The Rum Howler Blog

(A Website for Spirited Reviews)

  • The Rum Howler Blog

  • Visit My Online Memorabilia Store

  • The Rum Howler Top Canadian Whiskies of 2013

    Click the image to find the Best 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2013

  • The Rum Howler Interview (Good Food Revolution)

    Click on the Image to see my interview on Good Food Revolution

  • The Rum Howler Top Rums of 2013

    Click the image to find the Best 30 Rums of 2013

  • Industry Interviews

    Interviews

    Click the Image for Great Interviews with the Movers of Industry

  • Cocktails and Recipes

    Click Image for Awesome Recipes

  • Follow Me on Twitter!

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

Review: Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 20, 2014

1878 Whiskey Cocktail with Maker's Mark

1878 Whiskey Cocktail with Maker’s Mark

Maker’s Mark is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky brand distilled in Loretto, Kentucky, and owned by Beam Global. Bill Samuels Sr. is credited with creating the first version of Maker’s Mark in 1954, and the folks at the Maker’s Mark Distillery have been producing the whiskey since 1958.

The process of producing the bourbon begins with pure limestone fed spring-water, yellow corn, red winter wheat, and natural malted barley (note the absence of rye grain which was replaced by red winter wheat in the mash bill). It continues with a unique milling, cooking, fermentation and small batch distillation process; and it ends with the spirit being aged in new oak barrels. Of course the final whisky is tested and tasted to make sure it is just right before being bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume.

You may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

“… As I nose the glass, I find the breezes are filled with dry oak and cedar scents with a bit of the ‘sappiness’ which I have come to expect from straight American whisky. The firm scents of wood grain and fresh sap are soon joined by orange peel, honeycomb and bits of maple and caramel. There are also indications of baking spices (vanilla cinnamon and cloves), dry grassy cigarette tobacco, and bits of almond …”

The recipe I have decided to showcase at the conclusion of the review is an old whiskey cocktail I found in Leo Engels 1878 book, American and Other Drinks. In his book, Leo simply calls the recipe a Whiskey Cocktail (for simplicity I call it the 1878 Whiskey Cocktail), and I suspect his recipe is close to the original version of what we today call, the Old Fashioned Cocktail.

Please enjoy the review everybody, and enjoy my cocktail suggestion!

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

Review: Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 17, 2014

ballantine-finestThe heritage of Ballantine’s Scotch Whisky can be traced back to 1827 when George Ballantine set up a small grocery store in Edinburgh supplying a range of whiskies to his clients. In 1865, he opened a larger establishment in Glasgow where he concentrated on the wine and spirit trade and catered to a more upscale customer base which apparently included the Hindu Royal Family. It was at this time that Ballantine started the experimentation which led to the creation of his own whisky blends. By the time his son George Jr. took over the business, Ballantine’s was a growing concern and the family eventually sold the prosperous business to Barclay and McKinlay in 1919. As the business and the brand continued to grow, the brand attracted the attention of the Canadian firm, Hiram Walker Gooderham & Worts who acquired Ballantine’s in 1937. Growth continued especially in new markets in Europe. Then in 1988, the Company became part of the global beverage conglomerate Allied Domecq, and later (in 2005) was acquired by Pernod Ricard who own the brand today.

Mamie Taylor

Mamie Taylor

Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky is the flagship whisky of the Ballantine’s brand. It is blended from a mixture of malt and grain whiskies all of which are aged (as per Scottish Law) for a minimum of three years in oak barrels.

You may read my full review of the blended Scotch whisky by clicking on the following except:

Review: Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky

“… The initial nose rising into the breezes above the glass have a firm honeyed butterscotch taint which is accented by heather and fine grain spices. I also detect light notes of raisins and cherry licorice which hints at a few sherry barrels which may have been utilized in the aging of at least some of the whisky. As I let the glass sit I notice fruity aromas of apple juice and canned peaches and apricots, as well as more grain-like scents which remind me of orange and lime zest and damp cigarette tobacco …”

Please enjoy the review and the recipe suggestion which follows, the Mamie Taylor Cocktail.

Slainte’

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 8, 2014

Four Roses Small batch SAM_1137Four Roses is a Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey owned by the Japanese firm, Kirin Brewery Company. The brand traces its history back to 1884 when Paul Jones Jr. opened an office in Louisville, Kentucky on a section of Main Street called, “Whiskey Row.” In 1888 Jones acquired his trademark for the name ‘Four Roses’, and in 1922 he purchased the Frankfort Distilling Company. The Four Roses brand became well established, and in 1943 it caught the eye of Seagram, who purchased the Frankfort Distilling Co., and with it, the Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon trademark.

