VMODA Crossfade II Wireless… The Stylishly Sculpted Sound

Reviewed by Tricia Williamson | Photography by Craig Harley

One of the things I love most about reviewing headphones, starts with the experience of unpacking from those brown shipping boxes. Once you get through that, what you’ll find with most luxury premium headphones is that they are packaged in big white beautifully designed square boxes (not that I am complaining). However, this experience with the VModa Crossfade II Wireless (Milano Design) was different. The signature hexagonal packaging of black and orange gets you excited at the very sight of it. While many brands will present the headphones and a bag tucked inside, your Crossfade II Wireless steps up the game a notch with a black hard shell that opens like an oyster revealing its hidden gem. This exoskeleton case is the perfect companion for this stylishly sculpted sound samurai and will always keep it well protected.

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Photography by Craig Harley

A work of art of leather and metal, offering great compact fold, the Crossfade II Wireless delivers sound quality that is excellent, crisp and clear. It has an immersive soundstage, with sculpted bass and nicely balanced sound. It is a top contender among premium options and is a fun headphone for audiophiles. After listening for a few hours, while lying in bed, I am a fan of the ergonomic steel flex headband. The fit is close but not bothersome, and the memory foam cushions are soft on the ears. It is heavier, in comparison to the Bowers & Wilkins PX which we reviewed in the last issue.

 

There is no active noise cancellation, which is a modern feature I have come to love in premium headphones. Nevertheless, there was good noise isolation. This Crossfade II Wireless is also a wired hybrid. In the wired mode, the sound quality is very good. That said, my only issue is that I would prefer volume controls on the Speak Easy Mic Cable (included) because while in wired mode the controls on the headphones disable and you are forced to adjust on your phone/device. When in wireless mode though, the ease of button use is a breeze. Plus pairing with my Samsung Note 8 was a walk in the park.

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Photos courtesy of VMODA

Lastly, with a 14-hour battery life, you won’t need to charge for a few days. All in all, the Crossfade II Wireless is a cool, stylish choice for audiophiles looking for great headphones without the fuss.

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The VMODA Crossfade Wireless II Headphones are available online ($330USD) at v-moda.com
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PANACHE Magazine authentically reviews products we think our readers will love. PANACHE has no affiliate partnerships with any company featured in the magazine nor does it receive a share of the revenue from any purchase. We’re just giving you an honest review and leave the rest to you!

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Sabrina’s Sojourn To South Korea

Interview by Latoya Jones | Photos courtesy of Sabrina Morant

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There would be no enthralling tale to tell had there not been a Sabrina Morant- Marketing Executive at JPS. Sabrina’s account of her life experiences underscores the old adage that “life really is what we make it”. Laid back and easy going, she paints a picture of her life experiences and the sometimes tricky decisions she has had to make as if they were no big deal. In a world wrought with disappointment and uncertainty, it is not the norm for us to give up ‘sure for unsure’ or for us to go looking for birds in the bushes when we are already holding one in hand. Human beings, by default, are not wired like that. We tend, more often than not, to cling to the safety of the shoreline rather than to seek out the rigours of deep-sea expeditions. Interestingly too, is that we are constantly reminded of the peace that comes from staying in our lane with expressions like, ‘better safe than sorry,’ or ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,’ so it takes a different kind of mind- a maverick- if you will, to throw caution to the wind in pursuit of what could be, rather than settling for what actually is.

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Enters Sabrina. Like most of us, she emerged from humble beginnings. She was raised by her mother and for a while, her stepfather, in the Waltham Park Road vicinity. She attended the St. Peter Claver Primary school and then Pembroke Hall High. She entered the work world shortly after high school and over time, did a diploma in Business at IMP (now the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean, UCC), in addition to which, she also studied Public Administration followed by Psychology with a minor in Criminology, at the University of the West Indies. The latter she attributes to her love for justice and an investigative mind. Post UWI, she admits to having made a post on Facebook that she didn’t know would have taken on a life of its own. Her question was simply, “I wonder if anyone wants to give me a scholarship?’

