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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

#18 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve 21 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 8, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYIn 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 and have recently been expanded upon.

Century_Reserve_21_Yr_-_shadowAccording to the information provided me when I reviewed this whisky the first time, Century Reserve 21 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky, is a premium a 21-year-old single grain corn whisky. This makes the Century Reserve something of a rarity upon the landscape of Canadian Whisky as there are very few single grain whiskies produced in Canada. It is also true that this whisky serves a very good example of how wonderful and tasty our Canadian Whisky can be. The 2013 bottling of the Century Reserve 21 Year Old arrives on my Christmas Countdown as the Number 18 Canadian Whisky!

Here is a link to my newly written review of the most recent bottling made available to me:

#18 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve 21 Year Old (2013)

“… 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 …”

Note: Although I did not include a cocktail suggestion at the conclusion of my new review, if you are inclined to break through the boundaries of rigid convention, I would heartily endorse the Century Reserve 21 Year Old consumed in the manner of the Old Fashioned Cocktail.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

#19 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Small Batch

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 7, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYWiser’s Small Batch Canadian Whisky was released in the fall of 2008 replacing the Wiser’s Reserve. There were a few important differences in Wiser’s Small Batch which made it something of a market leader as far Canadian Whisky was concerned. First, because this whisky is made in small batches using traditional distilling methods, the moniker ‘Small Batch’ was attached to the name. Secondly, although this whisky does not sit in the ‘super premium’ tier, its bottling strength was increased to 43.4 % from the traditional 40 %. On both these counts the industry seems to be catching up with Wiser’s as small batch production whiskies and higher bottling strength whiskies are both becoming more and more common.

WisersSmBatch-Oct12-lgThis year a new bottle was unveiled for the Wiser’s Small Batch. Although the bottle changed, the quality inside seems to have remained intact as Wiser’s Small Batch is the Number 19 whisky in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown:

Here is a link to my recently written 2013 review:

#19 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Small Batch

“… Wiser’s Small Batch is soft and supple on the tongue with hot oak spices which carry a bevy of flavour along for the ride across the palate. I taste some fresh oak and cedar; some sweet caramel, butterscotch and maple; soft corn and spicy rye; some light impressions of honeycomb and tobacco, and some delicious canned fruit (marmalade, apricots and pears) …”

The Wiser’s Small Batch is a great example of how tasty our inexpensive Canadian Whisky can be. It has a wonderful richness and depth of flavour, and I like the higher bottling strength which helps to concentrate these flavours, making them more assertive. In spite of the higher alcohol percentage, the whisky is smooth like Canadian whisky should be and a real pleasure to sip.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

#20 Canadian Whisky – Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 6, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYDanfield’s Canadian Whisky is produced in the City of Lethbridge in my home Province of Alberta. It is produced for Williams & Churchill by Schenley Distilleries Inc. at the Black Velvet Distillery, (also referred to locally as the Palliser Distillery). Williams and Churchill are not distillers themselves, rather they appear to be a third-party company which owns the Danfield’s Brand. The 21 Year Old is a small batch whisky produced from rye, corn and malted barley. It is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume and prior to bottling, the whisky is apparently “diamond filtered” to add further polish to the whisky.

SAM_0833 Dan 21I am not sure what ‘diamond filtering’ accomplishes; however, I do know that aging a Canadian Whisky for 21 years usually reaps great rewards. Apparently my judging panel agrees, and Danfield’s 21 year Old Whisky checks in at Number 20 on my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is a link to a recent review of mine:

#20 Canadian Whisky – Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year Old

“…  The rye continues to pour out with the scent becoming earthier as it changes from a clean dry rye to a thick fruit-filled rye over the course of the nosing. Hints of marzipan and orange peel come forward as does a nice underlying nuttiness which reminds me of the wild hazelnuts which grown around the lakes in west-central Alberta …”

The Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 year Old Canadian Whisky is a classic Canadian Whisky in every sense of the word. Although it is a rye forward whisky, the flavour elements of dank corn and nutty barley also ripple through the whisky providing the full grain spectrum of Canadian Whisky Flavour.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

#21 Canadian Whisky – Coyote Ugly

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 5, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYOn January 27, 1993, Wall Street intern, Liliana Lovell opened the first Coyote Ugly Saloon in New York City. If you watched the Jerry Bruckheimer movie Coyote Ugly (released in 2000), then you know all about this place where the waitresses, called ‘Coyote Girls’, serve the drinks, dance and sing, and even (apparently) down shots of whisky with the customers. According to the movie, at the Coyote Ugly Saloon, things are kept pretty simple. The drinks are served straight up with no frills (unless you call things like girls dancing on the bar a frill). They don’t use soda for mix; they don’t even add a drop or two of water. In fact, if you ask for water, rather than receiving a little for your whisky, you are more likely to get doused with the stuff to a chorus of customers chanting, “Hell No … H2O!”

