glass back into the spirit.

The aroma has a light alcohol tinge with a deep dark brown sugar spice behind it.  Oak tannin and citrus zests arise in the aroma as well as a darker more burnt smell akin to charred coconut and caramelized sugars.   I believe I am beginning to catch some nutty accents as well.

In the Mouth  56.5/60

The rum is nice and soft in my mouth. I taste a dominant trio of dark brown sugar, charred caramel, and a spicy oak which asserts itself firmly into the flavour profile. I found if I was patient, and let the rum sit in my glass and then sipped very slowly, I could catch the nuances of other more subtle flavours underneath.  These lighter flavours included a light hint of tangy citrus, a touch of spicy orange peel, a mild walnut and toasted coconut.  These milder flavours keep the rum interesting, and I seem to be enjoying this a little more each time I return to the rum.

In the Throat  13.5/15

The finish is long with a mildly bitter, but spicy backbite in my throat and palate. My empty glass has a rich rum and brown sugar smell which is very pleasing to nose after the rum is gone. The burn is much gentler than the Appleton Estate Reserve, and I have no problem sipping this rum straight or with ice.

The Afterburn  9/10

I like this Appleton rum and it seems to me to be a very large jump in quality from the Appleton Reserve. And in fact every time I bring down a bottle from my shelf I seem to like it more. The spicy oak flavour combined with the dark brown sugar and baking spices is a winning combination.

If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.


Suggested Cocktail:

I have found that the Appleton Extra is one of my favourite premium rums to mix with cola and in cocktails.  It adds so much extra flavour that even though the rum is pricier than a regular mixer, the resulting drink is well worth the effort. The Appleton Extra with its complex flavour profile also works very well in duo cocktails like the El Padrino, and the Royal Batiste.

I try, however,  to be original; so thought I would try to come up with a new cocktail for the Appleton Extra.  My thoughts were to the subtle flavours of citrus and orange peel which I found under the more dominant flavours of spicy oak, brown sugar, and charred caramel which I thought could accentuated with a nice sweet liqueur.  Using real fruit juice would continue this theme and an orange slice garnish would top off the presentation.  Looking in my cupboard I located a bottle of Galliano and the Appleton Extra Swizzle was born.

Premium SwizzleThe Appleton Extra Swizzle

1 ½ oz Appleton 12 Extra
½ oz Galliano
1 oz Pineapple Juice
½ oz Lime Juice
¼ tsp Sugar Syrup

Pour into a tall glass full of cracked ice and stir until the glass frosts

Garnish with an orange slice

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

2 Responses to “Appleton Estate Extra Old 12 Year”

  1. Mike said

    Thank you for the review, great info. I just brought two bottles from Jamaica and can’t wait to open them. Looks like a good choice. I usually drink whiskey so this will be a nice change. Thanks again!

  2. swashbuckle said

    Nice review, I also read your 30 yr and 21 yr reviews as well and I feel your review of the 21 yr was spot on. I have a bottle of the 30 yr I have not tried yet. Personally my favorite of the Appleton’s and my favorite rum overall is the 12 yr Appleton. Spiced rum is what I love and taste is what I love about it, I agree the oakiness of the 21 could be toned down a notch but its still a good overall rum, Its just due to my personal taste I like the 12 year the most. I take from your reviews that we may have similar taste and therefore I would probably agree with your review of the 30 year as well. Personally I like the use of oak barrels in wines and in rums as well also scotch and bourbon but when it comes to spiced rums there is such a thing as overdoing the oakiness. I have been to Appleton’s distillery and they are not using new oak barrels but I still taste what you you refer to as the tannins starting to overpower the spices in the 21 yr. As a fan of balance I find the 12 yr rum to be my favorite rum and not just in the Appleton selection but overall. Many people disagree saying they love this or that better many liking the 21 yr more but not many people I know have had the 30 yr. To me it comes down to taste and everybody is different, I believe the oak tannin you taste and smell is actually added for taste and not from the barrels.


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