Appleton Estate Reserve

The other day I was contemplating a drink and found myself near the Appleton section of my rum shelf (yes, there is an entire section dedicated to Appleton rums, just as there are sections dedicated to El Dorado, Clement, Havana Club – you get the idea).  I had recently reviewed the Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old Rum and figured that the Appleton Estate Reserve Rum deserved some notes as well.

Appleton Estate Reserve is the brainchild of Master Blender Joy Spence.  The Reserve is a blend of 20 different rums of varying ages, with the youngest rums being 8 years old (in the UK/International blend – there is no age statement for the Reserve blend released in the US).  Joy crafted the rum to be the ideal transitional rum for the drinker to go from mixing rums to sipping rums.  Indeed, as we’ll see, if you were to tier the Appleton rums, this is the first rum you’ll encounter that could be considered a true sipping candidate, nestled right between the Appleton Estate V/X and the Appleton Estate Extra.


The Appleton Estate Reserve Rum is similar in color to the Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old.  The mahogany color is very pleasant, and the legs that form with the ceremonial swirl of the spirit hold fast to the sides of the glass.


Oak and leather notes are the first to introduce themselves to your nose.  Behind them are some nice floral scents of vanilla and orange blossom.  There’s a sweetness at the back end of the nose – a warm caramel scent that gives the nose a nice depth.  The Reserve’s nose doesn’t seem to be as complex as the Extra, but is still an altogether pleasant experience.


Reserve’s entry is all vanilla and oak flavors which quickly give way to a sweet caramel flavor of toasted sugar at the mid-palate.  The finish is dry with a touch of leather and a bit of black pepper spice at the very end.  The flavors are everything one would expect from a Jamaican rum, although a tad more subdued than what you experience with either the V/X or Extra offerings from Appleton.

As with the nose, the flavor profile here is a bit simpler and more subtle than what you find in the Extra.  The rum is very smooth with almost no burn in the throat.  This rum can easily be enjoyed on its own, and may be the perfect gateway rum for the imbiber looking to move into the world of sipping their rums neat or on the rocks.  Personally I prefer the added complexity of the Extra, but there is little to find fault with here in the Reserve.


Like all of the Appleton Estate line, the Appleton Estate Reserve rum has the flavors that are typical of a pot-still rum.  The round spiciness combined with the fruity notes, give the rum a perfect flavor profile for the Trader Vic recipe that seems born to be made with Appleton rums – the Mai Tai.  I’m really struggling to prevent this blog from becoming “Mai Tai Dood” – it’s just such a good drink and I have so many rums that make such wonderful mai tais.  Still, there are plenty of other wonderful concoctions available, and I had a fresh batch of homemade falernum sitting on my counter.

Rum Swizzle (from

1.5 oz rum
.5 oz falernum
.75 oz lime juice
1 dash bitters

Build all ingredients in a glass with crushed ice and swizzle.

It’s relatively hard to go wrong with a swizzle recipe when you’ve got a bottle of rum lying about.  I have many bottles of rum lying about, so there are times when I find myself struggling with which swizzle recipe to make.  For those of you who also read Rick’s blog, yes, I stole the garnish idea from

The Long & The Short Of It

Appleton Estate Reserve Rum is a great rum.  It’s a wonderful mixer and a delightful entry into the world of enjoying your rums on their own.  I still prefer the Extra in most cases for its increased complexity – whether that be for sipping or mixing – but I cannot deny that the Reserve would be a worthy addition to any home bar.  Now if they could only get it distributed in California so that I wouldn’t have to “import” it from Texas.

Dood’s Rating: 3 Bottles of Rum Out of 5

Dood’s Other Rum Reviews

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Tiare

    April 1, 2009, 18:18

    I got pretty stunned when i saw this picture as it looks exactly like one of Rick´s pics and then i read it..;-)

    Appleton Reserve is my 2nd Appleton in the rank of the 3 i have, the Extra (no one) and VX (no three).

    Nice review.



  • Martin

    April 2, 2009, 16:59

    Well, here we go again- when I was there, Joy told me that she came up with Reserve, not David. Maybe she’s just taking credit!

  • Rick

    April 2, 2009, 19:19

    Matt, beautiful pic and garnish. Someone’s leveling up.

  • Andrew

    April 4, 2009, 11:40

    Your reviews are very helpful:)
    I’ve never tried appleton estate reserve. That picture’s looking tasty 😉

  • Matt Robold

    April 6, 2009, 15:11

    Of course, Martin is correct as always. Damn you and you’re knowing everything!

  • Pete

    November 24, 2009, 08:05

    You can get the Reserve in Calif from Young’s Market (State Wide)

  • Matt Robold

    November 24, 2009, 08:08

    When I initially wrote this review you couldn’t find Appleton Estate Reserve out here. I think it was within a few weeks that I got an email from Hi Times telling me that they now had it available. I like to think that I am the sole reason Reserve came to California. It’s not true at all, but that’s never stopped me from thinking other things.


    August 29, 2010, 11:33

    Nice pics and the sentiments of a very tasty and enjoyable rum. Appleton Reserve definately have a woman’s touch, “Joy to big up”.
    Be careful what you do with the rum, please don’t taint it. it is to be enjoyed over ice or straight from the bottle.
    taste and you’ll believe.

  • Joe Heinz

    August 12, 2012, 10:37

    Tried the reserve. Really disappointed. Very harsh. I drink a lot of rum at middle to high price points, on the rocks or slightly mixed. This rum is fairly nasty and I’m wondering what to do with the rest of the bottle! I’m not kidding!