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Posts Tagged ‘Gin’

Review: Hendrick’s Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 7, 2011

The people who make Hendrick’s Gin pride themselves on being just a little quirky, and perhaps a bit eccentric. Their offbeat website revels in the odd and the peculiar and tries to convince all who peruse the site that Hendrick’s Gin is special exactly because of the things which make it odd and peculiar.

The gin is produced in Scotland, in the village of Girvin, Ayrshire by William Grant & Sons (who are perhaps better known for their whisky distillations than their gin). It is made small batches (450 litre batch size) using two unusual stills, a copper Bennett Still which has been dated to 1860, and a Carter-Headstill made in 1948. These stills each serve a different purpose, but together they create a unique gin made with 11 different botanicals, and infused with cucumber and rose petals one batch at a time.

I was provided with a bottle of Hendricks Gin by the William Grant media team here in Canada for the purpose of a review on my website. I guess it is time to find out if the Gin is as peculiarly good tasting as advertised.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“… The nose begins with mild citrus tones which are accented by juniper.  I catch hints of lemon-lime and orange as well as a fleeting impression of black licorice and fennel. The impressions continue to be fleeting with hints of light familiar scents, perhaps a touch of lilac, and perhaps something more earthy like damp moss. This is very complex …”

You may read my full review as well as my take on a quirky Gin and Tonic by clicking the link below:

Review: Hendrick’s Gin

Please enjoy the review and the quirky cocktail!

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The Rum Howler Awards – Vodka, Gin and Tequila

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 15, 2011

Last week, I began to present my 2nd Annual Rum Howler Awards for excellence in the production of distilled spirits. The Awards last week were presented to those spirits which performed the best in what I considered to be a basic (but classic) cocktail for each category of distilled spirit. I had an award for the best rum in a Daiquiri; an award for the best whisky in a Horses Neck (Whisky and Ginger-ale): an award for the best tequila in a Margarita, an award for the best gin in a Gin Fizz, and an award for the best vodka in a Cosmopolitan.

Today I will recognize the best of the Vodka, Gin and Tequila spirits. I included all of the spirits I sampled over the past two years. (Going back two years allows me to include a larger volume of samples for each category which I hope makes the Rum Howler Awards more relevant.) The judging was based upon side by side comparisons using a combination of suitable cocktails and sipping the samples neat.

Here are my Rum Howler Awards for Vodka, for Gin, for Tequila.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Flavoured Vodka

and the winner is:

Pristina Espresso Flavoured Vodka

Honourable mention to Nemiroff Rye Honey and Zubrowka (Bison Grass) Vodka.

Because of the wide variation in product styles, this was a hard category to judge; but one which I feel I got right. All three of the nominees are spirits which I would have no problem sharing with which ever guests happen to pop by. They rise to a standard of excellence which was recognized when I did my initial reviews for them. I had some help deciding this category, and in a kind of committee approach, my friends and I decided that the Pristina Espresso Flavoured Vodka was the clear winner. 

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Value Priced Vodka 
(Under $30.00 in my Alberta Marketplace)

and the winner is:

Russian Standard Original Vodka

Honourable mention to Nemiroff Original Vodka and Nemiroff Ukrainian Wheat Vodka

In my marketplace, taxes and storage fees can increase the price of a product by $13.00 a bottle (In some cases as high as  $18.00 a bottle). This means the value priced spirits usually begin at a price of $22.00 per bottle in most of the liquor stores. My upper limit of $30.00 per bottle,therefore,  eliminated a wide swath of products. I considered two major factors in determining the Best Value Priced Vodka. The first was the Vodka’s mixability in a range of cocktail styles, (the Screw Driver, the Cosmopolitan and the Vodka Tonic), and I weighed this equally against the performance of the Vodka served neat at room temperature. All three of the nominees are excellent choices, but the Russian Standard was not only my choice, but it was also the choice of my entire Vodka tasting group in this category.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Vodka
(Price irrelevant)

and the winner is:

Wyborowa Exquisite (Wodka)

Honourable mention to Patriot Excellence Vodka, Pristina Vodka, and Nemiroff Lex Vodka.

The Nominees for this category were judged in much the same way that the nominees for the Best Value Vodka were judged. However much more weight was attached to the performance of the Vodka when sipped neat at room temperature. To be honest, I have no complaints with any of these spirits and would happily receive them at any gathering. Having said that, the Wyborowa Exquisite is exactly what its name says it is, an exquisite Vodka which oozes class and luxury upon the palate. When I want a superior cocktail, this Vodka fits the bill beautifully, and when I want a great sipping bottle to share with friends and food, again the Wyborowa Exquisite is my first choice.

