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Posts Tagged ‘Rum Howler Awards’

The Year in Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 2, 2012

There are subtle aromas and flavours which can be appreciated when Vodka is sipped or when it is consumed as a shot. As well, when served with good food, vodka has the ability to enhance the gastronomic experience by cleansing the palate between bites allowing you to taste each morsel more completely. When I review Vodka on my website, I try very hard to convey my appreciation of these subtle nuances of pleasure which Vodka can provoke. I think I am doing something right, because my Vodka reviews are amongst the most popular on my website.

This Year I have separated the Vodka Awards from the Tequila and Gin Awards to give them more prominence. All spirit samples which I receive to review on my website are automatically considered for my awards. I do my review, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit for the end of the year judging. This year, for the first time ever, I also received additional industry samples specifically for these awards.

Here are the recipients of my 2012 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Vodka. These Awards are for the best Vodka Spirits I encountered in the year 2012:

The 2012 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Vodka

Budmo!

Posted in Awards, Flavoured Vodka, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off

The Year in Tequila

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 30, 2012

All things considered, I had a pretty good year with respect to the spirit called Tequila in 2012. I was able to help in a small way with Edmonton’s first Tequila festival earlier this month, and I was able to double the number of reviews here on my website. Although Tequila has a small following in my local market (relative to rum and whisky), that small group of tequila aficionados is very passionate about their favourite spirit; and, I believe that group of Tequila lovers is steadily growing!

In an effort to recognize the growing importance of this spirit in not only my locale, but also as a global spirit; I have decided this year to give Tequila its own awards page on my website this year (last year I grouped the Gin, Tequila and Vodka Awards together all on the same page).

It is time to reveal my Tequila awards by looking at the Rum Howler’s Year in Tequila.

Here is a Link to the Awards Page:

The 2012 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Tequila

Congratulations to all the Award Winners!

Posted in Anejo Tequila, Awards, Blanco Tequila, Extras, Reposado Tequila, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Year in Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 26, 2012

When I began to publish my Rum Howler Awards two years ago, I had no idea how quickly they would grow, nor how popular they would become. Although, these awards were originally meant to be a fun excuse for me to revisit my most favoured distilled spirits and share that re-visitation with you, my readers, from the beginning I tried my best to treat the process with respect. Apparently Industry respects my awards too. Last year I saw my Rum Howler Award Badge proudly displayed on company websites (see here), on bottle neck ringers (see here), and in the advertising campaigns (see here) of some of the winners. It is my belief that my Rum Howler Awards have become more than just a fun excuse to revisit my most favoured spirits, they have become important markers for both connoisseurs and for industry.

This Year I am going to begin presenting my awards by looking at the Rum Howler’s Year in Gin.

Here is a Link to the Awards Page:

The 2012 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Gin

Congratulations to all the Award Winners!

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

The 2011Rum Howler Awards – (The Rum Wrap-up)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 13, 2011

The last of my Rum Howler Awards are presented today. These are the my final rum awards presented to the Best of the Best in 2011, the Best Overall White Rum, the Best Overproof  Rum, the Best Flavoured Rum, the Best Spiced Rum, the Best Dark Rum (aged up to 5 Years), the Best Premium Rum (aged up to 12 years) and the Most Outstanding Rum of the Year, all for the year 2011.

All of these awards are based upon side by side tasting sessions held over a period of several weeks. I  began by slowly tasting different rums from my private collection of bottles and bringing only the very best forward for the final side by side tastings which took place over the last four weeks. Only spirits which I had tasted in the past year (between October 1, 2019 and September 30 2011) were considered.

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The Rum Howler Award for the Best Overall White Rum:

Newfoundlander’s White Rum

Honourable mention to Diplomatico Blanco Reserva, and Mount Gay Silver Eclipse who were the other nominees.

For this category I considered the flavour of the rum in a Daiquiri, a Cuba Libre, and a Mojito, (the triumvirate of classic white rum cocktails). I awarded an overall score to each white rum and gave that score 50 % of the weighting, then I also compared the taste of each white rum neat at room temperature which accounted for the other 50 percent of the score. It was very difficult to choose between the Diplomatico Blanco Reserva and the Newfoundlander’s White Rum; but in the end, I felt that the Newfoundlander’s Rum carried more character into the cocktails and was a more interesting spirit when sipped neat.

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The Rum Howler Award for the Best Over-Proof Rum

and the winner is:

Panama Red 108 Overproof Rum

Honourable mention to Lemon Hart Demerara 151 Rum.

