Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category
Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 30, 2014
Last year I embarked on a mission to determine the very best whiskies that Canada had to offer, by examining over my tasting notes and review scores for over 100 Canadian Whiskies which were available in the market as I compiled my list. This year we have seen the arrival of several new Canadian whiskies, and the disappearance of several of the Limited Edition whiskies which had made last year’s list. Some producers have made changes to their brands and some brands may have (in my opinion) evolved or changed in other ways during the past year. To account for these possible changes I recompiled my list based upon all of the new Canadian whiskies I have sampled during the past year, as well as older brands I re-sampled.
The list will be presented “Countdown Style” during the month of December with the Best Canadian Whisky of 2014 revealed on December 24, 2014 just in time for you to grab a bottle for Christmas and New Year’s cheer! A new whisky will be revealed each day (beginning today) as I count down to the Rum Howler’s Selection of the World’s Best Canadian Whisky of 2014!
You may follow my Countdown list here:
And with no further ado I announce the number 25 Canadian Whisky produced in 2014:
Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Canadian Whisky, Highwood, Ninety, Review, Top 25 Canadian Whisky | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 30, 2014
Once again, I have prepared my annual listing of the best rums available in the world, this time for the year ending, 2014.
If you have followed any of my year-end countdown lists over the past few years you will have noticed that they are ever evolving as new spirits become available for me to taste each year, and as previously reviewed spirits disappear (for example: Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum – Jamaica Independence Reserve) or become unavailable in my market for me to re-evaluate.
Another factor causing change in my rankings each year is the evolution of the various spirit brands which, contrary to popular opinion, do not necessarily remain consistent from year to year (or even from batch to batch). Within spirit companies, and within individual distilleries, philosophies and styles change as does the quality of the spirit produced from year to year (and from batch to batch).
My list as usual will be presented “Countdown Style” beginning on November 30th, and then through the month of December with the best rum of 2014 revealed on December 24, 2014 just in time for you to grab a bottle for Christmas and New Year’s cheer! As you return to this page each day (beginning November 30th), a new spirit will be revealed as we count down to the best rum I have personally tasted in 2014!
As so with no further ado, allow me to present my countdown list of
And of course, allow me to present my choice as the 25th best rum in the World:
Note: I will be publishing two additional advent lists in the run up to Christmas, my 2nd annual Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014, and my newest review series, The 12 Cognacs of Christmas!
Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: Flor de Caña Centenario 12, Flor de Cana Rum, Rum, Rum Howler Awards, Rum Reviews, Top 25 Rums | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 26, 2014
Highwood 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:
As well you may read my newly published review of Sahara Dry Gin here:
Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Cocktails, Gin, Gin and Tonic, Gin Review, Highwood Distillers, Rum Howler Gin and Tonic Challenge, Sahara Dry Gin | 4 Comments »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 25, 2014
The Botanist 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:
As well you may read my newly published review of The Botanist Islay Dry Gin here:
Note: I received my sample bottle of The Botanist Gin from the local distributor, Select Wines.
Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Cocktails, Gin, Gin and Tonic, Gin Review, Islay Dry Gin, Rum Howler Gin and Tonic Challenge, The Botanist | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 24, 2014
Dictador 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:
As well you may read my published review of Dictador Ortodoxy Aged Gin here:
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.
Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Dictador, Gin, Gin and Tonic, Gin Review, Ortodoxy, Rum Howler Gin and Tonic Challenge | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 23, 2014
Ungava 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:
As well you may read my published review of Ungava Gin here:
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: Crush Imports, Domaine Pinnacle, Gin, Gin and Tonic, Gin Review, Rum Howler Gin and Tonic Challenge, Ungava Gin | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 22, 2014
Berry 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:
As well you may read my published review of London Number. 3 Gin here:
Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Berry Bros. and Rudd, Cocktails, Gin, Gin and, Gin and Tonic, Gin Review, London Dry Gin, No. 3 London Dry Gin | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 20, 2014
Old Tom Gin represents a style of gin which was popular in 18th Century England prior to the introduction of London Dry Gin. According to gin lore, Old Tom Gin derived its name from Captain Dudley Bradstreet who in the early 1700’s purchased property in London which had a good amount of gin on the premises. He set a picture of a “tom cat” upon the window facing outside and allowed word to be spread that gin was available at the establishment with the cat in the window. A passerby who wanted a shot of gin would place a penny in a slot in the wall under the windowed cat which would roll into the establishment signalling the bartender inside to pour out a shot of gin which would be funneled into a tube running through the wall. The passerby would either drink it directly from the tube or collect it to consume later. Apparently this practice spread throughout London, and gin generically became know as that ‘Old Tom’ Gin in reference to the Tom Cat which signaled the presence of gin within an establishment.
