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Archive for the ‘American Whiskey’ Category

Whiskey Review: Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 15, 2011

Two weeks ago I began a series of reviews based upon a collection of whisk(e)y samples provided from the personal collection of J.L. Wheelock, a member of the Beam Global team here in Alberta. Part of the sample set of whiskies were a selection of Bourbon Whiskeys from the Jim Beam Distillery.  I was not given a sample of Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon as part of this sample group; however, I happened to have a small 375 ml flask of Jim Beam on hand  so I thought that I would provide a review of the flagship whiskey of the Jim Beam brand as part of this series of reviews.

The Jim Beam distillery was founded in 1795,  and it has been operated as a family run business for seven generations.  Currently Jim Beam Straight Kentucky Bourbon is produced at the Clermont Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky, and (according to the Jim Beam Website) is the best-selling bourbon in the world.  The spirit is aged for 4 years in white American oak barrels and bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

The bottle I am reviewing is the 375 ml flask style bottle pictured to the left.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“…The aroma from the glass is one of rough timbers freshly cut. A waft of vanilla rises with the timbers, and deeper down we have some dank corn and oodles of raw honeycomb.  Waiting for a minute or so I also catch some toffee aroma building in the glass as well…”

You may read the full review here:

Review: Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

As well I have included my version of a nice cocktail called The Kentucky Margarita. Please enjoy the review.

Posted in American Whiskey, Cocktails & Recipes, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Maker’s 46 Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 11, 2011

I mentioned a week ago that I had received a collection of sample jars from the personal collection of  J. Leslie Wheelock, (a member of the Alberta Beam Global team), which spanned an impressive range of unique whiskies from Canada, Scotland, and the USA.  This week I dipped into the samples and chose Sample Jar # 13, Maker’s 46 Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey.

Maker’s 46 Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey begins where Maker’s Mark Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey ends. Bill Samuels, Sr. is credited with creating the first version of Maker’s Mark in 1954. After a few years of practice the folks at the Maker’s Mark Distillery have been producing this whiskey the same way since 1958. The process begins with pure limestone fed spring-water; follows with yellow corn, red winter wheat, and natural malted barley; continues with a unique milling, cooking, and fermentation process; and ends in a small batch distillation and moving (eg; rotating) barrel aging process. Of course the final result is tested and tasted to make sure it is just right.

In a recent display of innovation, Master Distiller Kevin Smith, began a sort of ‘trial and error’ series of experiments to come up with a new twist on the Maker’s Mark. In December 2009, Maker’s 46 was born. (click on the link to get the full story right from the Maker’s Mark Website.)

In a nutshell, fully aged Maker’s Mark is removed from its barrel, ten seared wooden staves are then placed inside of that barrel. (The staves are seared to caramelize the sugars in the wood.) These wooden staves are basically flat  panels of wood each about 4 inches wide and 12 to 18 inches long.  The aged Maker’s Mark is then put back into the barrel and aged several more months. When the proper taste profile is achieved, Maker’s 46 is removed from the barrel, bottled, corked and dipped.

I admit that after reading a little bit about Maker’s 46, I was eager to give my small sample a few tasting sessions and write down my impressions. Here is an excerpt from my review;

“….Maker’s 46 is surprisingly soft as it enters the palate, and I want to call this creamy  in spite of the rush of wooden timbers and heavy toffee that quickly builds. Things are not as sweet as the nose would have implied however, and impressions of drier fruit, tobacco and cocoa seem to take hold at mid palate with the oak spiciness expressing itself as cloves and cinnamon….”

You may read my full review here:

Review: Maker’s 46 Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

Please enjoy the review and remember that the aim of my blog is to help you drink better spirits, not to help you drink more spirits!


Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Basil Hayden’s Small Batch Bourbon

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 5, 2011

Just before Christmas I was greeted by J. Leslie Wheelock, who is part of the Beam Global team here in Alberta, who had brought with him a with a veritable treasure trove of small whisk(e)y samples from his personal collection for me to inspect and enjoy in the hopes that I might write about a few of them here on my blog. No strings were attached, and I was left free to try them on my own time-table and to share whichever opinions I had which were fair and honest here on my blog.

The samples are a tour de force of some of the best whiskies which Beam Global has produced and includes Bourbon Whiskey samples from Jim Beam, Scotch Whisky samples from The Macallan and Highland Park, and Canadian Whisky samples from Canadian Club.

The samples all came in little sealed and numbered jars with a master-list letting me know what was in each jar.  Originally, I was to receive 19 samples but since I have already received a full sample bottle of The Macallan Cask Strength, sample # 3 was omitted.

