NESTLED in the lush Nassau Valley of St Elizabeth is one of Jamaica’s most talked about attractions, the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience. Now we know why tongues have been wagging…
With 272 years under its belt as the oldest sugar estate and distillery on the island, plus the distinction of being the birthplace of Jamaica’s oldest rum — Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum — there’s a lot to take in during daily tours. For rum lovers eager to learn more about the rich history of the estate and its handcrafted premium-aged rum, it’s the perfect way to spend the day. It’s also a fun outing for just about anyone who fancies a drive along the winding roads of St Elizabeth, windows down and reggae playing in the background.
Make sure to have a designated driver and a big breakfast before you get there as the rum flows freely throughout the tour. When LetsTravelCaribbean.com visited one recent Saturday, complimentary rum punches made by bartender Terrick Whitter in the Black River Lounge and Bar kicked off what proved to be a must-repeat experience.
Between sips of the delicious punch, we made our way to the venue’s very own viewing room that would make any movie buff feel right at home. There we watched an excellently produced documentary on the history of the estate and the steps taken to produce its meticulously crafted rum – from the cultivation of the sugar cane used to the aging process.
Our tour guide, Kayon Wright, then smoothly engineered our progress across the rich lawns of the estate, all while providing nuggets of information about the different rum-making processes. Fun fact: the 11,000-acre estate is powered by electricity it generates itself.
Our cups were never close to being empty as someone was always there to ensure we had a drink of Appleton’s luxuriously flavoured rum throughout the entire tour. The estate’s signature copper cups helped keep our drinks cool on a sweltering day.
The much cooler aging room was a welcome stop on the tour. It’s one of 17 such rooms that hold some 240,000 handcrafted oak barrels of rum. Then it was on to the tasting room where we sampled three different blends of the Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum. Another fun fact: Appleton Estate’s 50 Year Old is believed to be the oldest, tropically minimum-aged rum available for sale in the world.
Lunch was next on the itinerary, and not a moment too soon after all those delicious sips of rum. Featuring authentic Jamaica cuisine, meals may be eaten inside the full-service, air-conditioned Black River Lounge or al fresco. The chefs made a great experience even better with their well-prepared meals. We recommend the jerked chicken with rice and peas, and their potato salad is amazing!
We were quite pleased by the strict adherence, throughout the entire tour, to safety protocols in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. Masked staff found a way to get across their warmth and good cheer — it was in the way the corners of their eyes crinkled with each smile, the welcoming lift to their voices as they responded to every query and need.
No surprise, then, when we saw a small group of friends professing their love for rum as they posed for an Instagram moment. And just so you know, when you visit, it will not be easy to find the perfect spot for your selfie — there are so many to choose from! “We love Appleton Rum!” they shouted in unison. “So do we!” was the reply we barely managed to keep from shouting in return.