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Fast forward to 2014, the year she applied for the East-West Power (EWP) scholarship to study in Korea but was unsuccessful. Undaunted, she applied again in 2015 for a scholarship being offered by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) through the Embassy of Korea and this time was successful. Accepting the scholarship meant she would be reading for a Masters in Urban and Regional Development, which is best complemented by an engineering background. She was at the time a Customer Information Analyst. Accepting the scholarship would also mean resigning her job, foregoing her enrollment at the Caribbean Maritime Institute where she was pursuing graduate studies, and moving East for a little less than two years, among a people whose language, custom and culture would be foreign to her. Against what would have been the better judgement of most, she accepted the scholarship.

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Given how much moving from Jamaica to Korea seems like night and day, when asked, “Why go?” Sabrina responded by saying, “Because it was spontaneous and appeared to be a great opportunity to fulfil one of my life’s dreams!” She also mentions that she liked the notion of the movement itself and she was secretly curious about how a country that was once regarded as a developing nation, quite like Jamaica, managed to make the economic leaps and bounds that it did. She wanted to discover its secret to success. She admits to having gone as a blank slate, devoid of opinions and expectations, so as to minimise disappointment and was fascinated by the rich cultural display at the airport once she arrived.

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While in Korea, Sabrina visited Trench Town (yes, you read that correctly), which is a burgeoning restaurant in Itaewon that serves typical Jamaican food. Naturally, jerked chicken and Red Stripe Beers are staples on the menu. There were several other Jamaican/Korean ventures which she reflected on, including her group of Jamaican friends who would take to the streets of Itaewon on Friday nights. These other Jamaicans currently reside there for work or as students as she once was. She reminisces about her encounter with foods like Kimchi (a fermented cabbage dish) and Bulgogi (a beef soup of sorts) as having been memorable experiences with Korean food. She gushes about a dark Heineken she discovered in Korea that she has not seen since. While she tried to eat as Western as possible, she did attest to the fact that most Korean dishes are quite good. She was even able to find salt mackerel under the guise of ‘fresh fish’ on Korean menus. She mentioned the potency of brand Jamaica and how she dreams of one day seeing more Jamaican household staples on the shelves of the stores and supermarkets in South Korea. “On the buses in Korea there are flags of other nations and surely enough, when the flag of every other Caribbean nation was absent, a Jamaican flag was very much present on said buses!”

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On the point of culture, she was very moved by the sense of respect that’s deeply entrenched in Korean culture. “For example,” she said, “How you would greet a young person is different from how you would greet an older person in Korea?” The latter is done to show the utmost respect to the older person. She also spoke about the strong familial ties that seem pervasive among the people and their strong regard for education within the culture. “They are very disciplined and they are fast learners.” She mentions that in post-war Korea, that is Korea circa 1953, the children would sit on the ground in the dirt at school. This discipline to stay the course in war-torn Korea was necessary to help in its ultimate rebuilding as time progressed.

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Among the most significant lessons learnt while in Korea, she says is the mantra that, “You can get it if you really want it.” The dedication of the Korean people coupled with the foresight of their politicians was critical in making Korea the country it is today.

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She references President Park’s building of an expressway even before there was a large contingent of motor vehicles in Korea as an example of that foresight.

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Overall, Sabrina describes the exchange as a, “wonderful experience.” She believes the experience has made her stronger emotionally and has added extensively to her network by the many relationships she formed.

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She believes it taught her patience, particularly because the language was so difficult to learn. In going to Korea, she says, she took the pride of her Jamaican people with her. She tried to dispel many of the myths some persons held about Jamaica “No, we don’t all have (dread) locks and no, we don’t all smoke weed…you must come and visit if ever you get the chance,” and upon her return home, she has taken the belief that “We can all do better, if it’s even one person at a time.” Given all that she has taken from here to there, learnt in the process, and taken home upon her return, we would say that was indeed, quite an exchange!

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Trinidad Carnival…More Than Meets The Eye

By Marshelle Haseley

Carnival in Trinidad contains more than meets the eyes beyond its shores. Entertainment and a lift in the spirit, through music and culture, can be found from the stage of Queens Hall to pan yards- to the “stages of stages”, at the Queens Park Savannah and the Socadrome in the capital, Port of Spain. The people of Trinidad have a touch of magic and at Carnival time, travellers from all walks of life who grace its shores experience it. Whether you are a seekers of deep reflection or lover of Soca music, good vibrations, under or above the influence of mixes and potions while covered in water, mud, paint or sweat… you can find what you seek in the land of steel pans.

