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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

The Year in Vodka (2013 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 12, 2013

RH-winner2013The Rum Howler had another great year tasting Vodka in 2013 as it seems like producers from all over the world have been sending me samples for review upon my website. My quirky style of vodka review appears to have struck a chord with these producers, especially those in Eastern Europe who have told me that my willingness to bring the gastronomic experience into my review process is much appreciated. The willingness of foreign producers to send me samples in spite of the huge difficulties they can experience in dealing with Canadian Customs and Excise means that I had an unusually strong group pf spirits for this years Vodka Awards.

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. This year, with the very best spirits, I also compared each spirit with various food pairings in my efforts to determine the very best.

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. The competition was particularly fierce this year, and it is time for me to reveal the recipients of my 2013 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Vodka.

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

The 2013 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Vodka

Posted in Awards, Extras, Flavoured Vodka, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

And then there was # 1 – Brugal Titanium Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 5, 2013

op10RUM 550The Brugal Distillery was founded in 1888, by Andrés Brugal Montaner. Over the next one hundred and twenty years the company grew steadily, and it is now one of three large Rum Distillers in the Dominican Republic. The original family which founded Brugal is still in the control. George Arzeno Brugal, is the current chairman, and most of the board members are direct descendants of the original company founder. In fact, the Brugal Distillery has become an institution in the Dominican Republic. Just about every friend of mine who has visited this the Dominican Republic has a vivid tale to tell of their amazing bus ride to the distillery, and another tale to tell of how much fun it was to sample the Brugal Rum.

SAM_0972 Brugal TitaniumBrugal Titanium Rum is a triple distilled premium white rum produced primarily for the domestic market (and in parts of Europe) as a high-end cocktail spirit meant to compete with ultra premium Vodka. It is a pity that this rum is not widely available; based upon the tasting sessions my friends and I conducted this past August, it just might be the very best white rum in the world!

Here is a link to my newly published review:

#1 White Rum – Brugal Titanium 

“…The nose is lightly effervescent with a spiciness which reminds me of the lemon-like scent of coriander seeds and the rye-like scents of ginger and cardamom spice. A light sugar cane scent is evident, as well as hints of anise and licorice, light mushy banana smells and perhaps a touch of mint …”

This is a refined spirit filled with spicy character and suave refinement within the flavour nuances. Although this rum is not widely available, it is still a fact that the Brugal Titanium is one of the best white rums I have sampled to this point in my rum explorations!

PS: I included a brand new daiquiri style cocktail with my review, the Emissary Daiquiri!

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Note; You may follow my Countdown list of the 10 best white rums here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 10 White Rums

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Top 10 White Rums Countdown # 2 – El Dorado 3 Year Cask Aged Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 4, 2013

op10RUM 550I am very near to the end of my white rum countdown and for the third time, (perhaps the fourth depending upon the origin of Potters Superior Rum), a rum from Demerara County in Guyana has found its way onto the list. This is no accident, as Demerara 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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The El Dorado 3 Year Cask Aged Demerara Rum is blended from aged stocks (the youngest being no less than 3 years old) and then filtered twice through charcoal filters to produce a clear rum. All of the Demerara Rum produced by El Dorado is aged exclusively in American oak (bourbon barrels).

Here is a link to my latest review:’

#2 White Rum – El Dorado 3 Year Cask Aged Rum 

“… In my mouth the taste is light but sweet. The rum has a pleasant soft texture with light oil-like mouth-feel. There is no bitterness and the soft butterscotch/caramel flavours remain firm through the palate accented with light minty candy-like flavours. There is also a light spiciness which hints at citrus zest and banana peel. As I sip I also begin to sense very light undercurrents of dry fruit, chocolate and a light but firm impression of baked coconut …”

Note: I originally reviewed the El Dorado 3 Year Cask Aged Demerara Rum four years ago as one of my original reviews to open the website. This however, is a new review, based upon tasting sessions with a more recent bottling.

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Note; You may follow my Countdown list of the 10 best white rums here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 10 White Rums

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Top 10 White Rums Countdown # 3 – Plantation 3 Stars Silver Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 3, 2013

op10RUM 550Plantation 3 Stars Silver Rum is relatively new white cocktail rum from Cognac Ferrand ( see Plantation Rum Website). In producing this rum Alexandre Gabriel (President and Owner, of Cognac Ferrand) blends rum from three different Caribbean Islands in order to achieve the correct balance between flavour and character suitable for a cocktail rum bearing the Plantation name. These three Islands (Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad) are considered by the folks at Cognac Ferrand to be the three “star” producers of the Caribbean, hence the name “Plantation 3 Stars” was chosen for the rum.

A great deal of time was spent by the Cognac Ferrand team tweaking the rum to get it just right. Even the exact bottling proof was examined thoroughly. According to Alexandre Gabriel:

plantation-3stars-b“I was dreaming about this rum and could mentally taste it before it was done so we worked relentlessly until we were there. We wanted character and personality but didn’t want it too heavy taking away from our purpose which was to have a balanced and elegant rum exceptional for cocktails. We found the perfect balance at 41.2% alcohol by volume.”

