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Review: Kavalan Concertmaster (Port Cask Finish) Single Malt Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 3, 2014

Kavalan Port Cask SAM_1096Kavalan Whisky is produced by the King Car Group at the newly built Kavalan Distillery at Yi-Lan, Taiwan. The distillery features imported copper pot stills from Scotland and clean water sourced from the Central Mountain and Snowy Mountain Ranges of Ylan to produce a unique Taiwanese whisky. The first expression of their  Concertmaster series is a Port Cask finish single malt whisky which was of course finished in a variety of Port Wine casks from Portugal (which include Ruby, Tawny, and Vintage Port). The Whisky does not carry an age statement; but because we know that the distillery opened in 2008, and the fist Concertmaster whisky began to appear in Canada in 2013; we can assume the Whisky is no older than 5 years and may be as young as three years old.

SAM_1097

The Crushed Polly


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

Review: Kavalan Concertmaster (Port cask Finish) 

“… The initial breezes above the glass brought forward a pleasant fruit-like scent of sweet red cherries within a backdrop of clean oak spice. There was a sweetness in the air similar to the aroma of cotton candy and marshmallows, and as the sweetness combined with the cherry like fruitiness I was reminded of Turkish Delight and red licorice …”

I found the whisky was suited very well for tall cocktails, and as a result I included a few recipe suggestions in the review including my own mixed drink, the Crushed Polly.

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

Review: Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 1, 2014

SAM_1016 FusionThe Amrut Distillery is situated in Bangalore ‘the garden city’ of India. The distillery sits in a tropical locale 3000 ft above sea level with its water source being the Himalayan Mountains.

The Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky is produced from two geographically disparate grains. The majority of the barley used to produce this whisky was grown and harvested at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains.This Punjabi barley was mashed, distilled and aged in the distillery at Bangalore. The distillery also uses a peated barley sourced in Scotland and this barley is as well brought to the facilities in Bangalore to be separately mashed, distilled and then aged until maturity. When each separately distilled whisky is ready, they are blended and then aged for a second period of time to allow the different whiskies flavours to marry in the barrel prior to bottling.

Rob Roy Cocktail

Rob Roy Cocktail

The Amrut Fusion Whisky is a single malt which represents the fusion of two different whiskies. It is bottled at 50 % alcohol by volume and is sold in various markets across the world including here in Alberta, Canada.

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

Review: Amrut Fusion Single Malt Whisky

“… As the glass breathed I received strong notes of Demerara sugar and baking spices which brought impressions of dark rum and cola into the whisky aroma. The oak and the peated aromas carried the other scents and smells forward, and melded into them rather than dominated them. The result is a very complex whisky which brought many interesting nuances in the air …”

Accompanying this review is an excellent recipe suggestion, the Rob Roy Cocktail.

Slainte’

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

Review: Amarula Fruit and Cream Liqueur

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 30, 2014

AmarulaAmarula is a relatively new cream liqueur from South Africa which has recently been made available in my market. This is a cream based alcohol liqueur produced from cream (of course), the fruit of the African Marula Tree (also known as the Elephant Tree), and sugar. It is bottled at 17% alcohol by volume, and occupies the same market niche as Bailey’s Irish Cream and Kahlua.

I have received several mini (50 ml) bottles of Amarula over the past two years (usually attached as a free mini sampler to the neck of a larger 750 ml spirit). I usually enjoy the free sampler in my morning coffee or drizzled over ice-cream, but with my most recent mini bottle, I decided to write a review.

Plush Martini

Plush Martini

The product is imported into Alberta by PMA (Peter Mielzynski Agencies Ltd.), and is available in a 375 ml, as well as 1000 ml and 1750 ml configurations.

