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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.

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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.

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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

Review: Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Whiskey (Batch 3)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 11, 2014

WoodfordWoodford Reserve Distiller’s Select is a Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey, distilled and bottled at the Woodford Reserve Distillery in  Versailles Kentucky. The folks at Woodford Reserve pride themselves in the manufacture of what they call ‘craft bourbon’. The Kentucky distillery is apparently located over top of a deep limestone aquifer which contains mineral rich (iron free) limestone water. This is of course the aquifer from which the distillery draws the water required for fermentation of their rye rich grain mash. (This mash is composed of 72 % corn, 10 % barley, and 18 % rye grain.)

Buckeroo

Buckeroo

The fermentation tanks are constructed from cypress which (according to the folks at Woodford Reserve) helps to eliminate unwanted flavours which could arise in a stainless steel fermentation tank. The wash is distilled three times on copper pots stills to a full 158 proof, and the resulting new make is barreled in freshly charred new oak barrels prepared by the distillers own cooperage. The spirit is set down to mature in a temperature controlled warehouse where it is carefully monitored to be bottled when the right flavour characteristic has been achieved.

Here is a link to my latest review:

Review: Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Whiskey (Batch 3)

“… When I poured my first glass of the Woodford bourbon, the aroma was thick with oak and cedar almost to the point of overwhelming everything else. The effect was one of intimidation, as sappy fresh-cut cedar and oak spices dominated …”

Please enjoy this review which kicks off a series of bourbon whiskey visitations as we head into springtime. As well I hope you enjoy my cocktail suggestion which follows the review, the classic Buckeroo.

Cheers Everyone!

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

Review: Pierre Ferrand Ambre (Grande Champagne Cognac)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 9, 2014

Pierre Ferand Amber SAM_1048

Grande Champagne Sidecar

Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac is blended solely from aged eaux de vie produced within the 1st Cru de Cognac, specifically from the Ugni Blanc and Colombard grapes grown within the Grande Champagne Cognac appellation (region) of France. Although the final spirit has no age statement, according to Guillaume Lamy, (Vice President – North America for Cognac Ferrand), this is because the spirit is blended to meet an age profile that represents a 10-year-old spirit. To maintain product consistency from year to year, the actual average age of the blended cognac will vary depending upon the cellar conditions during maturation and the interactions between the oak and the aging eaux de vie.

SAM_1063

1878 Mint Julep

Pierre Ferrand uses only small (25 – hectoliter) copper pot stills to produce their Cognac; and after distillation, the resulting distillate (eaux de vie) is matured in small 270-liter French Limousin oak barrels. During this aging process, the cognac may rest in any of seven different aging cellars (each with traditional earthen floors). Within each of these cellars, the spirit is monitored, and may be transferred several times during its aging life to different cellars and/or to different oak casks (with differing char levels) to maintain the integrity and character of the spirit.

You may of course, read my full review here:

Review: Pierre Ferrand Ambre (Grande Champagne Cognac)

“… I discovered the Pierre Ferrand Ambre has a wonderful freshness featuring both floral and citrus elements which reached out of that glass and teased my nostrils. Mixed into those breezes are firm impressions ripe green grapes and a gentle sweep of vanilla. I also sense an herbal grassy note, as well as a few wisps of spicy raisins, and a mild winding of sandalwood and oak …”

And for those who are willing to throw off the shackles of preconception, I have included two cocktails which were  originally created for the Cognac spirit, the Grande Champagne Sidecar (pictured left) and the 1878 Mint Julep (pictured right).

Cheers Everyone!

Hopefully, springtime is around the corner, and the snow and cold we see in those pictures is gone soon.

Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Cognac Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Single Malt

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 6, 2014

Glenfiddich_8321_Original.tifGlenfiddich is credited by most whisky writers as being the distillery which brought Single Malt Scotch Whisky into prominence after World War II. According to Michael Jackson in his wonderful publication, Scotland and its Whiskies (pages 101-103, Copyright Duncan Baird Publishers, 2001), the independent operators of the distillery began to produce and sell their whisky with an emphasis on the Single Malt expression rather than depending upon selling their whisky to blenders. The result of this foresight is that Glennfiddich is now the most popular (by sales) producer of Single Malt whisky with a market share which accounts for over 30 % of world-wide sales. The flagship whisky of the brand is their 12 Year Old Glenfiddich Single Malt Whisky.

