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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #6 – Camus XO Elegance

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 14, 2014

CAM ELEGANCE XO 70CL_WHITE BACKGROUNDCamus is the last of the major Cognac Houses that is entirely family run, and the House has been run that way for five generations. The construction of their Camus XO Elegance begins with a selection of different styles of eaux de vie in an effort to create a specific floral character suitable for the final Cognac. Specifically mentioned upon the Camus website are the eaux de vie from the Borderies Vineyards which are included in the Elegance blend which are said to strengthen the aromatic caharacter of the final Cognac.

Although the distilled spirits which make up the Elegance blend must be aged for a minimum of six years, according to Richard Bush, the Area Manager (US Travel Retail, Canada and the Caribbean) for Camus Wines & Spirits, some of the eaux de vie in the Elegance XO blend has been matured for as long as 30 years.

I have reviewed the Camus XO Elegance in the past; but this was the first time (during my 12 Cognacs of Christmas Review Series) that I had an opportunity to taste it side by side with so many other Cognac spirits. Based upon my side by side tastings, I have adjusting my scoring for this review and you can read the finalized review here:

Review: CAMUS XO Elegance Cognac

“… The initial nose brings forward fresh oak featuring fresh woody notes interspersed with oak spices. Vanilla and almond rise from the glass as well with hints of orange peel and canned apricots weaving into the breezes. There is a fruity vibrancy to the nose which is appealing …”

It was about eight years ago that I wondered into a local liquor store looking for a nice cognac for my bar shelf. I wanted a really good bottle to have on hand should a guest ask for a drink of brandy or Cognac. I bought the Camus XO Elegance after tasting several high-end brandies and Cognac. I never regretted this choice, and my review, demonstrates that my opinion of this fine Cognac has remained unchanged.

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Stay tuned as between now and Christmas I will continue my series,the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Cognac Review | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #11 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve 21 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 14, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014In 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.

Century_Reserve_21_Yr_-_shadowCentury Reserve 21 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky, is a premium a 21-year-old single grain corn whisky. Those old Potter’s stocks from which this whisky is drawn (produced, I believe from a single bond) have been slowly aging with the result that the age of this whisky has been increasing each year even though the label still says 21 Year Old.

I am a big fan of Highwood Distillers and their great whiskies, their Century Reserve 21 Year Old checks in as the 11th best Canadian Whisky of 2014!

#11 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve 21 Year Old

“… 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 …”

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

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

Rum Howler 2014 # 11 Rum – Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solera) Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 14, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Ron Zacapa rums are made from sugar cane harvested in southern Guatemala, which is pressed into virgin sugar cane honey. They are aged using a process they call ‘Sistema Solera’ which is based on the system used to age Spanish sherry. Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solera) is blended from solera aged stocks which range in age from 6 years to 23 years. The aging barrels used are a mixture of American Whisky casks, and Sherry and Pedro Ximenez wine barrels. The combination of solera aging and the variety of reused barrels creates a highly complex rum with a rich aroma and flavour.

Ron Zacapa 23 SoleraThis year I took the opportunity to revisit a newer bottling of the Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solera) Rum as part of my Top Rums of 2014 Countdown series which I have been conducting through the month of December. My understanding based upon previous conversations with Zacapa Master Blender, Lorena Vásquez is that the flavour of the Ron Zacapa Rum varies slightly from year to year. Therefore, we may expect some differences in the rum since that last review over two years ago.

Based upon my latest scoring, Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solera) Rum, checks into my Top 25 rum countdown as the 11th best rum of 2014.

Here is a link to my latest review:

 # 11 Rum – Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solera) Rum

“… The initial aroma which rises from the glass is full of brown sugar, molasses and baking spices. Some lightly sharp notes of orange and banana peel work their way upwards with a mixture of crushed walnuts, and dried fruit (raisins, dates and a touch of prunes) …”

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

Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #12 Canadian Whisky – Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 13, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014In 2002, the Gibson’s Finest brand was purchased by William Grant & Sons who acquired the brand to strengthen their position in the Canadian spirits marketplace.

