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Archive for the ‘Whisk(e)y Review’ Category

Rum Howler 2014 #14 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club Chairman’s Select – 100% Rye

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 11, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Canadian Club Whisky is now the oldest (and probably the most influential) Canadian Whisky brand in the world.  It is found in over 150 countries, with sales in Canada that are unmatched by any other premium whisky brand.

Recently Canadian Club (owned by Beam Suntory) launched a new 100% rye grain whisky, Canadian Club Chairman’s Select – 100% Rye. It is of course produced exclusively from rye grain, distilled (and almost certainly aged) in Calgary by Alberta Distillers Ltd (who are also owned by Beam Suntory). The Chairman’s Select is aged in American Oak (bourbon barrels), cut to bottling strength (40 % abv) and then bottled in Walkerville Ontario, the home of Canadian Club.

cc chairman's select SAM_1332The new Chairman’s Select – 100 % Rye grabs the Number 14 slot in my Top 25 Canadian Whiskies Countdown of 2014.

Here is a link to my recent review:

#14 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club Chairman’s Select – 100% Rye

“… the Chairman’s Select 100 % Rye whisky is very rye forward with lots of fine peppery wood spice dancing with that rye in the breezes. Melded into the spicy rye is a lovely light sweetness of butterscotch with a gentle sweep of vanilla and a few bits of almond. I also receive strong impressions of freshly harvested grain fields with dusty chaff blowing in the wind and lots of fresh straw lying in the windrows …”

Chairman’s Select – 100 % Rye appears to have been constructed with an emphasis on allowing the rye grain to run free within the spirit. It has a full, rich and spicy flavour which appeals to me very strongly. Definitely a must have whisky for the Rye lover on your Christmas list. (That’s a strong hint to my wife and kids.)

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

 

 

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #15 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Small Batch

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 10, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Wiser’s Small Batch Canadian Whisky was brought to the market in the fall of 2008 replacing the Wiser’s Reserve. When this whisky was released,there were a few important differences in its make-up which made it important as far Canadian Whisky was concerned.

In the first place, it is apparently produced in small batches using more traditional distilling methods, hence the name Wiser’s Small Batch, and in the second place, its bottling strength is 43.4 % alcohol by volume, rather than the traditional 40 %. Canadian Whiskies at the ultra premium end of the scale had of course in the past been produced at a higher bottling strength, and in small production runs. However, Wiser’s Small Batch appears to be the first of the lower priced (I hate calling them economy) whiskies to walk this path (at least as far as I can determine).

WisersSmBatch-Oct12-lgThis year we noticed that at least one of Wiser’s competitors (Century Distillers) have followed along that path of producing a higher bottling proof – low priced Canadian whisky as well (Ninety 5 Year Old). Let us hope that a few others join in, and this trends continues to grow.

Wiser’s Small Batch checks into my countdown as the 15th Best Canadian Whisky, I have tasted this year.

Here is a link to my most recent review:

#15 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Small Batch

“… Wiser’s Small Batch is soft and supple on the tongue with hot oak spices which carry a bevy of flavour along for the ride across the palate. I taste some fresh oak and cedar; some sweet caramel, butterscotch and maple; soft corn and spicy rye; some light impressions of honeycomb and tobacco, and some delicious canned fruit …”

The Wiser’s Small Batch is a great example of how good, inexpensive Canadian Whisky can be. It has a wonderful richness and depth of flavour, and I like the higher bottling strength which helps to concentrate these flavours, making them more assertive. In spite of the higher alcohol percentage, the whisky is smooth like Canadian whisky should be and a real pleasure to sip neat or to mix in cocktails.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #17 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club 20 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 8, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Canadian Club Whisky (C.C. Whisky) is blended before it is aged, and this process, which has been called  ‘Blended at Birth’, is the foundation for the entire portfolio of Canadian Club Whiskies. The particular whisky which is examined in this review is the Canadian Club 20 Year Old Whisky. It is a blend of rye, rye malt, corn, and barley malt spirits which were set down to age together 20 years ago. In fact, I believe that the actual blending formula of base spirits for the 20-year-old Whisky is the same as the blending formula used for Canadian Club’s flagship brand, Canadian Club Premium, which is of course the 6-year-old Whisky which anchors the Canadian Club brand.