The brand underwent a few changes in the 1950s as the whiskey was converted into a blend by Seagram for the US market, but remained a Straight bourbon overseas in Asian and European Markets. As a blended whiskey the brand lost some of its importance was eventually sold to Vivendi and subsequently to Diageo. Diageo sold the Four Roses trademark to Kirin in 2002, and Kirin made a decision to discontinue the sale of blended whiskey and returned the focus of the brand back to Bourbon Whiskey.

1878 Bourbon Smash

1878 Bourbon Smash

Four Roses is now produced at the Four Roses Distillery under the guidance of Master Blender, Jim Rutledge. The Distillery uses 5 proprietary yeast strains in combination with two different mashbills to produce 10 different Bourbons recipes. To produce Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, Jim Rutledge chooses select bourbon barrels from four of these recipe Bourbons.

You may read my full review of Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

“… The aroma from the glass reveals spicy oak sap and woody cedar aromas surrounded by additional scents of vanilla  and sweet butterscotch. There is a bit of spicy orange peel as well us some nice dollops of maple and honeycomb. I allowed the glass to breath and began to notice some spicy cinnamon and clove as well as some tobacco and hay-like grassiness …”

Please enjoy the review which includes a tweaked version of Leo Engels, 1878 Bourbon Smash as the feature recipe!

Have a great Sunday!

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

Review: Chinook Signature White Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 3, 2014

White Whisky Daiquiri SAM_1160The folks at MCBSW Sales in Calgary Alberta have recently expanded their Chinook Whisky line-up to include two new Signature Whiskies, the previously reviewed Chinook Signature Rye Whisky (click on the link to read the review) and a new ‘white whisky’, which is the subject of this review, the Limited Edition Chinook Signature White Whisky.

I was told by the agent responsible for the brand here in Alberta that both Chinook Signature whiskies are produced and aged in Southern Alberta from Western Canadian Prairie grain. The Signature White in addition to being aged for the minimum 3 years required by Canadian Law is additionally filtered clear to provide a mild flavoured whisky suitable as an alternate to vodka for mixing quality cocktails. Interestingly, the words “Canadian Whisky” do not appear anywhere on the label of the bottle I received. Whether this was done intentionally or whether this was an oversight is not known; however this does leave the door open for the brand owners to move production of the whisky south of the border to their own distillery in Wisconsin at some point in the future.

I was provided a bottle of the Chinook Signature White Whisky by the Alberta agent for MCBSW Sales for the purpose of this review on my website.

You may click on the following excerpt link to read my full review:

Review: Chinook Signature White Whisky

“… The aromas in the breezes above the glass are very subtle, and it would be easy to mistake this whisky for a white rum rather than a grain based spirit. I sense a mellow butterscotch scent which carries hints of honey and cotton candy, and light influences of sandalwood, orange peel zest and vanilla. There are also a few floral tones in the air which remind me of heather and lilac, and some vague hints of mint and licorice …”

At the conclusion of my review I added two nice recipes which I felt highlighted the great mixing potential of the Chinook Signature White Whisky, the White Whisky Daiquiri (pictured left), and the White Whisky Mojito.

Please enjoy my review and my recipe suggestions!

 

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Tomatin 12 Year Old (Single Malt)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 29, 2014

tomatin12The Tomatin Distillery is located in the Monadhliath Mountains near Inverness, the capital of the Highlands of Scotland. The Distillery was established in 1897. (For those who do not know, the term “established in 1897″ is a code term which represents an acknowledgement by the distillery that the company began to legally pay taxes on the spirits it produced in that year. When the Distillery actually began to produces spirits is not acknowledged.) Because of its location in the Monadhliath Mountains, Tomatin is one of the highest distilleries (elevation wise) in Scotland at 315 metres above sea level. In 1985 as the Distillery was expanded and was at that time renamed, The Tomatin Distillery Co Ltd..

The company now operates 12 stills, in a process which perhaps more closely resembles a large-scale industrial factory rather than a typical Single Malt Distillery. This is because the distillery has always been a large-scale producer of whisky for Scotland’s major blends. However, Tomatin has recently began to focus their efforts on also producing their own Single Malt Whisky as well as establishing their own brand identity.

Blood and Sand

Blood and Sand

The Tomatin 12 Year Old (Single Malt) is matured in what the company calls ‘traditional’ oak casks. However for the last 6 to 9 months of its aging life the whisky is moved to Oloroso Sherry Casks. You may read my full review which includes a nice recipe suggestion, Blood and Sand, by clicking the following excerpt link:

Review: Tomatin 12 Year Old (Single Malt)

“… The delivery shows more wood and baking spice than the nose implied with pleasant flavours of oak sap combining with vanilla, cinnamon and hints of clove. The sherried fruit is obvious as well demonstrated by flavours of green grape accented by raisins and figs. Although the whisky is sherried, the Oloroso influence comes across as a firm flavour accent rather than as a sherry bomb. …”

Please enjoy the review!