Hayman’s Old Tom Gin is said to be produced from an old English recipe which can be traced to the 18th century prior to the introduction of the Coffey Still. However, many old cocktail books from the 19th century still refer to Old Tom Gin in their recipes, and the recent cocktail renaissance has led to a renewed demand for the Old Tom Style.
In my review for Hayman’s Old Tom, I concluded that this softer style of gin yearns for a variety of different ingredients to mix with. As well, I noted that it isn’t necessarily a natural fit naturally for the traditional Gin and Tonic Cocktail which would more typically be constructed with a London Dry Gin. However, as the Hayman’s Gin is the only Old Tom I have access to, I decided to include it in my challenge. I found that when I used both Lemon and Lime to build my G&T (see recipe here), the results were actually quite pleasant. (A drop or two of grapefruit bitters is a great addition as well!)
My resulting G&T Score for Hayman’s Old Tom gin is a respectable 82/100 points!
You may find my running tally of all of the G&T Scores here:
As well you may read my published review of Hayman’s Old Tom Gin here:
Note: According to their website, Hayman Distillers is the longest serving family owned gin distiller in England today. Their Old Tom Gin has recently arrived in the Alberta market imported by Lifford Spirits who provided me with a bottle to review upon my website.
Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Cocktails, Gin, Gin and Tonic, Gin Reviews, Hayman's, Old Tom Gin, Rum Howler Gin and Tonic Challenge | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 19, 2014
Beefeater 24 is advertised as being handcrafted with 12 botanicals which include grapefruit, bitter almond, orris root, Seville orange peel, rare Japanese Sencha tea and Chinese green tea. This makes Beefeater 24 gin more complex in construction than the previously reviewed Beefeater London Dry Gin which listed 9 ingredients in its construction. There are other differences as well, the major one being that in my market, Beefeater 24 is bottled at a significantly higher proof (45 % versus 40 % alcohol by volume) which to me is very welcome indeed. As well, all of the ingredients for the newer gin are apparently steeped in grain alcohol for 24 hours prior to a 7 hour distillation where the master distiller makes an artisan cut by hand from the heart of the distillation run.
Beefeater 24 Gin is crisp, fresh and delightful in the glass. The flavours are balanced with the juniper and citrus zest forming a wonderful duo upon the palate. In my review, I admit that once I made my first Gin and Tonic with this spirit, I spent the next couple of days making more. When I re-tested the spirit for my Gin and Tonic Challenge this week, I fell in love with the Beefeater 24 all over again. Of course this means that the Beefeater 24 Gin scored very well.
My G&T score for this fabulous gin is 89.5/100 points.
You may find my running tally of all of the G&T Scores here:
As well you may read my published review of Beefeater 24 here:
Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Beefeater 24, Cocktails, Gin, Gin and Tonic, Gin Review, Rum Howler Gin and Tonic Challenge | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 18, 2014
Bombay Sapphire is a brand of gin owned and distributed by Bacardi. It was launched in 1987 and draws its unusual name from a competition where several marketing agencies were asked to submit possible names and bottle designs for the new Gin. Bombay Sapphire, the chosen name, refers to the British Empire and the heritage for the spirit in India as gin was an extremely popular spirit during the time of the British Raj. The Star of Bombay (featured on the label) is a famous Indian Sapphire now on display at the Smithsonian Institute.
Bombay Sapphire is produced through a double distillation of a neutral grain spirit with botanicals added during the second distillation. The botanicals used in its production are, Spanish almonds and lemon peel, West African grains of paradise, Chinese licorice, juniper berries from Tuscany, orris root from Italy, angelica root from Saxony, coriander seed from Morocco, cassia bark from Indo China, and cubeb berries from Java.
When I reviewed this spirit I commented upon how well-balanced its flavours were which made it hard for me to distinguish individual botanicals. However, one aspect of the flavour which did stand out (with the juniper of course) was the vibrant citrus. When I mixed my Gin and Tonic cocktails for this challenge, I found that the push of fruit worked particularly well when I replaced the hit of lime in my mixed drink with a hit of lemon instead (see recipe here).
Based upon how nice the resulting Gin and Tonic cocktail tasted with that hit of lemon, my G&T Score for the Bombay Sapphire Gin was 87/100 points.
I am keeping track of all of these scores here:
As well you may read my published review of Bombay Sapphire here:
Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: Bombay Sapphire, Cocktails, Gin, Gin and Tonic, Gin Review, Rum Howler Gin and Tonic Challenge | 2 Comments »