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Review: Belvedere Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 12, 2014

SAM_1003 Lemon MartiniBelvedere Vodka is (according to their website) “the world’s first luxury vodka“. It is a four-time distilled spirit produced in the Polish town of Żyrardów from Dankowski rye and water pulled from Belvedere’s own underground artesian wells. When I sampled Belvedere for the first time, I had several friends over, and we tasted the Vodka as part of a private tasting event which included 2 other Vodkas each representing a similar style, but each at a different price range. The aim of the tasting was to see whether we could taste the difference between economy, premium and ultra-premium spirits in a relaxed almost-party like setting. (The three Vodkas included in the tasting were, Khortytsa Platinum Vodka (priced at $17.95), Sobieski Vodka (priced at $25.95), and Belvedere Vodka priced at ($48.95). The prices given are based upon current LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) price listings.

After the tasting event, I continued my examination of each spirit putting each brand through the paces of my Vodka Review Methodology. This is of course the review for the Ultra-Premium Belvedere Vodka imported into Alberta by the Western Canadian distributor Charton Hobbs who provided my sample bottle for this review.

You may click on the following link to read my full review which includes my suggested serving, the Lemon Martini.

Review: Belvedere Vodka

“… The aroma was clean with a soft lemony spiciness rising into the air. When I sipped on the spirit, I was surprised at the firmness of this soft lemon flavour. I should stress that the flavour the vodka presented in the glass was not harsh or vegetal. Rather it was a soft lemon-like flavour which featured an underlying cereal-like earthiness running through the spirit …”

Please enjoy my review!

Interesting Note: Yesterday I was invited to be a guest judge at the Vodka Olympics (hosted by the good folks at Aligra Wine and Spirits). A group of jurors (about 10 of us) tasted and scored 12 different Vodkas in a completely blind format. Reinforcing my perceptions during my review (which was written about a week ago), Belvedere was revealed to be the third best vodka in the grouping. It turns out that Belvedere actually is a true ultra-premium Vodka. (Incidentally my personal score card had it rated number 1!)

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Review: Lemon Hart Original Demerara Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 10, 2014

Lemon Hart and ColaLemon Hart is an iconic rum brand with roots which stretch back to the late 18th century when Mr. Lemon Hart began to supply rum to the British Royal Navy. By 1804, production of his “Lemon Hart Rum” was moved from his small merchant office in Cornwall, England to a larger facility in London. Over 150 years later the rum was  being produced at the Hiram Walker Distillery in Ontario, Canada. True to its roots as a Navy Rum, the brand remained a Demerara blend with the base rum bulk shipped from Guyana to the Hiram Walker Facility where it was aged and blended with a small amount ( 1.5 %) of Canadian Rum for tax purposes.

Cuban SpecialThe Original Lemon Hart rum is now blended with 100 % Guyanese distilled and aged rum. It is bottled in Canada by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) for Mosaiq, and I have confirmed that all of the previous Guyanese marques for this the rum have remained the same as before. Thus the difference between the old blend and the new blend comes down to the scrapping of the Canadian rum content as well as the differences which aging in Guyana rather than in Ontario, Canada will impart to the final rum.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Lemon Hart Original Demerara Rum

“… the spirit brings forward aromas typical of a dark rum. Licorice stained molasses with hints of cinnamon and cloves are obvious with additional indications of fine oak spices underneath. Bits of vanilla well up as do impressions of cocoa, oolong tea, dry fruit, and nicotine stained tobacco …”

Please enjoy the review which includes my suggested serving, the Cuban Special.

Cheers Everyone!

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Review: Amaretto di Saschira (Luxardo)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 8, 2014

Luxardo AmarettoLuxardo 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.

Amaretto di Saschira is the Company’s almond based liqueur, and according to Global Export ManagerMatteo Luxardo, whom I met in Edmonton about 16 months ago, this Amaretto is produced using natural ingredients which include real almonds for flavouring. Matteo indicated the liqueur will be slightly drier than other Amaretto brands featuring the well-rounded taste of both natural almonds and vanilla. The spirit is bottled at 28 % alcohol by volume and packaged in an elegant bottle created by German designer Ady Ferner.

