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(A Website for Spirited Reviews)

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Contact Me

How to Contact The Rum Howler to have your Spirit Reviewed!

If you are a member of the spirits industry, and wish to see your spirit reviewed on the Rum Howler Blog, then here is where you should make your initial contact. My email address for such inquiries is:

MAIL.RUMHOWLER@GMAIL.COM

Please leave a short message regarding your inquiry. If you wish your contact request to be kept confidential, please indicate this in your email. Although I am located in Canada, I have made appropriate arrangements to receive samples from the US and abroad.

All spirits samples must be bottled and sealed in original packaging.

I will not review a sample of less than 200 ml, although the preferred sample size is 500 ml to 750ml bottle. Once contacted, I will respond via email to make arrangements to receive your sample. (I expect all costs associated with transporting the samples to my address, including taxes and duties, to be paid for by the company providing the spirit for review).

I also provide specialized consulting services to spirit producers and distributors to help assess the quality of their products. My fees for this sort of service are very reasonable (at least I think so), and you may use the above email address to contact me in confidence about such matters.

(Please Note: The email address indicated above is for industry contacts only. I will not respond to other inquiries. If you have questions or comments regarding my reviews, my recipes, or other matters relating to the blog then please use the comments section provided at the end of each article I publish.)

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Republishing My Work

Copyright is inherent when an original work is created. This means that the producer of original work is automatically granted copyright protection. This copyright protection not only exists in North America, but extends to other countries as well. This means that , all of the work produced on this blog is protected by copyright, including all of the pictures and all of the articles. These original works may not be copied or reused in any way whatsoever without the permission of the author, Chip Dykstra.

If you are a producer, advertiser or publisher and wish to use, or republish any of the materials or pictures on this website (in full or in part) or have myself submit new material to you for publication, please be advised that all of my articles/reviews/photographs are my intellectual property. Please contact me using the email address above. And yes, I expect to be compensated for such use.

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About Me

I have been writing reviews of distilled spirits for about 5 years now. It began when I posted a few mad ramblings on the Ministry of Rum which gave my views on a few of the more popular Rum Brands. Soon after those ramblings were published, I was contacted by the owner of a website called Rum Connection. He was wondering if I would be interested in writing a few reviews for his website. I decided to give it a try, and the result was my first published review:

Pusser’s 15 Review

The folks at Rum Connection apparently liked what I wrote, and during the next year I published about 15 reviews for them.

Reviewing rum was so much fun that I decided to create my website, but not just for Rum. I made the decision that I would discuss all distilled spirits, and when I opened this website in October of 2009, I made sure I added a few Whisky Reviews, some Gin Reviews and a couple Tequila Reviews such that most of the major distilled spirit categories were represented. (Since opening the website, I have expanded the range to also include Vodka Reviews as well as Brandy and Cognac.) Although my focus is primarily upon Rum and Whisky, it is my belief that acquiring knowledge and skill with respect to all spirits serves to broaden my perspective and is beneficial to my over-all understanding of distilled spirits.

For what it is worth, people (and industry) seem to like what I write. Since opening the website, I have for the last three years in a row been asked to act as a Spirits Judge for the yearly Canadian Whisky Awards; as well I have twice been asked to join the international panel of judges for the International RumXP Competition at Rum Renaissance in Miami.

Having said that, I think it would be true to state that the reviews on this website represents more of a knowledgeable layman’s perspective than that of a professional taster. I hope you enjoy the reviews and find value in them; but always remember that an opinion is just that, an opinion. Do not take my writing too seriously, for opinions vary and in the end, only you can really decide if a spirit gives you enjoyment. Use my reviews as a guide, but trust your own tastes and preferences as well.

(Note: I sometimes receive comments and messages from persons who wish me to comment on the value of bottles of whisky and rum that they have in their possession. And from persons who wish to use my blog as a means to sell such bottles. Although I thank you for reading my blog, I cannot help you in these matters. My suggestion for you is to visit Whisky.com or the Ministry of Rum where it appears help in these matters may be  provided.)

193 Responses to “Contact Me”

  1. Eric said

    I’m curious if you’ve ever heard of, or have tried Don Q Gran Anejo.

    • Hi Eric

      I do not know much about Don Q except that it is a Puerto Rican Rum. I may have tasted it when I was in Miami a few years back, but it left no mark on my memory. Sorry

  2. Neil Johnson said

    Have you ever heard of and tried “Tremols Dorado Premium”? I know it is a fairly new company, the trade name “Tremols” being registered in 2012. What can you tell me about this rum? A friend is giving me a bottle, but I won’t get to try it until Monday.

    • Hi Neil

      This is the first I have heard of the Tremols Dorado. After your friends gives you your bottle you should let us know if it is any good (in your opinion of course).

      Cheers

  3. Hans said

    Good evening,
    I’m a new follower of this blog, straight from Belgium ( we don’t have rum, we’ve got BEER, lol!).
    As a matter of fact, I only buy rum after reading your reviews, and taste them WHILE reading the very review again, thus following every step and compare your knowledge and experience inrum tastingwith my own, basic tasting knowledge to improve myself and learn about it.

    Just a question: did you ever try the rhum agricole named Saint James? This French style rum has nothing to do with the Carribean ones,but is quite unique, it gave me a sweet floral and butterscotch taste in the beginning, reminding the pure sugar cane juice it’s made of (no molasse!),with an almost ‘stoney’ aftertaste which combined in a very special way the earthy and vegetal taste of a raw, natural grown plant…the most interesting thing: this stoney taste haunted ( in a rather positive way then..) my palate for several hours! Quite impressive for a bottle I payd two times nothing (16€),and isn’t considered as a top distillation…I call it the ‘noble savage’ to stay in the French culture of the period St James was ‘invented’ :-)

    Do other Rhums Agricoles you tasted have the same caracteristic style?

    KR,
    Hans

    ( in fact, it was a bit like the smell of first rain on a stone path after a long hot and sunny period….)

    • Hi Hans

      I have only tasted a hand-full of Rhum Agricoles and in that small sample there has been a lot of flavour variation. In fact the flavour seems very specific to each different distillery.

  4. Phil Chiricotti said

    Sampled the latest arrival from the UK tonight. The Admiral Rodney is ok, but I would not stock it. The Captain Bligh XO was ok, both above average, but I would not stock that either. The Ron Millonario 15 is very close to their more expensive XO and world class. Rum simply can’t taste much better from any source. The packaging, including the glue and the screw top is, however, awful, as noted in your review. The Five Barrel from Belize will be arriving later this week. They tell me that they just sold some of their older stock to the Plantation folks. So, a Plantation with old stock Belize rum is on the way. Got to try that one. The Artic Wolf should revisit the Plantation 2000 from Trinidad. It is spectacular. No sweet or sickly syrup taste, no punch to the gut and a bit light, but sophisticatedly spectacular. It makes the word smooth seem obscene. Sadly, I only have two bottles left.

    Phil Chiricotti
    President
    CFDD

    • I had heard that Travellers was selling some of their older stock, and it is not a surprise to me that the folks at Plantation would have purchased some. (They seem to have a good eye for good rum.)
      Take care Phil and all the best!

      • Phil Chiricotti said

        I am impressed with the Plantation line, but their new and low cost Original Dark from Trinidad & Tobago is not good. it is also not up to their high standards. The worst of their lineup. I heard their older Panama releases were also good, but it isn’t the 1997 that I just tasted. That was also not good. Suggestion for you. If you include their $20 (US prices) Grande Reserve Plantation Rum Barbados 5 Yr in your next blind tasting, I would bet money that it would rate among the highest of the tasting. A real gem. Much better than the Bacardi 8, another low cost rum that is good. Frankly, that is the only post-Cuban rum from Bacardi I have found drinkable. I have not sampled their new high end rums. Of the one hundred or so highly regarded rums (by others) in my collection, only a dozen are in the front row. I think you have reviewed all of them. Beyond the Ron Millonario 15, none have been added to the front row lately. For the money, the El Dorado 12 is pretty special. The El Dorado 21 is right up there with the top line Ron Millonario and Ron Zacapa, the top three in my collection. A few others are close behind them, including the Diplomatico and the 20th Anniversary Plantation. Too bad they all don’t come with a limited edition Augusto Reyes cigar. There are too many rum websites now rating average rums way too highly. Keep pulling those corks.

  5. Hi, Mr. Dykstra,

    I really enjoy your blog! I’ve only recently (in the last couple of years) gotten into sipping rums and am looking to broaden my experience as well as deepen my understanding. To that end, I’ve joined the Ministry of Rum and have trying as my varieties of rum as I can get my hands on (small town Minnesota can be problematic…). I was wondering if you could offer any other resources (books, websited, etc.) for learning more about rum, rum tasting, and related interests.

    Thank you,
    Jeremy.

  6. Phillip Chiricotti said

    Your work is excellent. Keep it up. My rum collection is huge now. Hard to pick out one favorite. Sort of like opting for a blonde over a redhead, but the El Dorado 21 is up there. Many don’t realize it, but spirits are easy to order online from Europe and have them shipped to your front door in the states. Mostly the UK. Agree with most of your work. The two products we don’t agree on, strangely, is the Flor de Cana and Dictador line. I have all the Flor de Cana except the Commemorative 21. I can buy that online in Europe, but after being disappointed with the last purchase of the 18 year, I may not buy it. To me, the Dictador tastes like tobacco, not rum. Congratulations on the google success. As noted by your previous work, the Plantation Guatemalan rum is an undiscovered gem still widely available in Europe and cheap as well. You should try Captain Bligh and the Admiral Rodney when you have time. Keep up the great work.

    • Thanks Phillip

      Do not be afraid to try the FDC 21, it is a beautiful rum and very different from the FDC 18 which I agree is the weak sister of the FDC premium line-up. Dictador is very unique and I understand your reference to tobacco. I happen to like it a lot, but if your palate swings differently, that is perfectly okay.

      As for the Captain Bligh and Admiral Rodney, they are on my list to try, but then again there are over 300 rums I haven’t tried that I know of so it may be a while before I get to them.

      Cheers!

  7. lukáš kuchař said

    hello i love your pages and it is inspiration for me to tasted new rhum. And i am interesting if you try vizcaya ?

  8. Tate said

    Hi Chip, big fan of your blog. It’s always my go to site to see whether or not a certain bottle that’s caught my eye is worth giving a shot at I’ve just started getting into drinking premium whiskey’s and rum’s, slowly but surely as the budget allows. I was wondering what you knew about whiskey as an investment in Ontario? Do the laws here make it feasible for a private citizen to collect bottles to resell for profit in the future, and if so would Highland Park Loki make a good first investment? Also, I was wondering if you had tried the Mount Gay Black Barrel release? I unfortunately wasn’t able to pick it up myself when I saw it (already had my limit going back to Canada, the duty free is such a tease at that point isn’t it).

    All the best
    Tate

    • Hi Tate

      I am not an investment adviser and therefore have no comment on whiskey as an investment.
      I have reviewed the Mount Gay Black, but not he Black barrel which I understand is a different release.

  9. Omineca Greg! said

    Hi Chip!

    I love your reviews, especially the Canadian Whisky ones. I’ve been a long time reader.

