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Does The Double Cask Improve Appleton 8?

Cask finishes seem to be good marketing vehicles. People usually get excited about rums or whiskeys that have been finished in port or sherry cask for example. I’m guilty of that kind of enthusiasm myself, but have become a bit more careful over the years. There is a big difference between a finish and a second maturation. A finish typically means the spirit has been in that second cask for a few months. With a second maturation the spirit stays in the additional cask for years. There are lots of variables here. One of the most impactful ones is how wet the cask was before it was filled with rum. Has it been steamed, has some wood been shaved off, or has nothing been done and it’s still got liters of port/sherry sloshing around the cask? The last option is a way to get a very quick result. Basically blending rum with sherry. It’s what Dos Madeiras does, but I bet there are many producers who do this. I see it as cutting corners. Calling it a mixed drink goes a little far, but I do think finishes aren’t always long enough to provide proper integration. It’s like one part is floating on top of the other, so to speak.

 

What’s also important is the heaviness of the rum and of the spirit that sat in the second cask. If you put a light Central American rum in an ex peated scotch whiskey cask, you better not leave it in there for long. The peated whisky profile will totally dominate the rum in no time. However, if you do the same with a heavy Jamaican rum,  the result will be very different. It can stand up much better to the peat. I’ve had about two rums that involved peat that I found enjoyable, all the others could have been peated whisky. That brings me to another point. I know combinations like that are done to bring whisky drinkers into rum. I hear things like that from people in the industry and from enthusiasts. Apparently, for those newbies to start appreciating rum, they need to first drink something that’s called rum but doesn’t taste like rum. If they like it, they’ve passed the test and are now rum drinkers! It’s like people saying sugared rums are needed to be a gateway for consumers to get into the category. Ease them in, as such. I think all of this is complete nonsense. When one truly needs sugar to get into rum, they will never go beyond that stuff. And if they do, they didn’t need the sugar to begin with. They just looked for something “premium” and the first thing that popped up was Zacapa, Plantation XO or Diplomatico. Simply because these are the big marketing budget products that get the premium shelf space. Sweet sells!

 

I totally understand these types of approaches from an industry perspective, as it must be very profitable. However, where I don’t understand it, is from the rum enthusiast to newbie consumer. First of all, why force rum onto someone? I’m not tying somebody to a chair, put a funnel in their mouth and pour Rum Fire or Doorly’s XO down their throats. They have to want to try rum. If they do, and still don’t like it after tasting a rum flight with a variety of flavour profiles, then so be it. Rum is not for them. We’ll talk about the weather instead. What I won’t do is give them something that doesn’t taste like rum. I respect rum for being rum. Ivar:“So Peter, you don’t like any of these rums. That’s unfortunate. I happen to know you are into Scotch a lot, so let me give you a rum that tastes just like Scotch. At least then you can say you like rum as well as Scotch!!” Peter:”Thanks for making my day Ivar. I’ve always wanted to taste Scotch with a rum twist! By the way, why are you doing all this?”. Ivar:”Well, if I get 10 new people a month to drink rum, I get a medal”.     


All these thoughts came to mind because of a new Appleton release. The 8 year double cask. Calling it “double cask” isn’t very original, but it does make clear what this release is all about. Appleton decided it would be a great idea to put their bourbon cask aged 8 year old in an 18 year old Speyside whisky cask for a little while. I say little while, as I can’t find any info on how long it’s been finished exactly. Appleton’s master blender, the wonderful Joy Spence, worked with 60 of these barrels, rumoured to be from Glen Grant. Apparently this is one of her favourite whisky’s. I personally like Appleton 8. A very solid rum for its price. Versatile, as it’s great for mixing and is a decent sipper. If someone needs to be eased into Jamaican rum, this would be one of my picks.  Question is, does the finish improve this rum? Let’s find out.


Both rums are bottled at 43%. The Double Cask is a 13000 bottle release, all in Canada.



Nosing


Appleton 8 Double Cask

Banana, oak, smokey scents, mineral stones, orange, cherry, light menthol. Less citrus and fruity than the 8.

 

Appleton 8

Typical straight bourbon cask profile. Oak, vanilla, orange, citrus, sweet raspberries, cigar box, light paint, chocolate.


Hard to pick a winner. They are different, but I like them both.

 

Tasting


Appleton 8 Double Cask

Starts off a little thin and watery => smooth. Spicy charred oak, earthy, caramel, pepper, menthol. The whisky cask really comes through on the finish, which is a bit more pronounced than the 8 with Scotch like oak spice and a hint of bitterness.

 

Appleton 8

Caramel, oak, vanilla, light pepper, orange, banana, citrus. It has a bit more bite than the double cask and is fresher, fruitier. No bitterness.

 

Conclusion


I like both these rums. The Double Cask’s whisky finish comes through clearly, but it’s not totally overpowering. It still tastes like rum. In that sense it’s a job well done. If I have to pick one, I’d choose the original 8. The Double Cask adds a smokey whisky layer, but it also takes something away. It’s less fruity and doesn’t have that edgy bite to it. It’s why I prefer the 8. I realize a lot of people don’t like a rum that bites. If this is you, then buy the Double Cask or Appleton 12, which I feel are on par when it comes to this.


Four years ago I reviewed the 8 and 12. I scored the 8 a generous 76 points. With my experience and palate changes I’d score it a little lower now, but for consistency I’ll keep it the same.  


Scores


Appleton 8 – 76

Appleton 8 Double Cask – 73


Click here for info on the scoring method.

Click here for the complete list of reviews.

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