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Q Tonic vs Schweppes

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 3, 2014

Two and a half years ago, I published a comparative review of Schweppes Tonic versus a new upstart Tonic water which had just entered the Alberta market, Q Tonic.

It all started when I was visiting one of my favourite Liquor Stores, (Lacombe Park Spirits in St. Albert if you want to know), when Karim, who is one of the owners, asked me to try a Gin and Tonic with a new Tonic Water he had started to carry called Q Tonic.

I let him make me a small sample cocktail, and it was pretty good. In fact, I was intrigued enough to make contact with Jordan Silbert, the founder of Q Drinks and asked him if he would like to send me a sample and some information, especially as I had began to receive quite a few a few gin samples to review and a premium Tonic water seemed like a good idea.

My thought was that it would be fun to make some side by side cocktails with Q Tonic and Schweppes Tonic to see if I preferred one over the other consistently. Jordan agreed, and I received a few small bottles of Q Tonic in the mail shortly before Christmas. This was good because the gin samples were beginning to pile up, and I wanted to get at them.

So with four different gins, Beefeater 24, Citadelle Reserve, Port of Barcelona and Broker’s Gin, I set out over the next couple of weeks to test the Gin and Tonic Cocktail with both Q Tonic and Schweppes Tonic.

I published the results of this exercise in January, 2012 and you may read those results by following the provided link:

Comparative Review: Schweppes Tonic VS Q Tonic

Although my Schweppes vs Q Tonic comparison was published over two years ago, I thought it appropriate to revisit this publication as a sort of teaser for my next project, the Gin and Tonic Challenge! Throughout the month of August I will be examining about 15 different Gins I have collected in an effort to find the Best Gin for the quintessential summer cocktail, the Gin and Tonic.

Stay tuned ….

 

Posted in Howls | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Review: Angel’s Envy (Rum) Finished Rye Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 1, 2014

Anel's Envy Rum FinishAngel’s Envy was founded by Lincoln Henderson (a former Brown-Forman Master Distiller) and his son Wesley in 2010. Although the company now has the facilities in place to produce their own whiskey, Lincoln and Wesley have (since opening in 2010) sourced their whiskey from another (undisclosed) distillery such that they would have finished whiskey to sell immediately.

According to Wes, when the company began to contemplate their Rum Finished Whiskey, they began by sampling over one hundred rums to find the right flavour complement for their bold style of rye whiskey. They also compared six different blends of rye which were eventually narrowed down to just one, a 95 % Rye Whiskey which (according to my emails with the distillery) was aged for 7 to 8 years in new charred American oak barrels. They chose to finish this Rye Whiskey for 18 months in ex-Plantation XO Rum Barrels.

In case you did not know, these Plantation barrels began their life as French Cognac barrels which were then were used as the finishing barrels for Plantation’s fantastic XO Anniversary Rum (See my review for Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Rum here). Thus these finishing barrels contained not only the compliment of a fantastic rum within their oak fibres, they also may have contained hints of cognac as well. The finished whiskey is bottled at 50 % alcohol by volume.

Note: Angel’s Envy is a craft producer who blends their whiskey in small batches. The Whisky is not available in Canada; however, fortunately for me, I was given a sample bottle by the good folks at UNWINED – Fine Wine, Spirits and Ales in St. Albert a few weeks ago when I served as the guest host for their El Dorado Rum Tasting (thanks for your hospitality guys). 

You may read my full review of this wonderful whiskey by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: Angel’s Envy (Rum) Finished Rye Whiskey

“… The whiskey is a maple and spice delight with a full flavour that rocks the palate with layers of rye and wood spice coupled with the candied sweetness of maple and brown sugar. Hot wood spices full of cinnamon and clove heat the palate while sweet maple and dark brown sugar have their way with my taste buds. Vanilla and oodles rye spice crash the party joined by port dipped cigars and old-fashioned home-made cinnamon buns stuffed with walnuts and pecans …”

Please enjoy this review of a spectacular new Rye Whiskey!

Cheers Everyone!

 

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

Review: El Dorado Spiced Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 30, 2014

ED Spiced-750-USA-cut-CMYKI was privileged recently when I received an invite to visit the facilities of  Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) in Guyana, South America two years ago. During this visit I was given a complete tour of the Diamond Distillery where DDL’s famous El Dorado Rums are produced. This included a tour of the old plant which houses the heritage stills (famous stills from various estates in Guyana some as old as 250 years, all working and still producing rum), and I saw DDL’s new high-capacity five-column distillation plant which is now in operation.

