Rum Cocktails with Master Blender Joy Spence

By Fabiana Santana

Rum Cocktails from Appleton Estate Jamaica RumDrinking on the job is not a perk for Joy Spence, Master Blender for Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum, it is her job.

At thirteen years old, most girls are in love with TV stars and pop idols. Joy Spence fell in love with chemistry. She made up her mind to become a scientist and went on to earn a Master of Science degree in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Loughborough in London, England. Joy graduated with top honors – including scoring the highest exam grades ever achieved by a student at the University (that record still stands today) – but you might be surprised to find out what she’s cooking up in her lab these days.

Joy is the first female Master Blender in the spirits industry, and one of only three females who hold the position in the world. She is not only responsible for overseeing the estate’s aging process for its world class rum, but also for blending compatible marquees of rum – that’s where the science comes in – which ultimately create the fine flavors and taste associated with high end rum.

joy_spence“As the Master Blender my responsibilities include developing/creating new exceptional blends of rum for the Company, maintaining the consistency and quality of our existing blends of rums, reviewing and monitoring our stocks of rums as they age to ensure the quality of the rums, determining the quantities of rum that need to be set down for aging, monitoring the quality of all of the rums that the Company bottles each day and promoting our Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum range around the world.”

That makes for a pretty busy day. But Joy doesn’t seem to mind. “I have the greatest job in the world,” she says.

In 1981, Joy joined Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum as Chief Chemist, where she had the opportunity to work closely with Appleton Estate’s then Master Blender, Owen Tulloch. Working with Owen sparked a passion within Joy for the art of creating rum. She apprenticed for him for almost twenty years before becoming Master Blender.

Joy is the creator of Appleton Estate Reserve and Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year-Old blends of rum which just now being introduced into bars and restaurants. Think of it as a dress hitting the stores after a designer spent years sewing it.

“I bring a passion for discovery to those who taste each rum blend I create,” says Joy. She wants people to appreciate rum and learn to embrace it the way wine has been embraced by the masses. “Lift the glass, look at the rum’s color, smell the aroma,” Joy instructs diners at a rum celebration dinner.

When she talks about rum, the enthusiasm that shines off of Joy is contagious. As a woman, you can’t help but be proud of her. “Women must pursue their dreams and not let anything get in their way. I hope that my work will serve as an inspiration to young ladies who are now making decisions about their career and that they know that they can achieve anything that they set out to do.”

Here are Joy’s recipes for the summer’s perfect rum based cocktails:

Royal Aperitif RecipeRoyal Aperitif Recipe

  • 1 oz Appleton Estate Reserve
  • .5 oz Honey syrup
  • .5 oz Fresh squeezed Lemon juice
  • Champagne
  • Garnish: Lemon twist
  • Glass: Flute

Build all ingredients in a pint glass except the champagne shake and fold champagne in then strain into a flute and garnish.

Jamaican Breeze RecipeJamaican Breeze Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Appleton Estate Reserve
  • 1 dial Fresh Ginger muddled
  • 2 oz Pineapple juice
  • .5 oz simple syrup (1-1)
  • Dash of Angostura bitters
  • Garnish: lime wheel
  • Glass: Rocks

Muddle ginger in the pint glass add the rest of the ingredients, add ice shake and strain over fresh ice and garnish with a lime wheel.

Old Jamaican RecipeOld Jamaican Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Appleton Estate Reserve
  • 1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
  • .75 oz pure cane simple syrup
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters
  • Champagne
  • Garnish: Mint sprig
  • Glass: Highball

Add lime juice and mint, slightly muddle, and add the rest of the ingredients accept the champagne shake and strain over fresh ice.

The Jamaican Cobbler RecipeThe Jamaican Cobbler Recipe

  • 1.5 oz Appleton Estate Reserve
  • 1 oz Dry Sack Medium Sherry
  • .5 oz G.E. Massenez Crème de Peche
  • 2 ruby red grapefruit pieces with skin
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • 2 ruby red grapefruit pieces with skin
  • White wine glass

Muddle fruit and build in the mixing glass shake and strain over crushed ice into a wine glass and garnish with fresh grapefruit pieces.

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