You can smell the sweetness of molasses wafting from the Appleton Estate well before you reach it, almost a mile northeast of Maggotty. The largest and oldest distillery in Jamaica has been blending rums since 1749. After complimentary rum cocktails and a short video, the sleek tour explains how molasses is extracted from sugarcane, then fermented, distilled and aged to produce the Caribbean’s own rocket fuel, which you can sample at the end of the tour.
Selection of rum
Three varieties are available for sampling: the Signature Blend, aged for at least four years; the six-year-old Reserve Blend; and the 12-year-old Rare Blend. The limited batch of 50-year-old rum celebrating 50 years of Jamaica's independence from 2012 has been sold out, but if you're around in 2062, perhaps you'll be lucky enough to taste the limited edition Nine Prime Ministers rum, being aged in time to mark Jamaica's 100-year anniversary as an independent country. You also get a small complimentary bottle at the end of the tasting.
This tour is well priced at $30 and well executed, with humor and a dose of audience participation. At the end of the tour you can opt for a heaped plate of tasty jerk chicken or pork with rice and beans and all the trimmings at the onsite Black River Lounge. There is also a gift shop on site if the samples weren't quite enough and you want to stock up.
How do I get there?
Most tour companies in Jamaica can get you to and from the Appleton estate (the ‘from’ part is pretty fun after three varieties of rum). Otherwise, it’s easiest to get here from Maggotty; the factory is half a mile east, and taxis will take you there and back for around J$600. Booking in advance isn't essential but is advised to avoid disappointment.