I guess the opinion of my friends and I is that Cognac Ferrand did indeed get it right, as this spirit was declared the Number 3 Rum in my Rum Howler Countdown of the Best White Rums in the World (that I have tasted)!

Here is a link to the review:

#3 White Rum – Plantation 3 Stars Silver Rum 

“… The breezes above the glass display a very obvious scent of hard candy where orange and lemon drops mix with tropical fruits like mango and soft banana. There is even a few lightly minty notes of Christmas candy-cane and a light butterscotch/caramel impression in the air. As you let the glass breathe you begin to notice a vague astringency or roughness in the air as well …”

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Note; You may follow my Countdown list of the 10 best white rums here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 10 White Rums

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Top 10 White Rums Countdown # 4 – Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year Old Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 2, 2013

op10RUM 550Flor de Caña has a history of rum production which is dated to 1890 at the San Antonio Sugar Mill, in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua. The company was founded by Francisco Alfredo Pellas and today, over 120 years later, the company is led headed by the fifth generation of the Pellas family. It has grown to be not only one of Central America’s leading brands of rum, it is also one of the most recognized rum brands in the world.

FDC Extra DryIf you check the Flor de Caña website, they make it clear that the FDC Extra Dry 4 Year Old Rum is not meant for sipping. It is a mixing rum meant for premium cocktails and bar drinks. My judging panel agrees, and the tastiness of those cocktails and bar drinks has resulted in the white rum being named the fourth best in my 2013 White Rum countdown!

You many read a full review here:

#4 White Rum – Flor de Caña Extra Dry 4 Year Old Rum

“… There is a lot of character in that initial first taste, but silky smooth, and suave are not descriptors I would use to describe the rum. Instead I would call the rum organic, and slightly pungent. It carries a lightly harsh sting or spiciness which swats at the palate. Notice though, that the first term I used to describe the rum was character. In fact my first sip of the rum reveals far more character than I usually find in white rum …”

The character I perceive within the FDC Extra Dry is I believe, what makes this rum such a great cocktail rum. It makes an outstanding Daiquiri, and a fantastic Cuba Libre‘. As well, the standard Mojito made with FDC Extra Dry is a treat to sip on even during my Canadian winter!

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Note; You may follow my Countdown list of the 10 best white rums here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 10 White Rums

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Top 10 White Rums Countdown # 5 – El Dorado Deluxe Silver 6 Year Aged Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 30, 2013

op10RUM 550According to the El Dorado Website, the El Dorado Deluxe Silver 6 Year Aged Rum is blended from selected light to medium bodied aged rums which have been produced on Demerara Distillers’ wooden Coffey still (the last of its kind operating in the world today) and the company’s famous French Savalle Still.

DeLuxe Silver RumThe result is a fully aged, double-filtered, 6 Year Old White Rum. This rum is meant not just to compete with the new strain of super premium white rums that have entered the market recently, it is meant to compete head to head with the super premium luxury vodkas which have garnered a good chunk of the market share in the distilled spirits category.

This clean Guyanese spirit arrives in my countdown as the 5th best white rum I have tasted, and you can read my review by clicking the following excerpt (link):

#5 White Rum – El Dorado Deluxe Silver 6 Year Aged Rum

“… That candied sweetness I noted in the breezes above the glass takes form in the mouth with a flavour that resembles something like Christmas candies. The rum also carries forward a nice ‘fresh’ spiciness with flavours of orange peel and banana peel swirling around that sweet candy. Vague hints of butterscotch and canned fruit syrup (think canned peaches here) compliment the flavour  …”

The El Dorado Deluxe Silver is a very nice, very clean rum, in fact ‘clean’ is probably the best adjective to use to describe the rum. It is a great rum to use for mixing cocktails when you are trying to satisfy a crowd because that clean taste will appeal to just about everyone.

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Note; You may follow my Countdown list of the 10 best white rums here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 10 White Rums

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Top 10 White Rums Countdown # 6 – Diplomatico Blanco Reserva

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 29, 2013

op10RUM 550Diplomatico Rums are produced by Distilleries Unitas S.A. (DUSA) at the foot of the Terepaimai National Park in Venezuela, South America. About four years ago, building upon the success of their core line-up of rums (the Diplomatico Anejo, the Diplomatico Reserva, and the Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva), Dusa introduced an ultra premium aged white rum called the Diplomatico Blanco Reserva. This Blanco Reserva was added to the Diplomatico brand to serve as an alternative to premium Vodka for bartenders and connoisseurs. It is designed to be a cocktail rum meant to exist side by side in the high-end niche market formerly reserved only for high-end Vodka.

