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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

Gin and Tonic Challenge – Hendrick’s and Tonic

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 14, 2014

Hendrick's and Fever Tree Tonic

Hendrick’s and Fever Tree Tonic

The people who make Hendrick’s Gin pride themselves on being  just a little quirky, and perhaps a bit eccentric. Their offbeat website revels in the odd and the peculiar and tries to convince all who peruse the site that Hendrick’s Gin is special exactly because of the things which make it odd and peculiar.

The gin is produced in Scotland, in the village of Girvin, Ayrshire by William Grant & Sons (who are perhaps better known for their whisky distillations than their gin).  It is made in small batches (450 litre batch size) using two unusual stills, a copper Bennett Still which has been dated to 1860, and a Carter-Head still made in 1948. These stills each serve a different purpose, but together they create a unique gin made with 11 different botanicals, and infused with cucumber and rose petals one batch at a time.

When I reviewed the Hendrix Gin I noted that the spirit had an assertive taste profile which seemed to demand more of me than my mood wished to give. Rather than being endeared to its peculiar nature, I was baffled by the peculiar flavour, and a winding bitterness which ran through the gin. This had rather unfortunate consequences for my Gin and Tonic Challenge as I found that the standard G & T cocktail I constructed with Hendrick’s Gin for my challenge carried those baffling characteristics through the Hendrick’s and Tonic Cocktail (see note below).

As a result, my G&T Score for Hendrix Gin is 74/100 pts.

As you already know, 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 Hendrick’s Gin here:

Review: Hendrick’s Gin

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As an aside, earlier this spring, I recommended an an alternate G & T construction for this gin (shown above) whereby I mixed Hendrick’s with the much sweeter Fever Tree Tonic rather than with crisp drier, Q Tonic. The extra sweetness of the Fever Tree helps to combat the natural bitterness of Hendricks Gin and results in a very nice Gin and Tonic Cocktail.

However, I decided earlier, that for the purposes of consistency in this challenge, I am basing my G & T scores for this challenge only upon cocktails made with Q Tonic which is much more readily available to me and which I find extremely refreshing and very delicious.

Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Gin and Tonic Challenge – London No. 1 and Tonic

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 13, 2014

SAM_1232London No. 1 Original Blue Gin is a product of Gonzalas Byass who are a Spanish wine & cellars company which also produces a variety of distilled spirits including brandy, anisette, botanical vodka and of course gin. Their gin is triple distilled (from English grain in London, England) on a traditional pot still in small batches by Master Distiller, Charles Maxwell. According to the London No. 1 website the gin is distilled with 12 key botanicals which include: Juniper from Croatia; Angelica root and Savory from France; Coriander from Morocco; Cassia bark from China, Liquorice from Turkey, Cinnamon from Ceylon, Almond from Greece; and Lemon peel, Orange peel, Lily root and Bergamot from Italy.

The product was first test marketed in Spain, and has since been launched in limited quantities internationally including here in Canada. It is bottled at 47 % alcohol by volume ensuring a more concentrated flavour than more traditional spirits which are bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

When I reviewed London No. 1 Blue Gin, I noted the spirit had strong floral flavours rippling though flavour profile and a building spiciness, which (the spiciness in particular) seemed ideally suited for cocktails. And although the strong floral characteristic of London No. 1 may seem similar to what I described yesterday when I wrote about another blue gin, Magellan Iris Flavoured Gin, I found that the floral characteristic withing London No. 1 Gin was softer and less perfume-like such that the the spirit was (in my opinion) much nicer in all manner of cocktails including the Gin and Tonic. This suitability of London No. 1 Blue Gin for mixology is positively reflected in my G & T Score for the Rum Howler Gin and Tonic Challenge.

This G&T Score for the London No. 1 Blue Gin, (based on my standard G & T cocktail) is 84/100.

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 London No. 1 Blue Gin here:

Review: London No. 1 Blue Gin

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Note: I was provided a bottle for this challenge by Woodman Wines and Spirits Inc. who are the distributors of London No. 1 Gin in Ontario.

 

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Gin And Tonic Challenge – Magellan Iris Flavoured Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 12, 2014

Magellan and Tonic SAM_1245Magellan Iris Flavoured Gin is a French spirit imported into North America by Crillon Importers Ltd. The gin is named to pay homage to Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer whose expeditions on behalf of King Charles I of Spain, led to the first circumnavigation of the globe. Magellan’s travels were in search of a westward route to the Spice Islands (also known as the Maluka Islands of Indonesia). Magellan’s Expedition around the world brought back three barrels of cloves (although Ferdinand Magellan died before the trip was completed), and apparently cloves are an important ingredient in the overall flavour profile of the Magellan Gin.

Of course there is much more than cloves in the botanical mixture of this blue gin. In all eleven botanicals are listed on the Magellan Gin website. The gin itself is produced from a wheat based neutral spirit which was  generated from a three column still. The botanicals (except for the Iris flower) are wrapped in a special cloth and added to the neutral spirit which is then distilled for a fourth time in small batches upon a small artisanal copper pot still. After this fourth distillation, the gin is infused with Iris Root and Flower. The Iris flower imparts the lovely blue colour to the gin during this process.

In my review I became aware that the Iris flower imparted strong floral flavours to the gin which have an almost perfume-like intensity. This strong intense ‘hyacinth-like’ aroma and flavour winds through the spirit making sipping and cocktail construction difficult. I settled on making tall soda filled mixed drinks which tasted quite nice, but abandoned finer cocktails like the Lime Gimlet and the Gin Martini.

When making a Gin and Tonic for this challenge, I found I had to have a higher ration of Tonic Water to Gin than I usually like to settle down the intense flavour of the Iris flower. (I usually like my gin to tonic ratio to be almost 1:1)

As a result of the difficulties I had trying to mix a strong Gin and Tonic and finally settling for a weaker one, My G&T Score for the Magellan Iris Flavoured Gin was 79/100 pts.

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 Beefeater here:

Review: Magellan Iris Flavoured Gin


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Gin and Tonic Challenge – Beefeater and Tonic

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 8, 2014

Beefeater and TonicBeefeater London Dry Gin is currently produced in Kennington, a district of South East London, in the United Kingdom. The company has roots stretching back to 1820 when the Chelsea Distillery was constructed on Cale Street and served as the first home for Beefeater Gin. The founder of the company, James Burrough, was not born until 1835, and it was not until about 1876 that the Beefeater brand was created from gin produced at the Chelsea Distillery. Over time the brand has changed locations twice, first in 1908 to Hutton Road, and then in 1958 to its present location in Kennnington.

The Beefeater Gin website lists nine ingredients which are used to flavour the gin: juniper from the hills of Italy, Siberia and Macedonia, Seville orange peel, bitter almonds, ground orris root, coriander seeds, angelica (seeds and root), licorice and lemon peel.

In my review, I note that in other markets Beefeater is sold at 47 % alcohol by volume. In Canada however, Beefeater is sold at only 40 % alcohol by volume. This means that the Canadian version of Beefeater is a more subdued and gentle spirit than its counterparts in the rest of the world. The subdued nature of the spirit was reflected in my subdued enjoyment of Beefeater Gin during my review, and the Beefeater and Tonic Cocktail during this challenge. Even though my standard G & T recipe calls for a relatively high percentage of Gin in the final cocktail relative to other G & T constructions, I still found the Beefeater and Tonic lacked the punch of other G & T mixed drinks I have tasted thus far in the challenge.

My G&T Score for the Beefeater and Tonic based on my standard cocktail is 80.5/100.

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 Beefeater here:

Review: Beefeater Gin

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Gin and Tonic Challenge – Polo Club and Tonic

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 7, 2014

Polo Club and TonicThere is a growing movement in the past ten years by American distillers (particularly small micro distillers) to produce a new North American style of gin (American Dry Gin) which is less dependent upon juniper than traditional London Dry Gin. The new American Dry Gin is an attempt to feature a broader and more balanced flavour profile, and the chances are that some of you have already encountered and enjoyed this new style of gin. Although this new type of gin is still in its evolutionary phase, it promises to bring more variety into the gin category, and perhaps offers a new take on the classic Gin and Tonic.

Polo Club American Dry Gin is a product of Minhas Micro Distillery located in Munroe, Wisconsin. According to the press information provided to me by MCBSW Sales (agents for Polo Club in Alberta), their American Dry Gin is an artisan spirit crafted in small batches from “ultra clean neutral grain spirit” and steeped with botanicals which include juniper, lemon peel, coriander, and licorice. The neutral grain spirit is apparently distilled ten times using a patent pending process (US Patent Application Number 13/843036) on a copper pot still.