During this trip, I also was able to taste the entire line of El Dorado rums including the new El Dorado Spiced Rum. In fact at the guest house where I was staying, a full bottle of the El Dorado Spiced (and a few others as well) were left for our small Canadian group to enjoy each evening. I snapped a nice picture of the bottle while I was there and spent a little time gathering some tasting notes. At that time the Spiced rum was produced using lightly aged rum which had been produced at the old plant using the old heritage stills.

Georgetown Punch

However, two and a half years have passed and the transition of rum production (for El Dorado’s younger rums) has almost certainly been moved to the new plant and this rum is now entering into the North American Marketplace. I strongly suspect that the El Dorado Spiced rum is now a product of the new distillation plant rather than the old heritage plant, and I have decided to revisit and replace my original review with a more timely review from a current bottle.

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

Review: El Dorado Spiced Rum

“… The rum crosses the palate with sweet flavours of brown sugar melded into cloves and cinnamon with orange peel, nutmeg, and coriander adding additional spicy character. As before,strong notes of vanilla are evident and there is also a light dusting of oak woven into the flavour profile. The heat from the rum is more carefully melded into the firm butterscotch and brown sugar flavours …”

I hope you enjoy my fresh look at the El Dorado Spiced Rum which includes a nice punch style recipe, Georgetown Punch.

Cheers Everyone!

Posted in Rum, Rum Reviews, Spiced Rum | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Dictador Ortodoxy Aged Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 28, 2014

Orthydoxy SAM_1227This past May, I was invited by Thirsty Cellar Imports, to attend a Rum Master Class hosted by Hernan Parra Arango, Rum Master for Dictador Colombian Rum. At the event, the attendees were given the opportunity to taste the entire Dictador line-up which included not only the fantastic Dictador Rums, but also two unique Colombian premium aged gins.

These premium gins are the result of the passion of former President of Dictador, Dario Parra, who had during his many travels in the United Kingdom developed a tremendous love for gin. Dario studied many gin recipes and back home in Colombia he developed his gin for his own personal use, utilizing traditional ingredients in conjunction with berries and botanicals native to Colombia. Dario Parra’s passion has resulted in the creation of two special aged gins which are now sold internationally, Dictador Treasure, and Dictador Ortodoxy.

Grapefuit Martini

Grapefruit Martini

The subject of this review is Dictador Ortodoxy Aged Gin, which as the name implies has been constructed to have a traditional, or orthodox, flavour profile which will be familiar to gin enthusiasts. This gin is produced from sugar cane alcohol which is distilled 4 times to 96 % alcohol by volume. During the 5th distillation each botanical is macerated and distilled separately before being blended. The blended gin is then aged for 35 weeks in previously used rum barrels, and then filtered clear to be bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume.

You may click the following Review excerpt to read the full review:

Review: Dictador Ortodoxy Gin

“… The initial breezes from the glass bring forward light juniper and alpine forest scents with a touch of cotton candy whispering in the background which gives the air above the glass a lovely hint of sweetness. This aroma seems gentle and relaxed as there are also enticing floral accents with hints of citrus zest and lemon balm …”

Of course I have added a few recipes for your enjoyment, a Gin and Tonic, and a Grapefruit Martini. Both are absolutely great with Dictador’s Ortodoxy Aged Gin!

 

Posted in Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Windsor Canadian Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 25, 2014

Windsor CanadianWindsor Canadian is currently produced by Beam Suntory at the Alberta Distillers Limited (ADL) facility in Calgary Alberta. Beam Suntory gives the following description on their website information regarding this whisky,

“A light, delicately flavored whisky, Windsor® Canadian is Canada’s smoothest. Windsor is made from cereal grains grown near Calgary, Alberta, combined with the pure, clear glacial stream water of Western Canada and aged in the dry, mile-high Canadian Rocky Mountains. “

An interesting bit of history regarding Windsor Canadian is that the whisky was originally launched as Windsor Supreme in 1963 by the American firm, National Distillers. The brand quickly became so popular that this American firm purchased the ADL Distillery in order to secure a plentiful source of high quality 100 % rye grain whisky for bottling and blending. In 1987, Fortune Brands (Beam Global) also had an eye for quality 100 % rye grain whisky, and they in turn purchased both the Windsor brand and the ADL Distillery from National (source: Canadian Whisky the Portable Expert, Copyright 2012 – Davin De Kergoumeaux, McClelland & Stewart publishers).