Gibson’s Finest Whisky is produced from of two sources: a base grain whisky (which would be a corn-based column still whisky) and a combination of rye based flavouring whiskies which contain rye and malted barley (distilled by a single column still and a pot still). It is bottled at 40 %abv.  When aging their whisky, Gibson’s Finest uses a variety of barrels, ex-bourbon barrels, new oak barrels, etc. The ratio of each barrel-type used can differ from batch to batch because the whisky is blended to a specific taste profile rather than to a specific barrel regimen. Gibson’s is currwntly produced at the Hiram Walker Distillery in Windsor, Ontario.

Gib 12We have reached the point where we are crossing into the second half of my 2014 Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown. And Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old checks in as the number 12 Canadian Whisky in the world today!

Here is my most recent review:

#12 Canadian Whisky – Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old

“… As the glass breathes, ripened fields of rye grain and corn seem to waft up out of the glass. I can sense the cornstalks and rows of freshly swathed grain. Sawdust, chaff, and then bits of orange peel bring to my nose a sense of dry spiciness that is appealing …”

I really enjoy Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old Canadian Whisky. It is a classic example of how tasty and smooth our Canadian Whisky can be.

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

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

Rum Howler 2014 # 12 Rum – El Dorado 25 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 13, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014The Diamond Distillery sits on the East Bank of the Demerara River near Georgetown, Guyana. The Distillery was originally part of the Diamond Estate which was the last of the Sugar Plantation Estates in Guyana to produce rum. Now, of course, it is home to Demerara Distillers Ltd. (DDL) who are popular across the world for their rich, Demerara Rum.

The El Dorado 25 Year Old Vintage Reserve Rum is a blend of aged rums created to mark the turn of the millennium. It is blended from 25-year-old rum stocks which have been aged in used bourbon oak casks. I have been fortunate enough to have been allowed to taste this vintage rum on several different occasions over the past several years.

El Dorado 25 Year OldMy review is based upon the most recent bottling available in here in Alberta, Canada, and that review score has placed the El Dorado 25 Year Old in the number 12 spot in my countdown of the Best Rums in the World.

Here is a link to my most recent review:

Review: El Dorado 25 Year Old Vintage

“… The immediate nose brings forward rich notes of dark caramel and molasses; baking spices (vanilla, nutmeg, brown sugar, and cinnamon); nuts (walnuts and pecans); dry fruit (dates, figs and raisins); smokey tobacco; and lots of rich oak spice. Allowing the glass to sit brings wisps of dark Christmas fruitcake and bittersweet chocolate into the breezes above the glass as well …”

Every time I taste this rum, I am reminded of another great El Dorado Rum, the El Dorado Special Reserve 15 Year Old. It seems to me that these two rums must share a similar heritage. Although the El Dorado’s 15 Year Old Rum is wonderful, their 25 Year Old Rum raises the bar even higher. Its flavour is more refined and elegant, and as a result the rum is wonderful sipping experience.

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

Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #13 Canadian Whisky – Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 12, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Danfield’s Canadian Whisky is produced in the small 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. They are also very difficult to contact, and therefore the only information I have about the Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year Old Canadian Whisky comes from the little booklet which is strung around the neck of the bottle. According to this booklet, 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 21Here is a link to my review of the #13 Canadian Whisky in my countdown of the best that Canada has to offer:

#13 Canadian Whisky – Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year

“… As the glass sits the scents and smells from the glass deepen. Added to the fray are scents of spicy tobacco, and sweet corn lifting up into the breezes. 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 …”

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 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

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

Rum Howler 2014 # 13 Rum – Ron Millonario Solera 15 Reserva Especial

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 12, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014When I contacted Fabio Rossi (founder Rum Nation who have already placed a couple of fine rums in my countdown) and asked him about his other Rum Company, Ron Millonario, he explained that although the parent company of the Ron Millonario brand (Rossi and Rossi S.R.I.) is headquartered in Italy, the rums of Ron Millonario are produced in Northern Peru. Because the rum produced by the Peruvian distillery (he declined to say exactly which distillery it is) are of such a high quality, he decided to market them on their own, separate from the Rum Nation Brand.

Millonario Sistema Solera 15 Reserva EspecialRon Millonario Solera 15 Reserva Especial, is produced in Peru from a 4 stage Solera process with the final stage bringing the oldest rum in the blend to 15 years. (Based upon the information sent to me by the brand owner, the youngest rum in the blend would 8 years.) The rum is also bottled in Peru at 40 % alcohol by volume.

I agree that the Peruvian rum is of high quality, and this year the Ron Millonario Solera Reserva Especial is my # 13 Rum in my top 25 countdown of the best rums in the world.