Diplo BlancoThis Venezuelan spirit arrives in my countdown as the 6th best white rum I have tasted, and you can read my review by clicking the following excerpt (link):

#6 White Rum – Diplomatico Blanco Reserva

“… The rum is smooth and buttery in the delivery with the alcohol bite resting very deeply in the bottom of the delivery. The rum flavours, including the light caramel, the baked banana, the lemony citrus peel, and the traces of sweet candy are all there in the initial delivery playfully dancing on my palate  in a light dollop of oaky vanilla  …”

The rum eases into cocktails beautifully, adding a nice mild rum flavour and only a mild alcohol bite which was of course the intention of the crafters of the Diplomatico Blanco. As such this rum hits the target squarely as an alternative to high-end vodka!

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Note; You may follow my Countdown list of the 10 best white rums here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 10 White Rums

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Top 10 White Rums Countdown # 7 – Pumpkin Face White Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 28, 2013

op10RUM 550Sometimes my best laid plans go asunder. Such was the case after I thought I had completed my list of Top 10 – White Rums in late August of this year. About a month later, (about four weeks before my countdown was to begin publishing) I received samples of the “Ultra-Premium” Pumpkin Face Rums. As soon as I sampled the Pumpkin Face White Rum, I knew I had a problem, as this rum absolutely deserved to be considered as a contender in this series.

So I did the only thing I could, I brought my Panel of Judges over, and I made some Daiquiris and some Mojitos  and we proceeded to judge this rum as if it was part of the original competition. When the scores were tallied, the result was that the Pumpkin Face White Rum fell into the number 7 slot of the Best White Rums in the World (that I have tasted)!

Pumpkin Face WhiteHere is a link to my recently published review:

Top 10 White Rums Countdown # 7 – Pumpkin Face White Rum

“… As I nosed the rum, mild impressions of banana, orange zest, and faint grassy vegetal notes rose into the breezes. There were also a few light traces of cotton candy, wisps of mint, and hints of anise-like licorice scents …”

The Pumpkin Face White Rum is not only a very good cocktail rum, it is also quite enjoyable as a sipper; which frankly, is quite unusual in the white rum category!

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Note; You may follow my Countdown list of the 10 best white rums here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 10 White Rums

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

The Year in Tequila (2013 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 27, 2013

RH-winner2013

In my locale, many whisky events populate our calendars, and a few Rum Clubs have popped up over the last several years which feature tastings and the like where consumers have an opportunity to taste a new spirit before plunking down their cash to buy it. With respect to tequila however, consumers (again in my locale) have very little ability to read about or taste any of the new Tequila brands as such clubs and events are rather scarce. Perhaps my 2013 Rum Howler awards for the Year in Tequila can help remedy the situation somewhat. (And hopefully I will be able to sample more of these new brands and feature more reviews in the coming year.)

I was able to sample and taste 17 different agave spirits for my 2013 Rum Howler Awards. The Awards I am presenting are based upon side by side tastings of the various spirits which are in competition for each particular award. Depending upon the style of Tequila I was sampling, I would build one or two Cocktails with each brand to taste, and I also sampled each spirit neat side by side with those of the same style. And so without further ado, it is time for me to reveal the recipients of the 2013 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Tequila.

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

The 2013 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Tequila

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Enjoy this break from my Rum Howler Top 10 Rums Countdown, which will resume on Monday with the number 7 rum.

Posted in Anejo Tequila, Awards, Blanco Tequila, Extras, Reposado Tequila, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Top 10 White Rums Countdown # 8 – Mount Gay Eclipse Silver

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 25, 2013

op10RUM 550The tradition of producing rum on Barbados dates to an early period in the seventeenth century with evidence suggesting small-scale distillation as early as 1637. The first recorded written usage of the words ‘Rum Bullion’ appears in a document from the Island in 1651 which describes the sugar cane distillate from Barbados as “a hot and terrible liquor”. This is in fact the earliest recorded usage of the word Rum as it relates to the distilled spirit anywhere in the world. As such, Barbados is generally considered the birthplace of rum. Evidence exists of stills in use at the Mount Gay Plantation site as early as 1667, and we have confirmation (with the first written records) of rum produced on the site in 1703. This makes Mount Gay Rum one of the oldest (if not the oldest) rum brand in the world.

mount_gay_rum_eclipse_silverThe Mount Gay Silver Eclipse arrives on my Top Ten White Rum list at the number 8 spot. You may read my original review (written almost three years ago) by clicking the following excerpt link. (I confess I edited the review recently fixing some annoying punctuation and grammatical errors.)

#8 White Rum – Mount Gay Eclipse Silver

“…  I found that the white rum displayed an inviting aroma to my nostrils above the glass. The scents and smells of light butterscotch were evident as was a firm presence of banana, a mild citrus zest, and a light minty aroma. As the glass decanted a vague grassy vegetal scent began to waft upwards as well. Allowing the glass to breathe resulted in a strengthening of this ‘grassiness’ which seemed to imply a more complex character than I may have originally anticipated. …”

Although as a sipper, this rum does not entice one strongly, the character of the rum changes entirely when mixed, especially in a daiquiri! Enjoy the provided review!

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Note; You may follow my Countdown list of the 10 best white rums here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 10 White Rums

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

 
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