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It takes a special attraction to lure travelers out of their all-inclusive resorts on Jamaica’s north coast. Over the decades, one of the most popular of these off-resort attractions has been the Appleton Estate, located in the less-visited southwestern region of the island.
Many vacationers made the extra effort to tour the rum distillery — which has been producing rum for 265 years — to see firsthand how rum is produced.
In January, Appleton reopened after its $7.2 million renovation and was renamed the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience (JSAERE). Recent years has seen rum tourism take off throughout the Caribbean, and the reimagined attraction, which has doubled its capacity to host visitors, has plenty to offer.
“Return visitors are going to notice that much is new and improved at the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience,” said O’Shane Ellis, general manager of the attraction. “It starts with the Welcome Centre, an inviting space with comfortable seating, where guests receive a complimentary cocktail.”
The tour then gets underway in the Dickenson Theatre, where guests watch a short video showcasing the estate’s history. Additional stops on the tour include the History House, Sugar Cane Field Station, Fermentation Station and Panoramic View Tower, which offers expansive views of the lush Nassau Valley.
“The tour concludes in the Tasting Rooms, where visitors sample three exquisite premium Appleton Estate blends: Signature Blend, Reserve Blend and Rare Blend 12 Year Old Rum,” Ellis said. “They’ll also learn how to critically analyze rums.”
While the complete tour takes about 90 minutes to two hours, rum aficionados will want to schedule significantly more time to really absorb the experience. An additional new component of JSAERE is the Black River Lounge, where guests can enjoy Appleton-infused Jamaican cuisine. The lounge features a veranda dining area, as well as an authentic Jamaican jerk pit, where generously seasoned chicken and pork is grilled over a fire of pimento wood. Meals are prepared using locally sourced ingredients and are accompanied by a variety of rum cocktails.
“Our signature Wet Sugar Glaze Jerk Pork and Chicken are both smoked with a blend of old rum barrel staves and seasonal fruit woods,” Ellis said. “We also finish the meats on our jerk pit or kitchen charbroiler with our signature glaze made from wet sugar, pimento, ginger, cinnamon and cane vinegar.”
Desserts also feature rum, such as a rum cake infused with syrup made with Appleton Rare Blend; and a crispy bread pudding containing Appleton rum-soaked raisins and served with salted-rum caramel.
“Our meals are best paired with the famous JSAERE Rum Punch and The Epic Cocktail (Reserve Blend with coconut water), which can be enjoyed at the bar in the Black River Lounge,” Ellis said.
Visitors can top off a visit by browsing the gift shop, where branded merchandise and a full range of Appleton Estate Jamaica Rums are offered for sale. There’s also a shopping community vending area, where local products and crafts can be purchased.
JSAERE is open Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sunday. The attraction is located in Nassau Valley in St. Elizabeth and is accessible from the north coast. Combining JSAERE with other area attractions, such as touring YS Falls and embarking on boat excursions on the Black River, is ideal for a full day of sightseeing.
The DetailsThe Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experiencewww.appletonestate.com