SAM_1027 Mamie Taylor

Mamie Taylor Cocktail

The 12-year-old expression is a Single Malt Whisky produced from a blend of stocks which were aged in American bourbon and Spanish Sherry oak barrels. I received a sample bottle of the Glenfiddich 12 Year Old just prior to Christmas, and I decided to share the results of my examination here on my website.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Single Malt

“… As the glass breathes I sense impressions of some lowland sawgrass, a few crushed gooseberries, and fruit-like hints of spicy raisin as well as sliced green apples and pears. Over time the air above the glass develops more of an herbal quality with indications of lemon balm and heather …”

Please enjoy my review which includes a nice recipe recommendation, the Mamie Taylor Cocktail!

Slainte’

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Important Note: In June of 2013, Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch announced that $2.00 from every bottle sold of the older Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Solera Whisky in Canada would be donated to benefit Canadian Forces Members as part of their continued support for Wounded Warriors Canada. This program is ongoing and I have been informed that as of the end of 2013, $161,616 have been raised for Wounded Warriors Canada through these $2.00 donations. Founded in 2006, Wounded Warriors Canada is a non-profit organization that helps Canadian Forces Members (be they full-time members or reservists) who have been wounded or injured in their service to Canada.

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

Review: The Wild Geese Premium Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 4, 2014

prumThe Wild Geese Rum Collection is the companion to the Wild Geese Irish Whisky Collection. While the Wild Geese Irish Whisky collection sought to bring the Story of the Wild Geese and their struggles in European Armies to light, the Wild Geese Rum Collection continues the saga bringing to light the story of some of these Wild Geese who after service in the continental armies of Europe found themselves transported to America and the Caribbean where many worked upon the Rum Plantations in the new world.

I received samples of the entire rum collection from the brand developer, Protege International, and began my review series of the Collection with reviews of the Wild Geese Golden Rum, and the Wild Geese Caribbean Spiced Rum. This review of the Wild Geese Premium Rum concludes my examination.

Rum Club Signature Cocktail SAM_1059

Rum Club Cocktail

The Wild Geese Premium Rum is a blend of Bajan, Guyanese, and Jamaican rums which have been aged for up to eight years, and bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: The Wild Geese Premium Rum

“… When I bring the glass to my nose, I sense a light sweetness of canned peaches and apricots a rather firm impression of vanilla. There are some light oak spices in the breezes as well as the light spiciness of orange and banana peel. Hints of tobacco and a light grassiness rounds out the nose …”

Please enjoy my review which includes a new signature cocktail I designed for my rum club, the Rum Club Cocktail.

Cheers!

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

Review: Ron Burgundy “Great Odin’s Raven” Special Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 2, 2014

Ron BurgundyRon Burgundy “Great Odin’s Raven” Special Reserve is a result of a collaborative effort between Paramount Studios and Celebrity Cellars International (CCI). The aim of the project was to create a blended scotch to capitalize on the ‘celebrity status’ of Ron Burgundy, the Scotch-loving main character of Paramount Studio’s original Anchorman movie, and to launch the Ron Burgundy Scotch coinciding with the release of Anchorman 2, The Legend Continues.

According to Scott Roddick and Jeff Harder (Managing Partners of CCI), one of the major criteria for both parties (Paramount and Celebrity Cellars) going forward was to create a ‘good’ blended Scotch whisky which would be well received by both fans of the Anchorman character, Ron Burgundy, as well as by whisky enthusiasts. Neither side wanted the spirit to become merely a “souvenir brand”. To that end the, whisky was crafted and bottled in Scotland by Old St. Andrews Distillery, featuring a blend of grain and mature malt whiskies from the Speyside, Highlands, and Islay regions of Scotland. The whisky is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume and was released (as planned) in North America on December 1, 2013.