    I noticed a mistake in your Revel Stoke Review…

    ….Revel Stoke Spiced Whisky is named for the town of Revelstoke, located in the mountains of British Columbia. The base whisky is however, distilled on the western side of those mountains in Alberta…

    I know Albertans are proud of their Western heritage, and it probably seems counter-intuitive to write “Eastern” and “Alberta” in the same sentence, but compared to Revelstoke, yes Alberta is East. This is the part where you get to make fun of the Canucks…and then we’ll be even!

    Keep up the good work, I really enjoyed your Top 25 Whisky Countdown. I’m actually pretty envious of you…you have one of the coolest jobs in the World!

    Greg!

    • Hi Greg

      Thanks for the noticing the typo. I shall of course fix it at once.

      And yes, between my Sports Memorabilia Store which ‘forces’ me to keep up to date watching all the hockey and football, I can and my cool hobby which ‘forces’ me to sample as many rums and whiskies as I can, I have to admit i have it pretty darn good!

      Slainte’ my friend!

  10. Jordan said

    Hello Chip

    Great work on this website! It is my go-to guide for any liquor worth sipping and it is organised so nicely. Though I cannot facilitate any of your reviews, I urge you to keep an eye out for Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whiskey (which the LCBO orders sporadically) as well as George Dickel Rye Whiskey and anything produced by Willett. These American ryes deliver a ton of flavour and are well worth a try if you see them. I am hoping to swing your decision when you walk into a liquor store that is not familiar, and are faced with a wall of bottles that present an array of opportunities for discovery and costly mistakes alike.

    Jordan
    Ontario

  11. Brian said

    Hi Chip,

    I came across your website whilst conducting reviews on Captain Morgan Private Stock (bottle I recently picked up). I must commend you on your accuracy and candid reviews.

    I am somewhat of a budding rum connoisseur, with an added geographic advantage as I live in the Caribbean and have access to some very good offerings from Guyana to Puerto Rico.

    On recent business travel to Martinique (Oct 2013), I was introduced to some spectacular aged rum offerings and my attention was fixated on one called ‘Privilége’ from the La Favorite distillery. The blend is cited to be using 30-45 year old rums and is superb is all regards. I was fortunate to pick up a 700ml hand-crafted/wax-sealed bottle before I left at around €150.

    Given that Martinique is considered by some to be the “Rum Capital” of the Caribbean, I was wondering if you have ever done any reviews of offerings from this French-island.

    My personal preference for sipping rums has traditionally been the El Dorado 15Yr (on the rocks with a splash of lime/lemon to ease the Vanilla), Chairman’s Reserve Spice Rum (St Lucia),’1931′ from St Lucia Distillers, and recently followed by the Captain Morgan Private Stock. But Privilége is in a class of its own.

    Your thoughts/comments on the Martinique offerings would be appreciated.

    Regards,
    Brian

    PS. Angostura (Trinidad) recently released a limited run Cask Collection. It’s called No.1 and may be another rum worthy of a review perhaps.

    Cheers.

    • Hi Brian, I am glad you enjoy my writings. The Rhums from Martinique are on my radar, however, as yet suitable samples have not come my way. The only one I have tried more than once is the Rhum Clemente which I was dissappointen in, more due to the excessive price in my locale than the spirit itself. (I guess I am saying that it in not in my opinion a good buy for the 100 plus dollars it cost here in Alberta.

      Given time hopefully I will be able to review many more Rhums both from Martinique and from the other French style producers in the Caribbean.

  12. Mathieu said

    hey im wondering what you would consider the best glassware for sipping rum and if it differs a lot from other spirit categories?

    Thanks

  13. Dom said

    Hey Chip!

    I’m going to Cuba. Are you aware of any good rhum there that would be hard to find here?

    • Ron Santiago – They have a full range from white Rum to well aged, all are good!

      • Dom said

        Really? Your review of Santiego Anejo is 83 as opposed to 93 for Havana Club selection and 95 for Havana Club cuban Barrel. I will bring back for sure Santiego as its a really good mixer and its cheap, but I’m also a sipper, and I want to bring back something that will amaze me :p

        • You need to go up higher in the line-up than the anejo. Just as there is a big difference between the Hvanna Club Anejo and the Seleccion de Meatros, you will find that there is a big difference between the the Ron Santiaga Anejo and the Ron Santiago Extra Anejo 12, 20 and 25 year Olds.

          • Dom said

            Gotcha! I’ll bring back a Santiego extra anejo and Havana Club Barrel proof just to make sure then! :p

            • Try to find the 20 or the 25 Anos, and invite me over when you want to try them :)
              And the BarreL proof has been discontinued, replaced by Seleccion des Maestros (which is already availabel in Canada.)

  14. Wayne Hamid said

    Dear Chip,

    I will be informal and simply say to you, you have the best damn web-site for rum reviews on the whole blasted internet (I know because I’ve looked and searched through it for the past couple of weeks). Please publish a book. I’m sure there would be many publishers willing to take you on. I have also searched extensively on Amazon.com and found only crap when it comes to rum reviews.
    [ On the other hand there seemed to be some decent books on whiskies ]

    Anyways, (as the Canadians say) while I believe, I may not always agree with your assessments fully, I am in awe of your accumulated knowledge, skills, experience and fortitude and will always have great respect for your opinions. Being Trinidadian I have a serious concern for the scarcity of Trinidadian rums on your listing. I’ve seen a few but I do not know if you have considered the Angostura 1824 which I find to be an extremely high quality and intriguing (superior to the 1919 which I dislike for the wood char and smokiness). 1824 is at first taste, perhaps too robust but it mellows and slowly envelopes you and you mellow too and you become the coolest thing like Sean Connery’s James Bond. [No its not about becoming drunk, the damn rum teleports you to a higher plane of being, I think you understand that]

    Not that I’m too partisan – I love the El Dorado(s) too, and in the coming week will be obtaining the zapaco? 23. [It's remarkable that for such a small place, we drink and get almost everything here in Trinidad] Did you know Angostura released a new rum – No. 1 (9,600 bottles)? – I bought one pronto – will not open yet and I believe it may be in-between 1919 and 1824 in character. Coming back from vacation in August, I was distracted and did not pick up the Johnny Walker Explorer’s Club new offering at duty free. This Christmas just past however, my wife bought me a bottle of the Johnny Platinum. Have you had a chance to get any of these for reviews?

