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Rare Dram Masterclass Features Glenfarclas 60 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 23, 2014

glenfarclas 60Last April, J & G Grant launched the release of their new 60 Year Old Glenfarclas Single Malt Whisky with only 360 bottles available world-wide.  According to George Grant, Glenfarclas’ Sales Director and 6th generation of the Grant family:

“At a time when more and more distilleries are going down the no age statement route for their super premium products, we are delighted to be able to release this magnificent 60-year-old Glenfarclas. My grandfather started laying down stocks for the future way back in the 50s, so it is thanks to his incredible foresight that we are able to bottle this today.I’m sure he would have been as impressed by it as I am.”

In describing his 60 Year Old whisky, George Grant tells us that the spirit was matured in a first fill sherry butt and has a very dark rich mahogany colour. George goes on to say:

“It is surprisingly vibrant with lots of dried fruits, demerara sugar and spice coming through on the nose as well as the rich, oaky tannins that one would expect from a whisky of this venerable age. The sherry influence really comes through on the palate, with rich treacle, bitter coffee and espresso notes all making an appearance. The finish is the longest I have ever experienced – 20 minutes later you will still be able to taste the subtle nuances of this incredible dram.”

Fortunately for those of us who live in Alberta, a few of these special bottles have made it into our marketplace and George Grant has arranged a very special tasting featuring not only the Glenfarclas 60 Year Old Whisky, but also 3 special Family Cask Whiskies each paired with decadent appetizers on the evening of November 3rd at 8:00PM.

Tickets are available for the November 3, 2014 Glenfarclas Rare Dram Masterclass via telephone or email from:

Willow Park Wine and Spirits
10801 Bonaventure Dr SE Calgary
Telephone: 403-296-1624
Email: events@willowpark.net

Cost: $500.00 per ticket

I have been invited to the event, and if I can clear my schedule for that day, I will certainly do my best to attend!

Note: The Glenfarclas Distillery is located on the Recherlich Farm at Ballindalloch in the heart of Speyside. The Distillery was purchased by the Grant Family in 1865, and has remained in the control of the Grant Family for six generations up to the present day. In fact, Glenfarclas is one of only a few distilleries remaining in Scotland which is independently family owned and managed.

Posted in Howls, Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: El Dorado (Golden Rum) Cream Liqueur

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 19, 2014

cream-liqueur-RDemerara County (in Guyana) is popular across the world for its rich, three hundred year history of rum production. Using a combination of old wooden stills in conjunction with modern stills and distilling techniques, Demerara Distillers Ltd. (DDL), has built a reputation for outstanding quality and consistent production. In fact, Demerara Distillers is the currently the largest supplier of bulk Caribbean Rum to Europe and North America.

One of the specialty products produced by Demerara Distillers is El Dorado (Golden Rum) Cream Liqueur which the El Dorado website describes as:

“A rich Cream Liqueur made with 5 Year Old Demerara Golden Rum.”

The spirit is of course a creamy liqueur which melds authentic El Dorado Rum with real dairy cream and natural flavours and spices. It is bottled at 15 % alcohol by volume, and occupies the same market niche as Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Kahlua.

You may read my full review of the El Dorado (Golden Rum) Cream Liqueur here:

Review: El Dorado (Golden Rum) Cream Liqueur

“… I am pleased by the strength of the rum flavour which sits in front of rather than behind the more subtle flavours of milk chocolate and coffee. The robust flavour of El Dorado’s 5 Year Old Rum is definitely on display within the creme liqueur …”

Please enjoy the review remembering that it is not my intention with my writing to help you drink more spirits, it is my intention to help you to drink better spirits!

Cheers!

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

Schenley Golden Wedding Canadian Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 16, 2014

Golden WeddingSchenley Golden Wedding is a Canadian Whisky produced at the Black Velvet Distillery in Lethbridge, Alberta for Constellation Brands. The spirit is one of Constellation’s economy Canadian Whisky brands, and when I encounter the spirit in the local liquor stores it usually occupies the bottom shelf of the Canadian Whisky section of the store. Not only is it bottom shelf, the brand has such a low profile, that I can not even find it represented as a whisky brand on Constellation’s website. It is almost as if the company has forgotten it.