Canadian Club 20 YrAlthough the 20 Year Old was originally intended to be a specialty bottling when it was first introduced, the whisky became a standard bottling when Beam Global acquired the Canadian Club brand. It remains a Limited Edition whisky with each bottle individually numbered.

Here is a link to the review of the 17th best Canadian Whisky in the World today:

#17 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club 20 Year Old

” … Toffee and caramel poured out of the glass with deep oaky accents and rich baking spices. Rye scents followed as did that full dank corn aroma which is so typical of the Canadian Club line-up. …”

I enjoy the Canadian Club 20 Year Old immensely, and if you need a special gift for the Canadian Club aficionado this Christmas, this whisky certainly fits the bill.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #18 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 7, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve was built upon the foundation of Whisky Maker, John Hall’s flagship whisky, Forty Creek Barrel Select, and is basically a version of this whisky which has been finished in first run bourbon barrels for a final period of aging. This Double Barrel Reserve Whisky was introduced in the fall of 2008, as one of the distillery’s annual limited edition releases. However, the reaction to this ‘double barrel’ whisky was so positive that John Hall decided to make the Double Barrel Reserve a regular member of the distillery’s whisky line-up.

This is the first of the Forty Creek whiskies to crack my Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014 Countdown, I do not think I am letting too much out of the bag to say it will not be the last. Forty Creek makes great Whisky!

FC DBR

The (Canadian) Godfather

Here is a link to the review of the 18th best Canadian Whisky in the World today:

#18 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

” … my nose detects the scent of maple syrup and rye spices with a nice rich oak and cedar woodiness from both glasses. This is a very bourbon-like nose complete with light indications of corn and almond as well as a honeycomb and vanillans …”

The Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve (Lot 247) is a step towards a new style of Canadian Whisky. The use of young first run bourbon barrels brings more fresh oak flavour forward creating a more complex (although perhaps also a slightly rougher) final spirit. I see this as a step forward in the evolution of Canadian Whisky made for consumers who relish a stronger oak presence in their whisky.

This stronger oak presence allows for more creativity on the cocktail front as well as my new (Canadian) Godfather recipe at the conclusion of the review testifies.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler #20 Canadian Whisky – Crown Royal Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 5, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Crown Royal Canadian Whisky is currently produced in Gimli, Manitoba, at the Crown Royal Distillery. The distillery and the brand are owned by Diageo, and I think it is fair to say that Crown Royal is Diageo’s flagship Canadian whisky brand. In 1992, a premium version of Crown Royal was introduced as Crown Royal Special Reserve. This whisky was produced from specially selected casks which were tasted and monitored closely by the Crown Royal Master Blender. These ‘premium casks’ represented whiskies with special character, and they were allowed to age longer with the aim of producing a more premium whisky. In the fall of 2008, this more premium Crown Royal Special Reserve was relaunched as Crown Royal Reserve Canadian Whisky.

CRReserveI have to admit that I seem to have mixed reactions whenever I taste this particular whisky. When I originally scored it in 2010, I was underwhelmed; but, when I re-scored the spirit in January of 2013, my impression of the whisky had improved considerably.

As well, I have noticed that in blind tastings (when serving as juror for the Canadian Whisky Awards) I seem to have different reaction each time I sample a different bottle.

This time when doing my tastings for the Rum Howler Top 25 Whiskies of 2014, it seems to have improved just a little from its 2013 score, and the result is that the Crown Royal Reserve is the number 20 Canadian Whisky in this years countdown!

You may read my 2014 review here:

#20 Canadian Whisky – Crown Royal Reserve

“… Things begin with rich notes of oak and cedar mingling with rye grain and butterscotch. The punky corn accent so familiar in all Crown Royal whiskies is very apparent; but it is much more subdued in this expression … “

My Canadian Whisky Countdown has reached the top 20 with the Crown Royal Reserve. In my opinion, this is a whisky appears to vary from batch to batch. Fortunately though, those variations seem to be diminishing over time, and the Crown Royal Reserve seems to be finding out who she wants to be.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler #21 Canadian Whisky – Potters Special Old Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 4, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Potter’s Special Old Rye Whisky was originally produced by Potter’s Distilleries (founded by Ernie Potter in 1958). When Highwood Distillers finalized the purchase of Potter’s Distilleries in 2005, they brought all of the aging whisky stocks from the Potter’s warehouse facilities in Kelowna, British Colombia to their new warehouse facility in High River, Alberta and continued to let them age at their site in the foothills just east of the Rocky Mountains. From these aging whisky stocks Highwood has kept the Potter’s Whisky brands alive, incorporating them into their portfolio of whisky products.