Slainte!

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Chinook Signature Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 18, 2014

Soft Touch (Chinook) SAM_1149

Chinook Whisky and the Soft Touch Cocktail

The folks at MCBSW Sales in Calgary Alberta have been quite busy over the last couple of years. In addition to bringing no less than five new Canadian Whiskies onto the market (hopefully I will review them all); they have also bought a Micro distillery (Minhas Micro Distillery) in Monroe, Wisconsin, from which they are producing Polo Club Gin and Blackstone Vodka. Plans are apparently underway to produce an American Bourbon as well. One of those new Canadian Whiskies MCBWS has recently launched, is an addition to their popular Chinook family of Whiskies,  Chinook Signature Rye Whisky.

I was provided a bottle of the Chinook Signature Rye Whisky by the Alberta agent for MCBSW Sales for the purpose of this review on my website.

You may click on the following excerpt link to read the full review:

Review: Chinook Signature Rye Whisky

“… The nose is full of clean oak and rye spice with obvious notes of fresh grain and straw accompanying the spice. As the glass sits, orange peel and citrus fruit notes begin to climb out of the glass as well as some fresh ginger and coriander spice. There is also a firm underlying sweetness which reminds me of cotton candy and marshmallows …”

I provided two nice recipes for the Chinook Signature Rye Whisky at the conclusion of my review, the Hippodrome, and the Soft Touch. Please enjoy my review and the provided recipes as well as the nice weather we are having this weekend!

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Tomatin Legacy

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 12, 2014

Tomatin Crusta SAM_1133The Tomatin Distillery is located in the Monadhliath Mountains near Inverness, the capital of the Highlands of Scotland. The Distillery was established in 1897. (For those who do not know, the term “established in 1897″ is a code term which represents an acknowledgement by the distillery that the company began to legally pay taxes on the spirits it produced in that year. When the Distillery actually began to produces spirits is not acknowledged.) Because of its location in the Monadhliath Mountains, Tomatin is one of the highest distilleries (elevation wise) in Scotland at 315 metres above sea level. In 1985 as the Distillery was expanded and was at that time renamed, The Tomatin Distillery Co Ltd.. The company now operates 12 stills, in a process which perhaps more closely resembles a large-scale industrial factory rather than a typical Single Malt Distillery. This is because the distillery has always been a large-scale producer of whisky for Scotland’s major blends. However, Tomatin has recently began to focus their efforts on also producing their own Single Malt Whisky as well as establishing their own brand identity.

The Tomatin Legacy is the companies introductory (some would say flagship) Single Malt, and is produced from a whisky aged in a combination of ex-Bourbon barrels and Virgin Oak casks. This Single Malt Whisky carries no age statement, as the whisky is blended to a specific taste profile rather than to be a specific age statement. The use of virgin oak to age some of the whisky is a rather novel idea for a Scottish producer, but one which I heartily endorse.

Here is an excerpt (and link) to my full review of this surprisingly good whisky:

Review: Tomatin Legacy

“… The initial nose is very pleasant with a combination of clean oak spice, almond accents and hints of green grapes and green apples. There is also a meringue-like sweetness which rises up into the air with a gentle sweep of vanilla around it. As the glass breathes the oak spices gains momentum and I soon also receive impressions of willow trees and aspen with a touch of piny goodness in the mix somewhere as well. I seem to also sense springtime aromas of fresh sweet grass, and some floral lemon blossoms …”

As you can see from my photo to the left, I included a wonderful cocktail suggestion with the review, the Single Malt Crusta.

Please enjoy the review and the stunning cocktail!

Posted in Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Jack Daniel’s (Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 4, 2014

JD No 7Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 is produced in Lynchburg, Tennessee, by the Jack Daniel Distillery (currently owned by the Brown-Forman Corporation). Interestingly enough, the Jack Daniel’s Distillery is located in Moore County which has remained dry dating back to the passing of the state’s prohibition laws in the early 20th century. Even though prohibition ended federally in 1933 when the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed, the Tennessee State prohibition laws have remained in effect; and hence, all counties in the state remained dry after prohibition ended. Counties may individually repeal the local state law by passing a “local option” referendum; however, Moore County has not done so. This has given rise to the curious situation in which the county which produces the best-selling American Whiskey in the world does not allow this whiskey to be sold in the stores or the restaurants within its own boundaries.

Lynchburg Slammer

Lynchburg Slammer

Jack Daniels Old No. 7 is produced in much the same manner as bourbon, from a corn heavy mash and aged in new charred white oak barrels. However, the Jack Daniel’s distillery has always resisted the use of the bourbon classification, and instead prefers to label their spirit as Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey.

