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Review: No. 3 London Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 9, 2014

Berry Bros. & Rudd is London’s oldest wine and spirits merchant with over 300 years of experience and tradition to draw on. Use this expertise and a team of spirits experts they created No. 3 London Dry Gin. The recipe is based upon three fruits and three spices, and to those I shall speak to in the review. However, I shall say as a bit of foreshadowing, that sometimes artistry can be found in simplicity.

I first sampled the No. 3 Gin at a store called Lacombe Park Spirits in St. Albert, Alberta. I have come to know the proprietors, Karim and his brother Jeff, quite well over the past couple of years, and when Karim discovered that I was about to venture into a series of Gin reviews he insisted that I try one of his favourites.

I was convinced after one sip that this was a gin which I wanted to review, and after contacting the website for No. 3 London Dry Gin, Ross Hendry from Berry Brothers & Rudd, arranged for me to receive a bottle sample with of course the help of the local distributor Charton-Hobbs.

Here is a link to the full review (click on the excerpt):

1878 Gin Cocktail

1878 Gin Cocktail

Review: No. 3 London Dry Gin

“…When that first sample was poured for me at Lacombe Spirits, the first thing I noticed was the assertiveness of the aroma around the glass. I commented to Karim (the proprietor of Lacombe Park Spirits) that this was exactly how I liked my gin to smell in the glass. The nose was full of juniper, but it was not sharp and unpleasant, rather it was full of aromatics which lifted the juniper scent out of the glass and then surrounded it with floral notes and a beguiling sweetness…”

Leo Engels, published his Bartender’s Guide, American and Other Drinks, in 1878. It is a fascinating glimpse into early mixology at a time when bar drinks and cocktails were just beginning to evolve and spread through North America and Europe. At that time, the word ‘cocktail’ was reserved for a specific type of bar drink, which resembles what we call the Old-Fashioned cocktail today.

Included in my updated review of No. 3 London Dry Gin is a reconstruction of Leo Engels’ original Gin Cocktail recipe, the 1878 Gin Cocktail.

Please enjoy my review and the recipes that follow!

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

Escape to El Dorado

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 8, 2014

El dorado Flight

Escape (with the Rum Howler) to El Dorado

I have been invited by the great guys (Bill and Graham) at UNWINED – Fine Wine, Spirits and Ales in St. Albert to be the guest host for an El Dorado Rum event on Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 (7:30 pm).

I will be taking everyone through a vertical tasting Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) unique portfolio of  El Dorado Rum.

 Here is the list of Demerara Rums I will be presenting:

El Dorado Spiced
El Dorado Cask Aged 5 Year Old
El Dorado 12 Year Old Special Reserve
El Dorado 15 Year Old Special Reserve
El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve

During the event I will be sharing my experiences from a recent trip to Guyana where I was given the opportunity to tour the DDL facilities witnessing the rum production first hand. This was during an important time when the company was transferring rum production from their Old Plant with its amazing Heritage Stills, to their new modern multi-column production facility.

I will be discussing the implications of the new plant and how we may expect Demerara Distillers Limited and their amazing El Dorado Rum to evolve going forward.

Please contact UNWINED – Fine Wine, Spirits and Ales (#2 512 St. Albert Trail – 780 458 477) for tickets which are an amazingly low $25.00 each!

 

Posted in Extras, Festivals and Events | 2 Comments »

Review: Blanton’s Gold Edition Bourbon

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 6, 2014

Brass Bonanza SAM_1189

A Brass Bonanza served with Blanton’s Gold Edition

Blanton’s is a bourbon whiskey brand created by Sazerac and launched in 1984. The brand is named for Albert B. Blanton who worked at the Buffalo Trace Distillery for more than 50 years, and who apparently spent much of his time at the distillery promoting the traditions of handcrafted bourbon. Blanton’s claims to be the first modern whiskey designed and sold as a single barrel bourbon, and indeed the original brand name for the brand was “Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon”.

Blanton’s Gold Edition is produced from a mash bill of corn, rye, and malted barley which is distilled to 140 proof and barreled at 125 proof. Each bottle of Blanton’s Gold Edition is bottled from a single barrel (brought to 103 proof) after the whiskey has been chill filtered. Because even barrels which lie side by side in an aging warehouse (even though they may have exactly the same batch of distillate) will almost certainly age differently, there will be much potential for flavour variation between particular bottles of this Blanton’s bourbon.  However, the general character of the whiskey should remain the same between bottlings as the master blender is selecting only those barrels which meet the particular flavour profile he is aiming for.