Potter's Special OldPotter’s Special Old Rye Whisky is primarily a corn-based whisky which has been aged in charred American White Oak barrels for 4 – 5 years.

You may read my newly revised review by clicking the link below:

Review: Potter’s Special Old Rye Whisky

“… The rye is front and center on the nose with light vanilla following and hints of corn fields waving in the background. Fine wood spices and orange peel build in the air as the glass breathes and some light grassy tobacco scents gather as well. This smells like a good old-fashioned Canadian Whisky and in fact it reminds me of the style whisky I drank 25 years ago. … “

Potter’s Special Old is a really nice traditional Canadian Rye Whisky. Whether you want to enjoy it in a traditional rye cocktail, or if you want to slowly sip on a nice tonsil licking whisky, this one fits the bill. I have been impressed and delighted by what I have found.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler # 22 Canadian Whisky – Masterson’s Straight Wheat Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 3, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Masterson’s Straight Wheat Whiskey is distilled and aged in Canada, for a California company located in Sonoma, called 35 Maple Street. As a straight whiskey, the spirit must be barreled and aged in new American Oak; however this Masterson’s whiskey also holds the distinction of being perhaps the only Canadian whiskey which is distilled on a copper pot still from a mash of 100 % wheat grain.

Mastersons_WheatIt is aged for 12 years, bottled at 50% alcohol by volume, and is apparently (like the rest of the Masterson’s line-up) named for the famous frontier lawman, William “Bat” Masterson.

You may read my review of Masterson’s Straight Wheat Whiskey by clicking the following link:

# 22 Canadian Whisky – Masterson’s 12-Year-Old Straight Wheat Whiskey

“… this 12-year-old straight wheat whiskey maintains its “Canadian Whisky” character with the smooth aromas of a rye-like wheat grain on full display. Mild butterscotch and toffee aromas mingle with the wood and spices, and subtle bits of dry fruit and orange peel drifting into the breezes for those who are patient enough to notice …”

By bottling this whiskey at a higher proof the guys at 35 Maple Street were able to capitalize on the smoothness of the wheat grain, while at the same time bringing more of this grain’s subtle flavours forward. The result is a very pleasant whisky indulgence; and in fact, the Straight Wheat Whisky is by far my favourite whisky expression in the Masterson’s family.

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

# 23 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club Small Batch Classic

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 2, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Canadian 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.

Recently 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  (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.

Classic Small batchIn my opinion the new approach has been very successful as this Canadian Whisky is ranked number 23 on my list of the Best Canadian Whiskies of 2014.

You may read my latest review by clicking the link below:

Review: Canadian Club Small Batch Classic

“… 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 Canadian Club Small Batch Classic (12-year-old) seems to me to be a different whisky than it was before. I taste more oak and cedar in the taste profile, and the result is a richer-fuller taste experience than what I remember from the previous Classic 12 Year Old.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

 

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

# 24 Canadian Whisky – Hiram Walker Special Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 1, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014According to the Corby Brands website, Walker’s Special Old has been available throughout Canada, from Hiram Walker & Sons since 1858. Hiram Walker Special Old is the modern version of this original whisky. It has a bold upfront rye flavour that landed it at the number 24 spot in my Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014 Countdown.

_0068_hiramwalker-sp-oldHere is a link to my newly updated review:

# 24 Canadian Whisky – Hiram Walker Special Old

“… as I pour the whisky I also catch strong fruity accents, a dash of corn, and a mild vanilla arriving off of the pour. The colour of the whisky is a rich coppery brown reminiscent of old Macintosh toffee. In fact I believe I can smell some of that old toffee in the air as well …”

Hiram Walker Special Old is a very nice Canadian Whisky full of rich rye flavour and spicy oak!  The boldness of the flavour really appeals to me, especially in the  finish which was so nice and smooth in spite of the aggressiveness of the whisky.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 30, 2014

On My Deck 2Last 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.

Ninety_5_Year_Old_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:

The Rum Howler 2014 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies!

And with no further ado I announce the number 25 Canadian Whisky produced in 2014:

#25    Ninety (Premium cask Aged) 5 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky

Note:

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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