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The Rum Howler Award for the Best Gin

and the winner is:

No. 3 London Dry Gin

Honourable mention to Tangueray No. 10

This was a two-horse race right from the start, and to make my determination I decided to mix three cocktails, a Gin and Tonic, a Key Lime Gimlet, and a Gin Fizz. Then I sampled each gin neat at room temperature. Half the score was based upon the taste of the cocktails, and half the score was based upon the performance of the gin when served neat. Although both of these spirits are wonderful. The No. 3 Gin was my clear choice.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Blanco Tequila

and the winner is:

Cabo Wabo (Blanco)

Honorable mention to PaQuí Tequila (Silvera)

Last week I awarded the PaQui Tequila Silvera with the award for the best Blanco tequila in a Margarita with the Cabo Wabo Blanco Tequila as the runner-up. This week the two spirits flip positions as the more complex earthy tones of the Cabo Wabo made it the clear winner in the head to head contest when I sipped the spirits neat.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Reposado Tequila

and the winner is:

Alamo Reposado Tequila

Honourable mention to Cabo Wabo Reposado, and Herencia de Plata (Reposado)

Cabo Wabo Reposado Tequila was the very first Tequila I reviewed on my website, and in a way it has served as the standard for all other tequila spirits that followed. It was the first tequila I reviewed because I really like it, and it became the Tequila I was most likely to serve when I made a margarita for myself or my friends. When I sampled the Herencia de Plata (Reposado), I began to serve the either of the two interchangeably depending upon whether I wanted the clean flavour of Herencia or the more funky flavour of Cabo Wabo. When I later sampled the Alamo Reposado Tequila, my serving habits for Margaritas did not change; but that is only because I do not serve the Alamo in a Margarita; I serve the Alamo neat at room temperature. It really is that good!

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Anejo Tequila

and the winner is:

1921 Anejo Tequila

Honourable mention to Corzo Anejo Tequila

The 1921 Anejo Tequila is simply outstanding. It is one of those spirits which tastes great the first time you sip it, and then as you let the spirit breathe, the tequila  gains even more character in the glass. I did my side by side tasting with Corzo Anejo early in the fall. It was at first a very close contest, but as the 1921 Tequila decanted in the glass its character grew by leaps and bound making it the clear winner.

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To recap:

The Rum Howler Award for Best Flavoured VodkaPristina Espresso Flavoured Vodka

The Rum Howler Award for Best Value Priced Vodka:  Russian Standard Original VodkaThe Rum

The Rum Howler Award for Best Vodka:  Wyborowa Exquisite (Wodka)

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Gin: No. 3 London Dry Gin

The Rum Howler Award for Best Blanco TequilaCabo Wabo (Blanco)

The Rum Howler Award for Best Reposado TequilaAlamo Reposado Tequila

The Rum Howler Award for Best Anejo Tequila:  1921 Anejo Tequila

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Next week I will tackle whisky!

Cheers!

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Review: Beefeater London Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 13, 2011

Beefeater London Dry Gin is currently produced in Kensington, a district of West London, in the United Kingdom. The company has roots stretching back to 1820 when the Chelsea Distillery was constructed on Cale Street and served as the first home for Beefeater Gin. The founder of the company, James Burrough, was not born until 1835, and it was not until about 1876 that the Beefeater brand was created from gin produced at the Chelsea Distillery. Over time the brand has changed locations twice, first in 1908 to Hutton Road, and then in 1958 to its present location in Kensington.

The Beefeater Gin website lists nine ingredients which are used to flavour the gin: juniper from the hills of Italy, Siberia and Macedonia, Seville orange peel, bitter almonds, ground orris root, coriander seeds, angelica (seeds and root), licorice and lemon peel. The list of ingredients is a pretty good list for a flavourful gin, and it will be interesting as I sample the gin to see which of the botanicals shine through the gin and which remain undiscovered by my nose and palate.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“…As I sniff the glass I get the impression that I am going to find the Beefeater Gin to be a very laid back and gentle spirit. Soft piny notes of juniper arise beside predominant scents of orange and lemon citrus.  Because I know what other botanicals are used in the gin’s construction, I am able to discern some notes of coriander and very faints wisps of licorice…”

Here is a link to the full review:

Review: Beefeater London Dry Gin

I have provided a nice gin cocktail with the review which I call, Heaven’s Staircase.

Please enjoy the review and the cocktail!