You may read my full review by clicking the following link excerpt:

Review: Blanton’s Gold Edition Bourbon

“… The nose is very nice with honey, sap and wood spice rising into the breezes alongside subtle notes of Christmas cake (chocolate, raisins, dates and walnuts). There is a bit of an alcohol push along with a few grassy notes and some youthful astringency. As I let the glass sit I notice baking spices building (vanilla, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg) in the air along with some baked apples and canned pears. There are also some nice sweet and spicy notes of pipe tobacco …”

Included in the review is a nice bar drink which mixed the Blanton’s Gold Edition with a few drops of bitters and a splash of ginger-ale. I called the resulting cocktail, the Brass Bonanza.

Please enjoy the review and the provided mixed drink recipe!

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

Review: Luxardo Sambuca (Passione Nera)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 4, 2014

Passione NeraAbout two weeks ago I reviewed the clear Sambuca dei Cesari from Luxardo. Today I thought I would have a crack at their dark Sambuca, Passione Nera. This Italian Black Sambuca is a variation on the traditional Sambuca dei Cesari Luxardo using a recipe which entails multiple levels of successive infusions to blend the different ingredients. The spirit is bottled at 38 % alcohol by volume.

The Grave Digger

The Grave Digger

Luxardo S.P.A. was founded in 1821 in Zara, a port city on the Dalmatian coast of what is now the Republic of Croatia. At the conclusion of World War II and as a consequence of the borders within Europe having been redrawn, the company transferred its holdings to Torreglia in 1947, and has remained an Italian Company, 100% controlled by the founding family. Luxardo is one of the oldest European firms which produce liqueurs, and now almost 200 years after it was established, it remains in the control of the sixth generation of the original Luxardo family.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Luxardo Sambuca (Passione Nera)

“… The aroma from the glass has that same candied black jelly bean aroma  as the Sambuca dei Cesari, however there seems to be additional hints of fruitiness and a hint of undefined spice in the air as well. The Passione Nera does not seem nearly as sweet as the dei Cesari although that may be a subliminal effect of the added complexity …”

Included in the review is a nice bar drink I developed which mixes a touch of the Passione Nera with dark rum in a recipe I call, the Grave Digger.

Please enjoy the review, and the included recipe!  :)

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

Review: Angostura Royal Oak Select Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 2, 2014

new royaloakAngostura Distillers Limited have been producing rum on the Island of Trinidad since the 1930s. Although the company was originally more famous for its production of Angostura Bitters, it has over time also become one of the major producers of rum in the Caribbean. Their rum is produced on a large 5 column still which is located near Port of Spain, on East Main Road, and (as noted on the Ministry of Rum) it is directly east of a coconut-processing plant. The five-column still used by Angostura is capable of producing many marques of rum which range from very light bodied to heavy bodied distillates. This varied production allows the distillery to produce many different styles of rum with differing characteristics depending upon the aim of the final product.

The Royal Oak Select is a light bodied, amber rum which does not carry an age statement. The Angostura website notes that the rum is: “a blend of carefully selected Trinidad rums aged for a maximum of 5 to 7 years by the Master Blender.”

Sloe Lime Daiquiri

Sloe Lime Daiquiri

I note that this statement stresses the oldest rum in the blend and not the youngest. I suspect (based upon my tasting notes) that this blended rum is on average, 3 to 4 years old.

You may read my full review of by clicking on the following review excerpt:

Review: Angostura Royal Oak Select Rum

“… I notice strong butterscotch and caramel scents rising into the air above the glass accented by orange peel and wood spice. There is a nice mellow coconut aroma laying within the caramel, and I wonder if the scents and smells of the coconut processing plant which resides next to the distillery have set their subtle imprint upon the rum as it aged …”

I hope you enjoy this review of the rum which many believe is Angostura’s signature rum blend. And of course, please enjoy my suggested cocktail which I have included at the conclusion of the review, the Sloe Lime Daiquiri.

 

Posted in Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Review: White Owl Ginger Lime Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 29, 2014

SAM_1187 Last, year Highwood Distillers was severely impacted by a massive flash flood which devastated Southern Alberta on June 20th, 2013. The folks working at the distillery had only minutes of warning before the flood hit, and the severity of the event was such that some distillery staff had to be rescued from the tops of their cars by helicopter. If you followed the news regarding the aftermath of the flood (see my story here) you will know that it took more than a few weeks for the company to bring itself back onto its feet. Fortunately for those of us who love Canadian whisky, the distillery picked up the pieces and literally came roaring back to life. In fact, this past Christmas when my tasting panel and I blind-tasted and judged over 45 of the best Canadian Whiskies, Highwood Distillers placed more bottlings in the top 25 than any other Canadian Distillery (see the Top 25 list here).