Photo courtesy forrest

Photo courtesy forrest

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

Review: Amaretto di Saschira (Luxardo)

“… The nose is sweet and inviting with a strong likeness to marzipan (a mixture of crushed almonds and powdered sugar), and with a very noticeable vanilla overtone. I also sense hints of orange peel, and an underlying earthiness which reminds me of crushed apple seeds …”

Please enjoy the review which includes a great recipe which combines an aged oaky rum with Amaretto di Saschira. This is an original cocktail which was created by my good friend, forrest, (who has a wonderful site called “a drink with forrest“)  and myself in one of our many recipe collaborations.

Cheers everyone!

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Review: Diamond Club Black Label Malt Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 6, 2014

GEPRGETOWN SOURTwo years ago I was offered a rare trip to Guyana, South America to visit the home of El Dorado Rum, Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL). The trip was part of a media tour designed to bring more awareness to the El Dorado brand and the wonderful rum which the Diamond Distillery produces (see my write-up of the distillery tour here). One of the more interesting finds I came across when I was in Guyana was a bottle of whisky produced by Demerara Distillers called Diamond Club Black Label Whisky. I happened to see it during a media tour of Georgetown (the largest and the Capital city of Guyana) in a local liquor store, and the whisky was selling for less than 3 bucks Canadian per bottle.

I had no idea that the folks who made El Dorado Rum, also produced a Black Label Malt Whisky, and I was of course very curious about the spirit. When I quizzed the folks at the Diamond Distillery, I was told that the base malt for this whisky is produced by Inver House (who own Balblair, anCnoc and Old Pulteney), and that they will occasionally ship bulk malt whisky to Guyana where it is blended (or stretched) with locally produced cane spirit, and sold as their Blended Malt Whisky.

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

Review: Diamond Club Black Label Malt Whisky

“… I detect light butterscotch aromas, some fine wood spices complete with hints of ginger and cardamom, bits of heather and some lightly pungent and lightly spicy tobacco in the breezes complete with a light malty sweetness …”

Enjoy my review which includes a nice cocktail suggestion, the Georgetown Sour.

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Sobieski Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 4, 2014

SAM_1001 SobieskiSobieski Vodka is (according to their website) the number 1 selling premium vodka in Poland. It is a true Polish Vodka distilled on a multi-column still from 100% Dankowski rye which was harvested in the low-lying Mazovia (Masowse) region of Poland. The spirit was named ‘Sobieski’ to pay homage to King Jan III Sobieski (1629 – 1696) who is generally regarded as the last great King of Poland whose spirit of indomitable will remains even today as an integral aspect of the Poland’s national character.

When I sampled Sobieski for the first time, I had several friends over, and we tasted the Vodka as part of a private tasting event which included 2 other Vodkas each representing a similar style, but each at a different price range. The aim of the tasting was to see whether we could taste the difference between economy, premium and ultra-premium spirits in a relaxed almost-party like setting. (The three Vodkas included in the tasting were, Khortytsa Platinum Vodka (priced at $17.95), Sobieski Vodka (priced at $25.95), and Belvedere Vodka priced at ($48.95). The prices given are based upon current LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) listings.)

SAM_1002 Yellow BirdAfter the tasting event, I continued my examination of each spirit putting each brand through the paces of my Vodka Review Methodology. This is of course the review for Sobieski vodka imported into Alberta by the Western Canadian distributor Charton Hobbs who provided my sample bottle for this review.

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

Review: Sobieski Vodka

“… When I threw back a shot of Sobieski, I was very pleased at how clean and smooth the spirit tasted. When served well chilled, the Vodka displayed no burn at all, only a nice spicy glow which heated the palate lightly and slowly crept down the throat …”

I hope you enjoy my review which includes a nice cocktail recommendation, my own Yellowbird of Sunshine, which mixes Sobieski Vodka with lemon juice and Maraschino liqueur (and tastes absolutely delicious).