Canadian CoolerI have over the past few years received several requests from readers to review Golden Wedding, and after a sample came my way earlier this summer, I have finally found the time to fulfill this desire.

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

Review: Schenley Golden Wedding Canadian Whisky

“… I notice the Golden Wedding has a light amber colour, and that the breezes above the glass contain a mixture of peppery rye spice, toffee, caramel and light wisps of corn syrup. There are also indications of fresh grain, sandalwood, chaff, vanilla, some intense honey and butterscotch …”

I hope you enjoy my latest review and the bar drink which accompanies it, the Canadian Cooler.

Cheers Everyone!

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

Review: Pisco El Gobernador

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 12, 2014

Gobernador SAM_1296Miguel Torres Chile was founded in 1979 by the Torres family. After a search for a suitable location found them a 100 hectare vineyard near the Andes Mountains, as well as cellar near the City of Curicó, the company began the work of producing their new Chilean wine. Their holdings in Chile have increased over time, and the company now has over 400 hectares in production on six different properties. Recently the company introduced their new Pisco El Gobernador (translation: the Governor), a distilled brandy (produced upon tradition copper pot stills) made from an equal mixture of Moscatel de Alejandra and Moscatel Rosada grape varietals. The final spirit is stored (or rested) for up to one year in stainless steel tanks after which it is filtered clear and then bottled.

Pisco Sour SAM_1295

Pisco Lime Sour

Pacific Wines and Spirits are the local distributors of the Miguel Torres brand in Western Canada, and they provided me with much of the background information for this review. Miguel Torres is well-known for their wine and brandy production in Spain (having produced wine for more close to 150 years and having owned vineyards for more than 300 years).

Here is a link to my full review for Miguel Torres Chile’s, Pisco El Gobernador:

Review Pisco El Gobernador

“When I brought the glass to my nose, I noticed the breezes above the glass were tinged with a candied fruitiness which held a strong influences of green grapes, and milder influences of orange peel, dry apricots and canned peaches. Within the candied, fruit-like scents there was also a mild agave-like accent which featured the light, but distinctive aroma of white pepper and a very mild earthy agave fruit scent which reminds me of steamed squash and grilled eggplant.”

I hope everyone enjoys my newest review of this fascinating spirit from Chile, and of course I hope you enjoy my suggested cocktail, the Pisco Lime Sour. Cheers Everyone and Happy Thanksgiving!

Note: I would like to thank all those who offered words of encouragement over the past six weeks. Although the issues which have prevented me from writing reviews over that time frame are not completely resolved, some stability has returned, and I feel comfortable returning to my website. I am of course very far behind in my writing with many spirits in my review queue, and I thank all those companies who have sent me samples for their patience and understanding.

Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Pisco Review | Leave a Comment »

Leave of Absence

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 15, 2014

Here is just a quick note to let everyone know I will be back to writing reviews soon. Some family health issues have required (and still require) my attention and support, and so I have taken a brief Leave of Absence.

Posted in Howls | 12 Comments »

Gin and Tonic Challenge – Sahara Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 26, 2014

Sahara and Tonic SAM_1258Highwood Distillers, who provided my recent sample of Sahara Dry Gin, is a Canadian distillery situated in the town of High River, Alberta, which lies just about 40 minutes due south of Calgary, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The distillery was originally established as the Sunnyvale Distillery in 1974, however it was renamed ‘Highwood Distillers’ in 1984 linking the Distillery geographically to the nearby Highwood River and the scenic foothills in which the Town of High River is situated.

Sahara Dry Gin is produced in the London Dry style from Canadian prairie wheat and naturally sourced Rocky Mountain water. Juniper, Citrus of Lemon, and other botanicals are all added during the final distillation. The gin is as described, very dry; so dry in fact, that the folks at Highwood Distillers named it Sahara.

When I reviewed this local gin I was quite taken in by its lightly bitter, softly dry nature, and I was very enthusiastic about the cocktails which I constructed which included a Lime Fizz, a Lime Gimlet, and of course a Gin and Tonic. During this challenge (about half way through it actually), when I made my G&T cocktail with the Sahara Gin, I was taken in all over again. It was so good that I made the decision to delay its published score such that I could sample it head to head against the other G&T cocktails which populated my leader board, and use it as the yard stick by which I would judge the other Gin and Tonics by. A few of the G&T cocktails which I made came close, but none measured up to the wonderful G&T made with the Sahara Dry Gin.

I think, and I am only guessing here, that it is the wheat base for the gin is what makes everything work so well. Although the Sahara Gin is very dry, it has a softness and a mellow quality which I have noticed before in spirits distilled from wheat. It is this softness combined with the dryness that is making me like the gin so much. In fact in my review, I concluded that this is a paradigm shifting gin which softly rocked my cocktail world!

All of the results from my head to head sampling is completed, and the Best Gin for Gin and Tonic Cocktails is Highwood’s Sahara Dry Gin with an outstanding G&T Score of 91.5/100.

All of my Scores for the Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge can be found here:

Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge

As well you may read my newly published review of Sahara Dry Gin here:

Review: Sahara Dry Gin

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Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Gin and Tonic Challenge – The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 25, 2014

The BotanistBot and Tonic SAM_1260 is the creation of Bruichladdich Master Distiller, Jim McEwan whom I had the opportunity to meet and talk to this past fall when he came to Edmonton to host an exclusive Bruichladdich Tasting at our city’s historic Chateau Louis Hotel. Although the focus of the tasting seminar was the new range of Bruichladdich Single Malt whiskies, Jim did include his new Botanist Islay Dry Gin in the flight of spirits. In fact he spent more than a little time describing to us how the distillery had come to the decision to produce this gin and his own personal journey of discovery which he underwent while he went through the process of researching and producing the first Islay Dry Gin. (Jim McEwan even admitted to trading some of his prized Single Malt Scotch with one of the industries venerable gin producers in return for some of his gin secrets.)

At the end of the tasting, I was invited to talk to Jim, and he offered to pour me another glass of my favourite spirit from the tasting. Although, I had tasted a range of Single Malts which included spirits 12 years old (and older), Mr. McEwan did not seem at all surprised when I asked for a second glass of The Botanist straight up with no ice. It was, in my opinion, the star of the afternoon.

I finished my review of this lovely gin last night after and one of my conclusions was that it is not only a great cocktail gin, it is also equally enjoyable as a sipping spirit which is most unusual in the gin category.  of course this means, it scored rather well in my G&T Challenge landing near the very top of the leader board.

My G&T Score for the Botanist Gin is a very high 90.5/100 points.

By now you all know that you do not have to keep track of these scores yourself, as I have constructed a separate page to keep a running tally of all scores as they are published:

Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge

As well you may read my newly published review of The Botanist Islay Dry Gin here:

Review: The Botanist Islay Dry Gin

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Note: I received my sample bottle of The Botanist Gin from the local distributor, Select Wines.

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Gin and Tonic Challenge – Dictador Ortodoxy and Tonic

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 24, 2014

Ortodoxy and tonic SAM_1248Dictador Ortodoxy Aged Gin is the result of the passion of former President of Dictador, Dario Parra, who had during his many travels in the United Kingdom developed a tremendous love for gin. Dario studied many gin recipes and when he arrived back home in Colombia he developed a gin for his own personal use, utilizing traditional ingredients in conjunction with berries and botanicals native to Colombia. Dario Parra’s passion resulted in the creation of two aged gins which are now sold internationally, Dictador Treasure, and Dictador Ortodoxy.

Dictador Ortodoxy has been constructed to have a traditional, or orthodox, flavour profile which will be familiar to gin enthusiasts. This gin is produced from sugar cane alcohol which is distilled 4 times to 96 % alcohol by volume. During the 5th distillation each botanical is macerated and distilled separately before being blended. The blended gin is then aged for 35 weeks in previously used rum barrels, and then filtered clear to be bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume.