Here is my review:

Review: Ron Millonario Solera 15

“… This is a full flavoured rum which features impressions of burnt caramel (treacle), licorice laced molasses, dry fruit, wood spice, marmalade, pungent baking spices (cinnamon, cloves and allspice), dribbles of coffee and chocolate and rich tobacco. A bed of freshly cracked walnuts lies underneath providing a ribbon of bitterness which seems work well with the sweet molasses and the spicy oak flavours …”

The Ron Millonario Solera 15 Reserva Especial is a wonderful Rum. It is rich, full of strong flavours and carries just a bit of rough and tumble character forward with impressions of dark treacle, licorice laced molasses, and a firm oakiness set firmly into the rum.

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

Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #7 – Pierre Ferrand Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 12, 2014

1878 Cocktail SAM_1392When I received my cognac samples for this review series, I was pretty excited when the folks at River Valley Beverage Group parted with one of their Cognac Ferrand, 1st Cru du Cognac 4 bottle tasting pack which I was given which contains not only their Reserve (20 year tasting age) Cognac, but also the Ambre (10 year tasting age), the Cigare Reserve (25 year average age), and the Selection des Anges (30 year average age) Cognac. The Ambre was of course reviewed previously as part of this series, and as you can guess, the Cigare Reserve and the Selection des Anges will be each featured as well as I move through this series of reviews.

Although these spirits have no specific age statements, according to Guillaume Lamy, (Vice President – North America for Cognac Ferrand), they are each blended to a specific ‘tasting age’ profile which corresponds to which each spirit should taste like after spending a certain specified time in oak barrels. To maintain product consistency from year to year, the actual average age of the blended cognac will vary depending upon the cellar conditions during maturation and the interactions between the oak and the aging eaux de vie. In the case of the Pierre Ferrrand Reserve (Grand Champagne Cognac), this tasting age is said to be 20 years.

Here is a link to my review, of the 7th Cognac of Christmas:

Review: Pierre Ferrand Reserve

“… The aroma from the glass brings forward impressions of lightly musty leather and oak spice alongside indications of dry fruit and raisins. Some lighter aroma akin to Granny Smith apples and fresh green grape are apparent as well, but it is the darker fruit which is more dominant. Some honeycomb reaches up giving me an impression of light sweetness with touches of almond and crushed walnut shells rounding out the aroma …”

Oh yes, do try my recipe for Leo Engels’ 1878 Brandy Cocktail which is found at the end of the review!

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Stay tuned as between now and Christmas I will continue my series,the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Cognac Review | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 # 14 Rum – Rum Nation Panama (Aged 21 Years)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 11, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Rum Nation is an Italian company created by Fabio Rossi, who began his life in the spirits trade as a Oenologist (one who has studied wine-making). After his studies, Mr. Rossi left the wine business and started up a whisky company in Edinburgh (Wilson and Morgan) acting as an independent bottler of Single Malt Scotch Whisky. His interest turned to rum, and in 1999 Fabio Rossi founded Rum Nation. His company is headquartered in Italy; but Fabio purchases select rums from various distillers in the Caribbean and the Americas. As a result Rum Nation provides a rather unique assortment of limited edition bottlings.

Panama 21

Panama 21

One such bottling is Rum Nation Panama which (according to the information sent to my from Mr. Rossi) is made from sugar cane molasses, distilled in continuous column and aged in American oak barrels (Quercus alba) for 21 years in Panama. Fabio has a good nose for rum and his Rum Nation Panama 21 Year Old is the 14th best rum I tasted in 2014.

Here is a link to my original review:

# 14 Rum – Rum Nation Panama (Aged 21 Years)

“… Dry fruit in the form of raisins, dates, and prunes are rising which seems to hint at a sherry influence although I have learned that these sherry-like accent are very typical for Panamanian Rums. Dark caramel, baking spices, walnuts and rich oak notes all build up as the glass sits …”

Rum Nation Panama 21 Year Old has a complex flavour profile full of oak spice, tobacco, canned fruit and dry fruit. Everything works together seamlessly with no single element stealing the show. Fabio Rossi obviously takes great care in the selection of his rum. We can expect to see more of Rum Nation later in the countdown.

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

Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 11, 2014

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

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

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

Here is a link to my recent review:

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 
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