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Photo Credit: Tarique Eastman

For anyone planning to visit for Carnival 2019, there is so much to witness and bask. And for those who aren’t planning to visit T&T for Carnival 2019- I’d advise you to add it to your bucket list. The experience is pure bliss. Two days of adrenaline rush at the end of a season of pure cultural splendour. Here are a few experiences which make the carnival season not only one of the most exciting and high energy periods known to man – but also reflective and culturally enriching. Note, this may mean arriving more than 4 days before Carnival Monday. An official calendar is released at the start of each season to help in the decision-making process.

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Photo Credit: Newsday TT

Attend a Cultural Theatrical Performance
If you value the arts and have a great appreciation for Caribbean culture, it would be of great value to attend a live show or theatrical performance. The show I saw, was SocaLypso. Performed by the Signal Hill Alumni Choir, on the stage and under the magnificent lights of Queen’s Hall, I experienced one of T&T’s finest cultural exports. SocaLypso married- Soca and Calypso. To say the mashups were absolutely enthralling would be an understatement. The performance told a captivating story of the nation’s journey- giving great food for thought while educating and entertaining an audience of all ages and walks of life.

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Photo Credit: Marshelle Haseley

Visit Pan Yards
A powerful medium for transmitting the powerful vibrations of T&T’s soul is through Pan. Pan Music and the cultural practices surrounding Pan are like ‘vibranium to Wakanda’, sewn into the fabric of the nation. A Pan Yard is essentially where the Pan Band practices- which is where patrons are welcome to partake of their gift of talent. Those who seek to have their hearts soothed by the melodies emitting from the last instrument created in the twentieth century- (an indigenous pride of T&T)- move in droves from point to point with excitement and anticipation. I was fortunate to have experienced the lead up to the semi-finals for the large bands, and it was unlike anything I had experienced. Going from pan yard to pan yard was like a Caribbean Musical equivalent of an all you can eat buffet. The finals for Pan are generally in the week before Monday Mas (masquerade) at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

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Photo Credit: Josh Brizan

Interesting Fact: Pan bands emerged from the imagination of inner city youth from Port of Spain. They created a space for them to rival through music instead of violence. What was once seen as the music of layabout gangsters has become the sound of a nation’s soul.

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Photo Credit: Marshelle Haseley

Attend Traditional Mas
The roadway of Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook, was closed off for the traditional characters of T&T Carnival to come forth in full display- Moko Jumbies, Dame Lorraine, Midnight Robber, Blue Devils – to name a few. All costumes were designed and created by local artisans from all over the island. One Moko Jumbie player I met stated that he was waiting for about four hours for one of his fellow stilt walkers. Partaking in this cultural showcase in Woodbrook with a wide cross-section of Trinidadians would be especially beneficial to your full Trinidad Carnival cultural experience.

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Photo Credit: Newsday TT

Interesting Fact: Dame Lorraine, a costume mimicking a sophisticated French woman was traditionally played by 18th and 19th Century Planters. Today it is still played by men.

Go to J’ouvert – Most of us from the Caribbean would have a concept of J’ouvert (French for Day Open/ Morning). Trinidad is the home of J’ouvert- an electric event that begins some hours before dawn and gets into full gear after the sun rises. The Sunday night/ Monday morning J’ouvert before heading home to shower, just before heading back out to Monday Mas, was amazing. Chanting, chipping, jumping and wining through the streets of Port of Spain- covered in paint, then water, then more paint, or mud, or powder is one of the most liberating things you will ever experience!

Interesting Fact: J’ouvert came about because that time was given to the lower classes to have ‘their own’ Carnival before the costumed masqueraders would flood the streets for Carnival on Monday. Carnival festivities were initially confined to the upper class.