This should not be considered a recent success, as Highwood has for years now been producing some of the most unique (and under-appreciated) whisky in Canada. In fact, in 2010, they broke new ground, (and a few sales records too), when they introduced their premium clear cocktail whisky, White Owl Whisky (see review here). To say this product was s success is a vast understatement, as the only problem that surfaced with respect to the White Owl Whisky was that Highwood could not make it fast enough to satisfy the demand across Canada. In 2012, the distillery extended the White Owl brand with White Owl Spiced Whisky (see review here), and this year they extended the brand once more with their White Owl Ginger Lime Whisky. Like the previous spirits which have carried the White Owl brand, this is a cocktail whisky carrying at its heart, Highwood’s famous clear White Owl Whisky, but in this case, it is enhanced with zesty lime and ginger flavours.

Cucumber delight SAM_1140

Cucumber Delight

You may read my full review of the White Owl Ginger and Lime Whisky here:

Review: White Owl Ginger Lime Whisky

“… when you bring the glass to your nose you cannot mistake the mild butterscotch, sandalwood and rye notes which rise into the breezes telling you that the base of this flavoured spirit is a gentle rye whisky. As the glass breathes, spicy notes of ginger begin to increase in strength, and building with them is the unmistakable zesty, but retrained note of lime and citrus peel …”

This is a cocktail whisky, and so of course I had to try a few mixed drink recipes during the review process. At the conclusion of the review I decided to feature a recipe of my creation, Cucumber Delight.

Please enjoy the review and the cocktail recipe provided.  :)

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

Review: Havana Club Anejo 3 Anos

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 26, 2014

Havana Club 3 SAM_1182Havana Club is a Cuban Rum produced by Havana Club International (a joint venture between the Cuban Government and Pernod Ricard) currently produced in two Cuban locations, San José de Las Lajas and Santa Cruz del Norte, Cuba. According to tradition the production of the rum which was to become Havana Club began in 1878 when Spanish immigrant José Arechabala established Destileria La Vizcaya in the port city of Cárdenas, Cuba. The distillery remained in the hands of the Arechabala family and in 1934  José’s grandson (also named José Arechabala) apparently created the recipe for Havana Club Rum and began to market it throughout the world. However, the family lost control of the distillery and the brand when after the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the Cuban Government nationalized the distillery and company.

Tonic Mojito SAM_1183

Mojito Tonic with Havana Club Anejo 3 Anos

Havana Club Añejo 3 Años is a pale straw coloured rum spirit which has been aged for 3 years in Cuba. Because of the current difficulties between USA and Cuba the distillery which produces the rum must source its aging barrels from outside of the USA. This means that first fill American oak is almost certainly not used in the aging process, more likely the distillery uses second or third fill barrels which would be sourced from its Caribbean neighbors. Although the rum exhibits some colour it is nevertheless sold as a white cocktail rum which is said to be particularly well-suited for the Cuban Mojito.

You may read my full review by clicking on the following link:

Review: Havana Club Anejo 3 Anos

“… The breezes above the glass are lightly sweet with hints of cotton candy, butterscotch and a light vanilla. Although it takes a minute or two the scent of fresh-cut grass becomes stronger as the glass sits, as do impressions of fresh plantain and canned pears. Bits of sandalwood struggle out of the glass which indicates that although the spirit appears to be filtered, some indications of wood aging are apparent in the air above the glass …”

Please enjoy the review which includes a nice Mojito style cocktail completed with Tonic Water rather than soda. I call it, the Mojito Tonic.

Cheers Everyone!

 

Posted in Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Sambuca dei Cesari (Luxardo)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 22, 2014

Luxardo SamLuxardo S.P.A. was founded in 1821 in Zara, a port city on the Dalmatian coast of what is now the Republic of Croatia. At the conclusion of World War II and as a consequence of the borders within Europe having been redrawn, the company transferred its holdings to Torreglia in 1947, and has remained an Italian Company, 100% controlled by the founding family. Today, Luxardo is one of the oldest European firms which produce liqueurs, and now almost 200 years after it was established, it remains in the control of the sixth generation of the original Luxardo family.

