Pop quiz: What spirit smells like vanilla and fresh-cut wood, tastes like oak and spice and lingers on the palate? The obvious guess is whiskey, but there is another correct answer: rum. Particularly Appleton’s new limited-edition 30-year-old ($395).
For the last three decades, as the world quaffed copious amounts of white rum on cruise ships, from coconuts and in Mojitos, the Appleton spirit has waited patiently, slowly aging in oak casks. As a result, it developed a rich flavor and turned from clear to a beautiful maple-syrup brown. It’s the oldest rum the distillery has ever released, which is saying a lot given that it’s been operating since 1749. But you have to act quick—there are just 744 bottles of this special 30-year-old available in the US.
While rum is associated with the islands, it has a long history in the United States. It was distilled in the Northeast back in the 1700s and was a favorite of America’s founders. Fortunately, drinkers and mixologists are now rediscovering its joys and the best rums are becoming more widely available. Yes, almost $400 is a lot to spend on rum (or whiskey for that matter), but Appleton also has a fine Estate Extra 12-Year-Old ($40), which will challenge your palate but not your wallet. Test taking has never been this much fun.