You may read my full review of the World’s best-selling American Whiskey by clicking on the following review excerpt:

Review: Jack Daniel’s (Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey)

“… The initial nose was full of corn syrup, the spiciness of wood sap, and a very apparent dankness which reminded me of damp autumn leaves. The wood sap reminded me of both fresh-cut oak and cedar logs, and some vanilla accents seemed to be wrapped up in the corn and the wood spices. There was also an indistinct a clay-like earthiness in the breezes above the glass with perhaps a touch of cigarette smoke as well …”

I included a nice recipe for your enjoyment at the conclusion of the review, the Lynchburg Slammer. Please enjoy the review and the suggested cocktail, Cheers!

Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 20, 2014

Booker's SAM_1112Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon is part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection. This collection is composed of Booker’s, and the previously reviewed Baker’s, Knob Creek,and Basil Hayden’s. The whiskey collection is considered by Jim Beam Distillers to be a selection of ‘ultra-premium’ bourbon whiskeys created to establish a high-end category for bourbon, and thus to appeal to the serious whiskey aficionado. The Booker’s Bourbon was named for Booker Noe, who in 1992 began to produce the Booker’s whiskey bottled “straight-from-the-barrel, uncut and unfiltered”.

Apparently, the Booker’s whiskey was originally produced in extremely limited quantities and reserved as special holiday gifts for his friends and family. This high strength ‘holiday bourbon’ was so popular with those who received it that the Beam company decided to produce it as a special bottling beginning in 1992.  Interestingly, Booker’s Bourbon does not carry a consistent age statement from batch to batch as barrels are chosen for character and flavour rather than for being a specific age. For that reason the age of a particular bottle can vary between 6 to 8 years old. Because the whiskey is bottled straight from the barrel the bottling strength can also vary (according to the website) between 59.5 % to 64.55 % per batch.

sam_1118-the-bestiary

The Beastiary

(The Beam Global team must be aware of my fondness for over-strength whiskey because my sample bottle checks in at the full 64.55%.)

You may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon

“… As I enjoyed the scents and smells which the whiskey brought forward, I was treated to even more richness as indications of dry fruit revealed themselves above the glass along with hints of treacle and pan roasted walnuts. There were also delightful aromas of leather chairs and rich pipe tobacco meandering into the breezes with undertones of smoky charcoal and dabbles of licorice mixed in. What I sense only a little of, is any undo astringency from the whopping 64.55 % alcohol within the glass. Maybe I have a bottle from a particularly outstanding batch; but air above my glass represents a masterpiece of whiskey goodness …”

My cocktail suggestion at the end of my review, The Beastiary, combines the goodness and savagery of Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon with a whopping dose of bitters in the tradition of the Alabazam Cocktail.

Please enjoy my both review and my cocktail which is not for the meek of heart. Happy Easter!

Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Review: The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 10, 2014

Balvenie 12 SAM_1113The Balvenie Distillery is located at Dufftown which is of course, pretty much situated in the heart of the Speyside region of Scotland. This is a Single Malt Distillery; but one which holds the distinction of being the only such distillery where every part of the process of making whisky takes place right at the distillery. The distillery grows and malts its own barley (about 10 % of its total requirement); it has its own cooperage; and it has its own copper-smith. Owned by William Grant and Sons, the distillery is one of the top 10 producers (by volume) of Scottish Single Malt Whisky.

The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel is one of the company’s most recent offerings to arrive in Canada, and it replaces The Balvenie 15 Year Old Single Barrel whose stocks have been dwindling such that this expression is now quite hard to find (at least where I live). The 12 Year Old (like the 15 Year Old before it) is a true Single Barrel Whisky as each bottle is drawn from a single first-fill Bourbon cask selected by The Balvenie Malt Master, David Stewart. These casks were chosen to represent a consistent Balvenie character; however, each barrel will have its own unique character, and therefore each bottling from each unique barrel will be slightly different from each other. (And yes, this whisky spent its entire 12 year aging life in one single first-fill barrel.)

You may read my full review here:

Review: The Balvenie 12 Year Old Single Barrel

“… The breezes above the glass indicate that the whisky has a firm oak character as those breezes are filled with a firm presence of clean oak spice. This woody spiciness is accented (quite nicely) with vanilla, sawgrass and almond scents. As the glass breathes, the whisky breezes become more complex bringing forward additional hints of butterscotch, honey and some sweet beer-like malt …”

Note: Only 300 cases of this limited edition single malt are available for purchase at LCBO stores across Ontario starting February 2014. There were previously 300 cases released for purchase in Alberta in December 2013.

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,186 other followers

%d bloggers like this: