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  • Appleton Estate’s Jamaican Experience

    18.1096° N, 77.2975° W

    "“Once you go, you know - Now We Know"

    You’ve most likely have seen those “travel to Jamaica” commercials, and you’ve probably heard one of their slogans, “Once you go, you know.” Next, you’d see the sweeping view of the Blue Mountains, the shores of Montego Bay, and the vibrant streets of Kingston. These images were powerful enough to peak our interest to one day visit the Island. Our chance came when Appleton Rum invited us to spend five days in Jamaica with them.

    Our trip started in Montego Bay, and we were to stay at the luxurious Half Moon Resort. Its name comes from the crescent-shaped beach and since its opening in the mid-1950s it has hosted a number of notable people, such as Paul Newman, President John F. Kennedy, and Queen Elizabeth II. The resort is surrounded with elegant palm trees and many of the rooms featured an ocean view. Besides its well-appointed furnishing, there are stay-in chefs who made sure we were well fed, and they served up delectable Jamaican fare.

    We headed to the South Coast of Jamaica to tour the Appleton Estate in the Nassau Valley. It was there where we truly learned about their rum’s long history that dates back to the 18th century. The Estate was recognized for its rum production as early as 1749, as well as having a sugarcane plantation. As we walked through the grounds, we learned about the different methods of distillation and had the chance to juice our own sugar cane, taste some white rum and boil “wet sugar,” a liquid that is formed during the process of making sugar, as the juice is extracted from the cane. We also met “Pax” the resident donkey that showed us how this process was done in the 18th century.

    If there was another thing to experience in Jamaica, it is their world famous Blue Mountain coffee. Blue Mountain coffee is only produced in the mountainous region of eastern Jamaica, and that is where the Craighton Estate can be found. The surrounding hills around the estate provide the best growing conditions for the coffee plants but the uneven land and high elevation makes it difficult to manage. However, the hard work and resolve of its growers results in what can be called the “King” of all coffees. The award-winning coffee has been recognized for its balanced flavour and lack of bitterness. It was incredible to walk through the Estate and see the rolling valley through the millards of coffee plants.

    One stop that stuck out to us the most was travelling to Floyd’s Pelican Bar, which is quite literally floating bar in the middle of the ocean. When we boarded wooden installation, we were warmly greeted by the patrons. The menu consists of only seafood and you could enjoy a cold Red Stripe beer as you waited for your meal. Before leaving, we were also asked if we wanted to carve our names into the wood, and so we did!

    We got to discover Jamaica in a very different way than the brochures and TV commercials had advertised. As we went from place to place, it was surreal to observe the people go about their day, as we drove through the towns.

    Here are some of the best things to do when you visit Jamaica:

    Where to Eat & Drink.

    Screechies: A beach side seafood restaurant that’s known for their fish and festival dish.

    Scotchies: A small eatery that serves some of the best Jerk chicken in Jamaica.

    Pelican Bar: A floating bar just off the shore from Treasure Beach in Negril.

    Where to Visit.

    Strawberry Hill: This luxury resort will make you feel like time has stopped in a good way.

    Craighton Coffee Estate: Tour the surrounding hills and learn firsthand how Blue Mountain Coffee is harvested.

    Appleton Estate: You will leave with a greater appreciation for rum and how its made after touring this legendary place.

    Words & Photography: Marcus Troy