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

#12 Canadian Whisky – Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still (2012 Edition)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 14, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYLot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still represents Canadian Whisky in a familiar yet different form. It is familiar, because this is a true rye whisky, made with locally grown Canadian rye grain carrying that wonderful spicy rye flavour forward. It is different because the distillate for the whisky was produced on a single copper-pot still rather than on those tall column stills which dominate the large Canadian distilleries. It is different also because that pot still distillate was aged (for at least part of its life) in new freshly charred oak barrels to showcase the creamy caramelized flavours which those new oak barrels bring.

Dr. Don Livermore (the Hiram Walker Distillery Master Blender) elaborated on the process for me when I had a chance to speak directly with him about Corby’s newest premium whisky:

Lot No. 40Without getting into specific recipes, Lot 40 is comprised of 100% of our (Hiram Walker) rye whisky. This whisky was made via pot distillation and subsequently aged in new casks. There is a proprietary proportion of distillers malt(s) used in the brewing process that allows for conversion of the rye grains into fermentable sugars. The brewing process is made in small batches according to the traditional recipes dating back to the early 1900s.”

This difference in fermentation, distillation and aging processes brings about a real difference in whisky style. Lot No. 40 isn’t a hard column still rye whisky which likes to take your tonsils for a ride. Instead this is a pot still rye whisky with a soft earthiness that runs through the whisky. More than any other whisky in my tasting flights for the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown, the Lot No. 40 divided the judging panel. Two of the judges, (myself included) absolutely loved the soft pot still flavour. The other two judges, were somewhat baffled by where this spirit fit in to the landscape of Canadian Whisky.

What we decided was that the Lot No. 40 Copper Pot Still fit in as the Number 12 Canadian Whisky in my 2013 Christmas Advent Countdown:

#12 Canadian Whisky – Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still (2012 Edition)

“… the initial nose is filled with the scents and smells of honeycomb, freshly harvested rye, and freshly cut oak and cedar planks which are still seeping bits of sap from the wood grain. Caramel toffee and green tobacco, and even more fresh rye climb up out of the glass into the breezes …”

Lot 40 Single Copper Pot Still is a thoroughly enjoyable whisky which breaks new ground for the Canadian Whisky category.

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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: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

# 13 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Confederation Oak

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 13, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYForty Creek Confederation Oak was built upon the foundation of John Hall’s flagship whisky, Forty Creek Barrel Select, and is basically a version of this whisky which has been finished in Canadian Oak Barrels. These oak barrels were made from oak trees (growing only 40 miles from the distillery) which began their growth in Canadian soil approximately 150 years ago at the time of Confederation (the birth of Canada as a nation), hence the name chosen for the whisky, Confederation Oak.

Confederation oakWhen I spoke to John Hall (Forty Creek founder and Whisky Maker) about this whisky, he mentioned that Canadian oak trees are heavier and more dense than American oak due to the harsher Canadian climate. As a result, the oak barrels made from these trees impart a different flavour characteristic to the whisky. The vanillans are more pronounced, and the wood tannins seem to be slightly stronger. In fact, John told me he almost scrapped this whisky altogether when after the first and the second years of ‘finishing’ in the Canadian oak barrels, the whisky was, to him, harsh and unappealing. But rather than scrapping the whisky, he allowed time to take its course. To his delight the whisky mellowed considerably after the third year of finishing, and the desired flavour profile for his whisky was achieved.

And what a flavour that was, John Hall’s Forty Creek Confederation Oak ranks Number 13 in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown. Here is a link to my review:

# 13 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Confederation Oak

“… The aroma from the glass begins with typical Canadian Whisky notes of light rye and oak.  Soon, however, I begin to notice caramel corn and light baking spices building, then a strong indication of the new oak barrels imparting their fresh tannin into the liquid as fresh scents of honeycomb, vanilla, cedar and toffee rise into the breezes above the glass. As the glass breathes, the oak becomes firmer and a certain smokiness from dried fruit develops. Fresh sap, raisins, dried apricots and spicy toffee are all apparent in the fully decanted glass …”

I am very happy that Forty Creek is a distillery that believes in patience. The extra time this whisky spent in the new oak barrels has paid handsome dividends. The result was not just a good whisky. Rather it is a whisky that is so good I shall be hoarding it, and I will dole out a dram here and a dram there just for special occasions and just special friends.

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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

#14 Canadian Whisky – Crown Royal Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 12, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYCrown 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. In the fall of 2008, the name of the brand was tweaked and relaunched as Crown Royal Reserve Canadian Whisky.

reserve-bottleAccording to the information I received from the brand owner (and gleaned from the Crown Royal website), this particular Crown Royal whisky is produced from selected casks which were tasted and monitored closely by their 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.

I guess that my tasting panel agrees that something more special has resulted from all this care and attention as the Crown Royal Reserve lands in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown in the Number 14 position.