    Regards

    Wayne

    • Wow Thanks Wayne

      It’s hard to respond to a comment like this one, but I appreciate your kind words. I do work hard at this, and it is nice that you recognize that. I also appreciate that you do not always agree with my ratings and reviews. I hope though that my tasting notes are described sufficiently well such that you can determine whether you would be likely to enjoy a rum I have reviewed whether my scores correlate to your palate or not.

      I do have a shortage of rums on my website from Trinidad. Unfortunately the locale distributor is not in a position to grant me review samples of any of the Angostura line-up. I have done a couple of reviews from rums within my own collection, but with samples arriving from other producers at a fairly constant rate, I feel I have an obligation to review those samples provided to me on a priority basis.

      As for Johnny Walker’s newest offerings, I will say that Diageo has been a great supporter of my blog, but samples of the newest offerings have been tied up by customs issues and I may or may not get to them.

    • Dom said

      Totally agree! You should write a book Chip!

      I’ve been following this website for years now! I often search for other rhum review in order to get other opinions but… None of them get even close to this one.

      Thanks Chip!

  15. Dom said

    Hi Chip,

    Again a big thumbs up for your website! I’ve been following you for many years now! I’m a big Rhum fan and every time I get a new bottle I come here to see your Review…

    Just tasted the Diplomatica Exclusivia yesterday. A REALLY GOOD RHUM! However, I find it really sweet. So sweet that you lose a little bit the real rhum taste/flavor. I read on another post that the Diplomatica reserva was less sweet and as good, I’ll try it in a near future.

    Anyway, the purpose of this post is to ask you why don’t you have any review of Clément Rhum on your website? I’ve been looking for review of this rhum for a while now and I can’t find any…

    I don’t know what my next bottle will be, any suggestion?

    Thanks,

    Dom

  16. kallaskander said

    Hi there,

    a short question if I may…

    “Highwood is the only distillery which uses local Canadian prairie wheat for the distillation base of all of their Highwood branded whisky.”

    I seem to remember that all Canadian whisky is somehow called rye. But how come that a wheat whisky can be a Canadian rye?
    If it is made from rye than Highwood is at least making one whisky with other grain than wheat?

    Greetings
    kallaskander

    • Most Canadian Whiskies use Corn as the base for their distillation but they also use rye distillate in their blending which is much more flavourful which gives the whisky its trademark ‘rye’ flavour. Because the flavour profile of the Canadain spirit has always been associated with rye, it has been traditionally acceptable to call our whisky, ‘rye whisky’.

      Highwood rather than using corn as the base whisky, uses wheat. However, there is also a significant amount of rye based whisky used which gives their wheat based whisky that traditional ‘rye’ flavour. Thus Highwood’s whisky meets the acceptable standard to be called Rye Whisky. This nomenclature for Canadian Whisky has been in existence for about 100 years.

  17. Reid said

    Hey Chip,

    As a fellow Albertan, I’ve been enjoying your approach towards spirits for some time now, particularly your whisky reviews. I just wanted to say, keep up the great work. I’m also hoping you come up with a review of Ardbeg Uigeadail. I have a buddy who brought a bottle back from Scotland this summer, but I just recently found it for myself at a local liquor store… I think this just might be the 98+ you’ve been waiting for!

    Cheers,
    Reid

    • Hi Reid

      Thanks for the kind words about my website and my reviews. I receive requests to review specific products quite regularly, and I wish I could accommodate all of these suggestions, however, at this time the local distribution company for Ardbeg has not submitted a bottle of Uigeadail for analysis so a review (in the short term at least) is unlikely. With over 2000 whisky brands and 1000 rum brands available word-wide, unfortunately, I will not get to them all.

  18. Leo Oppenheimer said

    Hi Chip,
    First off, congrats on this great blog! I find your product descriptions and comments very helpful and useful.
    Wondered if you’ve come across/tasted a whisky called Sheep Dip (Amoroso Oloroso 1999) from the Spencerfield Spirit Co. There is a picture and brief description of this whisky in the Autumn 2013 edition of Flavours magazine. The story behind it sounds quite interesting! Any thoughts on this product or others from the Spencerfield Spirit Co.?
    Cheers from the West Coast,
    Leo.

  19. Joshua Maynard said

    First time on your site, and I was fascinated by your rum reviews.
    My wife and I just started our rum journey.
    Unfortunately we got off to a rocky start with Largo Bay Spiced Rum.
    We would’ve stopped drinking rum altogether if I had not insisted to my wife that “real” rum was much better than Largo Bay (which to me tasted like cola flavored vodka)
    We tried Doorly’s XO and loved it.
    Take care.

  20. Hello there Chip! I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for giving me some direction in my new-found love of rum. I’ve been testing some of the rums you review here, and I have to to say you are spot on with your assessments. It seems we share similar palates. Your drink recipes are fantastic as well. I’m having an Appleton Extra Swizzle at the moment and its great. Thanks for making this information available to everyone. You are a scholar and a gentleman. Cheers!