Canadian Crusta

Canadian Crusta

Of course, if you follow the whisky news you will know that the Japanese spirits giant, Suntory, recently acquired Beam Global. I do not think that it is stretch to suggest that Calgary’s own, Alberta Distillers Limited was the diamond in the rough which Suntory was seeking to secure for themselves as ADL is currently the largest producer of 100 % rye grain whisky in the entire world, and in fact, one of the few remaining producers of high quality 100 % rye grain whisky.

You may read my full review of this typically ‘Canadian’ Whisky by clicking on the following review excerpt (link):

Review: Windsor Canadian Whisky

“… The initial nose is very typically ‘Canadian’ with firm butterscotch scents lying alongside a fruit-filled spicy rye. As I let the glass sit, some dusty ripened grain notes develop along with accompanying scents of straw and the chaff. There is a bit of dry grassiness reminiscent of timothy and foxtail and some zesty notes of orange and lemon peel. Rounding out the nose are a few bits of cinnamon and dark brown sugar …”

Please enjoy the review which includes a modern take on the classic Whiskey Crusta Cocktail, which I have called the Canadian Crusta.

Cheers Everyone!

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

Review: Dictador XO Insolent Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 23, 2014

Dictador Insolent SAM_1195This past May, I was invited by Thirsty Cellar Imports, to attend a Rum Master Class hosted by Hernan Parra Arango, Rum Master for Dictador Colombian Rum. At the event, the attendees were given the opportunity to taste the entire Dictador line-up which of course included not only the Dictador 12 Year and the Dictador 20 Year Solera Rums, but we also tasted and learned about the Dictador XO Perpetual and XO Insolent Rums.

At the Rum Master Class, I learned that for the Dictador XO Insolent in particular, the aging barrels used are pre-used oak barrels which have a significant percentage of oak obtained from Jerez Spain, as well as pre-used Port Wine Barrels. Near the end of the aging process, the barrels earmarked for the XO Insolent Rum are emptied (and the rum stored of course), and these barrels are subjected to an open flame process which caramelizes the rum soaked oak fibres on the interior of the barrel. These barrels are then refilled with the same rum allowing the spirit to draw the sweet caramelized flavours from the interior of the oak barrel. The final rum is blended and barreled at 40 % Alcohol by volume.

You may read my full review for the XO Insolent Rum by clicking on the following excerpt:

Review: Dictador XO Insolent Rum

“… luscious with sweet toffee smells rising from the glass tainted with impressions of butterscotch, vanilla, corn syrup, creme de brulee, maple syrup and peanut brittle. There is a backbone of firm oak sap and spice melded wonderfully into these sweeter butterscotch like aromas with delectable baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) and hints of milk chocolate …”

Please enjoy my latest review!

Posted in Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Review: Sahara Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 20, 2014

SAM_1211 Sahara GinHighwood Distillers is a Canadian distillery located just east of the Canadian Rockies in the town of High River, Alberta. I have visited the distillery and watched first hand as they turned the local wheat into whisky, vodka. and gin. Their Sahara Dry Gin is produced in the London Dry style from locally produced wheat and naturally sourced Rocky Mountain water. I am not privy to the exact recipe of this gin, but according to their own website, juniper, citrus of lemon, and other botanicals are all added during the final distillation. This is s very dry gin. So dry in fact, that the folks at Highwood named it Sahara.

Lime Crusta with Sahara Dry Gin

Lime Crusta with Sahara Dry Gin

Sahara Dry Gin recently received a bit of a make-over and is now sold in a stubby new bottle which is shown to the left. I was recently provided a sample bottle in the new configuration by the folks at Highwood for the purpose of a revisiting my previous review here on my website. As this gin was likely produced after the distillery was retrofitted with new equipment after the flooding of 2013.

I thought revisiting my review was timely.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Sahara Dry Gin

“… The nose has a laid back quality of juniper and lighter accents of lemon and grapefruit. There is a bit of an alpine scent mingled with the juniper and perhaps some scents of willow thicket, meadow grass, and spring flowers. Everything is all rather mellow; but it is also rather enjoyable …”

I included two nice cocktails at the conclusion of the review, a very nice ‘cooler’ style cocktail to enjoy with the Sahara, the Jumping Buffalo Cooler, and my brand new cocktail, the Lime Crusta!

Please enjoy my review and my suggested cocktails, Cheers!