Here is a link to my latest review:

#14 Canadian Whisky – Crown Royal Reserve

“… I am impressed by the complex structure of the whisky which is all at once tart and spicy, sweet and creamy, and rich with flavour. The whisky is lightly oaky with wood spices leading out as orange peel and pepper. Some clear rye spices (ginger in particular) jump in and this spicy montage of flavour is accented by sweet flavours of caramel and maple …”

The Crown Royal Reserve is very appealing and complex. It does though, require a bit of time in the glass to reach its full potential.

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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

#15 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club 20 Year Old Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 11, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYCanadian 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.

728935Although 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. The Limited Edition Canadian Club 20 Year Old Whisky checks in at the Number 15 spot in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.  You may read my review of this fabulous whisky by clicking the following excerpt:

#15 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club 20 Year Old Whisky

“… 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. The cooler temperature was certainly not inhibiting this whisky.  It is when the glass is fully decanted that the aroma becomes sublime. Deep, dark brown sugars and a hint of charred marshmallow become evident as well as mildly sour citrus fruit. Although that final descriptor may not sound lovely, you will have to trust me that it is …”

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 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

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

#16 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Legacy

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 10, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYWiser’s Legacy Canadian Whisky (a Corby Brand) was released in early 2010 as a new entry into the fledgling “Super Premium” category of Canadian Whisky. At the time, a few other Super Premium Whiskies already existed in the market-place (Wiser’s own Red Letter, and Crown Royal’s, Cask No. 16 and Crown Royal  XR); but the category hadn’t really caught the buying public’s imagination. In fact the Super Premium category had seen more failures than successes to that point (at least as far as Canadian Whisky was concerned). However the tipping point for the category seems to have been the year 2010, and the brand which (in my opinion) which helped the most to bring about a this change was Wiser’s Legacy.

Wiser's LegacyThis whisky is produced from a rye forward mash bill (Canadian rye, rye malt and barley malt) using a slow copper pot distillation technique which was ‘fine-tuned’ to capture the very specific flavours and aromas during distillation. The new oak barrels used to age the resulting distillate were lightly toasted rather than heavily charred to help bring more of these specific flavours forward. The final results were obviously good as the Wiser’s Legacy was one of the key Whiskies which led the charge of Canadian Spirits into the Super Premium Category, and into the consciousness of collectors and connoisseurs.

You may read a recently updated review of the Number 16 Whisky in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown by clicking the following excerpt link:

#16 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Legacy

” … Thick oil coats the throat with an oak and spice explosion. The exit leaves the mouth puckered somewhat from the dry woodiness, and the throat is assaulted by spices which grow hotter in the throat than they were in the mouth. At the end of the finish, typical Canadian rye flavours  finally appear en masse to battle the youthful oak down the throat. The overall impression is that something awesome just might have happened in my throat, but it is hard to describe fully what it was …”

The Legacy is extremely interesting because it is such a departure from a regular Canadian whisky. There is a great deal of complexity introduced by the young oak and this is definitely a giant step towards a more defined bourbon taste profile. What is missing, is the typical smoothness that Canadian Whisky is famous for. What is extra, is a rough and ready whisky which has one of the most complex flavour profiles I have experienced in Canadian Whisky.

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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

#18 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve 21 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 8, 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 had established (Century and Potters) were added to the Highwood portfolio and have recently been expanded upon.

Century_Reserve_21_Yr_-_shadowAccording to the information provided me when I reviewed this whisky the first time, Century Reserve 21 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky, is a premium a 21-year-old single grain corn whisky. This makes the Century Reserve something of a rarity upon the landscape of Canadian Whisky as there are very few single grain whiskies produced in Canada. It is also true that this whisky serves a very good example of how wonderful and tasty our Canadian Whisky can be. The 2013 bottling of the Century Reserve 21 Year Old arrives on my Christmas Countdown as the Number 18 Canadian Whisky!

Here is a link to my newly written review of the most recent bottling made available to me:

#18 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve 21 Year Old (2013)

“… The breezes above the glass are luscious. Indications of roasted corn-0n-the-cob, rich oak spices, toffee, butterscotch, and tobacco all rise up to greet my nose. As the whisky breathes, those scents and smells above the glass become even richer with oak sap, stronger tobacco accents, marmalade and hints of vanilla pudding marrying themselves into the overall aroma …”

Note: Although I did not include a cocktail suggestion at the conclusion of my new review, if you are inclined to break through the boundaries of rigid convention, I would heartily endorse the Century Reserve 21 Year Old consumed in the manner of the Old Fashioned Cocktail.

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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

#19 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Small Batch

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 7, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYWiser’s Small Batch Canadian Whisky was released in the fall of 2008 replacing the Wiser’s Reserve. There were a few important differences in Wiser’s Small Batch which made it something of a market leader as far Canadian Whisky was concerned. First, because this whisky is made in small batches using traditional distilling methods, the moniker ‘Small Batch’ was attached to the name. Secondly, although this whisky does not sit in the ‘super premium’ tier, its bottling strength was increased to 43.4 % from the traditional 40 %. On both these counts the industry seems to be catching up with Wiser’s as small batch production whiskies and higher bottling strength whiskies are both becoming more and more common.

