Know much about rum? Me neither. Before we get to the cocktail making we thought we’d share our top tips for rum tasting gleaned from an #AppletonLive event with rum ambassador, Ian Burrell (now that’s a job) and Appleton Estate’s senior blender, David Morrison.
1. Look don’t touch.
Well, ok you can lift the glass, preferably up to the light and tilt it. Check out the colour. Is it golden? Dark? Smooth? Cloudy? This gets your taste buds ready for what to expect. And this is where most people talk about the legs. It’s pretty baffling for newbies like us, but it goes a bit like this… Focus on the top of the rum, where it touches the glass – you may see a green glow. Let the rum flow up and down the glass and watch the edge. This is what people mean when they’re talking about the ‘legs’ on a rum. Full bodied legs move slowly. Light bodied legs move quickly.
Top Tip: Use a rounded glass rather than a square-edged tumbler, it lets the rum have space to flow. Some people recommend a wine glass – gives you a good view, too.
2. Smell it.
Ian Burrell informed us that 95% of our taste would come from ‘nosing’. And this is where the Appleton Estate rums really helped us out; we tried three. The first was the Signature Blend, a mix of 15 different ages of rum, gold in colour, it gave off aromas of citrus, peach and a hint of orange. By the time we reached the second, the Rare Blend 12 Year Old the orange scent had become more pungent, matching the vibrant bronze colour (all that look don’t touch malarkey was really adding up at this point) while the vanilla and the deep oak of the barrel started to come through, from all those years of, well, waiting.
Top Tip: It’s probably best if you don’t stare straight into the glass as you give it a good sniff, this rum is strong stuff and eyes are sensitive beings.
3. Taste it.
First take a tiny, quick sip, let the initial burn disappear. Now it’s time to take a longer, slower sip, let it linger (no need to swill). Naturally, you’ll note the texture, or body: it could be smooth, thick, caramel-like… and does it change the longer you taste? Next, you’ll be looking for key flavours: sweetness, bitterness, is it spicy? And once you swallow, do you notice any flavours lingering a little longer than the others? But let’s face it, by this point you’re probably simply enjoying the warm, glow of the rum and looking for your next, slightly bigger, sip.
Top Tip: Jamaicans are renowned for their laid-back lifestyle, and breezy attitude. Taste rum like a Jamaican – slow and steady wins the race.
All that smelling and sipping can be thirsty work, so Appleton Estate have put together a nifty Mai Tai recipe for you to get stuck into. You’ll never look back…
Appleton Estate Mai Tai Recipe
50ml Appleton Estate V/X
25ml Fresh lime juice
12ml Orange Curacao liquer
12ml Orgeat (a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar, and rose water or orange flower water)
A sprig of mint
Cubed and crushed ice
1. Combine all ingredients with cubed ice in a cocktail shaker and shake.
2. Strain and pour into a short glass filled with crushed ice.
3. Garnish with a lime wedge and sprig of mint. Sip and enjoy!
The Appleton Estate is the oldest sugar estate and distillery in Jamaica in continuous production and is located in the heart of the Nassau Valley. The first known documentation of rum production at the Appleton Estate is dated 1749.