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Review Ungava Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 13, 2014

SAM_1084Ungava Gin is a product of Domaine Pinnacle a family owned orchard and cidery located on a beautiful heritage property near the historic village of Frelighsburg in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Although primarily known for their Ice Cider and Maple Creams, Domaine Pinnacle also produces a very unusual Gin called Ungava.

In case you do not know, the Ungava Peninsula sits at the northern extreme of Quebec, between Labrador and the Hudson Bay. This is at first glance, a barren uncompromising land situated atop the tundra of the North Canadian shield. There are no trees to be found, and Tundra stretches (seemingly) endlessly from Ungava Bay in the east all the way to Hudson Bay in the West. To the North are the cold waters of the Hudson Strait which separates the Ungava Peninsula from Baffin Island to the North. This is (again at first glance) not the ideal place from which to begin the idea of creating a new gin.

Nottingham Walrus

Nottingham Walrus

However, if one looks a little closer (although, of course, you must look in the summertime), and if one talks to the Inuktitut people who have lived in the region for centuries, one will discover that there are a variety of botanical plants growing in the tundra right before your eyes. Six of these unique arctic botanicals (which grow wild in the region) are used in the construct of the Gin that bears this regions name. These botanicals, Nordic Juniper, Crowberry, Labrador Tea, Cloudberry, Arctic Blend, and Wild Rose Hips are hand-picked in the summertime and serve to bring a unique Northern Canadian charm to the Ungava Gin.

You may read my full review of this interesting gin by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: Ungava Gin

“… The initial breezes above the glass display a nice triumvirate of juniper, lemon citrus and floral scents which seem to be integrated well with each other. As I let the scents and smells drift in the air, it seems to me that the juniper is taking the lead role in that triumvirate. The citrus smells seem to contain elements both of lemon and grapefruit zest with a touch of orange Curacao riding along in between …”

Please enjoy the review which includes my cocktail suggestion, the Nottingham Walrus!

Have a great Sunday Everyone!

Posted in Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 10, 2014

Balvenie 12 SAM_1113The Balvenie Distillery is located at Dufftown which is of course, pretty much situated in the heart of the Speyside region of Scotland. This is a Single Malt Distillery; but one which holds the distinction of being the only such distillery where every part of the process of making whisky takes place right at the distillery. The distillery grows and malts its own barley (about 10 % of its total requirement); it has its own cooperage; and it has its own copper-smith. Owned by William Grant and Sons, the distillery is one of the top 10 producers (by volume) of Scottish Single Malt Whisky.

The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel is one of the company’s most recent offerings to arrive in Canada, and it replaces The Balvenie 15 Year Old Single Barrel whose stocks have been dwindling such that this expression is now quite hard to find (at least where I live). The 12 Year Old (like the 15 Year Old before it) is a true Single Barrel Whisky as each bottle is drawn from a single first-fill Bourbon cask selected by The Balvenie Malt Master, David Stewart. These casks were chosen to represent a consistent Balvenie character; however, each barrel will have its own unique character, and therefore each bottling from each unique barrel will be slightly different from each other. (And yes, this whisky spent its entire 12 year aging life in one single first-fill barrel.)

You may read my full review here:

Review: The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel

“… The breezes above the glass indicate that the whisky has a firm oak character as those breezes are filled with a firm presence of clean oak spice. This woody spiciness is accented (quite nicely) with vanilla, sawgrass and almond scents. As the glass breathes, the whisky breezes become more complex bringing forward additional hints of butterscotch, honey and some sweet beer-like malt …”

Note: Only 300 cases of this limited edition single malt are available for purchase at LCBO stores across Ontario starting February 2014. There were previously 300 cases released for purchase in Alberta in December 2013.

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Review: Porto Morretes (Prata) Cachaca

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 8, 2014

cachaca_prataLast fall a good friend of mine visited Brazil. I had asked him before the trip if he could find me a bottle of the Brazilian rum known as Cachaca (pronounced Ka sha sha). I was pleased when he returned just prior to Christmas with two small (170 ml) bottles of Port Morretes, the Prata (silver) and the Ouro (3-year-old premium).