I decided that I wanted to experience a little bourbon first, which is why, when I chose to begin this series of mini reviews for the sample bottles, I decided to begin with Sample # 19, Basil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“…. this is a gentle bourbon that caresses the mouth with honeycomb cereal, vanilla and mild toffee on the entry.  Spicier tannins from the oak build and gather strength in the mouth but they never reach a point where they overwhelm the other flavours….”

You may read the full review by following this link:

Whiskey Review: Basil Hayden’s Small Batch Bourbon

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The Rum Howler Awards – The Whisky Wrap-up

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 23, 2010

And today I reach the last of my Rum Howler Awards Postings presenting the ‘grand prize’ awards for best whiskies I have tasted over the past year.  As with the rum, I wanted to be completely fair about things so I brought in some help and had the final tasting sessions done by panel rather than by myself alone.

All final tastings were done in a blind format. The panel members were not even tasting the same spirits at the same time. The whiskies were ranked  by each panel member, and then the rankings were compared to choose the best spirit for each category.

Unlike the Rum awards which were based upon age and price, the whisky awards were based solely on price.  I allowed for a bit of leeway ($10.00) when it came to imported whiskies as I understand the costs of shipping into my locale from other parts of the world.

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky under $40.00:
(A price point below $40.00 in my market (Alberta) was required.)

Alberta Premium Rye 25Yr Old

Honourable mention to Wiser’s Small Batch, The Black Grouse, and Gibson’s Finest 12 YR.

The decision to make the determining factor, price rather than age, was based upon the sheer volume of whiskies with no age statement in my market. However once that decision was made, it was a foregone conclusion that Alberta Premium 25 Yr Old Limited Edition would waltz away with the first award. In the under $40.00 price range there just isn’t a better whisky in the world. The good news for the competitors is that this whisky has pretty much sold out and will not be in the competition next year.  The bad news for the competitors is that Alberta Premium 30 Year Old is apparently on its way.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky under $80.00:
(A price point below $80.00 in my market (Alberta) was required.)

Highland Park 12

Honourable mention to Johnnie Walker Black LabelAlberta Premium Rye 25Yr Old and Wiser’s 18 Years Old.

The Highland Park 12 Year Old Whisky is my go to whisky when I want a nice aromatic peated whisky in the middle of the cold spells in winter. I was immensely satisfied when the panel verified my thoughts that this is a world-class spirit.  The Johnny Walker Black, The Alberta Premium 25, and the Wiser’s 18 Year Old were all very strong competitors in what was the closest race for an award in this series.  If you began your whisky collection with these four spirits, you would do yourself no wrong.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky (Any Price)

Bruichladdich Black Art

Honourable Mention to Wiser’s 18 Years Old, Highland Park 12, and Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey (15YR).

Four panel members each chose a different whisky in the blind tastings. But when all the scores were analyzed the Black Art from Bruichladdich was deemed to be the most popular. I found it interesting that the Irish whiskey from Cooley’s scored so well. It seems that every time this bottle is opened it gains new converts. I also found it interesting that the Wiser’s 18 and the Highland Park 12 scored much higher than many more expensive offerings.

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And there we have the final “Grand Prize” Rum Howler Awards for Whiskies! Here is a summary of today’s Awards:

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky under $40.00, Alberta Premium Rye 25Yr Old

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky under $80.00, Highland Park 12

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky (Any Price), Bruichladdich Black Art

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All of my 2010 Whisky Awards can be found on this summary page:

The Rum Howler Awards for Whisky Excellence!

Posted in American Whiskey, Canadian Whisky, Howls, Indian Whisky, Irish Whskey, Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

The Rum Howler Awards – Part 3

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 21, 2010

Yesterday it was Rum, and now today it will be Whisky.  And just as I did yesterday, today I will be assigning my the Regional Rum Howler Awards for Whisky Excellence.  And just like yesterday, I need to apologize before I begin by admitting, that my experience with certain regions of the World is lacking and a truly representative award just isn’t possible where I lack experience. But again, I shall do my best to award only the most worthy.

All of these awards are based upon side by side tasting sessions held over a period of several weeks. I actually began about two months ago slowly tasting different whiskies (and the rum too) bringing only the very best forward for the final tastings which took place over the last two weeks.

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Canadian Whisky:

Wiser’s 18 Years Old

Honourable mention to Alberta Premium Rye 25Yr Old, and Forty Creek Portwood Reserve.

Initially I began with six contenders for this Award, but it quickly became a three-way contest. There were times when each of the two Honourable mentions seemed like they would be chosen, but in the end I realized that when I was not doing the side by side tastings, I was inclined to want a glass of the Wiser’s 18, more than the other contenders. As this seemed to be the only hard evidence I had to base my decision on, I granted the slimmest of victories on that basis.

