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Archive for the ‘Extras’ Category

Escape to El Dorado

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 8, 2014

El dorado Flight

Escape (with the Rum Howler) to El Dorado

I have been invited by the great guys (Bill and Graham) at UNWINED – Fine Wine, Spirits and Ales in St. Albert to be the guest host for an El Dorado Rum event on Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 (7:30 pm).

I will be taking everyone through a vertical tasting Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) unique portfolio of  El Dorado Rum.

 Here is the list of Demerara Rums I will be presenting:

El Dorado Spiced
El Dorado Cask Aged 5 Year Old
El Dorado 12 Year Old Special Reserve
El Dorado 15 Year Old Special Reserve
El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve

During the event I will be sharing my experiences from a recent trip to Guyana where I was given the opportunity to tour the DDL facilities witnessing the rum production first hand. This was during an important time when the company was transferring rum production from their Old Plant with its amazing Heritage Stills, to their new modern multi-column production facility.

I will be discussing the implications of the new plant and how we may expect Demerara Distillers Limited and their amazing El Dorado Rum to evolve going forward.

Please contact UNWINED – Fine Wine, Spirits and Ales (#2 512 St. Albert Trail – 780 458 477) for tickets which are an amazingly low $25.00 each!

 

Posted in Extras, Festivals and Events | 2 Comments »

WHAT IS RUM NATION ?

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 24, 2014

Reimonenq and Fabio

Master Distiller, Leopold Reimonenq and Fabio Rossi in Guadeloupe

Fabio Rossi was born in 1961, and he grew up among the bottles of fine wine and spirits which were imported by his father, Mario Jr., who had been dealing in wines and liquors since 1956. (His father was the first importer of Laphroaig whisky in Italy, and he also imported wine and spirits brands such as Rhum Barbancourt, several Bordeaux Chateaux, and Champagnes such as Salon.)

Fabio began his life in the spirits trade as a Oenologist (one who has studied winemaking). After his studies, Mr. Rossi left the wine business and started up a whisky company in Edinburgh (Wilson and Morgan) acting as an independent bottler of Single Malt Scotch Whisky. His interest turned to rum, and in 1999 Fabio Rossi founded Rum Nation. The company is headquartered in Italy; but Fabio purchases select rums from various distillers in the Caribbean and the Americas. As a result Rum Nation provides a rather unique assortment of rare limited edition rum bottlings.

Recently, I was provided with a lengthy interview of Mr. Rossi which had been conducted by Luca Chichizola, the brand ambassador for Fabio’s whisky brand Wilson and Morgan. Luca is a computer engineer who apparently also has some skills in journalism. The interview was sent to me to provide me with more background information regarding Rum Nation and Mr. Rossi’s philosophies towards selecting his fine rums. Because I felt the information provided in the interview would be of interest to my readers, I asked for and received, permission to publish it here on my website.

You can read the full interview by clicking on the following link:

WHAT IS RUM NATION ? (An Interview with Fabio Rossi)

I hope everyone enjoys the interview as much as I did.

 

 

Posted in Extras, Interviews | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Rum Howler is Number 1 on Google

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 16, 2014

Wiser's Red LetterIt all began in the Spring of 2007 when my Brother-in-law (Merv) reached into his liquor cabinet and pulled out a bottle of Wiser’s 18 Year Old Whisky which he had bought 25 years earlier with the intention of sharing it with a friend on a special occasion. The occasion wasn’t really that special, I was just traveling through Calgary with my family and decided to stop by to say hello. But Merv decided that this visit was the special occasion he had been waiting for. And his generosity set everything in motion for what was to follow. You see, as touched as I was by my brother-in-law’s generosity, I realized that at some point I would need to reciprocate. Therefore, when I arrived back home in Edmonton, I set out to find a special bottle which I could share with him (should he ever manage to tear himself away from Calgary and come up to Edmonton to visit me).

So a week later, I found myself in one of those boutique Wine and Spirits stores asking the manager for some help to find a special whisky. I settled on Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky and happily went home to show my wife (Maureen) the $150.00 bottle of whisky I found. Her reaction set me further along the path I had started, as rather than scolding me for spending a ridiculous amount of money upon a bottle of whisky; she said, “I thought Merv liked Gin.”

SAM_0968 TanquerayShe was right of course; although Merv had shared a very special whisky with me, if I was to truly reciprocate, I would have to find a special bottle of gin to share with him. So I went back to the boutique store, asked about gin, and came home with a bottle of Tangueray No. 10. This time my wife (who is ever helpful) said, “What about the rest of your family?”

My head fell; because again, she was right. I wasn’t worried about my friends, they would be cool with just about anything as long as it was cold. But the members of my immediate (and some of the extended) family tend to be a tad jealous of each other. If it became known I had bought a special bottle to share with Merv, then the others would expect the same treatment. So I ambled back to that boutique liquor store a few more times, and by the time I was done, I had bought 2 bottles of rum (Flor de Cana 7 Year Old Rum and Matusalem 12 year Solera Blender), a bottle of vodka (Wyborowa Exquisite), a bottle of Tequila (Herradura Reposado) and a bottle of The Macallan 15 Year Old Fine Oak Single Malt Scotch to go with my bottles of Tangueray No. 10 and Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky.