  21. Hendrik De Paepe said

    Hello Chip,
    For the last 2 years I am enjoying the whisky world thanks to your website and i have noticed that we somewhat have the same taste…
    My last purchase was the Jamseson limited reserve 18y wich i realy liked (first blended)
    Last week i ordered a bottle of the Dufftown signature 1984 – 26 y wich will arrive shortly… ;)
    Please try the “Bunnahabhain 18 Year” as for me this is also a very special (islay) bottle.
    I will let you know the details on the dufftown bottle as soon as i have it.
    Regards,
    Hendrik De Paepe – Antwerp/Belgium

    • Hi Hendrick

      I am glad that you enjoy my reviews, and as we seem to share the same tastes I guess my reviews have been particularly helpful to you. I hope you enjoy your Dufftown 1984. My Dufftown bottle came from a refill sherry cask, when you let me know your experience, please indicate what the cask type and number were so we can compare apples to apples so to speak.

      As for the Bunnahabhain 18, I do not have a bottle so a review is unlikely. Unfortunately there are thousands of whiskies I have not tried, and I will only be able to reach a fraction of them. (Of course one never knows)

      Slainte

      • Hendrik De Paepe said

        Hello Chip,
        The Dufftown 1984 finaly arrived and the moment of truth was very near untill i noticed that this was not the 26y but the 27y…
        Not a big difference then i did not come out of a refill sherry cask so i kindly returned the bottle and got my money back.
        In germany there was still some stock from the “26y-sherry” version so i ordered 2 pieces at a very good price ( 214 euro incl shipping)
        The waiting begins again and i will get back to you shortly…
        Greetings from Belgium
        Hendrik

        • Hi Hendrik

          The joys of buying single barrel offerings are often ambushed by the perils of misunderstanding how different types of casks affect the whisky. Even similar casks side by side in a warehouse can yield quite different taste profiles, as every oak tree is different and even different part of each oak tree may have different wood grains and different structure.

          I eagerly await your verdict when your whisky arrives.

          Slainte!

          • Hendrik De Paepe said

            Hello Chip,
            Finally i received the Dufftown twins ;)
            Distilled on : 09/01/1984
            Bottled on : 12/04/2010
            Matured in a Refill Sherry Butt (essential for me)
            Cask No 79
            Bottle No 36 and 37 of 311 – 55%
            This afternoon i am picking up 1 bottle of Bruichladdich Black Art 3 (version 4 is not available yet)
            I can’t wait to get home and let the magic begin …
            Cheers !

            • Hendrik De Paepe said

              I just noticed something guiet astonishing… Seems like my two bottles come from the same cask as the one you reviewed !!!
              I am delighted and blown away by this coincidence
              Hendrik – Belgium

            • I agree that this is an amazing coincidence. Apparently a few bottles made it to Canada, and a few made it to Germany. Enjoy the magic :)

  22. David said

    Hi there! Great site, I enjoy reading the reviews and it always introduces me to new products. Just two quick questions: what do you think is the best gin and best tonic for a Gin and Tonic? Also, will you ever expand your reviews towards other alcohols such as craft beer?

    • Hi David.

      No beer reviews planned, to be honest, I never acquired a taste for the stuff (shudder).
      As for the best gin for Gin and Tonic, currently I am favouring Beefeater 24 and Citadelle; but many other gins work well too, Sahara Dry from Highwood is grand, Brokers is very clean and nice, London No. 3 if I had any left would be great, and Tanqueray No. 10 can’t be beat. You get the picture, too many good quality gins, not enough time. I guess my only important comment would be that a nice London Dry Gin works better than the sweeter gins like Old Tom or the flavoured Gins like Magellan.

  23. Shawn B said

    Hey AW,
    Love the site I’ve soaked up quite a bit of your knowledge of fine spirits but I was wondering, will you be reviewing Goslings Family Reserve Old Rum anytime soon? It’s one of my favorite rums and would like to hear your opinion of it. Again great site thanks for sharing.

  24. Dominic Clément said

    Nice website!!! I come here everytime I want to buy a new Rhum!

    I’m a huuugggeee spirit fan, specially Rhum. I do have between 35-40 bottles of spirits including 20-25 bottles of Rhums. Most of my bottles are opened, since I like to buy a new Rhum and just taste it.

    What I like the most is coming home, going in front on my shelf and asking myself, which Rhum do I feel like drinking today?

    However, when I came back home yesterday, I was feeling like drinking my Flore the Cana 12 yrs (which I have opened at least 2 years ago). As soon as I opened the bottle, I noticed that something was different, it wasn’t the nice and sweet smell that I remembered from that Rhum. It was still smelling Rhum, but, I don’t know, different.

    So I full my glass with what was left in the bottle, and start sipping. Mmmmmm, something feels wrong, it wasn’t tasting the Strong, Sweet and flavored Rhum that this Rhum is.

    Here’s my question, how long does an opened bottle of Rhum last? How are you preserving your open bottles?

    I mean, it sucks if as soon as you open a bottle, you have to drink it in the next few weeks.

    Thanks a lot,

    Dom

    • Hi Dom

      Distilled spirits have a long shelf life, and I cannot recall ever having a bottle go bad even when left after being opened for well over a year. I have heard and read advice from distillers and blenders who say that if a bottle is emptied by more than a third enough oxidation might take place which could alter the spirit’s flavour slightly, but only if the bottle is left for several months that way. If you are concerned, you can place glass marbles (cleaned and sterilized) in your partially emptied bottles to bring the fill level back up to normal before you close them. That should eliminate any possibility of oxidation harming the liquid inside.

      Of course I keep all my bottles away from direct sunlight, and in a cool place away from direct heat.

