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Archive for the ‘Irish Whskey’ Category

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

The Rum Howler Awards – Part 1

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 19, 2010

It is hard to believe that my blog has been online for one year now.  I have sampled over 70 bottles of rum, and over 40 bottles of whisky in that time, (and built 4 new bookcases to hold all the bottles). Of course the question I always get from people who read the blog is, “So what is your favourite Rum or Whisky?”

Today I am going to attempt to answer the question by presenting the first annual Rum Howler Awards! Of course, everyone should understand that I must introduce some provisos when I make the claim to tell you what I like best. I obviously cannot judge any spirit which I have not tasted during the past year. I also cannot make a comparative final tasting when the sample I received for my review, was so small that I now have none left to compare.  Fortunately, in most cases I saved a small sample of my favourite rums and whiskies just for this purpose, as to be honest my Rum howler Awards have been in the works for a while now.  So without more adieu perhaps I will begin.

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The first Rum Howler Award is presented for the Best White Rum in a Daiquiri (I consider the daiquiri to be the quintessential cocktail for white rum).

And the Winner is:

Kōloa White Rum

Honorable mention to El Dorado 3 Year, and Bermudez Ron Viejo Blanco.

Judging this category involved me making me a daiquiri using each nominated rum and doing a side by side comparison on a hot summer evening. The Kōloa daiquiri was the runaway favourite.  A surprising result perhaps, but then again this rum is so clean and pure perhaps I should have anticipated its magnificence in a classic cocktail like the daiquiri!

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The next award is for the best overall white rum. White rum has recently experienced a substantial category change where we have the new so-called premium white rums which have been aged for up to six years (perhaps more) and then filtered clear to give the rum a superior sipping and mixing profile. This means a second award for White Rum is in order.

The Best White Rum Overall:

El Dorado 3 Year

Honourable mention to Bermudez Ron Viejo Blanco, and Highwood Imported White who were the other nominees.

For this category I considered not only the flavour in a daiquiri but also the overall flavour in The Cuba Libre, and the Mojito, (the triumvirate of classic white rum cocktails). I took that overall score and gave it 50 % of the weighting, then I also compared the taste of each rum neat which accounted for the other 50 percent of the score.

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The spiced/flavoured category of rum is all the rage right now. For my awards I decided I would include the so-called Black Rums and the dark Navy Rums in this category as they appear to my palate to be essentially the same as flavoured rums.

The Rum Howler award for the Best Spiced or Flavoured Rum is:

Gosling’s Black Seal

Honourable mention goes to Juan Santos Coffee Rum,and Lambs Blacksheep Rum.

Of course this category was difficult to judge based upon the extreme differences in the rums involved. So I could not follow a rigorous format. I decided to go to the producers websites and see if i could build the recommended cocktail for each spirit. I balanced this off with the flavour drinking the spirit neat. It was a very close battle between the Gosling’s Black Seal which was tremendous in a Dark ‘n Stormy versus the Juan Santos Coffee Rum which is a great sipping dessert rum.

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Now I am going to turn my attention to Whisky.  Anyone who has read my blog realizes that I love to mix cocktails and bar drinks. I believe that the vast majority of whisky drinkers do the same. The Horse’s Neck (Whisky and ginger-ale) is the quintessential bar drink that I like to serve, and as such a suitable drink to use for judging the mixability of whisky.

Therefore, I created The Rum Howler Award for the Best Whisky in a Horse’s Neck:

Gibson’s Finest 12 YR

Honourable mention to Hiram Walker Special Old and Centennial 10 Year Old.

I loved judging this one. I made small whisky and ginger ale drinks from just about every one of my Canadian Whiskies and tasted them over several nights to arrive at the last three.  (I also tried several American, Irish and Scotch Whiskies as well but they just didn’t measure up.)  The final three were judged side by side in a final evening of pure enjoyment.

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Next I turned my attention to Blended Whisky. I did not discriminate between age, or cost. If the whisky was labeled as a blend it qualified for an award.

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Blended Whisky goes to:

Wiser’s 18 Years Old

Honourable mention goes to Johnny Walker Black Label, and Forty Creek Portwood Reserve.

I decided to judge this award based first upon the whiskies flavour in two classic whisky cocktails, The Old Fashioned, and the Manhattan.  50 percent of the score was derived from the flavour the whisky presented in these cocktails. The other 50 % of the score was derived from the flavour the whisky displayed when drank neat.  I sampled three Scottish whiskies, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Johnnie Walker Gold Label, and Old Parr Superior. As well I sampled three other Canadian Whiskies, Forty Creek Portwood Reserve, Crown Royal Cask No. 16, and of course Wiser’s 18 Years Old.