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Photo Credit: Visionary Media House

Experience the bliss of Mas
Mas, Masquerade or Carnival Monday and Tuesday were both epic! The heat of the sun is almost like an additional source of energy, as an ocean of energy-charged participants move ecstatically through the streets of Port of Spain. Powerful Soca Music blasted and synergised our movements and rhythms. This experience takes the party experience to another level literally out of this world. It’s like a literal stage that creates an opportunity for everyone to present their best self. Everyone looked so captivated by the experience and comfortable in their own skin! With love beaming on every face, this festivity is undoubtedly a celebration of life, where people freely smile, hug, dance and take random selfies with even total strangers. It exemplifies the bliss that comes through unity, beyond the barriers that citizens of life build between each other for most of a calendar year.

 

Trinidad Carnival is so much more than a two-day shoot of awesomeness complemented by, dancing and chipping through the streets. It is a complete collection of events that paint a picture of a culture- one tree with many roots. The Carnival season lifts the spirit of a nation and pays homage to those who made profound contributions to the people- all while chronicling the journey of a nation from era to era. It reminds us of how intrinsically similar our distant relatives scattered throughout the Caribbean are, as well as how much we do have in common with our fellow citizens of this wonderful and beautiful planet & home!

 

Spa Retreat… A Foodie’s Paradise

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Escape to Negril’s West End Cliffs and just relax. The beautifully handcrafted stone cottages nestled in lush green tropical gardens offer you a breathtaking view of the Caribbean Sea.

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Spa Retreat, with its world-class spa services, blended with a Jamaican flair, is perfect for the traveller seeking a quiet vacation with great massages and the best food this side of the island.

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This luxury boutique is rated #1 on Trip Advisor and has won numerous travel awards. As an adults-only resort, it offers the best hammocks in town to rock your cares away; a beautiful salt water pool to chill in and meditate for hours and just listen to the soothing sounds of the sea as it crashes against the grey rocky cliffs. And with every sunset, just pick your spot on the sandy beach deck and take in the moment.

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The Blue Mahoe is a Foodie’s Paradise

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The friendliest staff for miles call the Spa Retreat home. Overlooking the majestic blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, the Blue Mahoe Restaurant offers the best dining at a picturesque spot on the west end of Jamaica and that’s just the ambiance.

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Whether you are in the mood for Jamaican cuisine or seafood, Blue Mahoe sets itself apart with great tasting meals made from the freshest catch and finest ingredients.

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Whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner, make the Blue Mahoe your top choice to dine.

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The Spa at Spa Retreat

Massage therapy can be an important part of your health maintenance plan by offering you several benefits:

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  • Relaxation
  • Stress Reduction
  • Lowers Blood Pressure
  • Muscle Relaxation
  • Improves Blood Circulation
  • Improves Posture
  • Strengthen the Immune System

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Regular massage keeps the body working at optimal levels and Spa Retreat, is the perfect place to get your treatment for mind body and soul.

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The Sound, Substance and Style of Shinola

Reviewed by DJ Courtney | Photography by Craig Harley

So I recently received a pair of the Shinola Canfield Over-Ear Headphones to review for the magazine, and after a week of using it, I must say, “These are some damn good headphones!”

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“Acoustically tuned by sound engineers and tested in Detroit,” states the company website. I chose to assess this Shinola while I was DJing at events in Jamaica and I am glad I did, because I have now parked my Pioneer Headphones and now use them exclusively.

Firstly, the Shinola Canfield Over-Ear Headphones are beautifully crafted luxury headphones that have been made of the finest material. The headphones feature: stainless steel components, interchangeable lambskin ear cushions, and a genuine leather headband. I have received several compliments on the quality of the craftsmanship, especially how they look and feel. However, what I admire most are the magnetic ear cups, which makes them easy to snap on & off. In terms of comfort, I need to get used to them, as they do fit a bit snug, but I’ll work them in over time.

As for the sound quality, it is vivid and clean and though the Shinola Canfield Over-Ear headphones are not the best for DJing, I have found them to be perfect for me. With these headphones, there is not too much bass or treble, but the audio is clear enough for good mixing; plus they are also noise-cancelling.

 

The Shinola Canfield Over-Ear uses a 50-mm dynamic driver and the headphones feature a built-in remote with volume control and an in-line microphone. At first, I thought, this wouldn’t be ideal for spinning, but to my surprise, it came in handy, offering quick access for volume adjustment. The drawback I found was that I needed to plug in both connections to each ear cup for sound. As a DJ, I need to move around at times and this can prove to be a bit of a restriction, nevertheless, I’m getting used to that and it’s not a major issue.I really love these headphones, especially when I use them with my iPhone every day.
Lastly, I can honestly say, the Shinola Canfield Over-Ear Headphones “Beats” a certain competitor easily!