Clarity SAM_1180

Clarity

Sambuca dei Cesari is the licorice flavoured Sambuca produced by Luxardo. Like the well-known Greek licorice flavoured Ouzo, it is a sweet liqueur with a strong licorice flavour derived from the oils of the Star Anise. These oils are obtained from the seeds of this plant by a process of steam distillation. A concentrated solution of sugar and other natural aromas are added to this before bottling at 38 % alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Sambuca dei Cesari (Luxardo)

“… The flavour of the Sambuca dei Cesari matches the aroma perfectly as the liqueur tastes just like a black jelly bean which has already melted in my mouth. I taste candied sweet black licorice with a hint of mintiness ….”

At the conclusion of the review I have included a nice refreshing recipe called Clarity, which mixes Sambuca dei Cesari with Lemonade. It is perfect for a warm sunny Sunday.

Please enjoy the review and the stunningly delicious tall cocktail!

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

Review: Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 20, 2014

1878 Whiskey Cocktail with Maker's Mark

1878 Whiskey Cocktail with Maker’s Mark

Maker’s Mark is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky brand distilled in Loretto, Kentucky, and owned by Beam Global. Bill Samuels Sr. is credited with creating the first version of Maker’s Mark in 1954, and the folks at the Maker’s Mark Distillery have been producing the whiskey since 1958.

The process of producing the bourbon begins with pure limestone fed spring-water, yellow corn, red winter wheat, and natural malted barley (note the absence of rye grain which was replaced by red winter wheat in the mash bill). It continues with a unique milling, cooking, fermentation and small batch distillation process; and it ends with the spirit being aged in new oak barrels. Of course the final whisky is tested and tasted to make sure it is just right before being bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume.

You may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

“… As I nose the glass, I find the breezes are filled with dry oak and cedar scents with a bit of the ‘sappiness’ which I have come to expect from straight American whisky. The firm scents of wood grain and fresh sap are soon joined by orange peel, honeycomb and bits of maple and caramel. There are also indications of baking spices (vanilla cinnamon and cloves), dry grassy cigarette tobacco, and bits of almond …”

The recipe I have decided to showcase at the conclusion of the review is an old whiskey cocktail I found in Leo Engels 1878 book, American and Other Drinks. In his book, Leo simply calls the recipe a Whiskey Cocktail (for simplicity I call it the 1878 Whiskey Cocktail), and I suspect his recipe is close to the original version of what we today call, the Old Fashioned Cocktail.

Please enjoy the review everybody, and enjoy my cocktail suggestion!

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

Review: Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 17, 2014

ballantine-finestThe heritage of Ballantine’s Scotch Whisky can be traced back to 1827 when George Ballantine set up a small grocery store in Edinburgh supplying a range of whiskies to his clients. In 1865, he opened a larger establishment in Glasgow where he concentrated on the wine and spirit trade and catered to a more upscale customer base which apparently included the Hindu Royal Family. It was at this time that Ballantine started the experimentation which led to the creation of his own whisky blends. By the time his son George Jr. took over the business, Ballantine’s was a growing concern and the family eventually sold the prosperous business to Barclay and McKinlay in 1919. As the business and the brand continued to grow, the brand attracted the attention of the Canadian firm, Hiram Walker Gooderham & Worts who acquired Ballantine’s in 1937. Growth continued especially in new markets in Europe. Then in 1988, the Company became part of the global beverage conglomerate Allied Domecq, and later (in 2005) was acquired by Pernod Ricard who own the brand today.

Mamie Taylor

Mamie Taylor

Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky is the flagship whisky of the Ballantine’s brand. It is blended from a mixture of malt and grain whiskies all of which are aged (as per Scottish Law) for a minimum of three years in oak barrels.

You may read my full review of the blended Scotch whisky by clicking on the following except:

Review: Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky

“… The initial nose rising into the breezes above the glass have a firm honeyed butterscotch taint which is accented by heather and fine grain spices. I also detect light notes of raisins and cherry licorice which hints at a few sherry barrels which may have been utilized in the aging of at least some of the whisky. As I let the glass sit I notice fruity aromas of apple juice and canned peaches and apricots, as well as more grain-like scents which remind me of orange and lime zest and damp cigarette tobacco …”

Please enjoy the review and the recipe suggestion which follows, the Mamie Taylor Cocktail.

Slainte’

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

 
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