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Appleton 21 Review

Chip Dykstra, The Arctic Wolf, goes a round or two with Appleton Estate 21 Year Old Rum.  What did he think?  Read the entire review here.

Picture 3Appleton Estate 21 Yr Old Rum 86.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)


Appleton Estate reaches for the high rungs on the Appleton Estate ladder with their 21 Year old Rum.   This is a limited release and is not available in all markets.  Fortunately  in Alberta where I live the rum is relatively available; but I will admit, it is an expensive indulgence.

In the Bottle 3.0/5

I have to be critical at what I perceive is a lack of effort in the packaging of this product.  The 21 year old Appleton rum is a limited release and very expensive, yet it arrives in exactly the same bottle with the same pressed on screw cap that the entry level Appleton Estate VX arrived in, (only the colours of the labels and cap are changed).  Pressed on screw caps, in my mind at least, are not acceptable for a Limited Edition 21 year old rum.  This rum will sit on my shelf for a long time before it is fully consumed.  Unfortunately the screw cap is fragile, it will expand and contract at a different rate than the glass bottle and I am sure to lose some liquid through evaporation.  These caps also have a tendency to warp when they are first opened as the metal perforations must be broken to open the bottle.  I will have to re-cork the rum with a high quality, high density synthetic cork after my review is complete.

In the Glass 9.5/10

The rum is a rich dark brown colour which leaves a thick film on my glass when it is swirled. This film slowly releases thick fat legs back into the rum.  As I watch the legs slowly crawl down the sides of the glass, the rum brings forth mild brown sugar and orange citrus notes.  But.. as you wait the nose begins to change.  The soft brown sugar notes grow stronger and deeper and bring forth rich baking spices of spicy nutmeg, and sharp cinnamon.  Pecans arrive with just good dash of vanilla making this almost smell like the sticky cinnamon buns I make at Christmas. Behind all of these wonderful bakery spices are sharp citrus zests and old oak tannin.

In the Mouth 53/60

The rum is very soft, yet it has that signature Appleton Estate citrus spice that coats the tongue when the rum is introduced into the mouth.  The spice is all orange peel and old oak, full of tannin and sap.  The sweetness I sensed on the nose never really takes firm shape on the palate;  instead a leathery tobacco and mild smoke seem to lurk  in the rum ready to ambush any of the sweeter and milder flavours that try to exert themselves.   The result is a mildly bittersweet dryness with flavours of raisins, tea leaves, and unsweetened cocoa shaping themselves into the dominant flavours. The rich brown sugar spices I loved on the nose is are now more charred and toasted.

I sense the blenders are straining to contain the oak flavours after 21 years of aging and perhaps they are losing the battle.

In the Throat 12.5/15

This is a relatively long finish with a dazzling array of bittersweet contradiction.  My palate is left with flavours of brown sugar and baking spices which have settled into the sharp orange peel and oak tannin.   The sharpness of the oak and orange peel contrast contrast with the sweeter baking spices.  At the very end cocoa and tea leaves seem to dry the throat but not the palate.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Appleton Estate 21 year Old rum is full of surprise and contradiction.  I enjoyed just smelling the sweet richness of the rum, but had to search desperately for that same sweetness when I drank it.   I yearned for the sweetness I could not find, but realized that the sharp orange peel and more bitter oak flavours would not allow this sweetness to assert itself.  The promise of brown sugar spices and cinnamon bun deliciousness was never realized, and instead a complex bevy of bittersweet oaky flavours held dominance.

This particular rum has been aged for 21 years in the in the altar of oak.  As is their right, the Gods of the Oak made a choice.  They chose to quell the sweetness, and allowed the oak and tannin to master the rum.


To check out more of Chip’s reviews, tune into The Rum Howler Blog