Jamaica is a bucket list essential for any discerning rum connoisseur
Nestled in the Nassau Valley, the beating heart of central Jamaica, is the Appleton Estate. Established in 1655 by Sir Frances Dickenson, Appleton began making rum in 1749 – and it is still hand-crafted in the same fashion today.
Using only the sugarcane grown on the estate, and water from the natural limestone spring, the rum is slow-distilled in copper pot stills and then aged in 40-gallon Number One Select American Oak barrels for a smooth, vanilla finish.
Hand-blended on the estate by Joy Spence, the first woman to be appointed Master Blender in the world, the final product combines 15 select aged rum marques. The unique flavour of Appleton Estate Rum combines hints of honey, caramel and marzipan against a back drop of orange peel, dried fruit and spice; perfect for cocktails or over ice.
Visitors to Jamaica can get up close and personal with the estate, and the rum they make, by booking on to an Appleton Estate Tour. Starting on a high note with a glass of their signature punch, guides then take visitors through a visual history of the estate and how rum-making techniques have changed, finishing with an exclusive tasting of rum at different stages of the ageing process.
Visiting Appleton Estate will put you closest to Jamaica’s south coast, known as Treasure Beach. It’s the least developed and therefore (arguably) the most charming area. Relax on one of the black sand beaches, or pick up some local food from a roadside stand. Freshly caught shrimp, rice and fried plantain are all popular dishes worth a try.
Jack Sprat’s shack, a well-known local eatery, is worth a visit for jerk chicken or conch curry, great sea views and the occasional open-air film viewing. Or take a boat out to the Pelican Bar, a venture by entreprenuerial fisherman Floyd – it’s basically a platform on stilts built on a sand bar a quarter mile out to sea. Despite being a 20-minute boat trip from the coast, the water is only waist deep and clear blue, so you can relax in the gentle lapping waves with your beer, while you wait for your fresh fish or lobster dinner to be ready. Make sure you take a token to leave behind.
There are also some beautiful walks along the coast, and Lovers Leap – a rocky outcrop 1600ft above sea level – is worth a visit for the vista alone. Nearby is the Black River, Jamaica’s longest river. Look out for stands selling ‘hot pepper shrimp’ and keep an eye on the water for a sighting of a crocodile. A local guide can take you upriver, where shallow pools at the YS Falls allow for swimming and a beautiful view.