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Rum Reviews

Appleton Estate Hearts Collection 1984 & 2003, Jamaica Rum, in collaboration with Velier

The @appletonestateja’s Hearts Collection is a rather interesting collaboration with @velierspa, first launched in 2020 with three different vintages. It is unique insofar that it was a first for the brand to release a single-marque, 100% pot still rum. For the second rendition of the Hearts Collection, two different vintages were released late last year - the 1984 and 2003.


Starting with the 1984, I was most eagerly looking forward to tasting it, an old rum that would’ve spent 37 years tropical in Jamaica. 1800 bottles were produced at an abv of 63%, drawn from 9 casks (3391-3399). As with Appleton’s aging practices, the original barrels were continuously topped up every few years to keep the angel’s share at a minimum, allowing Appleton to maintain a healthy stock of well-aged rums.

The 1984 is a real pleasure to nose, such warmth, richness, a depth of complexity in the glass. It comes across pretty pungent and hard-hitting initially, lots of varnish, minty, a slight fizz. But it gradually softens down to a tropical fruit basket, oranges, william pears, rock melons are pretty dominant as well. Light hints of vanilla, milk chocolates, lovely, fresh, nothing really to indicate its 37 years of tropical aging.

The palate is quite spicy and the alcohol integration isn’t entirely great initially. Little hints of funk, surprisingly lots of menthol, dry, with a nice balance tannins giving it that astringency, and some lovely vanilla essence. Most surprisingly in that finish is cherry cola, or perhaps some of you might say cherry-flavoured cough syrup, coupled with flambeed bananas, caramel, sweet apples and pears again.

The 2003 is a much younger rum at 18 years, also having spent its entirety in the tropics. This one comes at a much larger release with 5,000 bottles produced at 63% abv from 20 casks (420930-420950).


Surprisingly the 2003 is perhaps the closest I’ve nosed from an Appleton that is similar to that of other high-ester Jamaican rums, such as those from Long Pond, Worthy Park or Hampden Estate. Bright, tropical fruits, pineapple punch, burnt caramel. It has that unmistakeble briney-ness, and a sort of petrol fume-like strength to it. But underneath all that tarriness and pungency is an unmistakable cherry-cola sweetness that just brings such wonderful complexity to this rum.

The similarities to high-ester rums is evident on the palate as well, that beautiful rich honey sweetness, bananas, fruits that are slightly going off. In the middle are some baking spices, followed by olives, brine, the tarriness and rubber from the clearly high-ester distillate here. The finish is crisp, a tad dry, beeswax, floral, chrysanthemum, with just a slight hint of citrus and toffee apple.

Between the two, the 84 is clearly a spectacular rum to me. But make no mistake the 03 is great too, except that high-ester rums aren’t exactly my cup of tea. What I particularly enjoyed from this second release was the focus on the two distinct styles of Appleton rums, showcasing its versatility and the different blending components that we rarely see in Appleton’s official bottlings. Will certainly be looking forward to more releases like this.


Image Courtesy of @weixiang_liu


Your occasional rum addict!