Pravda!

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If you are interested in a direct comparison the previously published review for Khortytsa Platinum Vodka can be found here.

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Review: Torres Jaime I Brandy (30 year Solera)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 2, 2014

SAM_1013Torres Jaime I is produced in the Penedès region of Spain by Miguel Torres. This distinctive brandy is named for the founder of the House, Jaime Torres Vendrell, and is produced from old soleras which were aged from selected distilled wines. In fact, some of these soleras began their lives as distilled Pardella Wines destined for the Torres 10 Brandy, but were instead kept aside to serve as reserve stocks. To make the Torres Jaime I, these reserves were enriched with some of the House’s best soleras, the oldest of which were aged 30 years. The final piece of the puzzle (so to speak) was the addition of a small amount of aged 1972 eau-de-vie of Folle Blanche lees (which is normally used to produce high-quality pot-still brandy).

Although I reviewed this lush, well aged brandy about two years ago; yesterday, I added a new cocktail to the review.

You may read my full review with the added cocktail, Brandy Février, here:

Review: Torres Jaime I Brandy

“… The Torres Jaime I exhibits a dark, lush copper colour in the glass. The brandy is complex, assertive and very intense. In fact, the bouquet from the glass has the ability to fill the room when it is poured. The aroma is oak stained and very rich… “

Please enjoy my review of this excellent aged Brandy, Cheers!

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Review: Myer’s Planters’ Punch (Canadian Bottling)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 1, 2014

Myer's Planter's PunchI was given a bottle of Myer’s Planter’s Punch a few months ago by a good friend who had purchased it as a curiosity and then subsequently decided the style was not to his liking. (Molasses-rich dark rums are not for everyone so we won’t hold this against him.) This particular dark rum is being distributed in Alberta by Diageo. It has been produced since 1879, and is apparently a blend of continuous and pot still Jamaican rums which have been matured in previously used bourbon barrels for a minimum of four years.

Apparently that is not the whole story, as my bottle clearly states (at the bottom of the label) that the particular bottle which I was given has been blended with Canadian rum as well. For those who do not know, it used to be fairly common for rums imported into Canada to be blended with a small amount (about 1.5 %) of Canadian Rum (usually produced at the Hiram Walker Distillery) in order to obtain a more favourable tax rate from the Canadian Government.

You may read my full review of Myer’s Planters’ Punch by clicking on the following excerpt (link).

Review: Myer’s Planters’ Punch (Canadian Bottling)

“… The aroma from the glass hits you pretty quickly after you pour it, and I immediately detect the tell-tale signature aroma of musty pot-still Jamaican funk rising into the breezes from the glass. Alongside that funk is plenty more. Oak spices, licorice stained molasses, dark brown sugars, a spicy triumvirate of nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon (baking spices), as well as lots of vanilla, and dark dry fruit …”

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Note:  You may find my 2013 list of the 30 Best Rums here:  The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 30 Rums

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The Rum Howler Top 10 Most Popular Reviews

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 30, 2014

Bg Black DickSometimes I get asked what the most popular articles on my website are. Today I decided to go through my web stats and find out. So if you have every wondered what the most popular reviews on my website are, then you need wonder no longer.

Here is the list of The Rum Howler Top 10 Most Popular Reviews:

10) Bacardi 8 Year Old Rum
09) Crown Royal XR Canadian Whisky (Waterloo)
08) Ron Zacapa XO (25 Year Solero) Rum
07) Bacardi Oakheart Smooth Spiced Rum
06) Appleton Estate Extra Old 12 Year Old Rum
05) Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial Rum
04) El Dorado 12 Year Old Special Reserve
03) Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva 
02) Big Black Dick Dark Caribbean Rum 
01) Kraken Black Spiced Rum 

Who would have thought that a relatively unknown flavoured rum from the Cayman Islands would inspire the second most page views on my website? (I wonder if all those search engines that find that particular review are really looking for Rum?)

