Brand: Appleton Estate, Hearts of Jamaica series
Origin: Appleton Estate, Vauxhall, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica
Age: 25 years
The Appleton Estate Hearts Collection once again graces my glencairn. After previously tasting on the 1994 vintage in the previous Sample September post, we quickly follow-up with a review of the next chronological bottling from the 2020 release.
The Appleton Estate Hearts Collection 1995 vintage was distilled from molasses through Appleton's copper pot still in 1995. It was then sealed in ex-Bourbon barrels to age for 25 years, before being selected by Joy Spence and Luca Gargano for bottling in 2020.
This particular bottling features a congener count of 1,440 g/hLAA, a bump up from the 1994 vintage, and perhaps the highest congener count that I've experienced yet. It contains distillate from barrels numbered #430287-#430298, and was also limited to 3,000 bottles.
Thanks to Andrew Hinton for providing me this sample. Let's get into this second bottling of the Hearts Collection!
Golden brown, high clarity, medium-low viscosity
Ripe pineapple, plums, bananas, permanent marker, black tea, cough medicine
Overripe tropical fruits (pineapple, orange, passionfruit, banana), rotting blueberries and grapes, nutmeg, black tea, permanent marker
Medium-long, warming, tannic; black tea, nutmeg and cinnamon, oak, gummy bears, bitter coffee
Appleton Hearts 1995 is definitely a step up from 1994, in my opinion. It's got similar notes on the nose and palate, but wields the strength in a more calculated way, and doesn't lean into as much drying spice powder or oak influence as its older sibling. In fact, it's quite a delicious rum, even if it does dip into some slightly astringent territory.
In the glass, 1995 is identical to 1994, appearing a golden brown color, with high clarity and medium viscosity.
On the nose, I get ripe pineapple, plums, bananas, permanent marker (or perhaps, some other type of "industrial" funk), black tea, and cough medicine. Given the step up in ester count and a slightly younger distillate, this has a bit more depth on the nose, and actually reminds me of some longer-aged Worthy Park rums, thanks to the cooling cough medicine-type note.
Tasting 1995, I get an explosion of flavors from overripe fruits, such as pineapple, orange, passionfruit, and banana; fully rotting blueberry and grape notes also appear, as does nutmeg, black tea, and permanent marker. The palate definitely sticks with the powerful, funky, overrippened (and rotting) fruit theme, but like the nose, is a bit better structured. Nutmeg appears as a bit of a drying note on the palate, while black tea bridges the gap between pungent fruit and an effervescent permanent marker note.
The finish is medium-long, warming, and tannic. It offers notes of black tea, nutmeg and cinnamon, oak, some gummy bears later on, and rounding out with some bitter black coffee. It's certainly longer, less dry, and generally more pleasant than the 1994 finish, but still has some drying elements and slight astringency from the coffee.
I enjoyed this sample of Appleton Hearts 1995, perhaps because it is so similar to Worthy Park rums; however, unlike those bottles, the Hearts Collection is still a little unrefined in the heat and astringent tannins department. The 1995 bottling is a good bit better than the 1994, yielding some better-constructed fruity flavors and a more welcoming finish, but falls short of being a rum I'd personally pay the premium for.