Drink of the Week: Appleton Estate 50 Year Old rum

Ever since I visited Barbados two years ago I have developed an appreciation for dark rum. I love its distinct flavour in a rum punch, dark and stormy or mai tai. But I also like sipping an aged rum straight up or on ice, as I chronicled in a Spirited Calgary column earlier this year, so I felt pretty special when a 100 mL sample bottle of Appleton Estate’s new 50 Year Old rum — Jamaica Independence Reserve — arrived earlier this fall.

It smells like liquid brown sugar but  tastes of smooth rum with hints of vanilla and cinnamon. Yum.

It smells like liquid brown sugar but tastes of smooth rum with hints of vanilla and cinnamon.

Now, 100 mL may not sound like a very big sample, but considering a 750 mL bottle of the 50 Year Old blend retails for about $5,ooo US, you do the math (that’s about $33 per sip).

The rums that comprise the Jamaica Independence Reserve were specifically set down in 1962 and then managed over time so that, a half century later, the island nation would have a national drink worthy of commemorating 50 years of independence. It’s also rare (only 800 bottles have been created).

Since I’m not a collector, I have a hard time getting my head around paying that much for anything that comes in a bottle. While I enjoyed sipping this rum, most recently on a chilly evening, it didn’t blow my mind in the way I would expect at $33/sip. Sure it smells heavenly, tastes of vanilla and cinanamon in a strong rummy way, is smooth on the finish and warms the belly appropriately, but so do many other sipping rums.

On the other hand, there are bottles of scotch and wine that cost $5,000, so why not rum? If you can afford it, this would make a yummy Christmas gift for a rum-obsessed friend. It even comes in a bespoke crystal decanter. Fancy. And exclusive. As pirate-Santa would say, “Yo ho ho!”

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