Jamaican Independence and a very specıal rum

In 1962 Jamaica officially became independent. In that same year the Appleton Estate prepared barrels for storage to be nurtured over time, with the plan to only reveal their contents to the public in 2012. 

On 7 June, 2012 in Kingston, the dream of a 50 year-old rum became a reality and the Appleton Estate Jamaica Independence Reserve was officially launched. 



Jamaica was claimed by Spain in 1494 when Christopher Columbus made his historic voyage to the new world, but the Spaniards fell to the British in 1655 and so Jamaica became a British colony. 

In the early part of the 1900s two political parties were created. Norman Manley led the People’s National Party, established in 1938; and Alexander Bustamante led the Jamaica Labour Party, established in 1943. As these parties gained steam and strived for constitutional changes for Jamaica, it became clear by the late 1950s that the island was ready for independence. 



In 1961 the groundwork was laid, and within a year a new constitution had been drafted. The date of independence was planned for 6 August, 1962, and once it was made official, celebration preparations began in earnest. The people of Jamaica were swept up in the excitement and the energy throughout the island was electric. Poinciana trees were planted in some areas to represent new beginnings, and people learned about the symbolism of their new flag’s design and colours. 

Children were taught the national anthem in school, the result of four persons’ work after a competition to write it was announced in September 1961: the late Rev. and Hugh Sherlock, the late Robert Lightbourne, the late Mapletoft Poulle, and Mrs. Poulle (now Mrs. Raymond Lindo). 

On the night of 5 August, 1962, the official ceremony to mark Jamaica’s independence was held at the National Stadium in Kingston. More than 20,000 people gathered to witness the momentous occasion. At 11.55pm the lights were switched off, “God Save The Queen” was played for the final time, and the Union Jack was lowered. At midnight the lights came back on as the Jamaican flag was raised for the first time in its colours of black, gold and green. “Jamaica Land We Love” rang out into the night and as the last note was sung, the sky lit up with fireworks. Sir Alexander Bustamante was now independent Jamaica’s first official Prime Minister. 

Celebrations had been organised throughout the land so that all could join in the festivities, whether they were in the towns or rural areas. People danced and sang in the streets, and parades, concerts, cricket matches and fairs were just a few of the ways that Jamaican independence was recognised. 

On the evening of 6 August the Grand Independence Ball was held at the Sheraton Hotel, where the new Prime Minister of Jamaica danced a waltz with Her Royal Highness, Princess Margaret. 

The next day Princess Margaret as Queen Elizabeth II’s representative, spoke at the first session of Parliament. 

“My government in the United Kingdom has laid down its responsibilities and has ceased to have any authority in and over Jamaica, after more than 300 years.” 

Sir Alexander Bustamante responded: “Independence means the opportunity for us to frame our own destiny and the need for us to rely on ourselves in so doing. It does not mean a licence to do as we would like. It means work and law and order. Let us resolve to build a Jamaica which will last and of which we and generations to come will be proud, remembering that especially at this time the eyes of the world are upon us.” 


Appleton Estate Jamaica Independence Reserve 

As historic Jamaican independence approached, people at the Appleton Estate were hard at work preparing what would become an extraordinary spirit. Several barrels of rum were set aside on the understanding that they would be used to create a very special blend. 

The barrels were placed in a particular location in one of the ageing warehouses and for the next 50 years they were carefully monitored and nurtured, first by Master Blender Owen Tulloch, and then by his protégé and now Master Blender, Joy Spence. 

The rum remained in the oak barrels and slowly transformed over the years into a dark mahogany liquid as it interacted with the wood. As the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence approached, Spence conducted extensive quality checks on each barrel to make sure that it had achieved the smoothness, richness and complexity worthy of the Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum – Jamaica Independence Reserve. 

Once the Master Blender confirmed that the rum was as it should be, the barrels were carefully taken from the warehouse, one by one, to ensure that their precious contents were protected. The cooper carefully removed the bung from each barrel, and again, extensive quality tests were performed. Spence was satisfied that all was well, and so the blend was placed in a special vat to allow the “marrying” process to take place. This is when the rums fuse together to create a fuller, more rounded product. 

At the unveiling ceremony of the Appleton Estate Jamaica Independence Reserve, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller joined Managing Director of J. Wray & Nephew Limited Paul Henriques on stage to reveal the oldest bottled rum in the world available for sale. As the cover was lifted, the audience burst into spontaneous applause. 

Generous samples of this exceptional rum were distributed to all in attendance who declared it a resounding success. Many commented on the beautiful packaging, which was specifically designed to incorporate symbols of Jamaica. 

“The Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum – Jamaica Independence Reserve is packaged in a crystal decanter whose design and shape was inspired by Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum’s iconic bottle. The etchings and gold screen printing on the bottle take their cue from Jamaica’s Coat of Arms. It is finished with a gold finished brass and cork stopper. 

“Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum – Jamaica Independence Reserve is presented in a black lacquered gift box with gold finished brass hinges.” 


The Anniversary Blend Story, Appleton Estate 

The emblem on the front of the decanter and the presentation case was specially commissioned, and intertwines the National symbols of Jamaica. Two Doctor Birds, the National Bird, face each other over representations of The Ackee, a component of the National Dish and the Jamaican Flag. Above them are blossoms from the Lignum Vitae tree. Its blue flower is the official National Flower of Jamaica. 

Appleton Estate Independence Reserve was launched in the Cayman Islands on Monday, 23 July, at Abacus Restaurant. Jacques Scott, local distributor now has this limited edition spirit available for purchase. There are only 800 bottles in the world, so this is truly a chance to own a rare piece of Jamaican history. 


The Jamaican National Anthem 

Eternal Father bless our land, 

Guard us with Thy Mighty Hand, 

Keep us free from evil powers, 

Be our light through countless hours. 

To our Leaders, Great Defender, 

Grant true wisdom from above. 

Justice, Truth be ours forever, 

Jamaica, Land we love. 

Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love. 

Teach us true respect for all, 

Stir response to duty’s call, strengthen us the weak to cherish,  

Give us vision lest we perish. 

Knowledge send us Heavenly Father, 

Grant true wisdom from above. 

Justice, Truth be ours forever, 

Jamaica, land we love. 

Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love. 

Jamaica Appleton Estate

The picturesque Appleton Estate on a clear day

Appleton 50 year

Appleton Estate 50 Year – Jamaica Independence Reserve

Rolling out Appleton rum barrels

Carefully rolling out the barrels of the 50 year blend, one by one from the ageing warehouse.