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The Rum Howler Award for the Best Scotch Whisky:

Bruichladdich Black Art

Honourable mention to Highland Park 12, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Tullibardine Single Cask Edition 1987  Hogshead Cask #632, and  Mostowie 1979 28 Yr from Cask No.s 12771 & 12772

If I thought judging the Canadian Whiskies was tough, that was nothing compared to judging the Scotch Whiskies.  So many varieties of peated scotch, nonpeated scotch, blended scotch, and Single Malt Scotch. And then there are the regional variations.  I decided to keep it simple, one category, one award.  I chose the best blends from Diageo, I chose the best Single Malts from Bruichladdich and Highland Distillers, and I went into my private stash of rare whiskies from private Bottlers like Dewars Rattay and Signatory which I have not even reviewed yet, but which I had already tasted and enjoyed over the course of the past year.  Eliminating whiskies slowly over time was difficult, but in the end one whisky seemed to stand taller in the glass than the others, The Bruichladdich Black Art!

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The Rum Howler Award For Best American Whiskey:

Evan Williams Single Barrel

Honourable mention to High West Whiskey – Rendezvous, and Knob Creek 9.

I was tempted to lump the American Whiskey category into a Whiskies of the World category with all of the other whiskeys besides Canadian and Scottish Whisky.  But after thinking it over I decided that it just wouldn’t be fair. American Whiskey as a category is certainly larger than Canadian Whisky in terms of styles and brands, and although I have not reviewed a lot of American Whisky on my blog, I certainly have tried a lot of varieties over the past year at tasting events and festivals. The ones I liked I purchased and have sipped occasionally. Buffalo Trace, Jim Beam, High West, Knob Creek, and Eagle Rare all were sipped and sampled in a taste off. The clear winner in my opinion was the Evan Williams Single Barrel.

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The Rum Howler Award For Best Irish Whiskey:

Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey (15YR)

I regret that I have no honourable mentions for the Irish Whiskey Category. The fault is mine and not the Whiskey’s. I have only sampled five Irish Whiskey’s in the past year and my ability to speak on behalf of the Whiskey of the Emerald Isle is severely impaired. But in giving the Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey a Rumhowler Award, I have no qualms. This whisky is simply a marvel, and you do yourself a grave injustice if you do not attempt to taste it.

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The Rum howler Award for Best Emerging Nation Whisky:

Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky

Honourable mention Suntory Yamazaki 12

I actually have sampled a fair number of whiskies over the past year from the emerging whisky nations, single malts from Australia, Wales, Japan and India. And I have sampled some excellent grain whiskies or blends from Japan. Amrut Distillery has gained fame as of late for their excellent attention to detail and their most excellent whisky. I wish I had the time to sample their Amrut Fusion which is widely regarded as one of the World’s best.  But I guess I have one to look forward to for nest year!

*Note:  To call India and Japan emerging whisky nations does a serious injustice to these nations. It is far more correct to say that it is our recognition of the quality of their whisky that has emerged.

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And there you have it, the next five Rum Howler Awards!

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Canadian Whisky, Wiser’s 18 Years Old

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Scotch Whisky, Bruichladdich Black Art

The Rum Howler Award For Best American Whiskey, Evan Williams Single Barrel

The Rum Howler Award For Best Irish Whiskey, Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey (15YR)

The Rum howler Award for Best Emerging Nation Whisky, Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky

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Tomorrow will be the final awards where I reveal the best of the best!

Posted in American Whiskey, Canadian Whisky, Howls, Indian Whisky, Irish Whskey, Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Whiskey Review: DownSlope Distilling Double Diamond Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 10, 2010

DownSlope Distilling is the creation of three enterprising individuals, Mitch Abate, Matt Causey and Andy Causey. They began their experimentation and  passion for alcoholic spirits as home brewers. Andy dedicated himself to researching advanced wort production and home brewing techniques; Mitch traveled the country learning as much as he could about how whiskey was made: and Matt perfecting the art of grain mashing and fermentation.  Two years ago they decided to combine their talents and produce their brand of hand crafted spirits. Then they spent a year researching how this could be done, selecting the right facility, and acquiring the right equipment. Finally, they set out to establish Centennial Colorado’s first craft distillery.

Using their custom designed still and artisan wash production, Mitch Abate, Andy Causey, and Matt Causey are close to realizing their goal of producing spirits of  high quality.

Double Diamond Whisky

Pictured to the right is the Double Diamond Pot Still which is used to produce  Downslope Distilling’s whiskey.   The still was made by Copper Moonshine Stills in Arkansas, by Colonel Vaughn Wilson. The whiskey is produced in  the Irish tradition, being made primarily with malted barley.   One taste of it however, and you will realize  as well that a significant portion must be rye.  The whiskey is aged in very small experienced medium toast casks and then blended.

