Case Study: Appleton Estate

J. Wray & Nephew, part of Gruppo Campari and owners of the Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum brand, approached Glencairn Crustal to discuss a unique product they were planning. They had a wonderful story to tell. In 1962 Appleton Estate had produced a small number of barrels of rum to celebrate Jamaican independence. These were carefully stored and five decades later they decided to bottle and release this unique rum to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence.

front-scaledNot only was this release commemorating a unique milestone in the history of Jamaica, it was also unique in the history of rum. The Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaican Independence Reserve was the oldest rum ever released.

It was rightly acknowledged that a product as unique as this required an exceptional bottle, however there were a number of issues to consider. Firstly the external packaging had already been designed, so the bottle needed to fit into it. Secondly, Appleton Estate already had a distinct bottle shape, and this should provide the inspiration for the new bottle. Lastly, the designer’s vision was that the liquid rum should almost ‘float’ as if it were suspended in the air. This requires great skill and knowledge to achieve as crystal refracts light differently from glass. High quality crystal often appears to absorb darker colours and the 50 year old rum was particularly dark.

Additionally, there was a need for a quick turnaround and the fact our two companies had never worked together before.

These challenges inspired the team at Glencairn Crystal. Working through various prototypes, a bottle shape was created that met all the criteria. Each bottle has a brass infill and a brass stopper. Glencairn recommended and sourced Flor grade cork and this was married with the brass to create a unique stopper for the rum.


Once agreed, Glencairn Crystal produced 800 bottles. Each one was individually engraved on the front and side. Each bottle is unique, the crystal was individually hand-blown, the brass hand-turned and engraved, the cork hand-picked and the crystal engraving unique to each bottle. ¬†Every bottle was hand-polished too. The base of the bottle is one of the deepest we’ve ever created so it has exceptional weight but sits beautifully with the designer’s original vision.

To our knowledge, not only is it the oldest rum in the world, but also it was the first to use a crystal decanter style bottle to complement its uniqueness and premium status.