In order to learn a little about the Porto Morrets Cachaca, I visited their website and with the help of Google Translate managed to decipher a bit about each spirit. The Porto Morretes Prata (Silver) is produced from sugar cane syrup which has been fermented with natural (home-made) yeasts without the use of chemical additives. The fermentation is carried out in a controlled hygienic process using stainless steel vats eliminating unintended contamination. The resulting fermented syrup is distilled upon modern copper pot stills, and the resulting distillate is rested for a considerable time period (I believe the website indicates about a year) in stainless steel tanks. This resting period softens and prepares the spirit prior to bottling making it suitable to drink neat or to serve in cocktails like the Brazilian Caipirinha.

Amazing Tickle

Amazing Tickle

Here is an excerpt from my full review:

Review: Porto Morretes (Prata) Cachaca

“… The silver Cachaca is a clear spirit which shows no evidence of colour or aging. It has a firm vegetal aroma which reminds me of mushy over ripe bananas and soft bruised apples. There are hints of white pepper underneath, and perhaps a touch of sugar cane sweetness. I also sense a Tequila-like quality which reminds me of soft  although this spirit would never be mistaken for tequila in any sort of blind line-up …”

Of course, I needed to make a few cocktails. I began with a recipe of mine I call the Amazing Tickle which is my Caipirinha style recipe using lemon and orange rather than lime. I followed that up with a Margarita style recipe called the Macharita which uses Cachaca rather than Tequila at the heart of the recipe.

I hope you enjoy the review and the cocktail recipes which follow.

Cheers!

Posted in Cachaca, Silver Cachaca Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Soyombo Super Premium Mongolian Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 6, 2014

soyombo SAM_1090Soyombo Super Premium Mongolian Vodka is a spirit which celebrates the mystical history of the Mongolian people. The vodka which bears the symbol of Soyombo is (according to the website information I found) produced at the original distillery site of Bogd Khan’s Winter Palace (Bogd Khan was the last Mongolian Emperor). This site is located in Ulaanbaatar, which is the capital city of Mongolia. The Soyombo symbol is the first character of the original Mongolian Soyombo script which was developed (according to legend) by Undur Geghen Zanabazar, the First Resplendent Saint and Bogd Khan of Mongolia. According to the legend, Zanabazar had a vision of symbolic signs drifting amongst the clouds in the eternal blue skies of Mongolia. From these heavenly signs he created the Soyombo script. The Soyombo has since become a national symbol of Mongolia, and is found on both the Flag of Mongolia, and upon the national Coat of Arms.

The Soyombo Vodka is produced from what the website calls ‘high quality Alpha Grade spirit’. (Alpha Grade spirit apparently must be a 100 % wheat spirit.) To produce the Soyombo Vodka this Alpha grade spirit is distilled six times, and then it is filtered for five days over a bed of quartz, diamonds, and silver. The water source for the vodka is the icy glaciers atop the Sacred Bogd Khan Mountains. The melted glacier water flows down the Sacred Mountains feeding the underground aquifers from which the water for the Soyombo Vodka is drawn.

Lemon Ginger Martini

Lemon Ginger Martini

I was provided with a sample bottle from the local importers of the spirit, River Valley Beverage. I sampled the spirit after chilling it in my freezer until it had reach a temperature of just above zero degrees Celsius. I also allowed the Soyombo Vodka to warm up in my glass during the sampling session to investigate how the spirit reacted to warmer serving temperatures.

You may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: Soyombo Super Premium Mongolian Vodka

“… When I brought the Soyombo vodka to my nose, I noticed a light but firm impression of fresh-baked bread crust drifting in the breezes above my glass complete with the light aroma of caramelized sugars, toasted marshmallow and ever so light impressions of milk chocolate. (Grab some fresh bread and break the crust under your nose, and you will know what I mean.) I also noticed wisps of a light lemony citrus scent in the breezes above my shot-glass and a hint of cream of wheat porridge …”

I constructed two very nice cocktails with the Soyombo Super Premium Vodka, the Lemon Ginger Martini, and the Grapefruit Blush.

Enjoy the review and of course enjoy my new cocktail recipes!

 

 

Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Review: Kavalan Concertmaster (Port Cask Finish) Single Malt Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 3, 2014

Kavalan Port Cask SAM_1096Kavalan Whisky is produced by the King Car Group at the newly built Kavalan Distillery at Yi-Lan, Taiwan. The distillery features imported copper pot stills from Scotland and clean water sourced from the Central Mountain and Snowy Mountain Ranges of Ylan to produce a unique Taiwanese whisky. The first expression of their  Concertmaster series is a Port Cask finish single malt whisky which was of course finished in a variety of Port Wine casks from Portugal (which include Ruby, Tawny, and Vintage Port). The Whisky does not carry an age statement; but because we know that the distillery opened in 2008, and the fist Concertmaster whisky began to appear in Canada in 2013; we can assume the Whisky is no older than 5 years and may be as young as three years old.

