In my continuing quest to think outside the spirit box, I have developed not only an appreciation for gin, but also one for rum. Well not just any rum, Jamaica's finest Appleton Estate rum. Earlier this week I was invited to an tasting at Spruce restaurant in San Francisco, and I got to sample the rich caramel-colored liquor neat in four different cocktails.

Appleton is Jamaica's oldest producer of rum and they've got rum-making down to a science. The sugar cane is environmentally estate grown and distilled and blended in small batches by Joy Spence, the industry's first female master rum blender. Spence describes Appleton as a "playful, but serious rum" that "should never see the inside of a blender." Instead we were instructed to "sip it up!" Spence, who was on hand at the tasting, guided us through the four steps to properly enjoy fine rum. To find out what they are, keep reading.

  1. Examine the color of the rum. Hold the glass up to the light and look through it to see the molasses shade.
  2. Look at the clarity. The liquid should be clear, but richly colored.
  3. Tilt the glass to the side to check out the olive green ring along the rim of the rum in the glass. This demonstrates the age of the rum.
  4. Note the legs. They should be thick.
  5. Finally, take a sip!

Have you ever tried Appleton? What is your favorite rum?