You may read the full review by clicking on the following excerpt;

Review: Amarula Fruit and Cream Liqueur

“… I detect some mild chocolate and coffee aromas with hints of butterscotch, vanilla, and a light nuttiness akin to hazelnut. Within these familiar cream liqueur scents is a zesty citrus component which seems to bring a little life to the glass elevating the familiar into something exotic …”

Please enjoy my review which concludes with a decadent rum and Amarula based cocktail which I call the Plush Martini.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

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

Review: Baker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 27, 2014

BakersBaker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection. This collection is composed of Booker’s, Baker’s  and the previously reviewed Knob Creek,and Basil Hayden’s. The whiskey collection is considered by Jim Beam Distillers to be a selection of ‘ultra-premium’ bourbon whiskeys created to establish a high-end category for bourbon, and thus to appeal to the serious whiskey aficionado.

The Baker’s Bourbon was named for Baker Beam, who was the grand-nephew of James Beauregard Beam (Jim Beam). It is bottled at 107 proof (53.5% alcohol by volume) and produced from bourbon whisky which was aged for a minimum of 7 years. Interestingly, the mash for this spirit was apparently fermented utilizing a  special strain of ‘jug yeast’ that has been in the Beam family for over 60 years.

Wisconsin Old Fashioned (Whiskey)

Wisconsin Old Fashioned (Whiskey)

Recently I was given a bottle of Baker’s by the Alberta Beam Global Team for the purpose of a review upon my website, and you may read that review by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: Baker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

“… The spiciness is off the charts no doubt aided by the 53.5% alcohol by volume bottling strength of the Baker’s Whisky. Despite the full barrel of spice (and despite the obvious push of alcohol) the spirit is remarkable easy to sip. This is because all that spice is accompanied by an equally forceful explosion of flavour and sweetness …”

A recipe which has become fashionable to write about on the cocktail blogs lately is the Wisconsin Old Fashioned, which mixes a nice oaky brandy with an orange slice, brandied cherries, and Angostura Bitters. It is really quite delicious. When I was tasting the Baker’s Bourbon, I could not help but think to myself how well this particular spirit would work using the Wisconsin method. At the conclusion of my review you will find my recipe for the Wisconsin Old Fashioned modified slightly to accommodate the Baker’s Bourbon rather than a fine Brandy.

Take care everyone, and please enjoy Responsibly!

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

Review: Masterson’s Straight Barley Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 25, 2014

Mastersons_BarleyMasterson’s Straight Barley Whiskey is distilled and aged in Canada, for a company from Sonoma California 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 straight whiskey which is distilled from a mash of 100 % unmalted barley. It is bottled at 46% alcohol by volume, and is apparently (like the rest of the Masterson’s line-up) named for the famous frontier lawman, William “Bat” Masterson.

You may read my full review and tasting notes by clicking the following link:

Review: Masterson’s Straight Barley Whiskey

” … The initial aroma in the breezes above the glass takes me right back to my early childhood. On the farm where I grew up we used to grind our grain in a hammer mill. On cold winter days we would mix the ground barley with warm milk and water, and feed it to our outdoor hogs. The aroma of that musty barley porridge that we fed our hogs seems to be drifting in the air above my glass as I examine the whiskey’s colour …”

Please enjoy this review of a very unusual Canadian Whiskey.

And remember, my reviews are not intended to help you drink more whiskey, they are intended to help you drink better whiskey!

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

Review: El Dorado 8 Year Old Cask Aged Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 23, 2014

SAM_1070According to the El Dorado Website, the El Dorado 8 Year old Cask Aged Rum is blended from selected stocks of rum which included rum from no less than four of DDL’s traditional Heritage Stills including both the original Wooden Coffey Still which was rescued from the Enmore Estate and the Double Wooden Pot Still which was rescued from the Port Mourant Estate. Each of these stills is well over 200 years old and they represent the last of their kind operating in the world today. The use of these ancient stills ensures that the Demerara Rum produced at DDL’s Diamond Distillery is unlike anything produced anywhere else in the world. (For more information on the unique Heritage Stills in operation at the Diamond distillery you may read my first hand account here (Diamond Distillery Tour).

The new 8 Year Old Rum from El Dorado Rum was recently released in Ontario, Canada and I was provided a sample bottle by the distributor Woodman Wines and Spirits.