SAM_1097

The Crushed Polly


You may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: Kavalan Concertmaster (Port cask Finish) 

“… The initial breezes above the glass brought forward a pleasant fruit-like scent of sweet red cherries within a backdrop of clean oak spice. There was a sweetness in the air similar to the aroma of cotton candy and marshmallows, and as the sweetness combined with the cherry like fruitiness I was reminded of Turkish Delight and red licorice …”

I found the whisky was suited very well for tall cocktails, and as a result I included a few recipe suggestions in the review including my own mixed drink, the Crushed Polly.

Posted in Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 1, 2014

SAM_1016 FusionThe Amrut Distillery is situated in Bangalore ‘the garden city’ of India. The distillery sits in a tropical locale 3000 ft above sea level with its water source being the Himalayan Mountains.

The Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky is produced from two geographically disparate grains. The majority of the barley used to produce this whisky was grown and harvested at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains.This Punjabi barley was mashed, distilled and aged in the distillery at Bangalore. The distillery also uses a peated barley sourced in Scotland and this barley is as well brought to the facilities in Bangalore to be separately mashed, distilled and then aged until maturity. When each separately distilled whisky is ready, they are blended and then aged for a second period of time to allow the different whiskies flavours to marry in the barrel prior to bottling.

Rob Roy Cocktail

Rob Roy Cocktail

The Amrut Fusion Whisky is a single malt which represents the fusion of two different whiskies. It is bottled at 50 % alcohol by volume and is sold in various markets across the world including here in Alberta, Canada.

You may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt:

Review: Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky

“… As the glass breathed I received strong notes of Demerara sugar and baking spices which brought impressions of dark rum and cola into the whisky aroma. The oak and the peated aromas carried the other scents and smells forward, and melded into them rather than dominated them. The result is a very complex whisky which brought many interesting nuances in the air …”

Accompanying this review is an excellent recipe suggestion, the Rob Roy Cocktail.

Slainte’

Posted in Indian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Amarula Fruit and Cream Liqueur

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 30, 2014

AmarulaAmarula is a relatively new cream liqueur from South Africa which has recently been made available in my market. This is a cream based alcohol liqueur produced from cream (of course), the fruit of the African Marula Tree (also known as the Elephant Tree), and sugar. It is bottled at 17% alcohol by volume, and occupies the same market niche as Bailey’s Irish Cream and Kahlua.

I have received several mini (50 ml) bottles of Amarula over the past two years (usually attached as a free mini sampler to the neck of a larger 750 ml spirit). I usually enjoy the free sampler in my morning coffee or drizzled over ice-cream, but with my most recent mini bottle, I decided to write a review.

Plush Martini

Plush Martini

The product is imported into Alberta by PMA (Peter Mielzynski Agencies Ltd.), and is available in a 375 ml, as well as 1000 ml and 1750 ml configurations.

You may read the full review by clicking on the following excerpt;

Review: Amarula Fruit and Cream Liqueur

“… I detect some mild chocolate and coffee aromas with hints of butterscotch, vanilla, and a light nuttiness akin to hazelnut. Within these familiar cream liqueur scents is a zesty citrus component which seems to bring a little life to the glass elevating the familiar into something exotic …”

Please enjoy my review which concludes with a decadent rum and Amarula based cocktail which I call the Plush Martini.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Posted in Cream Liqueur, Liqueur, Liqueur Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Baker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 27, 2014

BakersBaker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection. This collection is composed of Booker’s, Baker’s  and the previously reviewed Knob Creek,and Basil Hayden’s. The whiskey collection is considered by Jim Beam Distillers to be a selection of ‘ultra-premium’ bourbon whiskeys created to establish a high-end category for bourbon, and thus to appeal to the serious whiskey aficionado.

The Baker’s Bourbon was named for Baker Beam, who was the grand-nephew of James Beauregard Beam (Jim Beam). It is bottled at 107 proof (53.5% alcohol by volume) and produced from bourbon whisky which was aged for a minimum of 7 years. Interestingly, the mash for this spirit was apparently fermented utilizing a  special strain of ‘jug yeast’ that has been in the Beam family for over 60 years.