The Canfield Over-Ear Headphones ($450 USD) are available for purchase at http://www.shinola.com where you can also find the complete Canfield Headphone collection.

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PANACHE Magazine authentically reviews products we think our readers will love. PANACHE has no affiliate partnerships with any company featured in the magazine nor does it receive a share of the revenue from any purchase. We’re just giving you an honest review and leave the rest to you!

Introducing Tribe Nine by Troy Oraine Williamson

Troy Oraine Williamson, Stylist & Fashion Designer, a former dancer (he’s worked for Beyonce, MTV and X-Factor), turned entrepreneur, started Tribe Nine Studios after a brainwave moment in the Big Apple, while working at M5, a multi-branded luxury sportswear showroom. It was the amalgamation of his fashion, photography and design experience that drove him to conceptualise Tribe Nine, a multi-functional branding and design agency.

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Photography by Dash Productions

PANACHE: Stop! You worked for Beyonce…. BEY! Do tell us more?
Troy: (Laughs) Yeah, back in my deep dancing days. Performed Sweet Dreams with her on her Beyonce Experience Tour in O2 Arena, London. Before moving to Jamaica, I worked for twelve years as a commercial dancer, which included music videos, commercials, theatre, road shows and TV.

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The London native said, “New York is all about hustling. Some people had three to four jobs so what made me different? Moving back to London I couldn’t find anything that gave me the same drive to go to work as the showroom though, that’s when I thought Tribe Nine has to be that!”

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The Jamaica-born designer envisioned that he could create a marketplace for a new, unapologetic brand. ”I named the company Tribe Nine because I am a ‘tribalist’, I know it’s not a word but, that is what I am! I feel that collectively we are strong, so I set out to create a space where visionaries can express freely. The number nine represents my favourite creative disciplines.”

PANACHE: “The number nine represents my favourite creative disciplines.“… Explain
Troy: Photography, Illustration, Video, Music, Web Design, Motion Graphics, Writing, Dance, Theatre – see why I don’t spell them out. The number nine also connects me with the universe.

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PANACHE: Do you have any events/fashion shows planned for later in the year?
Troy: My focus is really on designing a custom line, not really focused on creating a collection so much. I want each piece I create to have the personality of the person wearing it. However, I am the creative producer of Yello’s Fashion Directory, (I took over from my dear friend and business partner Dexter Pottinger) so maybe I can show a capsule collection there.

All Tribe Nine products are lovingly handmade in Jamaica.

Email: troy@tribenine.co
Website: http://www.tribeninestudios.co
Instagram: @tribeninestudios or @iamtroyoraine
Facebook: Tribe Nine Studios

The Fearless Joy Spence

Interview by Tricia Williamson

The original visitor centre at the Appleton Estate was opened in 1988 and 30 years later, on Thursday, January 18, 2018 it was reopened, as the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience (JSAERE). The facility is now four times its original size, and features a restaurant and lounge, a jerk pit, and a theatre. At the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience, visitors will enjoy a guided tour of the artefacts that tell the history of the Appleton Estate, Jamaica’s oldest sugar estate and distillery which is still in continuous production mode. In the distillery, visitors will view the copper pot stills that are unique to the Appleton Estate and which give our rums their distinctive character. They will then visit one of the company’s aging houses, where our rums rest in oak barrels for up to 50 years, before sampling fresh sugar cane juice, as well as wet sugar – a combination of brown sugar and molasses. In this issue of PANACHE, we had the great honour of sitting down one-on-one with the lady behind it all- the world’s first female Master Blender, Dr. Joy Spence, OD.

