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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 »

Rum Howler 2014 # 15 Rum – Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 10, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014The Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Rum is a blending of the company’s oldest Bajan Rum reserves. These selected rums were first aged in the Caribbean (in ex-bourbon casks). Then they are transported to France to be blended by Plantation Rum’s Cellar Master at Château de Bonbonnet. The blended rum is matured a second time in small French oak casks for another 12 to 18 months. This “double aging” gives rise to a startling increase in both the body of the rum and its complexity, and is the signature of Cognac Ferrand’s Plantation Rum portfolio.

Plantation AnniversayThe Plantation XO Anniversary Rum received a facelift earlier this year with a snazzy new bottle; and the rum inside that snazzy bottle is a delicious as ever; in fact, it is the # 15 Rum in my Countdown of the Best rums of 2014.

Here is my 2012 review, which I have updated only by adding the new bottle shot:

# 15 Rum – Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Rum

“… The initial nose surprised me a little with its strong oaky presence and luscious smells of caramel and toasted coconut. Some nice orange marmalade chimes in as well as hints of marzipan and tobacco. As the glass sits, rich baking spices full of dark brown sugar, vanilla, and dabbles of cinnamon and nutmeg rise into the breezes. Then the oak wells up again and pours out of the glass …”

The Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Barbados Rum is an excellent way to cap off on evening. The rum is full of oak spice, and in some ways it reminds me very much of a fine oaky Cognac. But perhaps comparing this rum to a fine cognac is a little unfair to the rum. For unquestionably this is rum, not cognac. And a Rum this good, need not be compared to anything!

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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, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 10, 2014

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

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

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

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

Here is a link to my most recent review:

#15 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Small Batch

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

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

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

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

Rum Howler 2014 # 16 Rum – Dicatador 12 Year Solera

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 9, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014We have reached number 16 in my Countdown, and this is already the third entry for Dictador Rum. Dictador is produced in Colombia on the Caribbean coast at Cartagena de Indias City. Rather than being produced from molasses, the rum is produced from the virgin honey of sugar cane which has been distilled upon a stainless steel alembic, and aged using Dicatador’s unique take on the solera-style aging system.

Dictator’s solera aging system is a cascading process where younger rums are aged in oak casks and then blended with older rums. The aged rum are arranged in different flights with the oldest distilled rum on the lowest levels of the Solera. The younger rums are placed on the upper levels with the very youngest rums at the top. As the rum is pulled from the lowest barrels for bottling, the barrels are not fully emptied, and those barrels (about half full) are then topped up with rum from the levels just above. This marrying of old and new softens the fiery younger rum and provides the final blended rum with a refined smoothness and flavor not found in ordinary rums.

Dictador 12 SAM_1388Here is a link to my full review of the 16th Best Rum of 2014, the Dictador 12 Year Solera:

# 16 Rum – Dicatador 12 Year Solera

“… . The initial nose is very pleasant, full of rich baking spices which include a brown sugary toffee rising from the glass as well as cinnamon, and vanilla. There is a light accent of marzipan which reminds me of toasted almonds and charred marshmallow. I also sense fresh and dry fruit and a complex oak profile that is firm but not too strong …”

I am even more impressed now, than I was when I received my first taste of several of the Dictador 12, a few years ago.  I have been told by the producers of this rum that the average age of their 12 Year Solera Rum has increased by a few years since it was first introduced, which perhaps explains why its score has crept up in this most recent review. The Dictador 12 Year Solera is a complex rum full of oak nuances and dry fruit which achieves a full flavour while maintaining proper balance and complexity.

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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, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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