      Chip

    • russ said

      hi,wondering if flore de cana 12 has a cork stopper…i have found some bottles left for a few years have that problem as do,of course, some wines happy trails russ

      • I new FDC 12 has a cork and it also is missing a proper age statement. I am more concerned about the latter than the former. Although the distillery maintains that the liquid is the same as before, the missing age statement is probably a harbinger of changes in the blend going forward.

  25. matt said

    Hi! great site! I just subscribed today. I was wondering if you had any interest in reviewing some of the really cheap spirits on the market? I commented earlier about mixing root beer with the calico jack spiced rum. The spirit that i had in mind was orloff 100 proof vodka. Really terrible stuff! Whats the worst drink you’ve ever had? thanks!

  26. Patrick Halstead said

    Your efforts have been very helpful although, as you acknowledge, different locales mean different selections and different prices. Now that spirits have been “privatized” here in Washington state, retailers frequently run “loss leaders”, making price considerations even less reliable. Elsewhere on your site, I posted the observation that I would welcome your comments on different brands of colas as rum mixers. Perhaps the variance in flavors — mostly sweetness — isn’t that important but evben that would be good to know. Ditto some other mixers such as ginger beer. Keep up the good work (if work is the right word).

    • Hi Patrick, I am glad that you are enjoying my website so much. I think I am going to resist the urge to comment upon cola brands and other soda mixers at least for now. The only soda I ever examined on the site was Q-Club which I compared against Schweppes. (see here). It’s not that I feel the discussion is not worthwhile, it’s more that I do not have the resources or time to expand the website in that direction. (This website is a nice hobby, but I have to work for a living like everyone else.)

      Take care and have a great day!

  27. robert said

    Hi arctic wolf!

    link to the photo: http://postimg.org/image/krrdi8g11/

    I’m a fan of your blog. I find your page very useful for my tasting sessions and it’s a guide for the new bottles on my shelf …I ask you sorry for my poor written language. I’m thinking about buying a bottle of JW black label, but this bottle has a metal cap, and I agree with you that is a real low quality sealing. I would like ask to you: I’ve got a great whisky crystal bottle as marriage gift with a crystal cap. I’m sending also a picture. Do you think it’s a good idea put the spirit in this bottle with this type of cap or I will make only a disaster? Thank you so much and keep writing splendid reviews in the future! Greetings from Italy

    • I would leave the JW 12 where it is. For one thing the seal on your crystal decanter is no better than the seal on the JW bottle, for another thing, The crystal decanter may be made with a small amount of lead. Any amount of lead that leaches into a spirit is too much.

      AW

      • Robert said

        The JW black is awesome. Usually I like the spirits with a teaspoon of water, but this one is made to be drunk straight! Thanks again for your advice.

  28. Josh said

    Really enjoy your site. I find that your tastes are somewhat similar to mine, so I was hoping you could help.

    I was wondering if you had tried any of the Bahamian rums? I am headed to Eleuthera next week for a few days, I plan on bringing some rum back with me. I’ve had the Ron Ricardo Gold, which I thought was a great buy for $7.50 a liter. I was hoping to find out more about their pineapple and coconut rums as well. Also, have you tried the Ole Nassau line? I wasn’t sure how they compare with the Ron Ricardo. I realize they aren’t world class rums, I’m just looking for that cheap, diamond in the rough.

    Thanks for your contribution to the rum world!

    • I have to admit that I really have no good information on Bahamian Rums. I have never been to the Bahamas and I am unaware of any Bahamian rums that have made to to my locale. Sorry.

    • russ said

      hi,we r off to eleuthra after rum fest miami for about 10 days,did you acquire any great bahamian rums while there…happy trails russ

      • Hi Russ

        I never attended Miami this year (its a costly venture for me to make it all the way from Alberta). Which Bahamian rums did you find worthy while you were down in that neck of the woods?

  29. Ben Johnson said

    Just spent about two hours looking through your site whilst enjoying a drink. Fantastic website and keep up the good work and I will be sure to check back. Nice to see some of my favourites reviewed ( Bombay saphire, johnnie Walker black label and royal oak ) and look forward to seeing some of my others make an appearance on the site ( johnnie Green label, Angostura 1919 or Bullit Bourbon?) also would love to send you some ‘Indian whisky’ to review I found in an off licence in UAE (think it was called Major Gunn, but can’t be sure). Best turn in as I’m flying tomorrow ( in the cockpit) but thanks again for creating such a great site. Cheers! Ben

  30. Craig said

    Hello Arctic Wolf,

    I’ve patiently been waiting to see a review for Admiral Rodney. It’s a fantastic rum out of St. Lucia. Has anyone else here tried it?

    • Hi Craig

      I have been trying to get a sample of Admiral Rodney but so far it has proven to be an elusive bottle. Hopefully my persistence and your patience will pay off.

      All the best
      C

  31. François said

    Dear AW. Can’t get enough of your blog…

    Some weeks earlier, I amsure that I read a review of Chivas Regal, but I cannot find it. Is my memory playing tricks? All the very best

  32. Tom Fahey said

    Hi Chip:

    I share your appreciation for all things “Forty Creek”, and was at the Forty Creek Distillery last weekend for a VIP Tasting, thanks to a gift from my son.

    However, while I was there and discussing whisky stuff with the Forty Creek staff, the topic of a new Canadian whisky distillery just down the road in Beamsville – Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers – came up. The guys at Forty Creek had nothing but good things to say about Dillon’s.

    So, the next day I had to take a little side trip to visit Dillon’s Sipping Room… had a wee taste of their three products for sale: vodka and gin (distilled from wine) and white rye (distilled from 100% Ontario rye). All three were very smooth, presenting very interesting to the nose & palate. The vodka and gin with a wine base have a unique flavour & aroma that you just need to taste. This will be a plus for my other son, who has developed an intolerance for both wheat and corn, so a spirit derived from grape should be okay for him to consume.