Posted in Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Masterson’s 12-Year-Old Straight Wheat Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 16, 2014

Mastersons_WheatMasterson’s Straight Wheat Whiskey is distilled and aged in Canada, for a California company located in Sonoma, called 35 Maple Street. As a straight whiskey, the spirit must be barreled and aged in new American Oak; however this Masterson’s whiskey also holds the distinction of being perhaps the only Canadian whiskey which is distilled on a copper pot still from a mash of 100 % wheat grain. It is aged for 12 years, bottled at 50% alcohol by volume, and is apparently (like the rest of the Masterson’s line-up) named for the famous frontier lawman, William “Bat” Masterson.

Rum Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned

You may read my full review of the 12 Year Old Wheat spirit by clicking the following review excerpt:

Review: Masterson’s 12-Year-Old Straight Wheat Whiskey

“… Mild butterscotch and toffee aromas mingle with the wood and spices, and subtle bits of dry fruit and orange peel drifting into the breezes for those who are patient enough to notice. As I let the glass sit, the oak builds up just a little giving us some hints of bitter sap, poplar wood and dark chocolate. I also notice very light baking spices with vanilla, cinnamon and hints coarse yellow/brown sugar …”

Please enjoy my review which includes my recipe suggestion, the Old-Fashioned Cocktail!

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

Review: Lamb’s Palm Breeze (Amber Rum)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 14, 2014

Palm BreezeIn my part of Canada, Lamb’s is one of the most popular rum brands. The brand is owned by Corby Brand, and they the rum’s history all the way to 1849 when Alfred Lamb opened his wine and spirits business in London, England. Apparently Alfred stored his rum barrels (which had been imported from the Caribbean) in his underground cellars which were directly beneath the Thames River. The cool underground air which did not experience large seasonal fluctuations in temperature nor large fluctuations from day to night is reckoned to be one of the secrets behind the unexpectedly smooth taste of his rum.

Of course the rum no longer is aged under the Thames River in Britain; but it does maintain its Caribbean heritage as the Lamb’s blend is sourced from a variety of Caribbean rums which have been aged for a minimum of one year in oak casks. The final rum is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume and sold as Lamb’s Palm Breeze.

Spence

Spence Cocktail

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

Review: Lamb’s Palm Breeze (Amber Rum)

“… When I bring the glass to my nose, I notice light smells of butterscotch, sandalwood and spice. It is the sandalwood and spice (rather than the butterscotch) which grows in the breezes as I let the glass breathe. I soon notice traces of white pepper and cinnamon as well as building citrus zest and banana peel. Interestingly, a plastic-like scent reminiscent of faux leather seems to be entwined within the spiciness. Hints of vanilla and almond round out the aroma, which if I had encountered it in a blind format, I might just have mistaken it for a light Canadian whisky …”

The Master Blender (Joy Spence) for Appleton Estate Rum shared her favourite cocktail with me during an interview I conducted a few years ago (See interview here).  I found it nice to know that those who make great rum, also agree with me that it is more than acceptable to mix their great rum into a cocktail. At the conclusion of my review, I share the Spence Cocktail as my suggested recipe for for Lamb’s Palm Breeze.

Please enjoy my review and Joy Spence’s great cocktail!

Posted in Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Marshall’s Bourbon Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 11, 2014

Marshall'sMarshall’s Bourbon Whiskey is produced in Bardstown, Kentucky for the Beveland Liquor Company. In case you did not know, Beveland is located in northern Spain, near the French border, and they are (as far as I can reasonably tell from their website) a small to medium-sized wine and spirits company which sells a variety of distilled spirits into the European market.

Northern Mint Julep

Northern Mint Julep

I am not really sure how I came upon this particular sample bottle. It seems to have appeared unannounced upon my review shelf in my tasting room. I tried to locate its source; however, I could not even locate a local distributor for the brand. I suspect a friend or relative came upon the bottle in their travels, and slipped it upon my review shelf with the other bourbon whiskeys as an unexpected treat for me. This should be a fun review as I have no idea what to expect from a Bourbon which I could find hardly a trace of on the internet.

You may read my full review here:

Review: Marshall’s Bourbon Whiskey

“… The initial aroma from the glass revealed spicy oak sap and woody cedar scents pushed forward by a rather firm alcohol astringency. Light butterscotch aromas and bits of vanilla pushed through this astringency as did a sort of tobacco-like grassiness. There is some spicy citrus peel in the air as well us some nutty almond …”

I hope you enjoy this review which includes a nice summertime deck drink, the Northern Mint Julep.

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

 
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