Cheers Everyone!

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Review: Odd Society Spirits (East Van Vodka)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 29, 2014

photo 4Odd Society Spirits is a small-batch craft distillery located on Powell Street in East Vancouver’s port district. They are about experimentation and embracing change while celebrating the ‘collective and individual oddities’ of their Founder and Distiller, Gordon Glanz. The Odd Society is dedicated to melding Old World distilling traditions with New World ingenuity (and ingredients) to build a portfolio of spirits which includes whiskey, vodka, and gin.

When I asked Gordon about Odd Society he said,

“We are a “craft” distillery. Under BC regulations that means all alcohol must be produced from BC agricultural products. Unfortunately, this also means that we cannot make a rum without losing the craft designation, which comes with some big tax breaks and other advantages. We have started with a vodka and then a creme de cassis. We have started putting away whisky for aging.”

photo (2)Odd Society’s East Van Vodka is produced solely from malted barley grown in Prince George, and malted in Armstrong, BC. The spirit is twice distilled upon German-made copper pot stills, after which it distilled once more on a 15 foot vodka column still. Then the vodka is charcoal filtered and blended with purified Vancouver tap water.

According to Gordon, East Van Vodka is not meant to be a totally neutral spirit. It is meant to be lightly fragrant, and incredibly smooth. As Gordon says, “Consider it a single malt vodka.”

You may learn more about Odd Society Spirits, and read my review of their ‘single malt vodka‘ by clicking on the following excerpt (link).

Review: East Van Vodka (Odd Society Spirits)

“… As I let the breezes meander about, I do in fact begin to notice the malted barley aroma growing in those breezes. The aroma is vaguely beer-like with barley porridge-like overtones and delicate impressions of brown sugar, spearmint and red licorice as well. After nosing, the first sip reveals a lightly spicy spirit with a malty sweetness and a firm minty fruitiness …”

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Note: The distillery has began to lay down Single Malt Whisky for aging. For their whisky, the last distillation with the 15 foot column still is eliminated. Hence they produce their Malt distillate in much the same manner, twice distilled on a copper pot still, as traditional Scottish distillers. Because their Vodka is produced from the same spirit as their Whisky will be (just once more distilled), an examination of the Vodka gives us a glimpse into the character of their future single malt whisky.

 

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Review: Canadian Club Reserve (9 Year Old)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 27, 2014

CCR 9YRRecently there have been some changes in the Canadian Club Whisky family. One of the brands which has undergone a revamping is the Canadian Club Reserve which used to be a 10-year-old blend, but which was recently revamped and now carries a 9 year age statement. The newer version of the whisky has a new square bottle (shown below) and the two words, “Triple Aged” have been added to the label. My understanding is the whisky has been constructed to match as closely as possible the original flavour profile of the 10-year-old whisky. Although whisky as young as 9-years-old are now being used in the blend, there is also much older whisky in the blend as well.

The Alberta Beam Global team recently gave me a sample bottle to examine recently, and I have decided to share the resulting review.

WoodcutterYou may click the following excerpt (link) to read my full review of the new 9-year-old blend;

Review: Canadian Club Reserve (9 Year Old)

“… The initial nose is rich with butterscotch, oak, cedar, and a growing impression of maple. As the glass breathes some dank corn notes rise into the breezes along with some spicy tobacco, oak vanillans, sticky orange marmalade, and a dusting of rye spice. If you wait long enough, some nice chocolate notes and dabs of bourbon-like honeycomb …”

At the conclusion of the review I have included a refreshing recipe, The Woodcutter, which mixes the Canadian Club Reserve with Apple cider.

Please enjoy the review, and my cocktail suggestion!

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Note:
You may find my 2013 list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:  The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

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

 
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