    Anyway, I very much enjoy your blog, and thought I would drop a note and give you a heads up about the new distillery. The retail store opened last December. April 1 is the release date for their white rye at the LCBO. I think the gin will follow soon after, but not sure of the date. The white rye is priced comparable to Highland’s White Owl.

    They have also laid down some casks of Canadian Rye Whisky that won’t be ready until 2015. Guess we’ll just have to wait patiently for the oak to work its magic.

    Tom
    Elmira, ON

    • Thanks for the information Tom

      I wrote them an email to introduce myself and asked for some press information. I am looking forward to seeing how this goes.

      Chip

  33. Sam said

    hey mate! i live in australia, just started work at a liquor store and have been spending some time going through your reviews. really well written and quite helpful for someone with next to no knowledge about how to review such things. just wanted to say hello and thankyou. hope all has been well, and that you continue to keep up the great work!

  34. Mike Z. said

    I had the pleasure of attending a rum tasting here in Edmonton last night, hosted by Chip, the Rum Howler, himself; I would highly recommend attending any event that Chip is a part of. I really appreciated the sheer humility and honesty of his opinions, which is a breath of fresh air in the world of “expert reviewers / bloggers”. Chip never elevated his opinions above any of the attendees and genuinely encouraged the fact that rum shouldn’t be a spirit that holds rigid guidelines when it comes to tasting and bottling (albeit honestly must prevail).
    Many thanks to you Arctic Wolf, for providing valuable insight into the history and culture of rum, and also, for providing a great example of how sheer enthusiasm and honesty can lead to great things.
    Mike Z.

  35. michael reid hunter said

    Loving your reviews, especially of the Torres Jaime I brandy…wow
    btw: I can’t wait till you run across and review the Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye Whiskey….a truly amazing American whiskey.
    I am preferably a rum drinker, and love to winter with a snifter of brandy. I prefer the Spanish lush flavours over the stunning but dry cognacs. What is your favourite ‘sipping’ rum?

    • I am glad you like my reviews Mike. And yes the Torres Brandy is a stunner. I have been trying to make my way over to review more American Whisky, but it is always the same problem, too many spirits to review, too little time to get them all. My favourite sipping rum changes from day to day, and sometimes from hour to hour, but if you want to get a good idea of some of the best (in my humble opinion), check out this link.

      The 2012 Rum Howler – Top 30 Rums

  36. Brad said

    I’ve been haunting your site on and off now for awhile, as I feel that you write good, honest reviews. I have, however, recently acquired two products which you may or may not be familiar with, and I think you may enjoy reviewing. Cristall Vodka comes direct from Moscow, and at the time of me writing this, has only been available in Canada for about 8 weeks. In southern Alberta, I found this vodka for around the $35 mark. I also acquired a bottle of Oxley gin($47), which was a little more difficult to find, but actually beats every other gin I’ve had with the superiority stick.

    I would suggest that you(who likely has a better-trained palette than I) give these spirits a try and a review. I think both will sit highly on your list, but even if they don’t, it may provide some useful information to your readers(I, for one, generally ignore your 100-point system and look more at your notes regarding the bouquet, flavour, and feel of the spirit).

    • Thanks Brad,

      I will be on the lookout for the Cristal Vodka and the Oxley gin. Thanks for the heads up.

      By the way, when you say that you generally

      “ignore my 100-point system and look more at your notes regarding the bouquet, flavour, and feel of the spirit”,

      I find myself in complete agreement. That is the correct way to interpret my reviews.
      :)

      • Brad said

        I’m happy to see the agreement. After I wrote and posted that, I re-read it and realized that some may take it offensively, which is certainly not how it was intended.

        Anyway, in my experimentation with mixology, I’ve stumbled upon the original Trader Vic recipe for the Mai Tai, circa 1944. The recipe was specifically written around a J. Wray & Nephew 17-year aged rum, something no longer available(and I imagine not for some time). I’ve not ever had it, and so I’m not entirely sure what the profile is like. I wonder if you may be able to shed some light on this, and perhaps suggest a replacement? I had a brief online discussion regarding this with Robert Hess, but he read the recipe and immediately started in on how he hates seeing recipes that have “juice of one lime”, etc., etc.

        Perhaps you have a suggestion?

  37. Mike B said

    To improve the website experience for everyone. Place your scores beside each bottle listing with prices as well. That way we can all try and find the best quality for the price point people are willing to spend. Without having to spend a few hours on here trying to go through every review.

    • I have always left the issue of price out of my reviews and will continue to do so. This is because
      I have more readers in Florida than I have in all of Canada. The price of Rum there, is very different from what it is here. I have as many readers in the United Kingdom as I have in Ontario, and again the prices are very different. Any price I quote next to any review is going to be misleading to most of my readers. (Even within Canada I have seen the same rum sell for very different prices from store to store and from Province to Province.)

  38. Sahil Singh Duggal said

    I love your website and truly appreciate the information you’ve provided. I’ve always said – a man must know his whisky. I’m an ardent dark rum fan and was wondering if you plan to review an Indian dark rum – ‘Old Monk’. It is available in Canada (I stay in Toronto and know so), information regarding the rum is available at – http://www.mohanmeakin.com.

    If you are interested in reviewing the rum and have any difficulty obtaining a bottle – feel free to let me know, I’d be happy to arrange it for you.

    Regards,
    Sahil

    • Hello Sahil,

      Please contact me at my email address (provided in the Contact me section of the blog) and we will see if a sample bottle can be arranged.

      Thank You and I would love to sample the Old Monk!

  39. Christian Kroemer said

    Hi Chip!