WisersSmBatch-Oct12-lgThis year a new bottle was unveiled for the Wiser’s Small Batch. Although the bottle changed, the quality inside seems to have remained intact as Wiser’s Small Batch is the Number 19 whisky in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown:

Here is a link to my recently written 2013 review:

#19 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 (marmalade, apricots and pears) …”

The Wiser’s Small Batch is a great example of how tasty our 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.

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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

#20 Canadian Whisky – Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 6, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYDanfield’s Canadian Whisky is produced in the City of Lethbridge in my home Province of Alberta. It is produced for Williams & Churchill by Schenley Distilleries Inc. at the Black Velvet Distillery, (also referred to locally as the Palliser Distillery). Williams and Churchill are not distillers themselves, rather they appear to be a third-party company which owns the Danfield’s Brand. The 21 Year Old is a small batch whisky produced from rye, corn and malted barley. It is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume and prior to bottling, the whisky is apparently “diamond filtered” to add further polish to the whisky.

SAM_0833 Dan 21I am not sure what ‘diamond filtering’ accomplishes; however, I do know that aging a Canadian Whisky for 21 years usually reaps great rewards. Apparently my judging panel agrees, and Danfield’s 21 year Old Whisky checks in at Number 20 on my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is a link to a recent review of mine:

#20 Canadian Whisky – Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year Old

“…  The rye continues to pour out with the scent becoming earthier as it changes from a clean dry rye to a thick fruit-filled rye over the course of the nosing. Hints of marzipan and orange peel come forward as does a nice underlying nuttiness which reminds me of the wild hazelnuts which grown around the lakes in west-central Alberta …”

The Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 year Old Canadian Whisky is a classic Canadian Whisky in every sense of the word. Although it is a rye forward whisky, the flavour elements of dank corn and nutty barley also ripple through the whisky providing the full grain spectrum of Canadian Whisky Flavour.

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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

#21 Canadian Whisky – Coyote Ugly

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 5, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYOn January 27, 1993, Wall Street intern, Liliana Lovell opened the first Coyote Ugly Saloon in New York City. If you watched the Jerry Bruckheimer movie Coyote Ugly (released in 2000), then you know all about this place where the waitresses, called ‘Coyote Girls’, serve the drinks, dance and sing, and even (apparently) down shots of whisky with the customers. According to the movie, at the Coyote Ugly Saloon, things are kept pretty simple. The drinks are served straight up with no frills (unless you call things like girls dancing on the bar a frill). They don’t use soda for mix; they don’t even add a drop or two of water. In fact, if you ask for water, rather than receiving a little for your whisky, you are more likely to get doused with the stuff to a chorus of customers chanting, “Hell No … H2O!”

Coyote Ugly WhiskyTo make a long story short, the success of the movie spawned more Coyote Ugly Saloons across the USA and even as far away as Russia. Building upon that success, Celebrity Cellars International founder, Jeff Harder, teamed up with the founder of the Coyote Ugly Saloon, Liliana Lovell and launched Coyote Ugly Canadian Whisky on March 12, 2012.

Last year (2012), I was asked to provide a review of Coyote Ugly upon my website to serve as a preview for its world-wide launch. This year, Coyote Ugly (made in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies) arrives at the Number 21 spot in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

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

#21 Top Canadian Whisky – Coyote Ugly

“… The whisky smells of rich butterscotch and caramel. Light rye scents waft into the breezes with dabs of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. A light footprint of vanilla and almond compliment the delicate baking spices leaving impressions of marzipan in the air above the glass …”

Enjoy the Review!

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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

#23 Canadian Whisky – Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 3, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYI consider the Highwood Distillery to be a rather unique whisky producer making a style of Canadian Whisky unlike anything else on the Canadian Whisky landscape. What is so original about the Highwood Whisky is the grain from which it is distilled. Highwood is the only distillery which uses local Canadian prairie wheat for the distillation base of all of their Highwood branded whisky. They do this because wheat alcohol, rather than barley or corn alcohol, has less heavy, non-digestible components which makes for an extremely easy drinking spirit. As well, rather than distilling their grain upon a large column still (as most Canadian Whisky is produced) they make all of their whisky upon a pot still one batch at a time.

HW_Rye_Whisky_shadowI have been a rather vocal proponent of their style of whisky ever since I first tasted it. Highwood Whisky is suave, mellow and full of delicious, delicate flavour nuances. What a pleasant surprise it was to find that my Rum Chums liked the distillery’s flagship whisky more than I did. The result of all of this love, is that Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky landed at the number 23 spot on my Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is a link to my recent September review:

#23 Canadian Whisky – Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky

“… The first thing I noticed about the Highwood Whisky as I sipped it was that it is a smooth, gentle, and mellow whisky which has the soft sensation in the mouth of a much older whisky. Honeycomb, ginger, wood spice, and a light dab of vanilla all support a wonderfully clean, dusty rye flavour. There is polish in evidence here, but a little rough and tumble too, as the wood spices liven the mouth-feel and take me back in time to when rye was the King of Canadian Spirits …”

For those who are value conscious, I should make the point that this whisky is probably the most affordable spirit in the entire countdown, a hidden gem in the foothills of the Rockies!

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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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