When I reviewed Polo Club earlier this spring, I noted that this particular gin appeared to carry a very assertive spiciness alongside the juniper which pushed its way through the cocktails I constructed. The influence of this additional spice was very apparent when I mixed my standard Gin and Tonic cocktail for the Polo Club. As a result, the Polo Club and Tonic has earned a very respectable G & T Score in my Rum Howler Gin and Tonic Challenge.

The G&T Score for the Polo Club American Dry Gin, based on my standard G & T cocktail is 85/100.

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 Polo Club American Dry Gin here (which includes my aforementioned standard Gin and Tonic Cocktail):

Review: Polo Club American Dry Gin

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Gin and Tonic Challenge – Tanqueray and Tonic (T&T)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 6, 2014

Tanqueray and TonicTanqueray Gin was originally produced by Charles Tanqueray in London, England in 1830 at the Bloomsbury Distillery. The distillery prospered through the nineteenth century; but after being in production for over one hundred years, it was badly damaged in the bombing raids of World War II by the German air force. One still survived, and this still affectionately called “Old Tom” was moved to the new facilities in Cameron, Scotland where Tanqueray gin is currently produced.

Tanqueray Gin, is a London Dry Gin distilled four times with the botanicals infused prior to the fourth distillation. According to the Tanqueray website: Juniper, Coriander, Angelica root and Licorice are the four major botanicals used in the gin’s construction. The spirit is bottled at different proofs for different regional markets, and as I live in Canada, the bottling proof  of my sample bottle is 40 % alcohol by volume.

When I reviewed the Tanqueray Gin I noted that everything about this gin is pleasing. It has a firm juniper flavour which is tempered and accented by a nice lemony spiciness and a gentle earthiness which lays underneath. As a cocktail gin, it mixes very easily into each of the classic bar drinks, the Lime Gimlet, the Dry Martini and of course the standard Gin and Tonic. I also noticed that when I replaced the lime in the G & T with a large squeeze of lemon (see recipe here), the results were equally impressive.

My G&T Score for the Tanqueray and Tonic is 86.5/100.

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 Tanqueray Gin here (which includes the aforementioned Gin and Tonic (Lemon) Cocktail ):

Review: Tanqueray Gin

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Gin and Tonic Challenge – Caorunn and Tonic

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 5, 2014

Caorunn and TonicCaorunn Gin (a product of Inver House Distillers) is hand-made in small batches (about 1,000 litres per batch). This Scottish gin features (six traditional botanicals; juniper berries, coriander seed, orange peel, lemon peel, angelica root, and cassia bark and five Celtic non traditional botanicals; rowan berries, heather, bog myrtle, dandelion, and coul blush apple). It is produced using a quadruple distilled grain spirit as its base, with the flavours from the hand-picked botanicals infused into the spirit when the distilled vapour of the final distillation passes through the trays of the Balmenach Distillery’s vintage 1920’s Copper Berry Chamber which of course contains the botanicals.

When I reviewed Caorunn Gin (April 2013) I found that although the spirit had a traditional flavour profile, this traditional flavour was accented by sharp wisps of dandelion and rowan berry flavours. I found these flavour accents mixed very well with lemon juice in the cocktails I constructed. Therefore, in addition to the standard Gin and Tonic  Cocktail (see recipe here) which I was using as my base mixed drink for the competition, I also constructed a modified Gin and Tonic cocktail for Caorunn Gin using a bit of lemon juice in conjunction with the Lime (see recipe here). It turned out that this alternate construction was my preferred G&T cocktail (see photo left) for the Caorunn Gin, and my G&T Score for this gin is based upon the preferred cocktail.

The G&T Score for the Caorunn Gin based on my preferred cocktail is 83.5/100.

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 Caorunn Gin here (which includes the aforementioned Gin and Tonic #3 Cocktail):

Review: Caorunn Gin

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Note: I should point out that this series of Gin and Tonic Challenge publications occurs in no particular order. Every day or so I shall grab one of the sample Gins from my review shelf and build one or two Gin and Tonics. If that particular gin has not been reviewed on my website, I will publish a review and I will also assign the spirit a G&T Cocktail Score out of 100. Only when all of the featured Gins are have been examined (one at a time) will I declare which Gin I feel is the Rum Howler 2014, best spirit for Gin and Tonics. I plan to have fun this August, I hope you do too!

 

 

 

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The Rum Howler named this Years Best Rum Blog!