Rum Manhattan with El Dorado 8 Year Old Rum

Rum Manhattan with El Dorado 8 Year Old Rum

You may read my full review of the El Dorado 8 Year Old Cask Aged Rum by clicking on the following excerpt link:

Review: El Dorado 8 Year Old Cask Aged Rum

“… The rum carries sweet flavours of butterscotch, toffee, and dark brown sugar as well the bitterness of dark caramel treacle. Within the sweet and the bitter, I taste luscious baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg) and firm impressions of roasted walnuts and pecans. Marmalade, a ribbon of corn whisky, impressions of cocoa, a touch of leather and brine, and a firm imprint of tobacco …”

As I was tasting this El Dorado Rum, it occurred to me that the spirit would work very well in a Rob Roy cocktail. Of course, once I substituted the Scotch in the cocktail for the 8 Year Old Rum, what I had really created was a Rum Manhattan which I decided would serve very well as the suggested cocktail featured at the end of the review.

Cheers Everyone!

Posted in Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Review: Luxardo Maraschino (Originale)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 20, 2014

MaraschinoAbout a year and a half ago I met Matteo Luxardo, who is the Export Manager of Luxardo S.P.A. and part of that sixth generation who are still active in the ownership and management of the distilling company which bears their name. We met at a small gathering sponsored by Lifford Wines who bring a wide range of the classic Italian liqueurs produced by Luxardo into the Alberta Market. A few of these products include, Amaretto, Grappa, Sambuca, Limencello, and of course Luxardo Maraschino.

The unique flavour of Maraschino Originale is a product of the fruit of the Marasca cherry (exclusively cultivated in orchards owned by Luxardo). Matteo explained to those of us at the gathering that Luxardo Maraschino (Originale) is one of the very few liqueurs in the world which is produced through distillation.

Bluebird of Happiness

Bluebird of Happiness

You may read my full review of the Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur by clicking on the following excerpt (link):

Review: Luxardo Maraschino (Originale)

“… The air above the glass is very sweet with the somewhat penetrating scent of the Marasca cherry. This scent resembles Turkish Delight with a lightly spicy twist. There is also a bit of an earthy almond-like scent underlying that cherry aroma which seems to bear a resemblance to the aroma crushed apple seeds …”

Of course my review includes a nice cocktail, the Bluebird of Happiness, which was inspired by the original Bluebird cocktail credited to W.J. Tarling.

Enjoy the review everyone, and let us hope the snow that is falling on this the first day of spring is but a blip in the weather, and the Bluebird of happiness will be singing her song of spring very soon!

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

Review: Jameson Irish Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 17, 2014

Emerald Crusta SAM_1076Today is the day of St. Patrick, and in many places throughout the world, this is a day to revel in the Irish heritage which we either share by birth, or (on St. Patrick’s Day at least) we share by spirit. Some of us will wear green clothing; some of us will attend parades; and some of us will even drink green beer in what has become more of a secular holiday which celebrates Irish culture, than a religious holiday which celebrates the Patron Saint after which the day was first named.

And in fact, celebrating Irish culture is not a bad thing; it was after all the Irish who first distilled ‘uisce beatha‘, which translates from Irish into English as ‘the water of life‘. I could go into a long and detailed etymology, but suffice it to say that ‘uisce beatha’ is probably very close to the original form of the word which would later become ‘whiskey’. My blog is full of reviews of this wonderful spirit; but as I have admitted in the past, it is sorely lacking in content dedicated to the Irish form of the spirit.

Today, I will go a small way towards correcting this imbalance by reviewing a whiskey from the Emerald Isle which embodies the character and the class of spirits we call Irish Whiskey. And, one which bears a rather obscure link to St. Patrick’s Day.

Like St. Patrick, who was born (in 385 A.D.) of Scottish parentage, but found his calling (and fame) in Ireland where the holiday of St. Patrick first bore his name, so to John Jameson was also born a Scotsman (in 1740 A.D.), and he also found his calling (and established his fame) in Ireland with the Whiskey Company that still bears his name, Jameson Irish Whiskey.