Coyote Ugly WhiskyTo make a long story short, the success of the movie spawned more Coyote Ugly Saloons across the USA and even as far away as Russia. Building upon that success, Celebrity Cellars International founder, Jeff Harder, teamed up with the founder of the Coyote Ugly Saloon, Liliana Lovell and launched Coyote Ugly Canadian Whisky on March 12, 2012.

Last year (2012), I was asked to provide a review of Coyote Ugly upon my website to serve as a preview for its world-wide launch. This year, Coyote Ugly (made in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies) arrives at the Number 21 spot in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

You may click on the following excerpt to read my original review:

#21 Top Canadian Whisky – Coyote Ugly

“… The whisky smells of rich butterscotch and caramel. Light rye scents waft into the breezes with dabs of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. A light footprint of vanilla and almond compliment the delicate baking spices leaving impressions of marzipan in the air above the glass …”

Enjoy the Review!

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

#22 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s 18 Year Old Limited Release

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 4, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYWiser’s 18 Year Old is a Limited Release bottling totaling only 3500 bottles for each batch produced. Because this is such a limited bottling, the number of whisky barrels selected to produce each batch is relatively small. In fact, according to Hiram Walker Mater Blender, Dr. Don Livermore, the number of casks selected for each bottling of Wiser’s 18 Year Old is in the range of only 15 to 20 ex bourbon casks per batch. With such a small group of barrels to work from, it is inevitable that variations in will exist between separate batches.

Wisers 18 Bottle ShotI have not reviewed this whisky for over three years, and I since we know that we can expect the whisky to change a little from batch to batch, I decided it would be appropriate to provide a new review based upon the sample bottle provided to me for my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown series. To read that new review of what has turned out to be the Number 22 Canadian Whisky in my Countdown, you may click on the following review excerpt:

Review: Wiser’s 18 Years Old Limited Release Canadian Whisky

“… I let the glass sit for several minutes, and when I returned the spice had not relented; however, I was also noticing much more now. Alongside the wood spice with its rush of white pepper and orange peel was the unmistakable scent of fruit-filled rye grain. A sweetness of toffee and butterscotch was in the air as well as hints of dark luscious fruit (prunes and canned cherries) all seemingly nestled within a menagerie of oak spice, wood sap and rye grain …”

This is an oak filled monster of a whisky which runs your taste buds through a gauntlet of spice, and then tempers them with a light toffee sweetness. The overall result is marvelous!

Enjoy the Review!

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

#23 Canadian Whisky – Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 3, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYI consider the Highwood Distillery to be a rather unique whisky producer making a style of Canadian Whisky unlike anything else on the Canadian Whisky landscape. What is so original about the Highwood Whisky is the grain from which it is distilled. Highwood is the only distillery which uses local Canadian prairie wheat for the distillation base of all of their Highwood branded whisky. They do this because wheat alcohol, rather than barley or corn alcohol, has less heavy, non-digestible components which makes for an extremely easy drinking spirit. As well, rather than distilling their grain upon a large column still (as most Canadian Whisky is produced) they make all of their whisky upon a pot still one batch at a time.

HW_Rye_Whisky_shadowI have been a rather vocal proponent of their style of whisky ever since I first tasted it. Highwood Whisky is suave, mellow and full of delicious, delicate flavour nuances. What a pleasant surprise it was to find that my Rum Chums liked the distillery’s flagship whisky more than I did. The result of all of this love, is that Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky landed at the number 23 spot on my Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is a link to my recent September review:

#23 Canadian Whisky – Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky

“… The first thing I noticed about the Highwood Whisky as I sipped it was that it is a smooth, gentle, and mellow whisky which has the soft sensation in the mouth of a much older whisky. Honeycomb, ginger, wood spice, and a light dab of vanilla all support a wonderfully clean, dusty rye flavour. There is polish in evidence here, but a little rough and tumble too, as the wood spices liven the mouth-feel and take me back in time to when rye was the King of Canadian Spirits …”

For those who are value conscious, I should make the point that this whisky is probably the most affordable spirit in the entire countdown, a hidden gem in the foothills of the Rockies!

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

#24 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Heart of Gold

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 2, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYThis year John Hall (Whisky Maker, Forty Creek Distillery) launched a new rye forward Forty Creek blend, Heart of Gold (2013 Limited Release). Heart of Gold, like all of John Hall’s whisky blends, is distilled from three separate grains: barley (which adds soft nutty flavours); corn (which adds weight and body) and of course rye (which adds flavour and spice). Although all three grains are used, the clear intention of Mr. Hall in creating this whisky was to showcase the spicy, fruity and floral notes of Canadian Rye.