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Photography by Craig Harley

PANACHE: What was your first experience with rum?
Joy Spence: My first encounter with rum was when I actually joined the company, because I never drank rum before that. So I started working in the laboratory as a Chief Chemist, where we test for various blends, do sensory analysis and also taste. The first time I tasted Appleton Estate 12 year old rum, I said, “Oh my gosh, this is such an amazing complex spirit with wonderful flavours! I was detecting vanilla, coffee, cocoa, almond, a little of orange and I just didn’t know that rum could be so complex. I just thought at the time that rum was a very harsh spirit and all you’d be getting is the smell of the alcohol, but didn’t know it had all these beautiful flavours in it. That’s how I fell in love with rum.

PANACHE: Who was your mentor and what was that relationship like?
Joy: My mentor was Owen Tulloch. We had a wonderful relationship (smiles). You know most people in the company feared him [Laughs] and didn’t want to go into his office, but we got on so well. You know I am the sort of person who considers that there are only two answers to any sort of question- yes or no. I am fearless. So I knocked on his door and went in and shared that I was very fascinated with the work he was doing. I saw him as an artist in the whole process whereas I saw myself as more as the scientist. I wanted to get more involved with the artistry so he took me under his wings. He showed me how the various rums aged over time and how the various flavours developed. I worked with him for 17 years and when he retired I was appointed Master Blender.

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PANACHE: Describe the experience of becoming a Master Blender, the first female to be bestowed that honour in the world.
Joy: When I was appointed Master Blender, we started doing some research and realised that internationally there was no other female Master Blender in the entire spirits industry. And I couldn’t believe it! I thought, here I am just a little Jamaican woman… (Laughs) Breaking this milestone and actually breaking the glass ceiling for other females in the industry and I really felt proud as a Jamaican.

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PANACHE: What attracted you to work at Appleton?
Joy: I was working at Tia Maria as the Research Chemist right next door to J. Wray and Nephew Limited. At that time I was just working on one product at Tia Maria and I became very bored because I love to multi-task. So on my days of boredom, I would look across the fence and see lots of activity taking place- tankers rolling in and a lot of people looking very busy. And I thought that it looked like an interesting place to work. So I sent my resume over there, they called me in for an interview. Though at the time they didn’t have a vacancy, they were very impressed with my resume and two weeks later they called with a position they had created for me. I was offered the position of Chief Chemist and that’s how I joined the company.

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PANACHE: That’s excellent. On another note, given your work with Appleton, is there a personal favourite you have in the brand?
Joy: Ahhh, it depends on the occasion. If I am just drinking everyday like at a party or just relaxing in my garden at home, I’ll have Appleton Estate Reserve. For very sophisticated occasions, I’ll have the Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 Year Old or the 21 Year old Rum.
However, in terms of the blends that I have developed, the one I would say is closest to my heart is, the Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend, because I was asked to create this blend in celebration of my 20 years as Master Blender, and given the fact that they named the rum in my honour.

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PANACHE: There’s no comparison anywhere where a company has bestowed such honour on its Master Blender, from the rum to this new tour. How does that feel?
Joy: Ohhhh can you imagine (laughs), I’m still in a state of shock. I still can’t believe when I am driving on the road and I see the road signs with my name on the sign and I think to myself “Oh my gosh, that’s my name.”
When the Managing Director told me last year May, while I was away in Milan, that he had something to tell me and he said, “I have decided to name the rum experience after you.”
So I said, “Hold on, I was just in a meeting and the name of the experience is going to be the Appleton Estate Rum Experience!” So here it is I am telling the Managing Director and so he asks me, “So who is the Managing Director? I am and I am telling you that I have decided to name this facility after you.”
Tears just started to flow.

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PANACHE: When it comes to your work what is your philosophy in life?
Joy: I am very passionate about anything that I do. Even for the simplest task I apply passion to it. I am very creative and I think outside the box, then I put my own little flair, passion and creativity into it. I look at flavours that were not traditionally seen as rum flavours.

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PANACHE: How do you innovate with a heritage product like Appleton with such a rich history?
Joy: The interesting thing is that we have many different styles of rum at Appleton and all of them are aging uniquely. So even after 25 years these rums develop different flavours during the aging process. We have rums as old as 50 years developing very unique flavour profiles. They provide many bases to work with over the years that it is never exhausted and that makes it so unique and fascinating.