I was hooked of course. It was so much fun going to that liquor store, tasting samples from a few of their open bottles, and then choosing something special to bring home. I soon had many more bottles and a brand new liquor cabinet to house them in. I explained to my wife that I had learned that there were many different styles of both rum and whisky, and surely when a special guest arrived I should have some sort of selection for them to choose from. And the Vodka, Gin and Tequila were needed in case someone was partial to those spirits instead. It was all part of my effort to be a good host when special guests arrived. Of course, I wasn’t fooling anyone, my wife and I both knew the real reason I was continuing to go back and forth to find new bottles. It was because I had caught the collecting bug, and it had bitten me hard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI continued to taste and collect different spirits over the next few years, and I discovered I was growing particularly fond of rum. So much so, that I began to haunt the online forums trying to locate the best brands for my collection. I enjoyed this research especially reading reviews of various spirits and comparing what I tasted to what was being written. Soon I got the idea into my head that it would be fun to write my own reviews about the spirits I had been collecting.

It turned out that all that research I had done to find the best bottles, and all that tasting I did before adding each new prize to my collection had served me well. I began my writing by placing a few somewhat brief ‘reviews’ on my favourite rum website, “The Ministry of Rum“. Although I was strictly an amateur, my reviews (and my quirky style) seemed to strike a chord with the other collectors and members of that website. One of those members had his own rum website, “Rum Connection” and he invited me to be a guest reviewer on his site. After writing a few reviews for Rum Connection (which were received extremely well), I decided that I should open my own review website which I did in the late fall of 2009.

My writing and my website have attracted a loyal and growing following which opened many doors for myself and led to some wonderful opportunities. This includes invites from rum companies who have offered to fly me down to look over their operations (see here), and similar invitations to all manner of rum and whisky festivals all over North America. As well, I began to receive requests to act as a Spirits Judge at some of the major Spirit’s Competitions in Canada and the USA. In fact I have served three times on the jury for the annual Canadian Whisky Awards, as well as twice in the same capacity for the International RumXP Competition at Rum Renaissance in Miami.

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The Rumhowler at Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

The Rum Howler at Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

This all brings me to the point of this article. Recently, it has come to my attention that my website, The Rum Howler Blog (according to Google), has become the number 1 internet source people turn to for Rum Reviews. The proof of that statement can verified by simply typing the key words “Rum Reviews” into your Google search engine. What you will find is that this website will be listed on the first page of the Google Search, usually ranked Number 1.

I am very pleased that my spirit reviews have been received so well, and my readers continue to find value in them. My recent number 1 ranking on Google is extremely satisfying! However, as pleased and satisfied as I feel about my work and my website, I would like to stress that my opinions expressed on this website are just that, opinions. Please, enjoy what I write; but trust your own instincts as well. Opinions vary and everyone’s preferences are unique. The only person who can truly decide if a spirit gives you enjoyment is yourself. I am flattered that so many people have come to trust my reviews; but I want you to trust your own tastes and preferences as well.

It all started when my Brother-in-law offered to open and share a special whisky with me seven years ago, and I can’t even guess where it will go from here …

Posted in Extras, Howls | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off

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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Posted in Awards, Extras | Tagged: | Comments Off

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!

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

Edmonton Whisky Festival 2014

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 2, 2014

EWF2014Edmonton Whisky Festival

Why: In Support of the MS Society

Where: Edmonton Delta South Hotel

When: Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ticket Price: $85.00 each

This event is a must for any whisky enthusiast or for those new to the exciting world of whisky.

Tickets includes entrance, whisky sampling, and the commemorative Glencairn Whisky Glass.

Chat in a relaxed atmosphere with whisky and scotch principals and enthusiasts from across Canada and around the world.

Master classes are available again this year.  They are all from 6:30-7:30 pm, and cost an additional $25 on top of your Festival ticket cost.  The lineup is:

Bourbon Masterclass with Matt Jones
Tullibardine Masterclass with James Robertson
The Macallan Masterclass with Dan Volway

All proceeds raised at this event are donated to the MS Society of Canada – Alberta Division.

For more information please contact:

Vines – Riverbend Wine Merchants (Edmonton)
Telephone: 434-9444
Email: info@vineswinemerchants.com

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Tickets are now available from Vines or through the new website: (http://edmontonwhiskyfestival.ca/)

Posted in Extras, Festivals, Festivals and Events, Fund Raisers | Tagged: , , | Comments Off

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

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

#1 Canadian Whisky – Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 25, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYEighteen months ago, Highwood Distillers, (Alberta’s only privately owned distillery) released a single bond offering (Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky) which was produced entirely from corn distillate which had been aged for a full 25 years in charred American white oak barrels. The release of this whisky commemorated the Centennial of Calgary’s world-famous rodeo (The Calgary Stampede), and it was bottled as a Limited Edition, Ultra-Premium, 25 Year Old Commemorative Canadian Whisky. This single grain offering was blended entirely with naturally sourced Rocky Mountain spring water, and was limited to a production run of only 6000 bottles.