Heart_of_Gold_bottleAccording to John Hall:

“This project started nearly a decade ago, focusing specifically on Canada’s noble rye grain. I have always brought out the spicy, fruity notes of rye in my whiskies, but this time, I wanted to perfect how to capture the underlying delicate floral notes of the rye that too often get lost in the process.“

My tasting panel agrees that the noble rye grain is worth exploring as the Heart of Gold was determined to be Number 24 on my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is a link to my most recent  review:

#24 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Heart of Gold

“… The initial nose reminds me strongly of rye whisky as I remember it from my youth (seventies/early eighties). The breezes above the glass are full of wood spices (cardamom, ginger, sandalwood, sawdust and white pepper), and those breezes remind me of autumns past when the ripened grain in the fields was being combined. The air all around the farm would be full of the scents and smells of the harvest, complete with the straw left behind in windrows and the separated chaff and grain dust floating in the air above the fields and granaries …”

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

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Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Rum Howler Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 1, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYLast year in December, I published my 2012 Rum Howler – Top 30 Rums list based upon a series side by side tastings that my Rum Chums and I completed last fall. All of the rums upon the final list were aged sipping rums, and the list included some of the most expensive (Appleton Estate 50 Year Old) rums in the worlds, as well as some of the best rum bargains (Plantation Guatemala Gran Anejo Rum).

This fall, I completed a similar list for the Best Canadian Whiskies in the market today.  Over the next 25 days I will be counting down each of these Whiskies from number 25 to number 1 in an advent style list revealing the very best (as determined by my Rum Chums and I)  on Christmas Day. As I fill out the list, I will be providing my most up to date review for each spirit. These lists are really quite fun to create, and I hope that those who follow this countdown (and who read the reviews) have some fun. Disagreement with my Panel of Judges is welcome, as are your own opinions about the list.

If you are interested in such things, a detailed explanation of how I came up with this list is available here:

The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

copper-pot-heroI shall begin The Rum Howler Top 10 White Rum Countdown with the Number 25 Canadian Whisky as determined by my judges:

(Just click on the excerpt to read my review):

#25 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve

” … The initial nose of the whisky brings oak and rye spices into the breezes above the glass with an effervescent orange peel zest riding the coattails of the spice. As the glass sits, green tobacco and orange marmalade jump in with a soft punky caramel tainting their scent. I detect some cinnamon and ginger rising up from the glass and my sense is that the Copper Pot is going to be a very interesting and complex whisky ….”

The Copper Pot Reserve has everything I want in a whisky, a rush of spice that lingers throughout the taste experience, wonderful caramel and chocolate flavours balanced perfectly with a mildly bitter, but soft nuttiness, and a complexity which is off the charts.

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I hope everyone enjoys this year’s Christmas Countdown!

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

The 2013 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 27, 2013

RH-winner2013Rum continues to be a spirit on the rise. There was a time not long ago that when I stopped by a local store to buy a bottle of rum, I had really only two or three choices, and they were all named Bacardi. Now it is not uncommon for me to see up to twenty different rum brands even in the small liquor stores, and some of the large stores will have as many as 50 different brands to choose from. When I talk to the local merchants, they all tell a similar story, more and more people are asking for rum and some of them even come into the stores brandishing my reviews as ammunition.

My Rum Howler Awards are published each year. They represent my yearly proclamations regarding the best rums which I have tasted within that particular year. As is the case each year, all of my Awards are based upon side by side tastings within each category of spirit. I taste the spirit neat, and I also mix a few cocktails. Sometimes I have my friends help me. All rum samples which I receive to review on my website each year are automatically considered for the awards. I do my review, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit for the end of the year judging. I also receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards.

My side by side tastings are completed, and it is time for me to reveal the recipients of my 2013 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Rum.

The 2013 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Rum

Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Extras, Flavouerd Rums, Overproof Rum, Rum, Rum Reviews, Spiced Rum, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Year in Whisky (2013 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 22, 2013

RH-winner2013I tasted a lot of great whisky this year from all over the world, and I noticed a few trends which deserve noting. Whisky is growing in popularity throughout the world, and this is having consequences in both the variety of whisky available to the consumer, and the quality of the whisky available to the consumer. In terms of variety, things have never been better as I can find whiskies on the store shelves from places I would never have imagined a few years ago. The number of brands available from India and Japan keep growing, and as well brands from places like New Zealand, England, Wales, and Australia are also surfacing in my local liquor stores. A stronger selection of brands available to the consumer can only be good news; and hopefully consumers (and whisky critics) can put their prejudices aside and give these brands the chance they deserve.

However the flip side of this world-wide popularity of whisky is a disturbing reluctance from some of the major players to maintain their age statements. The simple fact is that there is just not enough aged whisky stocks to maintain the present brands due to the growing world-wide popularity of the spirit. Of course the marketing hype proclaims the spirits are as good as ever, but I guess I question the veracity of those statements. Time will tell, and thankfully there are still many brands maintaining their standards and many more great whiskies for me to discover.

It is time for my to make my yearly proclamations regarding the best whiskies which I have personally tasted in the year which is 2013. As is the case each year, all of my Rum Howler Awards are based upon side by side tastings within each category of spirit. I taste the spirit neat, and I also mix a few cocktails with each spirit. All spirit samples which I receive to review on my website are automatically considered for my awards. I do my review, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit for the end of the year judging. I also receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards. My side by side tastings are completed, and it is time for me to reveal the recipients of my 2013 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Whisky.

These Awards are for the best Whisky Spirits I encountered in the year 2013!

The 2013 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Whisky

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