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Review: No. 3 London Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 5, 2011

Berry Bros. & Rudd is London’s oldest wine and spirits merchant with over 300 years of experience and tradition to draw on. They chose to use this expertise with a team of spirits experts creating the recipe which would be called 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.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“…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…”

Here is a link to the full review:

Review: No. 3 London Dry Gin

I have provided a couple of nice recipes for the No. 3 Gin, the first is a nice Classic Gin Martini recipe which is provided on the No. 3 Gin website, the second recipe is a classic Gin cocktail recipe called the Bulldog Cooler.

Please enjoy my review and the recipes that follow!

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Review: Shiver Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 9, 2011

Shiver Gin is a new product of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Commission (NLC). It is a Canadian made gin which is produced in the ‘London Dry’ style in the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Of the various styles of gin, London Dry Gin, is the most common. (For those who do not know, the legal requirement is that London Dry Gin must be distilled in the presence juniper and other botanicals.) Of the botanicals used in the production of this particular gin, the company makes specific reference on their website to anise which is said to give the gin “an unexpected uplift with each sip“.

I contacted Gregg Kerr of the NLC  a few weeks ago informing him of my plans to begin a series of gin and vodka reviews hoping to include at least a few Canadian spirits. Greg was kind enough to forward me a bottle of Shiver Gin and here is an excerpt from the resulting review:

“… The juniper aroma was perhaps a little understated on the nose; but, that unmistakably punch of alpine berry reveals itself immediately when you take your first sip. Beside the juniper lie sweeter flavours which I would describe as maraschino cherry liqueur, sweet mandarin oranges, citrus pith, and just a hint of licorice…”

You may read my full review here:

Review: Shiver Gin

Following my review is an excellent cocktail which I highly recommend you try with Shiver Gin, The Darby Cocktail.

Please enjoy the review and my suggested cocktail!

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Review: Gordon’s London Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 19, 2011

Alexander Gordon founded the Gin Distillery in London in 1769, and although the company is now part of the Diageo conglomerate, they have apparently remained true to their original Gin recipe which includes handpicked juniper berries and other secret botanicals. (According the company website, only 12 persons in the world know the secret recipe.)

I picked up a 375 ml bottle of Gordon’s London Dry Gin a few months ago, and I decided that it was finally time to publish a review here on my website. Here is an excerpt from my review:

“…As I nosed the glass a nice piny juniper aroma climbed out of the glass into the breezes. This scent was quickly surrounded by sweeter lemon and lime citrus aromas. As well a light, almost birch-like aroma was hinted at, and the overall effect is quite nice…”

You may read the full review here:

Review: Gordon’s London Dry Gin

As well I have included a nice “Fizz” style recipe which tastes great with the Gordon’s Gin called The Lime Fizz.  Please enjoy my review of Gordon’s Gin and the Cocktail recipe which accompanies it.

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Review: Empire London Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 1, 2010

Photo courtesy Highwood Distillery

Highwood Distillers is a Canadian distiller situated in the town of Highwood, Alberta, which lies just about 40 minutes due south of Calgary, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.  Recently, I visited the distillery and watched first hand as they turned the local wheat into whisky, vodka. and gin.  I sampled the whisky, (See my reviews of Centennial Whisky & White Owl Whisky) and was delighted by the quality I encountered.  So when I started to review gin on my website, I decided to sample Highwood’s  Empire Gin to see how a locally produced gin would rate.

Although Empire Gin is a London Dry Gin, the moniker “London Dry Gin” refers to the double distillation method of production which defines London Dry Gin, but is not a reference to the country of origin.  Rather than being produced in England, Empire London Dry Gin is produced and bottled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, in the Highwood Distillery. It is a Canadian Gin, and I was very curious as to how it compared with the more well-known brands like Tangueray No. 10 and Bombay Sapphire.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“…The initial entry into the mouth is a little spicy as the tangy citrus seems to be in the forefront of the flavour.  The piny juniper seems to be more evident on the palate than it was on the nose, but it does not overwhelm the citrus, rather it seems to sit just underneath acting as an anchor to support the gin flavour through the palate…”

You May Read the full review here:

Empire London Dry Gin

Enjoy the Review!

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Review: Bombay Sapphire Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 8, 2010

Bombay Sapphire Gin is distributed by Bacardi.  It was launched in 1987 and draws its unusual name from a marketing competition where several marketing agencies were asked to submit possible new names and bottle designs for Bacardi’s new Gin.  The chosen name refers to an Indian heritage of gin, as it was an extremely popular drink during the time of the British Raj.  The Star of Bombay is a famous Indian Sapphire now on display at the Smithsonian Institute.