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PANACHE: What are some of the obstacles you have faced and how have you overcome them?
Joy: Interestingly, as a female Master Blender I didn’t have a lot of obstacles, most persons knew that I was working in the industry before as a Chief Chemist and had spent years understudying the previous Master Blender. So I didn’t have difficulties as a female, where people showed negative reactions to me. And when I was first appointed, I thought that journalists would give me a hard time, but it was absolutely not the case. They embraced me.
The area where I have the biggest problem is when I travel and have to deal with immigration and customs. They never ever believe that I have this occupation. They give me a hard time and think that I am actually making it up. I remember I was in Miami International Airport and the Customs Officer asked me, “What do you do?” I replied that I was a “Rum Master Blender”and he looked at me and said, “Really now? This is the best excuse I have heard for a profession in a long time.” And of course, I was coming from Jamaica so he drilled me with more questions. Then, the Customs Officer next door to him, started to listen to this conversation and he looked across and he recognized me from the Travel Channel. He then jumped off his seat and came over and said, “Oh my god, you are the rum lady! You know how long I have wanted to meet you,” and shook my hand.
My customs officer then believed me and apologized.

The picturesque Nassau Valley, St. Elizabeth

PANACHE: You have met many people throughout your life as a Master Blender, who would you say has been the most memorable.
Joy: Let me take a moment to think about it, I have met so many wonderful people… I would say Bobby Flay (laughs) and Andrew Zimmern … simply because I’m a foodie too! I was so fascinated that I could sit and talk with these persons about their skills and how they became very famous Chefs.

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PANACHE: With all this wealth of knowledge how do you pass it on for the next generation?
Joy: Well, I used to teach before I went into the rum manufacturing business and so at work I am always teaching and always passing on my knowledge. I am not selfish with my knowledge at all. So I will sit down with the workers in the blending hall or my own staffers in my department and say, “Look, this is how you’re going to grow in the business, these are the tricks of the trade and this is what you need to know.” They call me ‘Mommy,’ ‘Äuntie’ (Laughs).

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PANACHE: What’s been your proudest moment in all your years?
Joy: Well, I have two. The first was being honoured with the Commander of Distinction from the Jamaican Government. Then the proudest moment was when I was here for the opening and cutting of the ribbon at the launch of this new rum experience tour and facility.

Overview of the Joy Spence Appleton Estate Rum Experience

PANACHE: Any thoughts for anyone who may be considering a future as a Master Blender?
Joy: I would recommend to any young female looking to enter the business to ensure that they have very good sensory skills because that is the baseline for becoming a great Master Blender. They should be creative and have good knowledge of the rum manufacturing process. They should also be passionate and should always give 110% to whatever they are doing. And most importantly, they should always be humble. Once you have all those qualities you will be successful.

PANACHE: Excellent Advice, are you on social media?
Joy: (Laughs) The company has a site, but no I don’t have a personal presence there. You know why?

PANACHE: Why?
Joy: I have seen so many instances where persons get into a web of confusion by just making one innocent comment on their personal site. Happens all the time, so I said, you know something, if I was just a little unknown person… yes, but once you’re in this realm and you have your brand, I have decided that whatever is going to be there is going to be through the company.The company decides exactly what they are going to say on social media, but I stay away from making personal comments.

PANACHE: Is there anything that you haven’t done yet that you would love to do?
Joy: Two things… I have been to New Zealand about four times, I think it is one of the most beautiful places on this planet. I would love to be able to take my family there for them to actually experience that beautiful country. And secondly, I have always wanted to go to Botswana, my dream one day is just to stand by the elephants and just hold their trunks (laughs). I love elephants and I find Africa fascinating and Botswana has a variety of experiences there… so hopefully one day, I’ll go to Africa.

Cover- Issue 2-2018-TW-Website


“Joy Spence, Appleton Estate’s Master Blender and the World’s First Female Master Blender (of a global brand) with more than 20 years of experience, was awarded the honour of the Order of Distinction (OD) in the Rank of Commander (CD) by the Government of Jamaica in recognition of her contribution to the promotion of Jamaica’s rum industry and Brand Jamaica globally. The Order of Distinction (OD)is a national order in the Jamaican honours system conferred upon citizens of Jamaica who have rendered outstanding and important services to Jamaica, or to distinguished citizens of a country other than Jamaica.”
– The RumHowler Blog –