Write because you want to, not because you have to.
Published June 23rd 2016
The answer to Jack Sparrow's question lies here
In a beautifully named (and equally picturesque) area called Nassau Valley lies one of the most iconic distilleries of Jamaica. The Appleton Estate is the place where most of the world's rum is produced, prepared, and packaged to satisfy your boozy palate.
The Rum Tour is regularly held at Appleton Estate. It offers their visitors with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about the process of making rum; including a viewing of the distillery, an interactive spot where volunteers can get a first-hand experience of the man labour that goes into crushing sugarcane (the main ingredient that is used to produce delicious rum), walk up a viewing tower, from where you can see a panoramic view of the Jamaican south coast area, and taste some of the finest rum that ranges from young to well-aged.
The Estate itself is a generously sized piece of land that is so lush and green. While the smell of the remains from fermentation might be slightly off-putting, the tour and its perks definitely make up for it. It is best to take on the tour in groups of 4 or more, because that makes the experience all the more delightful!
The estate is surrounded by spectacular views of the mountains and hills, so while the drive to the Estate might be an extended one (no matter where you're traveling from), it is a worthwhile and gorgeous drive.
The staff members who work at the Estate were very friendly and professional. We were taken on the tour by a lovely gentleman named Peter, who had a wealth of knowledge about the history of Appleton Estate, the process behind making rum, the equipment that has been displayed throughout the Estate. Additionally, he was chilled and made us all feel welcome with his subtle but excellent little punny comments while on tour.
At the start of the tour, after completing the payment of $20 (US), we were welcomed with a complimentary drink of choice - there are alcoholic and non-alcoholic choices of beverages available. Being at the rum factory, we obviously opted for a Rum Punch, which had a subtle sweetness with a tang.
We were then taken on the tour with Peter, where we received a comprehensive and interesting background on the history of the Estate.
A fun fact that we learned is that the different colors in rum are associated with how well-aged they are. For instance, if the rum is crystal clear, then it is under 3 years old and will present with a crisp and super strong flavour, whereas it will possess a woody colour if it's between 3-12 years old (as we learned during the rum tasting). It has also been noted that several visitors have been challenged to be able to carry one of the barrels out of the Factory (which would be on the house if they succeeded). (Un)luckily, no one has been able to successfully this challenge...yet!
The tour was a lot of fun to participate in, because we were also given the opportunity to make our own sugarcane juice, using one of the machines that they use to crush and squeeze the juice out of the cane. There's nothing more refreshing than a glass of sugarcane juice served with ice. Considering how it's the key ingredient used to make rum, I found this activity very exciting and fun.
The end of the tour is what most people tend to look forward to, especially after walking around the Estate for about an hour or so. No alcoholic tour would be complete without having the opportunity to trial and sample some of the products that are made in this distillery. There were several types of rum that we tried (ageing between under 3 years to about 12 years). As the rum type was older, the smoother and more delectable it was. We also tried the types of rum cream - original, banana-flavoured, and coffee-flavoured (and surprise surprise, the coffee one was my favourite one of the lot)! As the tastings proceeded, we decided to experiment with combinations of the different types of rum. I would recommend trying one of the rum creams with the signature Appleton Estate rum (similar to the sample you will receive at the end of the tour), along with some Coco Mania. Pure perfection.
All in all, this is a great tourist activity to experience with friends. When you're offered with a very interesting tour, some gorgeous views of nature, animal friends who keep you company throughout the tour (peacocks and donkeys) and trial some of the finest rum that is made right at the location, you can't go wrong. Having said that, please remember to drink responsibly as it will make your day out in the Estate lots more fun and enjoyable (and not as messy)!