I've made a half recipe of this several times, using both apple cider (made by a local farmer) and apple juice. I definitely go for cider over juice! My only change was that I used vanilla extract instead of rum (hey, don't knock it until you've tried it).
This is excellent. We have been using it at parties and just made a Thanksgiving batch. Super yum! We did put the rum in the crockpot w/ the other ingredients, which worked very nicely (it didn't cook off or evaporate because my crockpot lid has no vent).
I made this twice over the holidays. There aren't many things more warming and comforting than a mug of good hot spiced cider, and this one was perfect! Thanks for sharing your recipe!