The Wiser’s 18 Year Old won by the slimmest of margins in a final taste off with a whisky which continues to surprise me, Johnnie Walker Black Label.

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Of Course if I select the best Blended Whisky, I should also select the best Single Grain Whisky. Included in this category is any whisky which is made from a single grain with the exclusion of Single Malt Whiskies.

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Single Grain Whisky goes to:

Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey

Honourable mention to Alberta Premium Rye 25Yr Old, and Century Reserve 21 Yr Old.

I decided to judge this award in the same manner as  I judged the best blended Whisky. Based first upon the whisky flavour in the two classic whisky cocktails, The Old Fashioned, and the Manhattan. Then based upon the flavour the whisky displayed when drank neat.  I was very surprised when the side by side comparison revealed a winner which was not Alberta Premium 25 yr Old (one of one of my personal favourites) . Instead the Greenore Single Grain Whisky from Ireland reigned supreme!

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And there you have it, the first six Rum Howler Awards:

The Best White Rum in a Daiquiri, Kōloa White Rum.

The Best White Rum Overall, El Dorado 3 Year.

The Best Whisky in a Horses Neck, Gibson’s Finest 12 YR.

The Best Blended Whisky, Wiser’s 18 Years Old.

The Best Spiced or Flavoured Rum, Gosling’s Black Seal.

The Best Single Grain Whisky, Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey.

More Rum Howler Awards will be posted over the next several days as I continue to award the rums and the whiskies which pleased my palate the most since I began my blog a year ago. Stay tuned!

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Flavouerd Rums, Howls, Irish Whskey, Rum, Whisk(e)y, White Rums | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off

Whiskey Review: Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey (15YR)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 25, 2010

In 1988 JohnTeeling bought the Cooley Distillery from the Irish Government essentially as a purchase of a facility meant for the scrap heap. The distillery however, was never scrapped. Instead John Teeling and his Master Distiller, Noel Sweeny, turned their perceptions of the facility around, rolled up their sleeves, and ten years later were making some of the most unique Irish whiskey in the Country. Not that it was easy, Dr. Teeling tried unsuccessfully to sell the distillery five years into the process to rid himself of the bad investment. But… innovation and desire played their part, and the remarkable turn around of the Cooley Distillery is the stuff of legend.

One of the innovative products made at the Cooley Distillery is the Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey. It is the only single grain Irish Whiskey that I know of which uses a double distillation of a single grain (corn) in a continuous column still. The final product is aged in used bourbon barrels for either 8 years or 15, and bottled at 43% alcohol by volume.

I am reviewing the 15-year-old version which quite frankly is one of the most surprising whiskeys I have come across recently. Here is a small snippet from my review:

“…The delivery of the whiskey leads out with rich oak spice and honey.  A sweet vanilla bourbon flavour swamps the taste-buds, and I am fully aware that this whisky is unlike any Irish whisky I have tasted.  As the flavour settles toasty corn-on-the-cob with mouth-watering butter  comes to mind. ..”

You may read the rest of the review here:

Whiskey Review: Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey (15YR)

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

Whiskey Review – Bushmills 16yr Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 7, 2009

A good Irishmen will tell you that Ireland is the birthplace of Whiskey.  (He probably will not tell you that this original Irish Whiskey was made from oats not barley and it tasted disgusting.)  Whether Ireland really was the birthplace of whiskey is a matter of debate, (for a good Scotsman overhearing the conversation might just roll up his sleeves and start swinging at the mere suggestion that his ancestors did not invent the stuff).  But actually the evidence tips slightly to the Irish who are not above tipping and tottering after a dram or two.   In fact it is said that the Irish first spelled whiskey with an  “e”  and the Scots decided to drop the “e” just to point out that their whisky was different, which originally it probably wasn’t,  but soon was.  And if you follow all of that you probably need a dram of the stuff right about now.  So let me introduce an outstanding Irish Whiskey:

Bushmills 16 Single MaltBushmills 16yr Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey

Irish Whiskey has its own unique flavour heritage,  spicy anise and a smooth grainy profile.  Personally I find Irish whiskey to be a smooth and easy to drink.  Bushmills 16yr Single Malt  does not disappoint in this regard.  The Irish heritage stands proudly here, but this is a single malt, not a grain whiskey.  This means we get a little more sweetness on the palate.  The anise flavour is more licorice like.  However the whiskey has other complex flavours not commonly found in other Irish whiskeys.  A firm but mellow vanilla bourbon (from the American whiskey oak), a subtle but slightly heavy sherry influence (from the Oloroso cask), and fruity cherry like flavours from the port pipes. ….

You may read the full review here:

Review – Bushmills 16yr Old Single Malt (Ireland)


Posted in Irish Whskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off

 
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