On August 6, 1962, the Commonwealth of Jamaica declared its independence from Britain. In the years and months leading up to that historic moment, the sage distillers at Appleton Estate set aside a few barrels of their finest rum as an alcoholic time capsule, with the idea that it would be opened, blended, and bottled in honor of the country's 50th anniversary in 2012. As Jamaica's golden anniversary approaches, Appleton is releasing the spirit in limited quantities (800 bottles) and at a lofty price tag ($5,000 each). I was fortunate enough to receive a (small) sample bottle of Appleton 50-Year Jamaica Independence Reserve Rum. My first thought, after "How does it taste?" was "Who is going to buy it?"
In the realm of ludicrously expensive booze, when people are dropping crazy amounts of money on a bottle of something, it's usually either a fine French wine or some ridiculously old Scotch whisky. (As for the latter, the Macallan just broke the world's record for most expensive whisky ever sold at auction with its 64-year-old going for $460,000.) In my professional drinking career, I've had the good fortune of tasting a $17,500 Scotch (Highland Park 50-year-Old), a $700 gin (Nolet's Reserve Dry Gin), and an $800 orange liqueur (Grand Marnier Quintessence). But I've never tasted a rum that sells for more than $200, so I was looking forward to sipping some of this extremely precious liquid.
So first of all, what does $5,000 rum taste like? The Appleton 50-Year-Old has a dark mahogany appearance and a strong, leathery aroma that makes it almost as much of a pleasure to smell as it is to drink. When you do actually drink it, you'll notice an explosion of flavors, from vanilla and maple to cinnamon and citrus. It's as smooth as the day is long, and the flavor lingers in your cheeks for minutes and in your mind forever. So let's just say that it's really, really good. In fact, it's the best I've had.
But who would buy it? Not me, I'm afraid. To me, $5,000 is a lot of money, but plenty of people drop that much in a night without thinking twice. And so, dear Appleton Rum marketing department, I've gone through the trouble of compiling a list of people you should approach with this amazing new (old) rum of yours.
When he founded Island Records in 1959, Blackwell brought ska and reggae to a worldwide audience, forging the careers of Bob Marley and many others along the way. Blackwell's family on his mom's side had been involved with Appleton Rum in the past, so not only does he have the money to buy a bottle or two, he's got the family history to make it meaningful. Hit him up, Appleton.
The oldest son of Bob Marley, Ziggy's not only an heir to a sizable fortune, he's an active reggae musician himself. So maybe he grew up Rasta and abstains from alcohol most of the time. His purchase of this world-class product of Jamaica would be a ringing endorsement of one of the island's premier industries. Ziggy ought to make an exception in this case and buy a bottle, even if he only serves it to guests.
He's one of the biggest reggae stars out there, and isn't shy about being boombastic. A bottle of $5,000 rum from his homeland of Jamaica would look great on his coffee table.
The artist once known as Snoop Doggy Dogg is in the midst of a major Jamaica thing right now, spending lots of time on the island filming a documentary tentatively titled Snoop in Jamaica. I'm not sure how strict he is about abstaining from alcohol as devout Rastas do, but if there's any wiggle room, I'm sure he'll find the Appleton 50 tastier than any gin 'n' juice he's ever had.
Busta's from Red Hook, Brooklyn, but both of his parents are Jamaican, and his musical style is influenced by reggae rhythms and melodies. As one of the most successful rappers alive, he's easily got the money to support the Jamaican economy with the purchase of a bottle or two. Pass the
Thanks to his Major Lazer project with DJ Switch, Diplo has established himself as a force in Jamaican music. The duo's first album, Guns Don't Kill People ... Lazers Do was recorded in Jamaica at Tuff Gong Studios and featured such notable Jamaican artists as Vybz Kartel. He's worked with musicians as varied as Thom Yorke and Beyonce, which strongly suggests that he has both the means and the enthusiasm to procure and enjoy Jamaica's finest rum.
No, Nicki's not Jamaican, she was born in Saint James, Trinidad, but she's got that cool island thing going, and she absolutely tore it up at Jamaica Reggae Summerfest last year, so let's give her a symbolic key to the island for her contributions. Anyway, this list is dominated by men, but women can appreciate a fine spirit as well as any of them. The Barbz would go nuts.
Rihanna is from Barbados, which is not Jamaica. Barbados is, however, where rum was invented (or at least first officially produced) by Mount Gay Distilleries Ltd. in 1703, which means Riri knows it well. As a connoisseur, she'd look absolutely lovely sipping a glass of Appleton 50, and might even be inspired to write a song about it, which they probably wouldn't mind at all.
Rick Ross isn't Jamaican either, but he is the bawse, which means he's actively on the hunt for the best of everything, to consume conspicuously, in impressive quantities. Well, Mr. Ross, the next time you take over the VIP section of a nightclub like LIV in Miami Beach and avail yourself of the bottle service on offer, may I suggest steering clear of the vodka just once in favor of what may well be the best rum in the world? And can I come hang out with you? Okay, sorry.
Even though he's from
Kenya Hawaii, President Obama remains wildly popular in the Caribbean. Instead of having a "beer summit" like he hosted with Skip Gates and that cop who arrested him in his own house that one time, he should have a rum summit centered around this elite bottle. And yes, I'd love to attend, so give me a ring, sir. I'm in the book.