Twenty years ago, Joy Spence was appointed Master Blender of Appleton Estate, the world’s leading Jamaican premium aged rum producers. That made her the very first woman to hold the distinguished position of Master Blender in a predominantly male-dominated spirits industry.
Spence’s journey to rum started much earlier when she was just 13-years-old and in love with chemistry. After bagging top honours and a Masters degree in Science, Spence first did a short two-year stint in academic teaching before joining Appleton Estate in 1981 as Chief Chemist. It was during this time that Spence worked closely with then Master Blender Owen Tulloch and sparked her passion for creating rum.
Spence’s organoleptic talent – the ability to detect, identify, and differentiate between aromas – aided in her developing an unrivalled mastery of flavours and aromas. To Spence, creating rum provides her with the perfect balance of art and science.
And this is evident in the range of fine and nuanced rums that Spence has created for Appleton Estate the past 20 years. These include the Appleton Estate Reserve Blend and Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old, as well as limited edition rums Appleton Estate 30 Year Old Jamaica Rum, Appleton Estate 250th Anniversary Blend, and the Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum.
To mark her 20th anniversary as Appleton Estate’s Master Blender, Spence has created the Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend, a minimum aged 25 year old rum blend with rums aged up to 35 years. “For my anniversary blend, I simply set out to create the rum that I’d like to sip while watching the colours of my garden change in the warm glow of the Jamaican sunset,” Spence shares, “It includes two rum marques “that are of particular sentimental significance to me: The first of these marques was laid down to age in 1981, the year I joined Appleton Estate; and the second is my favourite marque of pot still rum.”
The Joy Anniversary Blend opens up with a delicate orange peel top note, a signature characteristic of Appleton Estate rums; then emanates layered aromas of spice, warm vanilla, butterscotch and toasted oak. The beautiful coppery gold nectar is exceptionally smooth on the palate, finishing with an elegant note of brown sugar. Only 1,200 bottles of the Joy Anniversary Blend are available worldwide; fewer than a dozen of those are available in Singapore and each is retailing at $380++ per bottle. To purchase, e-mail Ms Alicia Cheang at [email protected].
Spence’s tips of enjoying rum:
- Look at the colour and the purity of the rum.
- Tilt your glass and look on the surface of the liquid for an olive-green ring, evidence of oak-ageing. The older the rum, the more obvious this green ring is.
- Take an initial nose of the rum to get its top notes. After that, twirl your glass to release the other aromas before nosing it again.
- Sip and roll it around your tongue before swallowing. Do this a few times to enjoy the rum’s layered flavours.
We caught up with Joy Spence to find out how she likes to enjoy her rum and what she grows in her garden: