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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

Rum Howler 2014 #7 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve (Lot 1525)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014I have been inside the Highwood Distillery’s aging warehouse, and have seen up close the barrels of whisky stacked four levels high, row upon row. The wonderful aroma of the ‘angels share’ permeates the facility, and it offered me a gentle intoxication if only I were to stay a little longer. Perhaps, one day I will return and stay just a little longer; but, for now I am content to carry the memory of that heady aroma in my mind.

Somewhere in that barrel aging warehouse is a darkened corner where all of the oak barrels are all stamped “Lot 1525“. This  corner contains the oldest whisky in the entire facility, with the age of the whisky inside the barrels ranging  from 15 to 25 or more years. (It has been hinted to me that some of these barrels contain whisky that is up to 33 years old!) These whisky barrels were originally part of the consignment of whisky acquired when Highwood purchased the Potters Distillery in 2005. As such, these are barrels of whisky produced from the corn-based distillate in Kelowna, British Colombia.

Century Reserve 1525 SAM_1403These barrels made the journey to the Highwood facility in 2005 (from the Potter’s facility in Kelowna BC), and have been sitting in that darkened corner waiting to be tapped and bottled. When the time is right, Highwood’s Master Blender carefully chooses the right barrels, and then carefully blends the wonderful elixir within to create Lot 1525 Century Reserve Custom Blend Canadian Rye Whisky.

The spirit represents a gem of a whisky from those folks in High River, and this whisky is ranked Number 7 in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is a link to the review I posted on August 28, 2010:

#7 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve (Lot 1525)

“… A beautiful amber hue seems to accent a lovely honey and caramel aroma rising from the glass. Wonderful mellow rye notes accompany the honey and the caramel and a light bourbon vanilla seems to drift above the glass in the breezes.  The impact of nosing the glass is a well received feeling of luxury, and elegance which is divine …”

My review for the Century Reserve (Lot 1525) has remained unchanged for over four years despite several tasting session over this time when I chose to revisit the brand. Whereas I seem to notice subtle changes in other spirits over time, this particular whisky seems to maintain consistency from batch to batch and from year to year. In 2010 it was a great whisky, and now in 2014 it remains so.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

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

Rum Howler 2014 # 7 Rum – El Dorado 12 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Demerara 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 rums to Europe and North America.

El Dorado 12 SAM_1389The El Dorado 12 Year Old Special Reserve Rum is blended from aged stocks (the youngest being no less than 12 years old) from the original Wooden Enmore Coffey still, the original metal Diamond Coffey still, as well as from the ancient Port Mourant double wooden pot still which was used to produce ‘navy’ rum for the English Admiralty. All of the Demerara Rum produced by El Dorado is aged exclusively in American oak (bourbon barrels).

Checking in as the 2014 – 7th best rum in the world (that I have tasted anyways), here is my review for the El Dorado 12 Year Old Rum:

# 7 Rum – El Dorado 12 Year Old

” … This rum enters my mouth with a spicy sweet baking spice explosion. Deep dark brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and hints of orange peel and citrus fruit lay upon a foundation of oak and wood spices. Rich tobacco accents the flavour and some luscious dark fruit (dates and raisins) finds its way into the flavour profile …

I have tried this rum in different settings and in a few cocktails, and it pleases me almost completely every time. I find that the sweetness of the rum is perfectly balanced with the spicy oakiness, and I also appreciate that the flavour of the El Dorado 12 Year Old remains robust and complex yet very approachable.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Rums of 2014 here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Rums of 2014

Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #8 Canadian Whisky – Alberta Springs

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 17, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Alberta Springs is produced  by Alberta Distillers Limited (ADL). It is a rye forward whisky aged for 10 years just west of the Rocky Mountains at the ADL facilities in Calgary Alberta. When I met Rick Murphy, the Production Superintendent at ADL , he explained the heritage of Alberta Springs to me, how it started as a 10 Year Old pure rye whisky, and then how economics dictated a move to rye as well as corn in the 90s.

Alberta Springs SAM_1399But, Rick steadfastly maintained that the whisky is currently (and has always been) a predominantly rye based whisky with a consistent taste profile. He also explained how his computerized dials and gauges in the distillery, and his quality assurance tasting panel, ensure that the flavour does not change as the mash bill may change slightly over time. Rick Murphy also made it very clear to me during the tour I was given in 2012, that of all the whiskies he makes at ADL, Alberta Springs was his favourite.

I happen to agree with Rick, that Alberta Springs is a great Canadian Whisky. This year it has landed at the number 8 spot in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is my latest review:

#8 Canadian Whisky – Alberta Springs

“… The initial mouth-feel is slightly dryish as the whisky begins with flavours of dusty rye and light flavours of caramel toffee. The oak is present and brings forward some light orange peel and vanilla as well as hints of tobacco which are not as firm in the flavour as they were in the aroma. I taste a light mustiness, and  I taste a hint of honey sweetness …”

Whenever I relax in the evening with a glass Alberta Springs Whisky and a well placed ice-cube with just a splash of ginger-ale, I must admit this particular whisky is hard to beat.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

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

Rum Howler 2014 # 8 Rum – Juan Santos 21 Year

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 17, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014The rums of Juan Santos are produced in Colombia, South America by Santana Liquors. The 21 Year Antigua Reserva is a molasses based rum which has been apparently been aged  for 21 years in used whisky and bourbon barrels from Kentucky. At this time the Juan Santos brand is available only in Western Canada, although the Ron Santero brand from Santana Liquors is available in other markets.

Juan Santos 21 SAM_1397Although the Juan Santos brand is relatively unknown outside of the Western Canadian market I have discovered that these rum brings an astounding level of smoothness and depth to the rum glass.

Here is my review of the Number 8 Rum in my 2014 Top 25 Rum Countdown:

# 8 Rum – Juan Santos 21 Year

“… Soft caramel notes are mingled with light spices, and the whiskey character I noted in the breezes above the glass has in fact melted into the rum creating a buttery praline cream. The result is a well-balanced rum with remarkably deep flavour. Vague hints of almonds and cinnamon are apparent with ghostlike vestiges of caramel, nutmeg, allspice, and rye spice …”

Juan Santos 21 Year Old Rum is one of the very smoothest rum I have encountered. The balance is wonderful, as the various flavours the rum possesses seem to melt and merge into each other such that individual flavours were very hard to discern. This mixing and melting of flavours results in a truly wonderful rum. Just about perfect!

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Rums of 2014 here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Rums of 2014

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #9 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Legacy

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 16, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Wiser’s Legacy Canadian Whisky (a Corby Brand) was released in early 2010 as a new entry into the fledgling “Super Premium” category of Canadian Whisky. At the time, a few other Super Premium Whiskies already existed in the market-place (Wiser’s own Red Letter, and Crown Royal’s, Cask No. 16 and Crown Royal  XR); but the category hadn’t really caught the buying public’s imagination. In fact the Super Premium category had seen more disappointments than successes to that point (at least as far as Canadian Whisky was concerned). However the tipping point for the category seems to have been the year 2010, and the brand which (in my opinion) which helped the most to bring about a this change was Wiser’s Legacy.

Wiser's LegacyAt that time,  what the Super Premium category needed as far as  Canadian Whisky was concerned was a spirit which would be worth the hype. And in a nutshell, Wiser’s Legacy was. This whisky is produced from a rye forward mash bill (Canadian rye, rye malt and barley malt) using a slow copper pot distillation technique which was ‘fine-tuned’ to capture the very specific flavours and aromas during distillation. The new oak barrels used to age the resulting distillate were lightly toasted rather than heavily charred to help bring more of these specific flavours forward.

When I was tasting all of my Canadian Whisky spirits side by side as part of my deliberations for this countdown series, I noted that Wiser’s Legacy seemed to be appealing to me much more than it had in the past. For this reason I rescored the whisky and updated my tasting notes.

Here is my updated review for the number 9 Canadian Whisky in my countdown:

Review: Wiser’s Legacy Canadian Whisky

“… The aroma from the glass is rich in rye spice and caramel toffee, with a subtle corn and bourbon influence. The oak is very apparent as well, bring sappy notes of oak and cedar forward as well as rich damp tobacco. There are some nice indications of baking spices (vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon) as well as vague impressions of baked muffins full of banana, walnuts and chocolate chips. The aroma certainly lives up to the impressive bottle …”

The Legacy is extremely interesting because it is such a departure from a regular Canadian whisky. There is a great deal of complexity introduced by the young oak and this is definitely a giant step towards a more defined bourbon taste profile. It seems that this taste profile has grown on me over the past four years. I suspect it will grow on you as well!

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

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

Rum Howler 2014 # 9 Rum – Rum Nation Caroni 1998

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 16, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014The Caroni Distillery in Trinidad and Tobago was established in 1918, and was operated at near full capacity until 1993. Unfortunately, due to industry consolidation, rum production at the facility began to decline late in the 20th century and the distillery was closed in 2002. As a matter of interest, the consolidation of the rum industry during the last two centuries is amply illustrated in Trinidad and Tobago where there this small country featured 50 distilleries at the turn of the 19th century. One hundred and fifty years later (in 1950) only 8 had survived, and today there is but one, Angostura. It seems a pity that so much tradition and history has vanished. Although I guess we can count ourselves lucky that some of the rum barrels from the Caroni distillery are still finding their way into the market place.

Rum Nation Caroni 1998-2014The Rum Nation Caroni 1998 is one such offering from the folks at Rum Nation. This is an old-style heavy column still rum which was distilled in 1998 and aged for nine years in American Oak casks on the Caribbean Island of Trinidad. From this tropical locale, the rum was transported to Europe for further aging in  refill American Oak (bourbon) casks which had been also previously used to age Rum Peruno (8YO). The resulting Rum Nation Caroni 1998 rum was bottled at cask strength (55 % alcohol by volume).

Here is my review:

# 9 Rum – Rum Nation Caroni 1998

 “… I noticed firm oak firm oak scents drifting upwards alongside equally firm notes of baking spice (vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, and a touch of cinnamon) and molasses/licorice stained caramel toffee. I left the glass to sit and breathe and noticed that the oak I had sensed in the breezes grew stronger demonstrating scents of freshly cut wooden planks which were dripping with wood sap …”

This Rum Nation Caroni 1998 rum is very pleasing indulgence with an original, albeit somewhat dry and bitter flavour profile. Fortunately there is just the right amount of sweetness present to offset the bitter and I found myself quite smitten with the overall result.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Rums of 2014 here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Rums of 2014

Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #10 Canadian Whisky – Pendleton 1910

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 15, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Pendleton 1910 Canadian Whisky is a 100 % Canadian Whisky. The spirit is produced and aged in Calgary Alberta, and then transported to Oregon where it is brought to bottling proof by Hood River Distillers using the glacial fed waters from Mt. Hood. The whisky is named to honour the year of the very first Pendleton Round-up, which is a respected rodeo in Pendleton, Oregon. In fact, Pendleton Whisky sponsors numerous rodeos, including the aforementioned  the Pendleton Round-Up, the Cheyenne Frontier Days, and the Walla Walla Frontier Days.

SAM_0916According to the company website, the whisky is crafted from 100 % rye, distilled and oak-aged in Canada for 12 years. (I was able to confirm that the whisky is distilled by Alberta Distillers Limited (ADL) in Calgary, Alberta. ADL is the largest distiller of rye whisky in the world.)

We have hit the top 10 in my countdown and Pendleton 1910 is the second 100 % rye whisky to be recognized as one of Canada’s Best.

Here is my most recent review:

#10 Canadian Whisky – Pendleton 1910

“… The Pendleton 1910 is sweet and spicy. It displays sweet honey and butterscotch complimented beautifully by a spicy oak and rye presence. I taste real cereal grain in the glass, mostly rye grain, but also hints of sweeter corn. Fresh tobacco, sandalwood, cardamom and ginger add to the spicy rye flavour …”

Pendleton 1910 reminds me of why I love rye whisky!  The combination of spicy rye and sweet butterscotch is just about perfect for me.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

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

Rum Howler 2014 # 10 Rum – Reimonenq Vieux 9 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 15, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Distillerie Reimonenq (also referred to as Musee Du Rhum) was founded in 1916 by the Reimonenq family. The distillery, like most others on Guadeloupe, produces Rhum Agricole from distilled sugar cane juice. The fresh-cut cane is crushed by electric mills and the resulting ‘honey’ undergoes a 24 to 48 hour fermentation in open air vessels. The fermented ‘wine’ is distilled in a stainless steel column in the traditional french manner.

Reimonenq 1999 SAM_1385Unfortunately for the rest of the world, this particular bottling seems to be only available in Italy (and in other small pockets of Europe), however the following review hopefully will provide some insight into the taste profile of the Guadeloupe Rhum produced at the Reimonenq Distillery.

Here is my write-up of the number 10 rhum in the world:

# 10 Rum – Reimonenq Vieux 9 Year Old

“… The rhum enters the mouth with the same intensity which it displayed in the breezes above the glass. I taste first and foremost the spicy sap of fresh wood chips, however, there is an obvious butterscotch sweetness which permeates the spirit, and this provides a counterbalance to the spicy rush of flavour …”

The Reimonenq Vieux 9 Year Old Rhum is wonderful complex, full flavoured, sipping spirit. What a pity that the spirit is not available in North America!

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Rums of 2014 here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Rums of 2014

Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #11 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve 21 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 14, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014In November of 2005, Highwood Distilleries Ltd. finalized the purchase of Potters Distilleries (founded by Ernie Potter in 1958). Part of this acquisition, was the purchase of all of the remaining barrel aged stocks of whisky in the Potters facility. These barrels of whisky were transferred from the Potters warehouse facilities in Kelowna, B.C. to the newly constructed warehouse facility in High River, Alberta, where they were allowed to continue to age at the foot of the Rocky Mountains on the western edge of the Canadian Prairies. The whisky brands which Potters had established (Century and Potters) were added to the Highwood portfolio.

Century_Reserve_21_Yr_-_shadowCentury Reserve 21 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky, is a premium a 21-year-old single grain corn whisky. Those old Potter’s stocks from which this whisky is drawn (produced, I believe from a single bond) have been slowly aging with the result that the age of this whisky has been increasing each year even though the label still says 21 Year Old.

I am a big fan of Highwood Distillers and their great whiskies, their Century Reserve 21 Year Old checks in as the 11th best Canadian Whisky of 2014!

#11 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve 21 Year Old

“… The breezes above the glass are luscious. Indications of roasted corn-0n-the-cob, rich oak spices, toffee, butterscotch, and tobacco all rise up to greet my nose. As the whisky breathes, those scents and smells above the glass become even richer with oak sap, stronger tobacco accents, marmalade and hints of vanilla pudding marrying themselves into the overall aroma …”

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

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

Rum Howler 2014 # 11 Rum – Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solera) Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 14, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Ron Zacapa rums are made from sugar cane harvested in southern Guatemala, which is pressed into virgin sugar cane honey. They are aged using a process they call ‘Sistema Solera’ which is based on the system used to age Spanish sherry. Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solera) is blended from solera aged stocks which range in age from 6 years to 23 years. The aging barrels used are a mixture of American Whisky casks, and Sherry and Pedro Ximenez wine barrels. The combination of solera aging and the variety of reused barrels creates a highly complex rum with a rich aroma and flavour.

Ron Zacapa 23 SoleraThis year I took the opportunity to revisit a newer bottling of the Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solera) Rum as part of my Top Rums of 2014 Countdown series which I have been conducting through the month of December. My understanding based upon previous conversations with Zacapa Master Blender, Lorena Vásquez is that the flavour of the Ron Zacapa Rum varies slightly from year to year. Therefore, we may expect some differences in the rum since that last review over two years ago.

Based upon my latest scoring, Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solera) Rum, checks into my Top 25 rum countdown as the 11th best rum of 2014.

Here is a link to my latest review:

 # 11 Rum – Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solera) Rum

“… The initial aroma which rises from the glass is full of brown sugar, molasses and baking spices. Some lightly sharp notes of orange and banana peel work their way upwards with a mixture of crushed walnuts, and dried fruit (raisins, dates and a touch of prunes) …”

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Rums of 2014 here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Rums of 2014

Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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