Here is an Excerpt from my review:

“…A light vegetal quality minces with the rye flavour in the mouth, and there is a gentle underlying sweetness which must stem from the malted barley.  Although the rye flavour carries  forward that typical ‘Canadian Whisky’ impression, we begin to taste an assertion of the ‘Irish Whiskey’ style as well….”

You may read the full review here:

Whiskey Review: DownSlope Distilling Double Diamond Whiskey

Posted in American Whiskey, Cocktails & Recipes, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off

Whiskey Review: Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 3, 2010

Last year I purchased a bottle of Evan Williams Single Barrel  Kentucky Bourbon, the 1998 vintage.  It sat on my shelf, waiting and  waiting to be opened.  I had only one bottle and to be honest it looked  so nice that I really did not want to ruin the look of my liquor cabinet  by opening it.  It was in my “save for a special occasion” shelf.  Then  something wonderful happened.  My good friend, Dennis was given a  bottle as well.  He had no such compunction to save the elixir and he  happily agreed to share some samples with me.   (In case you feel I was  taking advantage of him, I should let you know that this is a mutual  thing that we do,  I share, and he shares, and everyone is very happy as  we both get to try many more wonderful spirits this way.)

Now Evan Williams Single Barrel whiskeys are indeed something very  special.  They have been winning awards since 1990, in a vast variety of  Spirit’s journals, magazines and contests including Gold Medals at the  Prestigious San Fransisco World Spirits Competition for their 1993 and 1994 bottlings.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“…After taking a deep wiff of the air around my whiskey glass, I close my eyes.  In my imagination, I have just stumbled into a sawmill where they are cutting large rough timber beams.  I can smell the wood tannins exposed on the sides of the timber and the fresh cut wood grain scent is delightful.  Of course there is much more than oak timbers in the glass:  wild honey,  rich vanilla, toffee, caramel and hints of molasses rise from the glass in a rich vibrant aroma which is spicy and tannin filled….”

Your may read the full review here:

Review: Evan Williams Single Barrel Kentucky Bourbon

I have supplied a myriad of cocktails for the review for your enjoyment!

Posted in American Whiskey, Cocktails & Recipes, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Whiskey Review: Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 5, 2009

P1010001Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select is a Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey, distilled and bottled at the Woodford Reserve Distillery in  Versailles Kentucky.  I have found no age statement on the bottle or on the Woodford Reserve Website.  My belief is that the spirit is 6 to 8 years of age although where I gleaned this bit of information has been forgotten.  Perhaps the shopkeeper who sold me the bottle mentioned it.

Here is an excerpt from the review:

“Bourbon has its own unique flavour,  spicy honey and a rich woody profile.  This bourbon has a heavy  texture  in the mouth. It seems like having a thick corn syrup resting on the tongue even though the liquid is much more viscous….”

You can read the full review here:

Whiskey Review: Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select

Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off

Whiskey Review: High West Whiskey – Rendezvous

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 2, 2009

This is the second whiskey review to be added to my blog.  Let me introduce:

High West Rendezvous

High west Whiskey – Rendezvous

Here is an excerpt from the review:

“…Upon pouring the bottle we have a really nice nose. Full spicy Rye with a ribbon of bourbon vanilla. Swirling the glass we get some small legs indicating a little oil in the mix. Nice! Letting the glass sit the bourbon note becomes stronger but still spicy ryeness dominates. I wouldn’t call this floral, but we do have a bit of alpine meadow here….”

You may read the full review Here:

Review: High West Whiskey – Rendezvous

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When I first wrote the review I sent it to David Perkins the proprietor of High West Whiskey.  His reply to me was very cordial and went as follows:

(Quote)
Thanks for forwarding this well written review with a thoughtful scoring system. I always learn something. A couple follow-ups:
1) we are replacing our corks with a straight sided vs conical. A definite improvement.
2) sleeve: haven’t really considered this yet. It just adds cost and I wanted to keep costs down, assuming the collector would keep the bottle out of the light. But its on the list for consideration now!
3) we did not marry the whiskies in oak.
4) we don’t chill filter, maybe responsible for some of the aftertaste. I elected to not chill filter for the benefit of the long finish.

Best regards and hope to keep in touch,
(Unquote)

There was more than that and we had a email discussion back and forth about what rye should taste like and what our favourite whiskeys were. It was really nice to be treated with such respect.

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I would be remiss if I did not point out that this review and the information regarding my email discussion with David Perkins was published first on  Refined Vices.

I should also provide you with a website link to HIGH WEST WHISKEY.

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Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off

 
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