Rum is made from molasses, which is a by-product of sugar after it has been refined. In its original form, molasses is gunky, bitter and tastes a bit like liquorice, but it gives rum its unique flavour. The molasses is mixed with water and fermented with yeast, and then distilled and aged to bring out the silky smooth texture and complex flavours. Because Jamaica boasts a year-round toasty climate, the rum ages very quickly – around three times the speed of cognac.
Jamaica has the most rum bars per square mile in the world, and many are right in our hotels, so you won’t find it hard to get a taste of the local tipple. If you want to drink it like the locals do, you can pair it with ‘Ting’ a fruity Lilt-like beverage that gives it a refreshing kick. Or, try one of the many rum-infused cocktails at Breathless Montego Bay's rooftop bar – the biggest on the island. If you want to become a bit of a rum expert yourself, you can even get involved in one of the free rum-tasting classes at Sensatori Resort Azul Jamaica. We took some eager holidaymakers along to a class to get their verdict, here’s what happened…
The Appleton Estate’s hotel brand ambassador, Paula Collins, ran our rum-tasting session for the day. She brought along three huge bottles of Appleton rum for the group to try – the Signature Blend, the Reserve Blend and the Rare Blend – plus a little pot of molasses for us to taste. Determined to convert even the most unwilling of rum tasters, she also came armed with some perfectly paired mixers to meet every kind of palette. Like good students, we learnt how to swirl, smell and taste each rum properly, and recognise the subtle flavours and aromas in each one. The tasting techniques actually changed the flavour of the rum almost magically – so we were basically converted. And, brave members of the group even tried the 126-proof white rum, which is a ridiculously strong 63 per cent alcohol by volume. Finally, we ended the class with Paula’s favourite cocktail – the Signature Blend mixed with ginger ale and lime. Everyone was ‘feeling irie’ to say the least.
The Appleton Estate is located in Jamaica’s Nassau Valley in St. Elizabeth Parish, and you can visit it on our Southern Adventure With A Tipple excursion. The tour not only takes you to the Appleton Estate, but right into the heart of Jamaica’s forested mountains and lush greenery as well. You’ll start with a rafting trip on a pontoon boat down Jamaica’s longest river, the Black River, which is home to crocodiles, mangroves and exotic birds, and then head to YS Falls to see seven tiered cascades of water running over rocks and through the tropical jungle. Here you can wade through the water, glide across it on a rope swing or even zip-line over the top. After all that excitement, it’s on to Appleton Estate for the rum tour.
The tour starts with a couple of welcome drinks of rum punch and a little lesson on the history of rum. In case you were wondering whether pirates really drank rum – well, yes they did. Rations of Jamaican rum were given to sailors in the Royal Navy and mixed with lime juice to ward off scurvy.
After swotting up on the origins of rum, you’re then taken through the factory and distillery to see how it’s made – from the early days of production (which involved a donkey grinding the sugar cane) right through to the modern day. There are plenty of fun photo stops along the way where you can pretend to make rum, drive a truck and peer out from a lookout point, plus pretty peacocks and wildlife wandering around the grounds. The tour ends back in the bar with some more rum tasting and samples to take away. And, you’ll see the most expensive rum in the world on display here – the Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum 750ml which is priced at over $4000.
The Appleton Estate is such a popular place to visit, it’s currently undergoing a huge multimillion dollar makeover to make it even more fun and exciting. The upgrade will include a complete renovation of the grounds, brand new rum-tasting rooms, a restaurant serving Appleton-infused Jamaican cuisine, and an authentic Jamaican jerk pit. It’s set to re-open in November 2017 with its brand-new look, so make sure you book your winter escape.
Three outdoor pools, à la carte dining, and free Wi-Fi are just a few things you can expect at the Riu Negril.
TUI SENSATORI Resort Negril is positioned right on Negril's famous Seven Mile Beach and has its own reggae lounge.
Brand new for 2017, the ultra-modern boasts the biggest rooftop pool in Jamaica and puts you right in the heart of Montego Bay.
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