Bombay Sapphire Gin is considered a London Dry Gin.  This refers to the process of distillation and not the current origin of the gin.  London Dry Gin is made through a double distillation of a neutral grain spirit with botanicals added during the second distillation.  The ten botanicals listed on the Bombay Sapphire website are: Spanish almonds and lemon peel, West African grains of paradise, Chinese licorice, juniper berries from Tuscany, orris root from Italy, angelica root from Saxony, coriander seed from Morocco, cassio bark from Indo China, and cubeb berries from Java.

It will be most interesting to see what this bevy of ingredients from around the world has imparted into the spirit.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“…I am a naive son of a gun.  I actually expected a light blue coloured gin to flow out of the bottle the first time I poured it.  Alas, the bottle is blue, not the gin.  It is a clear colourless liquid which imparts just a very light sheen of oil on the side of my glass.  The aroma from the glass is   a clean aroma with a piny (juniper) citrus note…”

You may read the full review here:

Gin Review: Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin

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Cocktails: Six More Rescued

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 16, 2010

Today I rescued six more cocktails from the pages of my reviews and placed them into my cocktail menus,  two gin recipes, two whiskey recipes, and two more rum recipes.  My gin recipes were first published when I reviewed Tangueray No. 10 Gin.  They are both variations of the Gin Gimlet.

No. 10 Keylime Gimlet

The first is called the Key Lime Gimlet and is pictured to the left.  Using key limes instead of regular lime in the recipe gives the gimlet a little different flavour,  which I find really mixes well with gin.

The second recipe called the Key Lime Slushy for gin is basically a blenderized version of the gimlet with crushed ice and grenadine. The grenadine is their purely for aesthetics and can certainly be replaced with simple sugar.

Here are my two new Gin recipes recently added to the recipe menus:

Gin Cocktail: The Key Lime Gimlet

Gin Cocktail: Key Lime Slushy

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The two whiskey recipes added today are of completely different origins. The first the Double Diamond Fizz is my first ‘fizz’ style recipe added to the database.  Although I am using a particular whisky in the recipe it is actually quite easy to sub in any rye or Irish whiskey into the recipe.

Count Turf is a recipe based upon a Martini contest held in 1951.  The winning entry was dubbed The 1951 Martini.  When I looked at the recipe I knew I could use a similar approach with a nice Kentucky Bourbon.  I explain it a little more in the recipe write-up.

Whiskey Cocktail: Double Diamond Fizz

Whisky Cocktail: Count Turf

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The final two recipes added today are rum based drinks. They are perhaps two of my nicest constructions. The first, Romantic Traffic, uses Aged Barbados rum as its base mixing with Curacao and gin.  It is a little boozy, but it is also delicious.

The second rum cocktail uses light amber rum and a nice long combination of grapefruit and pineapple.  I decided to call it Enjoy The Moment. It is perhaps my favourite of the six cocktails introduced today.  Here are the final two recipes:

Rum Cocktail: Romantic Traffic

Rum Cocktail: Enjoy The Moment

Remember, the aim of my blog is not to help you drink more…it is to help you drink better!

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

Tangueray No. 10 (A gin review)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 8, 2010

Oh my!  The Rum Howler Blog has branched out again.  This is my first attempt at a gin review.   My plan is to review at least three different gins by summertime subjecting them to the rigors of my peculiar review methodology.

I want to caution my readers that Gin is not a primary alcoholic beverage of which I indulge.  This means that my reviews of gin (and tequila for that matter) may more closely resemble fantasy than reality.  However, I would rather fail in trying to write a worthy review than to be satisfied with where I am at and make no attempt to grow and branch out.  (By the way I do not plan to fail!)

My method of reviewing any spirit is to discuss and score my enjoyment of the spirit. I am confident than an honest discussion of this enjoyment will lead to a worthwhile review.

So it is that we come to the first bottle of Gin which I will review,  Tangueray No. 10.  This is a premium quadruple distilled gin which sits at the top of the benchmark as far as Tangueray gin is concerned.  Here is an excerpt from my review:

“Tangueray No. 10  gin is soft and remarkably approachable.  Juniper berries lead out in front with hints of pine and spruce behind. My mouth tingles wherever the gin stops to rest which is probably caused by the higher than normal alcohol proof (94.6).  I can taste a light orange sweetness akin to Triple Sec or Cointreau in the background.  Floral notes drift  in and out of the currents of my palate, as do other citrus flavours….

You may read the full review here….

Gin Review: Tangueray No. 10

Of course I have added a few “forrest approved” cocktails including my sumptuous Key Lime Gimlet!

Enjoy the review!

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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