The Appleton Rum Estate is a three-hour drive from Negril; two parishes away, actually, in St. Elizabeth. But I began my last day in Jamaica in Negril, where I boarded a charter bus with a group to take us south to the Appleton Rum Estate near the town of Balaclava.
Our drive was incredibly scenic and we made a couple of pit stops along the way. First, we stopped at Bluefield Bay.
Internet, doesn’t this look like the quintessential “vacation in paradise” advertisement? Why don’t pit stops in California look like this?
About an hour later, we stopped at a roadside stand for a quick snack of crawfish soup.
The soup was simple and satisfying. I never really got used to eating hot soups in Jamaica’s warm and humid climate, but as a dish on it’s own, I enjoyed it.
About an hour later, we arrived at Appleton Rum Estate and were joined by Senior Blender David Morrison. David took our group on a tour of the estate, beginning with a demonstration of the rum aging and blending process. This is how rum used to be made:
After learning to juice sugar cane, we held a rum tasting where we not only tried Appleton’s range of rums, but also got to try our own hand at blending rum.
Each participant received a small bottle with which to take their creation home. With bottles in tow, we walked over to the Appleton dining hall to enjoy a buffet-style lunch of fried fish, callaloo, boiled crawfish, rice and peas and salad.
I don’t know what it was about the fish, but it was so fresh and seasoned so well. I still can’t put my finger on what the seasonings were. The crawfish was very spicy but the rice and peas helped cool things down.
Soon after our late lunch it was time to head back to Negril. It was a mountainous journey back for most of the way, and it began raining heavily right as we got on the road. We still made it back with plenty of time to grab a bite for dinner, pack up our belongings and get a good night’s rest before our flight back to San Francisco the next day.
The next morning, I got a ride to Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, where I enjoyed a grapefruit-flavored Jamaican Ting soda as we waited for my flight to board. It’s been two months since I returned from Negril, but I’m still dreaming of Jamaica. And now, I’m itching to go somewhere new yet again.