When I reviewed this gin earlier in the summer, I admitted to being blown away by how it performed in a standard G & T cocktail. It should not be surprising then, that the Dictador Ortodoxy and Tonic has received a very high score in this competition, in fact with only a few more gins to go in my challenge, it has rocketed to the top of the pack being the first gin to score in the 90’s!

The G&T Score for the Dictador Ortodoxy Aged Gin, based on my standard G & T cocktail is an outstanding 91/100.

Just so you do not have to keep track of these scores yourself, I have constructed a separate page to keep a running tally of all scores as they are published, and you may refer to that page here:

Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge

As well you may read my published review of Dictador Ortodoxy Aged Gin here:

Review: Dictador Ortodoxy Aged Gin

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Note: I was provided a sample bottle of Dictador Ortodoxy Gin for this challenge by Thirsty Cellar Imports, who are responsible for its importation here in Alberta.

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Gin and Tonic Challenge – Ungava Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 23, 2014

Ungava and Tonic SAM_1257Ungava 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.

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.

The flavour of the Ungava Gin represents a nice melding of piny bitterness and herbaceous spiciness with lemon citrus. The floral elements within serve more as an accent than as a main attraction. I found myself drawn to the complex flavour profile which was moderately aggressive and perhaps much more traditional than I expected. And as far as G&T cocktails go, the Ungava rocks out a strong piny mixed drink, full of character.

My G&T Score for the Ungava Gin is 88.5/100, a score which puts this Canadian Spirit with its unique northern botanicals near the top of the leader board.

You may find a running tally of all of the G&T Scores here:

Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge

As well you may read my published review of Ungava Gin here:

Review: Ungava Gin

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Note: I was provided a sample bottle of Ungava Gin for this challenge by Crush Imports, who are responsible for its importation here in Alberta.

Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Gin and Tonic Challenge – No. 3 London Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 22, 2014

London No. 3 SAM_1251Berry Bros. & Rudd is London’s oldest wine and spirits merchant with over 300 years of experience and tradition to draw on. Using this expertise and a team of spirits experts they created No. 3 London Dry Gin. I first sampled the No. 3 Gin a few years ago at a store called Lacombe Park Spirits in St. Albert, Alberta. I had come to know the proprietors, Karim and his brother Jeff, quite well, and when Karim discovered that I was about to venture into a series of Gin reviews he insisted that I try one of his favourites. I was convinced after one sip that this was a gin which I wanted to review, and after contacting the website for No. 3 London Dry Gin, Ross Hendry from Berry Brothers & Rudd, arranged for me to receive a bottle sample with the help of the local distributor Charton Hobbs.

No. 3 London Dry Gin uses only 6 botanicals in its construction, Juniper, Spanish Orange Peel, Grapefruit Peel, Angelica Root, Coriander, and Cardamom Pods. In my review, I note how each of these botanicals (with the juniper taking a strong lead) leaves its imprint upon the spirit, and how in particular, the dry juniper flavour shone through the cocktails I built. When I built a few G&T cocktails this past  weekend with my sample bottle of No. 3 Gin I again noticed the strong flavour of the gin running through the mixed drink. In fact an obvious ribbon of juniper permeated the cocktail which gave the drink a firm lightly bitter flavour and somewhat drier than usual mouth feel. It is of course a matter of taste; but I found that light bitter dryness of the G & T cocktail extremely refreshing. I did, at the same time however, find that the elegant simplicity of this London Dry Gin seemed to be (for my palate anyways) better suited to be mixed in a Dry Martini. And to be honest, that will be the more likely destiny of the rest of my sample bottle.

My G&T Score for the No. 3 London Dry Gin is a solid 86/100. If I was to award a Dry Martini Score, it would have been much higher (perhaps next year).

You may find a running tally of all of the G&T Scores here:

Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge

As well you may read my published review of London Number. 3 Gin here:

Review: No. 3 London Dry Gin

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Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

 
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