Rum, food and music – a cultural tour of discovery in Jamaica

This week The Moodie Davitt Report opened its latest interim bureau in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where selected media partners are guests of Campari Group and its Appleton Estate rum brand, one of the country’s great exports.

We’re here for the landmark Grand Opening of the first Appleton Boutique at Sangster International Airport, a partnership with the airport and leading travel retailer Dufry (full details to follow). It’s the latest element in the wider story of the airport’s departures upgrade, which we featured here.

The magnificent Bellefield House illuminated in Appleton Estate signature colours, and below, the flowers of the island greeted guests as they arrived to the welcome dinner

Beyond that, we’re taking a dive into Jamaican culture, from its food to its music and of course its great rum heritage – with a day in the company of Appleton’s legendary Master Blender Joy Spence set to be a big highlight later in the week.

All of those elements of Jamaican life came together on a memorable Tuesday evening, where we dined at the stunning Bellefield House, high above Montego Bay, set in lush gardens and now run by its 12th generation of family.

Campari Group Brand Premiumization Director Jean-Jacques Dubau issues a welcome at the beginning of a signature week for the group, with the unveiling of its Appleton Estate airport boutique. Below, Appleton Senior Blender David Morrison takes guests through the exquisite food and rum pairings. 

On an extraordinary evening, each food course – typically Jamaican of course – was paired with an Appleton rum. We began with daiquiris on arrival, maitais with the main course (jerk chicken, lamb or vegetarian), and then the big highlight, Appleton Estate, 8, 15 and 21 Year Old accompanying a variety of desserts.

Hugely popular reggae singer Etana captivates with her own recent repertoire and some of the great reggae hits

The 21 Year Old in particular was as smooth, soft, and sweet as a great aged single malt, and offered strong hints as to why Campari has such high ambitions for Appleton and its wider rum family in international markets, including travel retail.

Pre-dinner drinks with Appleton Estate daiquiris; from left, The Moodie Davitt Report President Dermot Davitt; Campari Group Managing Director, Global Strategic Travel Retail Marco Cavagnera; Travel Markets Insider Executive Editor Michael Pasternak; and Campari Group Director Travel Retail America Diego Lord. Below, selfie time with Dufry General Manager South America Sub-Cluster Enrique Urioste. 

An extraordinary evening of Jamaican culture was topped off by a memorable show from Jamaican reggae artist, Grammy Award-nominated Etana, who has a huge local and growing international following.

Watch out for further highlights of our visit in coming days, with much more on the boutique opening, Campari’s plans for its rum portfolio and the airport’s commercial development.

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