And so in honour of the celebration of the Day of St. Patrick, I have chosen to review the flagship Whiskey of Jameson brand, Jameson Irish Whiskey. You may read my full review here:

Review: Jameson Irish Whiskey

“… The initial aroma in the breezes above glass represents a soft punky sweet butterscotch interlaced with clean oak spices. As the glass breathes, I notice a light woodiness of freshly sanded oak in the background with the wood spices beginning to resemble ginger, cilantro, cardamom, and freshly harvested grain. There is also a mild punky smell within the whiskey which is obviously a reflection of the Irish pot still influence …”

As is my custom, I have included a nice recipe suggestion as part of my review, a classy cocktail I have named, the Emerald Crusta.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day Everyone!

Posted in Irish Whskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

The Rum Howler is Number 1 on Google

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 16, 2014

Wiser's Red LetterIt all began in the Spring of 2007 when my Brother-in-law (Merv) reached into his liquor cabinet and pulled out a bottle of Wiser’s 18 Year Old Whisky which he had bought 25 years earlier with the intention of sharing it with a friend on a special occasion. The occasion wasn’t really that special, I was just traveling through Calgary with my family and decided to stop by to say hello. But Merv decided that this visit was the special occasion he had been waiting for. And his generosity set everything in motion for what was to follow. You see, as touched as I was by my brother-in-law’s generosity, I realized that at some point I would need to reciprocate. Therefore, when I arrived back home in Edmonton, I set out to find a special bottle which I could share with him (should he ever manage to tear himself away from Calgary and come up to Edmonton to visit me).

So a week later, I found myself in one of those boutique Wine and Spirits stores asking the manager for some help to find a special whisky. I settled on Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky and happily went home to show my wife (Maureen) the $150.00 bottle of whisky I found. Her reaction set me further along the path I had started, as rather than scolding me for spending a ridiculous amount of money upon a bottle of whisky; she said, “I thought Merv liked Gin.”

SAM_0968 TanquerayShe was right of course; although Merv had shared a very special whisky with me, if I was to truly reciprocate, I would have to find a special bottle of gin to share with him. So I went back to the boutique store, asked about gin, and came home with a bottle of Tangueray No. 10. This time my wife (who is ever helpful) said, “What about the rest of your family?”

My head fell; because again, she was right. I wasn’t worried about my friends, they would be cool with just about anything as long as it was cold. But the members of my immediate (and some of the extended) family tend to be a tad jealous of each other. If it became known I had bought a special bottle to share with Merv, then the others would expect the same treatment. So I ambled back to that boutique liquor store a few more times, and by the time I was done, I had bought 2 bottles of rum (Flor de Cana 7 Year Old Rum and Matusalem 12 year Solera Blender), a bottle of vodka (Wyborowa Exquisite), a bottle of Tequila (Herradura Reposado) and a bottle of The Macallan 15 Year Old Fine Oak Single Malt Scotch to go with my bottles of Tangueray No. 10 and Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky.

I was hooked of course. It was so much fun going to that liquor store, tasting samples from a few of their open bottles, and then choosing something special to bring home. I soon had many more bottles and a brand new liquor cabinet to house them in. I explained to my wife that I had learned that there were many different styles of both rum and whisky, and surely when a special guest arrived I should have some sort of selection for them to choose from. And the Vodka, Gin and Tequila were needed in case someone was partial to those spirits instead. It was all part of my effort to be a good host when special guests arrived. Of course, I wasn’t fooling anyone, my wife and I both knew the real reason I was continuing to go back and forth to find new bottles. It was because I had caught the collecting bug, and it had bitten me hard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI continued to taste and collect different spirits over the next few years, and I discovered I was growing particularly fond of rum. So much so, that I began to haunt the online forums trying to locate the best brands for my collection. I enjoyed this research especially reading reviews of various spirits and comparing what I tasted to what was being written. Soon I got the idea into my head that it would be fun to write my own reviews about the spirits I had been collecting.

