Reserve the Moment: A Weekend with Sheryl Lee RalphSunday, February 14, 2021
For its 2021 iteration, the Jamaica Rum Festival will take its celebrations online. As a lead-up to the March 27 event, Appleton Estate invited Hollywood actress Sheryl Lee Ralph and her journalist/fashion designer daughter Ivy-Victoria Maurice to tour Jamaica's bucolic south coast for an Appleton Estate Discover Jamaica weekend.
The convoy of vehicles departed Ralph's St Andrew Homemaking; the first stop Holland Bamboo. There she was greeted with a cold jelly coconut by local vendor Tanesha Bligen so that the actress and her daughter could make their own Appleton Epic cocktails. Fresh coconut water and Appleton Estate 8-Year-Old Reserve truly make for an epic combination!
Ralph, whose energy is infectious, uttered a gusty “wow” with one sip of the cocktail. That wow had around 15 w's at the end! After supporting local artisans, Ralph and Maurice made their way to Whitehouse, where Sandals South Coast would be home for the weekend. A receiving line, led by hotel manager Carl Ainscough, greeted the mother-daughter duo. And yes, there were more Appleton Estate cocktails at the ready. They were then whisked away to their room by their Sandals South Coast butler, after which they were taken to the award-winning Red Lane Spa for body treatments.
Ralph and Maurice ended the day by enjoying a private dinner on the beach paired with Appleton Estate cocktails under a blazing orange sunset which quickly dissolved into aubergine, with both women toasting each other.
The next day, Ralph and Maurice headed to Appleton Estate for a private tasting conducted by the world's first female spirit master blender Dr Joy Spence. The Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience (JSAERE) is, well, an experience. Everyone should make it a point of duty to do the tour at least once a year. It's that good! And even if you're not celebrities, you'll still be treated like VIPs.
Dr Spence chose the Appleton Estate 8-Year-Old Reserve, Appleton Estate 12-Year-Old Rare Casks, and Appleton Estate 21-Year-Old rums for the private tasting. According to Spence, the choices showed that “there's a rum for every occasion”.
The tasting began with a presentation on the history of Appleton rum and what makes it unique. Fun facts:
● The brand uses the same yeast strain since 1749.
● The water on the estate runs for 30 miles towards the sea.
● The orange peel notes give the rums their signature flavour.
Ralph and Maurice were surprised to learn that Appleton Estate rums go through a process called tropical ageing, which makes them age three times faster. In essence, the famous 21-Year-Old rum would take 67 years to age, were it made in Scotland.
At the end of the private tasting, Spence presented Ralph and Maurice with bottles of the 21-Year-Old that she signed to commemorate the unique experience. By the way, SO would be remiss if we did not mention that Spence and Ralph's mother, late well-regarded local designer Ivy Ralph, had a long-lasting friendship.
Next, Peter Welsh, one of JSAERE's best tour guides, greeted the fab duo. Hot tip: When you visit, ask when he'll be leading a tour, you'll be glad that you did. No detail is too small for Welsh, and he makes even the walks between stops interesting. During the tour, Ralph and Maurice got to immerse themselves in the history of Appleton Estate. One of the weekend's many photographic moments included Ralph and Maurice manually extracting sugar cane and sipping fresh juice.
After a quick hair and make-up touch-up by Ralph's Jamaican glam squad comprised of Lisa McIntosh-Aris and Teeah Anderson, mother and daughter headed to lunch, but not before posing for a few pics with a sugar cane backdrop. Ralph and her daughter rocked pieces from Maurice's House of Ivy label throughout the weekend, which culminated with a multi-course Appleton Estate cocktail-paired luncheon prepared by Jacqui Tyson and hosted by Spence. More on that in this week's Thursday Food.
Undeniably, rum is Jamaica's choice of tipple. Dr Joy Spence and her Appleton Estate blenders have created an array of products that has international acclaim. The brand's 50-Year-Old rum is the oldest barrel-aged rum in the world.
As Ralph and her daughter mingled with a retinue of Appleton Estate team members in the well-appointed gift shop, the energy remained spirited. Ralph's expression could not mask her joy, and daughter Ivy-Victoria was glad to have the opportunity to deepen her roots further.
The Reserve the Moment weekend with Sheryl Lee Ralph and Ivy-Victoria Maurice was appropriately scheduled during Black History Month. Not only are they distinguished black women, but the weekend was 36 hours of sheer Jamaican excellence.
— Vaughn Stafford Gray
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