Wisconsin Old Fashioned (Whiskey)

Wisconsin Old Fashioned (Whiskey)

Recently I was given a bottle of Baker’s by the Alberta Beam Global Team for the purpose of a review upon my website, and you may read that review by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: Baker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

“… The spiciness is off the charts no doubt aided by the 53.5% alcohol by volume bottling strength of the Baker’s Whisky. Despite the full barrel of spice (and despite the obvious push of alcohol) the spirit is remarkable easy to sip. This is because all that spice is accompanied by an equally forceful explosion of flavour and sweetness …”

A recipe which has become fashionable to write about on the cocktail blogs lately is the Wisconsin Old Fashioned, which mixes a nice oaky brandy with an orange slice, brandied cherries, and Angostura Bitters. It is really quite delicious. When I was tasting the Baker’s Bourbon, I could not help but think to myself how well this particular spirit would work using the Wisconsin method. At the conclusion of my review you will find my recipe for the Wisconsin Old Fashioned modified slightly to accommodate the Baker’s Bourbon rather than a fine Brandy.

Take care everyone, and please enjoy Responsibly!

Posted in American Whiskey, Cocktails & Recipes, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Masterson’s Straight Barley Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 25, 2014

Mastersons_BarleyMasterson’s Straight Barley Whiskey is distilled and aged in Canada, for a company from Sonoma California called 35 Maple Street. As a straight whiskey, the spirit must be barreled and aged in new American Oak; however this Masterson’s whiskey also holds the distinction of being perhaps the only straight whiskey which is distilled from a mash of 100 % unmalted barley. It is bottled at 46% alcohol by volume, and is apparently (like the rest of the Masterson’s line-up) named for the famous frontier lawman, William “Bat” Masterson.

You may read my full review and tasting notes by clicking the following link:

Review: Masterson’s Straight Barley Whiskey

” … The initial aroma in the breezes above the glass takes me right back to my early childhood. On the farm where I grew up we used to grind our grain in a hammer mill. On cold winter days we would mix the ground barley with warm milk and water, and feed it to our outdoor hogs. The aroma of that musty barley porridge that we fed our hogs seems to be drifting in the air above my glass as I examine the whiskey’s colour …”

Please enjoy this review of a very unusual Canadian Whiskey.

And remember, my reviews are not intended to help you drink more whiskey, they are intended to help you drink better whiskey!

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: El Dorado 8 Year Old Cask Aged Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 23, 2014

SAM_1070According to the El Dorado Website, the El Dorado 8 Year old Cask Aged Rum is blended from selected stocks of rum which included rum from no less than four of DDL’s traditional Heritage Stills including both the original Wooden Coffey Still which was rescued from the Enmore Estate and the Double Wooden Pot Still which was rescued from the Port Mourant Estate. Each of these stills is well over 200 years old and they represent the last of their kind operating in the world today. The use of these ancient stills ensures that the Demerara Rum produced at DDL’s Diamond Distillery is unlike anything produced anywhere else in the world. (For more information on the unique Heritage Stills in operation at the Diamond distillery you may read my first hand account here (Diamond Distillery Tour).

The new 8 Year Old Rum from El Dorado Rum was recently released in Ontario, Canada and I was provided a sample bottle by the distributor Woodman Wines and Spirits.

Rum Manhattan with El Dorado 8 Year Old Rum

Rum Manhattan with El Dorado 8 Year Old Rum

You may read my full review of the El Dorado 8 Year Old Cask Aged Rum by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: El Dorado 8 Year Old Cask Aged Rum

“… The rum carries sweet flavours of butterscotch, toffee, and dark brown sugar as well the bitterness of dark caramel treacle. Within the sweet and the bitter, I taste luscious baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg) and firm impressions of roasted walnuts and pecans. Marmalade, a ribbon of corn whisky, impressions of cocoa, a touch of leather and brine, and a firm imprint of tobacco …”

As I was tasting this El Dorado Rum, it occurred to me that the spirit would work very well in a Rob Roy cocktail. Of course, once I substituted the Scotch in the cocktail for the 8 Year Old Rum, what I had really created was a Rum Manhattan which I decided would serve very well as the suggested cocktail featured at the end of the review.

Cheers Everyone!

Posted in Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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