It turned out that all that research I had done to find the best bottles, and all that tasting I did before adding each new prize to my collection had served me well. I began my writing by placing a few somewhat brief ‘reviews’ on my favourite rum website, “The Ministry of Rum“. Although I was strictly an amateur, my reviews (and my quirky style) seemed to strike a chord with the other collectors and members of that website. One of those members had his own rum website, “Rum Connection” and he invited me to be a guest reviewer on his site. After writing a few reviews for Rum Connection (which were received extremely well), I decided that I should open my own review website which I did in the late fall of 2009.

My writing and my website have attracted a loyal and growing following which opened many doors for myself and led to some wonderful opportunities. This includes invites from rum companies who have offered to fly me down to look over their operations (see here), and similar invitations to all manner of rum and whisky festivals all over North America. As well, I began to receive requests to act as a Spirits Judge at some of the major Spirit’s Competitions in Canada and the USA. In fact I have served three times on the jury for the annual Canadian Whisky Awards, as well as twice in the same capacity for the International RumXP Competition at Rum Renaissance in Miami.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Rumhowler at Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

The Rum Howler at Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

This all brings me to the point of this article. Recently, it has come to my attention that my website, The Rum Howler Blog (according to Google), has become the number 1 internet source people turn to for Rum Reviews. The proof of that statement can verified by simply typing the key words “Rum Reviews” into your Google search engine. What you will find is that this website will be listed on the first page of the Google Search, usually ranked Number 1.

I am very pleased that my spirit reviews have been received so well, and my readers continue to find value in them. My recent number 1 ranking on Google is extremely satisfying! However, as pleased and satisfied as I feel about my work and my website, I would like to stress that my opinions expressed on this website are just that, opinions. Please, enjoy what I write; but trust your own instincts as well. Opinions vary and everyone’s preferences are unique. The only person who can truly decide if a spirit gives you enjoyment is yourself. I am flattered that so many people have come to trust my reviews; but I want you to trust your own tastes and preferences as well.

It all started when my Brother-in-law offered to open and share a special whisky with me seven years ago, and I can’t even guess where it will go from here …

Posted in Extras, Howls | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off

Review: Tanduay Gold Asian Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 14, 2014

gold finalLast year, Tanduay Holdings began its American Invasion by placing two new rums into the North American market. For those who do not know, Tanduay is one of the largest Rum producers in the world. (The reason they have been relatively unknown in North America is because their Asian rum is produced in the Philipines, and it sells almost exclusively into Asia.) The Tanduay invasion was launched with two premium rums (a Silver, and a Gold). The Silver Rum (reviewed here) is a blending of rums which have been aged up to 5 years and filtered to be a pale straw coloured spirit meant for mixing high-end cocktails. The Gold Rum is a blending of rums aged up to 7 years and is meant to be a spirit to be enjoyed neat or over ice, although the makers of the rum do not shy away from recommending their Gold Rum for quality cocktails as well.

SAM_1062

Rum Crusta

Here is a link to my full review of the Tanduay Gold Asian Rum:

Review: Tanduay Gold Asian Rum

” … I sense a light honeyed brown sugar and toffee aroma rising from the glass with spicy accents that are enticing. The spiciness carries impressions of ginger, cardamom, vanilla, clean oak and orange peel. There is also a bit of an exotic flair within this spice hinting that the rum may have a few surprises for me when I taste it …”

My review includes a classic nineteenth century cocktail recipe which tastes very nice indeed with the Tanduay Gold Rum. That recipe, the Rum Crusta is based upon a 1878 variation of the Brandy Crusta developed by Leo Engels who almost certainly used Joseph Santini’s 1840 Brandy Crusta recipe as his inspiration (see the Leo Engels Brandy Crusta recipe and explanation here).

Cheers everybody, and let us hope that the recent warmer weather is a harbinger of springtime!

 

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

 
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