    Great work you’ve put up on this blog, for some time this has been my primary source of information whenever a decision of which great rum to buy next came up. Still being a student at university, I can obviously only spend a limited amount of money and am therefore not only interested in the question “What is a great rum?” which is probably answered quite precise by your ratings, but also “What do I get for the money I spend?”. To answer the second question a little bit more precisely, I’ve collected some data from your blog and the German online retailer from which I usually purchase my spirits and found 30 matches to use for a small analysis.

    Here are the results which I’d like to share as they may be of interest for others as well:
    http://chk-online.com/files/Rum_Howler_Analysis.pdf

    Actually one particular question comes up before deriving any findings: In which ways – if any – do you consider the price of a bottle in your reviews? If your final rating actually mirrors your value-for-money assumption my work would be pretty useless. But if not, we have some very interesting results here…

    1. There are some rums, first of all the El Dorado 3 and the Flor de Cana 7, which really stand on from a value-for-money perspective. I’ve simply divided your rating minus 70 points (Anything below 70 is not something to care about in my opinion) by the price to obtain the value in the last column of my analysis. This means that a rum rated at 90 should cost twice as much as one at 80 for the same value-for-money ratio which is in my opinion a quite reasonable assumption.

    2. Considering only the really high end of your review (95+), there are only two rums in my list that I consider affordable: the Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva and the Flor de Cana 12.

    3. I’ve highlighted some other minor value-for-money recommendations, but the rest of data pretty much indicates one thing: Even though it’s obviously a matter of taste, the quality of a rum is not even close to being proportional to its price. There are many heavily over-expensive rums, first of all the Appleton 21 in my list, and reading your reviews before actually purchasing a bottle is really useful for not wasting too much money on a disappointment. So once again many many thanks and keep up the good work!

    Cheers,
    Chris

    • Hi Christian

      You are correct when you made the assumption that price does not influence my review.

      The reason why is twofold. First off, prices vary considerably from locale to locale making any value for the money comparison a very localized comparison. And in fact when I receive samples from various parts of the world, I often have no idea what price the rum would be in my market.

      The second reason is more important though. How much value does a consumer place having something just a little better? I suspect the answer is different for every consumer, and I suspect that paying more for a 93 versus a 90 is much more acceptable for a consumer than paying more for a 73 versus a 70. So the value for the money process would not be linear for anyone.

      I take the position that if I give you a fair score; you can decide how much you would pay for a rum of that score.

      Having said that, I enjoyed your analysis, and I agree completely that FDC 7 is a great value for the money. I love that rum!

      • Christian Kroemer said

        Yeah, you’re probably right about the non-linear scale. But anyway, good to hear you’re providing ratings independent of the actual price. This will (no matter which scale is being used) really help in order to not buy a bottle X if another one Y is both, cheaper and rated higher by someone with the ability to properly judge quality ;-)

  40. Harvey Levitt said

    I love sipping Rum. The best I have ever had is Barbancourt 15 which I bought in Haiti on a cruise. I kick myself for not buying more. Any chance you can review it?
    I enjoy your blog, thank you.

  41. Jackmo said

    Hello Chip,

    Came across your very worthy site this evening after doing my round of homework and finishing with a glass or two of whatever’s in the cabinet. I’m a great fan of Bourbon and Rum, as well as Tequila and to some degree Scotch.

    Tonight I chose a glass of the Flor de Cana 18 year, and as I mentioned in my reply to your review, I’m substantially in agreement with you. Now I’ve switched to a glass of Centenario Conmemorativo 9 year rum, and I find it hot and bitter by comparison. Not a bad drink, however, and worth the 20 bucks I spent on sale, but just barely. Still, my fave is one of yours, the Flor de Cana 7 year Gran Reserva, a truly exellent rum that compares in every way to the super premiums out there. Thank you for your excellent observations on such a wide range of spirits.

    Have you considered creating a section or forum within your blog for fan reviews? It wouldn’t have to be very complicated. You could even do a listing of as many rums as possible and allow people to do 5 star votes and comment on them. There are so many choices out there, and so little time to review ;) … Such a section might impart additional understanding of those spirits that you haven’t had a chance to cover yet.

    Excellent blog, I look forward to reading more.

    Jackmo,
    Miami

    • Hi Jackmo

      Thank you for the very kind words. Originally, when I opened my website, I was going to have a section for fan reviews. However, it was pointed out to me by someone of legal persuation, that I would, as owner of this website, be responsible for everything people wrote. Although that is not an insurmountable obstacle, I do have a ‘real’ job in the real world that demands my time, and so I decided to keep this blog in its present form.

      You make a good point, but one which time unfortunately does not permit me to implement.

      Cheers!

  42. Andy said

    Hi Mr. Dykstra,

    I’m a college-age (legal!) student at the University of Minnesota and I’m just getting into rums, as the sugar cane / molasses base seems less intimidating to my taste buds! I know that prices in Minnesota don’t exactly scale with those in Canada, but what would you recommend for my first few entry-level sipping rums? Being a college student, my budget is a little less than most, so I would like to get the most bang for my buck! I have tried Bacardi Gold (cringe-worthy), Cruzan 14mo white (not bad, just sharp), and Ron Abuelo Anejo (Seemed murky to my unrefined tastes!).

    Thanks for all the work you put into the site, it really helps newbies like me!
    Andy

    • I have no idea of what’s available in Minnesota or wht the prices are like there so I think you have to go through my reviews and find a few that interest you.

      Good luck!

  43. acrocosm said

    I am in Canada as well and have just started up a spirits review blog. What arrangements did you make to receive bottles by mail? How long was it before people in the industry began sending you samples? I’m in Ontario, and my blog will focus on bottles available here.

    Thanks.

    -N.R.M.

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