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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

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 »

 
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