Great Odin's Raven's Presbyterian Cocktail

Great Odin’s Raven’s Presbyterian Cocktail

The early returns are in, and they are quite positive. Since the December 1st release, over 14,000 cases of Ron Burgundy Scotch have been sold in North America. Building upon that success, the Ron Burgundy Whisky was recently launched in the UK and Australia.

I was provided a sample bottle by the folks at Celebrity Cellars, and you may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt:

Review: Ron Burgundy “Great Odin’s Raven” Special Reserve

“… The initial scents and smells from the glass are rather interesting. They bring a combination of  wood spices; some sweet honey and butterscotch; bits of heather and saw grass; and a mild dollop of boggy peat into the breezes above the glass …”

Please enjoy the review which includes my suggested cocktail, Great Odin’s Raven’s Presbyterian Cocktail!

Slainte’!

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

Review: Revel Stoke Spiced Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 27, 2014

Revelstoke SpicedRevel Stoke Spiced Whisky has been around for almost 15 years. It is a product of  Ed Phillips and Sons in Princeton, Minnesota, and the spiced whisky is apparently (according to the back of the bottle anyway),

“Inspired by the age-old tradition of rugged Canadian outdoorsman infusing their whisky with vanilla and spices.”

According to Davin de Kergommeaux (at Canadianwhisky.org) the Revel Stoke Spiced Whisky is named for the town of Revelstoke, located in the mountains of British Columbia. The base whisky is however, distilled on the eastern side of those mountains in Alberta, at an unnamed Albertan Distillery from a base of wheat and rye. According to the back label of my sample bottle, the flavours and spices within are produced from sugar, water, natural flavour, and citric acid.

Revalation SAM_1046This Spiced whisky was originally bottled at 40 % abv. The brand had all but disappeared until a few years ago when it was relaunched by the Phillips Distilling Company, this time as a 45 % abv spirit. During the relaunch, they gave the bottle given a bit of a make over to better reflect those rugged Canadian outdoorsmen which are said to have inspired its creation.

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

Review: Revel Stoke Spiced Whisky

“… The initial nose brings both sweet butterscotch and some nice dusty rye scents (ginger and cardamom) forward into the air. There is a sweep of vanilla in the air as well with hints of other spices (perhaps nutmeg, coriander and a speck of cinnamon). As the glass sits, the sweetness builds bringing to mind very mild scents of cherry nibs and a speck of menthol …”

I hope you enjoy my review which includes my original cocktail suggestion, Revelation!

Slainte’!

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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 Cocktails & Recipes, Spiced Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Tanduay Silver Asian Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 25, 2014

Tanduay silver 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 very 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 sells almost exclusively into Asia.) This invasion was launched with two premium (a Silver, and a Gold) rums. The Tanduay Silver Rum reviewed here is a blend of rums aged up to 5 years and filtered to be a pale straw coloured spirit meant for mixing high-end cocktails.

Note: The origin of Tanduay Holdings Inc. can be traced to 1937 when The Manilla Wine Merchants Inc. was incorporated. This company was basically an amalgamation of several business interests, the important one for our discussion being the Manilla Steamship Company which held agricultural interests in the Western Visayas and had been producing rum (and other spirits) in the Philippines since at least 1893. In 1999, the Manilla Wine Merchants Inc. formally changed their name to Tanduay Holdings. (For more information please visit the Tanduay USA Website.)

SAM_1056

Tanduay #2

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Tanduay Silver Asian Rum

“… When I raise the glass to my nose, a gentle but firm butterscotch toffee rises out of the glass followed by a soft waft of fine oak spice, soft banana and lightly sharp orange peel. I allowed the glass to breathe, and enjoyed developing scents of light baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger) and the delicious scent of light brown sugar …”

As you will see when you read the review, I enjoyed mixing a few daiquiri recipes with the Tanduay Silver. For your enjoyment, I included two recipes, the Lime and Maraschino Daiquiri, and Tanduay # 2 (based upon the Bacardi No. 2 Daiquiri).

Please enjoy my review and my suggested cocktails!

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

 
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