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 20, 2014

best booze

Image courtesy The Savory

If you have ever bounced around from website to website looking for the best information about your favourite alcoholic beverages, then The Savory just made your life a little easier. Today their beverage team published the definitive list of the 8 Best Booze Blogs for 2014.

I am quite happy to report that my very own The Rum Howler Blog was selected as one of the best. In announcing his selections, Ross Gardiner, beverage editor for The Savory wrote me the following email message:

“Just stopping in to say that we love the website (The Rum Howler Blog) and that we mentioned that your site was the best rum blog online in an article we posted earlier today.”

Other online sites of note honoured as part this elite group were, Michael Kravitz’s – Diving for Pearls; Tom Fischer’s – The Bourbon Blog; Michael Kiser’s – Good Beer Hunting; Jon Thorsen’s – The Reverse Wine Snob; Emily Arden Wells’ – Gastronomista; Aaron Knoll’sThe Gin Is In; and the poignant website founded by a recovering alcoholic, The Spirit of Recovery. Each of these websites is an online gem, and I am very proud be included in their company.

Here is a link to The Savory article:

The 8 Best Booze Blogs to Read This Year

A special Thank You to all my readers who have been following and encouraging me. You have all helped me in making The Rum Howler Blog the Best Rum Blog in Cyberspace!

Cheers Everyone!

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Canadian Whisky Awards Announced!

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 17, 2014

2013-Canadian-Whisky-AwardsDuring the month of December, while I was publishing my list of the 2013 Rum Howler Top 25 Canadian Whiskies, I was also busy with another important Canadian Whisky project initiated by Author and fellow Whisky Blogger, Davin Der Kergomeaux. For the past 4 years Davin has organized the Canadian Whisky Awards. He assembles a North American Panel of Canadian Whisky Experts, arranges for all of them to receive a set of blind samples to be judged independently, and then amalgamates the scores into various categories depending upon the nature of the whisky, and the market for which it is intended. For the third year in a row, I was asked to be part of this panel, and I am happy to announce that results of the annual Canadian Whisky Awards Competition were announced Thursday evening at the Victoria Whisky Festival in Victoria, B.C..

Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still Canadian Whisky won the prestigious Canadian Whisky Awards – 2013 Whisky of the Year Award!

Lot No. 40 is distilled at the Hiram Walker Distillery in Windsor, Ontario from a 100% rye-grain recipe developed in the 19th century by Canadian pioneer distiller, Joshua Booth. In announcing the awards, Chairman of the Judges, Davin de Kergommeaux, called Lot No. 40,

“The very essence of what rye whisky is all about.”

Other top winners included Alberta Premium Dark Horse, Forty Creek Heart of Gold, Masterson’s Straight Rye Whiskey, Wiser’s Red Letter, and Crown Royal Black.

Here is a link to the full list of all of the Award Winners:

2014 Canadian Whisky Award Winners

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Note: I would like to thank Davin Der Kergomeaux for all of his hard work, and for allowing me to participate on his panel of judges once again this year. It was another great year for Canadian Whisky!

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The Rum Howler 2013 Regional Rum Awards

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 31, 2013

RH-winner2013Things have been pretty much been nonstop for me the last three months, and I covered so much territory that I almost ran out of time before I could publish my 2013 Rum Howler Regional Rum Awards and name my 2013 Rum Howler Rum of the Year!

For those who are unfamiliar, 2013 Regional Rum Awards recognize the best rum produced in the various rum producing regions of the world. These awards are not based upon where a particular rum is distilled; but rather they are based upon where these spirits are bottled. This is because many rums are actually blended from a variety stocks which are distilled in more than one country. As well, many aged rums are purchased in bulk and then are transported to be matured a further length of time in other locations, and they may even be treated specially (or perhaps I should say in a unique manner) before they are blended and bottled. This of course makes the final spirit very different from when it was originally distilled or transported in bulk. Because of the special treatment a rum may receive either through blending or aging outside of the country where the rum was originally produced, it makes sense for me to consider these spirits as a product of the country where they were bottled, rather than where they were distilled.

And so on the final day of the year I finally wrap up my Rum Howler Awards for 2013. You may click the following link to read about the awards::

The 2013 Rum Howler Awards for Rum (The Regional Awards)

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Note: As an added bonus you can find my recently updated 2013 list of the World’s Best Rums here: The 2013 Rum Howler – Top 30 Rums

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