Stampede WhiskyIn order to maintain good contact with the oak during the lengthy aging process, this bond was re-gauged or re-barreled twice during its maturing life. New barrels were not introduced when Highwood distiller’s made the liquid consolidation. Instead they chose to maintain the aging process in the original barrels into which the spirit began its maturation.

The result was a very special whisky, one which my judges without exception scored extremely well. In fact, this particular whisky was ranked number 1 by three out of the four judges (and the dissenting judge had it ranked number 3). This means that the Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky not only wound up as the Number 1 Canadian Whisky in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown, it actually separated itself from the rest of the field by a noticeable margin. Here is a link to my original review of the 25 Year old Commemorative Stampede Whisky which I published in July 2012, judged by my tasting panel to be the Best Canadian Whisky currently available in the world.

#1 Canadian Whisky – Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky

“… The initial nose is rich with smells of oak and cedar. Butterscotch notes rise into the air accompanied by strong scents of honeycomb and cereal. As the glass sits, the oak spices continue to grow above the glass. I also receive impressions of melted vanilla ice cream, some appealing notes of marmalade and marzipan, and some strong notes of corn whisky rising into the merry little breezes …”

This Stampede Whisky finishes with an explosion of spice and echoes of vanilla, butterscotch and honey. It has a long lingering finish which leaves the mouth heated, but also leaves me wanting another glass!

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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

# 2 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYCanadian Club Whisky is the oldest (and arguably also the most influential) Canadian Whisky brand in the world. It is sold in over 150 countries world-wide, and sales in Canada are unmatched by any other whisky brand. The company has been granted numerous Royal Warrants from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II, and it has been reported that Canadian Club was the whisky of choice when Al Capone smuggled thousands of cases of Canadian Whisky into the USA during prohibition.

Classic Small batchRecently there have been some changes in the Canadian Club family. One of the brands which has undergone a revamping is the Canadian Club Classic (12 Years Old) which has been replaced by the Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12 (also 12 Years Old). The newer version of the whisky has a new bottle (shown below) and the two words, “Small Batch” have been added to the label. My understanding is the whisky is now constructed from a smaller selection of aged whisky (oak barrels) in an effort to bring a fuller flavour and more smoothness to the blend.

Apparently my Judging Panel likes the new blend, as the Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12 was selected the Number 2 Canadian Whisky in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is a link to the review I wrote this past July:

# 2 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12

“… The initial breezes above the glass bring forward scents of caramel and oak which are melded nicely with dabs of light tobacco and spicy orange peel.As the glass breathes, I notice some rye spices and some sweet corn pushing though. The oak and tobacco scents have deepened bringing me impressions of fresh-cut cedar and honeycomb. The caramel and wood spice come together as toffee, and the orange peel has softened into marmalade …”

It has come to my attention that most of the Canadian Club line-up is experiencing a bit of a revamping with new bottle designs and perhaps some tweaking of the blends. I will be reviewing a few of those tweaked offerings in the new year. My hope is that I will see similar improvements with those brands as well.

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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

#3 Canadian Whisky – Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 23, 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 Distilleries had established (Century and Potters) were added to Highwood’s portfolio of spirits where they have not only been maintained but also expanded upon. Part of that expansion was the recent addition of the ‘Ninety’ branded whiskies to the Century Distillers line-up. Like the other whiskies in the Century portfolio, the Ninety branded spirits are corn-based rather than wheat-based blends. (The Distillery uses the Highwood banner for all of its wheat based whiskies.)

Ninety_25_Year_Old_-_shadow_2013_06Highwood chose the brand name ‘Ninety’ because these new whiskies are bottled at 90 proof (or 45 % alcohol by volume) rather than the usual 80 proof (40 % alcohol by volume). The higher bottling strength means that the final whisky will retain a character closer to the original cask strength whiskies from which they were blended. In the case of the Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky, the bulk of blend almost certainly has been drawn from Highwood’s treasured reserves of remaining Potters whisky stocks which are rumoured to contain barrels of whisky as old as 33 years.

Here is a link to my new review of the Number 3 spirit in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown:

#3 Canadian Whisky – Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

“… As I enjoy the breezes above the glass, I notice impressions of creamy vanilla pudding, hints of almond, some sticky marmalade, and a light sweetened grain-like component which actually reminds me of Post Honeycomb cereal. The longer you let the glass sit, the more firm and unified the aroma becomes, until after fifteen minutes or so it resembles a luscious butterscotch-oak-syrup that begs to be sipped …”

The Ninety “Decades of Richness” Canadian Rye Whisky has quickly become one of my very favourite whiskies, and for my palate, it is on par with the best Bourbons, and the best Single Malt Scotches I have tasted to this point in my whisky explorations. I wrote four years ago that Highwood Distillers was one of the best kept secrets in the whisky world, I suspect that is about to change.

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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

 
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