This award was very difficult to judge as the two nominees were each very good, and very different in their style. The Lemon Hart 151 Rum is a tiki style rum used primarily as that special ingredient which puts the final touches on an outstanding cocktail. The Panama Red 108 is more of a ‘cask strength’ style of rum meant to be consumed neat or on ice.  In the end, I felt that the Panama Red brought more versatility to the table, as I was able to enjoy this rum in many styles of cocktails as well as occasionally sipping it on its own, whereas the Lemon Hart has been strictly a cocktail rum for me. 


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The Rum Howler Award for the Best Flavoured Rum

This Category includes flavoured rums, rum liqueurs and the so-called black rums. (Basically every style  of rum which I considered to be obviously flavoured or altered (but not spiced).

and the winner is:

Diplomatico Hacienda Saruro

Honourable mention goes to Cruzan Black Strap Rum.

In this category, I must be honest and say that it was really no contest. The Diplomatico Hacienda Saruro has been a favourite of mine ever since I took my very first swallow. This is simply put, an outstanding spirit! If you want to have a real treat, try my signature cocktail for this spirit, the Kentucky Crocodile.

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The Rum Howler Award for the Best Spiced Rum

and the winner is:

George Street Spiced Rum

Honourable mention to Bacardi Oakheart Smooth Spiced Rum, and Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum.

This category was difficult to judge based upon the differences in the styles of the rums involved. I decided to go to the producers websites and see if I could find some recommended cocktails for each spirit which I sampled. I balanced this off with my impressions of drinking each spirit when drank neat. The clear favourite was George Street Spiced. I did notice that all three of the nominees carried much more oak character and spicy ‘oomph’ into the cocktails than I have previously seen in the spiced category. This category has seen significant improvement over the last year.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Dark Rum:
(aged up to 5 years)

and the winner is:

Plantation Barbados (Grande Reserve) 5 Year Old Rum

Honourable mention to Plantation Barbados (2000) Old Reserve Rum, and Plantation Grenada 1998  (Old Reserve Rum)

It was a clean sweep of the nominations for the Plantation line-up in the 5 year and under category, and tasting these spirits side by side was a real treat. In the end, the Plantation Barbados Grand Reserve demonstrated a greater depth of flavour and smoothness which prompted me to award it the Best Rum in the 5 year Old category this year. I am happy to report that this rum is about to debut on the store shelves here in Alberta.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Premium Rum:
(aged up to 12 years)

and the winner is:

Dictador 12 year Solera

Honourable mention to Plantation Panama 2000 (Olde Reserve) Rum

When I tasted the Dictador 12 year Solera head to head against the Panama 2000 (a 9-year-old rum in case you are wondering) , the contest was actually very close between the two. In the end I decided that the Dictador rum carried just a little more depth of character in the glass and it was this character that tipped the balance and caused me to declare it the winner.

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Ed 21 Served Neat

The Rum Howler Award for The Most Outstanding Rum of the Year:

El Dorado 21 Year Old Rum

Honourable mention to Dictador 20 Year Solera.

The two finalists for Most Outstanding Rum of 2011 were both from South America. In fact, I tasted some great rums from South America this year. The El Dorado 21 Year Old Rum was chosen as the winner in the head to head tasting because of its superior complexity, and the beguiling way the oak flavours have melded into the rum.  As I have said before, this is almost rum perfection.

In fact, this summer when my wife offered to buy me any rum bottle I wanted as a birthday gift at a local boutique store, she was shocked that I passed on the much more expensive 25 year Old El Dorado Rum and instead chose the 21 Year Old. When my wife pointed out to me that she was willing to buy me the $300.00 bottle instead of the $90.00 bottle, I just simply said, ” Trust me, the $90.00 bottle will please me just a little more. ”  (Just so you know, I had an opportunity to taste the El Dorado 25 Year Old Rum earlier that year at a tasting in Calgary organized by my friend Lance. Thanks Lance!)

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And there you have it, my Rum Howler Awards for Rum all wrapped up. Here is a recap of today’s awards:

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Overall White Rum:   Newfoundlander’s White Rum

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Over-Proof Rum:   Panama Red 108 Overproof Rum

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Flavoured RumDiplomatico Hacienda Saruro

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Spiced Rum:    George Street Spiced Rum

The Rum Howler Award for Best Dark Rum (aged up to 5 years):    Plantation Barbados (Grande Reserve) 5 Year Old Rum

The Rum Howler Award for Best Premium Rum (aged 12 years or less):   Dictador 12 year Solera

The Rum Howler Award for The Most Outstanding Rum of the Year:   El Dorado 21 Year Old Rum

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

The 2011 Rum Howler Awards – (Whisky Wrap-Up)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 6, 2011

All of these awards are based upon side by side tasting sessions held over a period of several weeks. I  began at the start of September slowly tasting different whiskies from my private collection of bottles and bringing only the very best forward for the final tastings which took place over the last two weeks. Only spirits which I had tasted in the past year (between October 1, 2019 and September 30 2011) were considered.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky Value
(under $30.00 in my market of Alberta)

and the Winner is:

Potter’s Special Old Whisky

Honourable mention to Gibson’s Finest Sterling Canadian Whisky and Chinook Canadian Whisky

As I indicated in my Rum Howler Vodka Awards, the taxation and storage fees in my locale can add up to $18.00 a bottle to the price of a 750 ml spirit. It is rare to see anything on the shelves of the local liquor store for less than $22.00. This means that my standard for this category, being only those whiskies which are under $30.00, is a tight standard indeed. But even at that low price quality can be found in my marketplace as evidenced by the three final nominees. In head to head tasting, serving each whisky in a couple cocktails (the Buckeroo and the Horses Neck) as well as sipping each neat, the competition was close.  However, the Potter’s Special Old Canadian Whisky rose to the occasion and captured the award.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky Value
(under $60.00 in my market of Alberta)

and the winner is

Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Rye Whisky

Honourable mention to Glenmorangie, The Original 10 Year Old, and Basil Hayden’s Straight Kentucky Bourbon

All of the nominees are wonderful spirits. I tasted each of the three finalists neat, at room temperature to determine the winner and reaffirmed my belief that the Alberta Premium 30 is an absolute gem of a whisky. It not only was by far the best tasting whisky in the under $60.00 range. It was by a full $10.00 less expensive than its two rivals , and if you possibly can still find a bottle on a liquor store shelf, do not hesitate…. buy it!

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Blended Whisky

and the winner is:

Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Irish Whiskey

Honourable mention to Canadian Club 30 Year Old Whisky, and Gibson’s Finest 12 year Old Canadian Whisky

In Canada we pride ourselves on having the best and smoothest blended whisky in the world. However, in my side by side tastings of each of these spirits neat, I found I preferred a little of the Irish this time. The Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve has a suave sort of creamy sweetness that doesn’t cloy at the palate after the whiskey is sipped. Things are smooth and refined in a finish which is long and satisfying.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Single Grain or Single Malt Whisky

and the winner is:

Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Rye Whisky

Honourable mention to Highland Park 25 Year Old Single Malt, and Dufftown 1984 (Signatory)

I suppose it might be a little disconcerting to some that I have combined the Single Grain and the Single Malt category this year. They are after all two different styles of whisky. However, due to my limited tasting experiences with single grain whiskies this year, I decided to consolidate the two categories. I was after all curious how a $50.00 Canadian Single grain whisky would stack up against the competitors which cost up to 6 times more in my local liquor store. The Alberta Premium 30 Year Old did more than just stack up, it proved to be the best in side by side tastings. It just goes to show that the top price does not always reflect the top quality.

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And finally the Award that I am sure you have all been waiting for:

The Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Whisky
(Age, price and style irrelevant, her I am only concerned with what is the Best!)

and the winner is

Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Irish Whiskey

Honourable mention to Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Rye Whisky, and Highland park 25 Year Old Single Malt

Even I have to admit my surprise when I chose the Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve over the Alberta Premium 30 year Old Canadian Whisky, and the Highland Park 25 year Old Single Malt Whisky. But when I began my taste comparisons I fell in love with the Jameson all over again. If you have not experienced Irish Pure Pot Still flavour, then you will have to take my word for it that it is quite wonderful. After 18 years of aging they have morphed into something that resembles a creamy soft punky toffee embedded in honeycomb and light marzipan and tainted with flavours of sour mash bourbon. The oak flavours weave in and out, and all of this comes together in a wonderful display of balance. The whiskey has such a beguiling delivery, that I was hooked right from the very first sip, and I suspect you will be too.

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And there you have it, my Rum Howler Awards for Whisky all wrapped up. Here is a recap of Today’s awards:

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky Value (under $30.00 in my market of Alberta)   Potter’s Special Old Canadian Whisky

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky Value (under $60.00 in my market of Alberta) Alberta Premium 30-year-old Whisky

The Rum Howler Award for Best Blended Whisky   Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Whiskey

The Rum Howler Award for Best Single Grain or Single Malt Whisky    Alberta Premium 30-year-old Whisky

The Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Whisky  Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Whiskey

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The 2011 Rum Howler Awards – (Regional Whisky Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 22, 2011

Today I am continuing with my Rum Howler Awards as I am selecting the best whiskies from various parts of the world. I have an Award for Best Canadian Whisky, and Award for Best Scotch Whisky, and Award for Best American Whisky, and an Award for Best Irish Whisky.

All of these awards are based upon side by side tasting sessions held over a period of several weeks. I began at the start of August slowly tasting different whiskies from my collection of reviews samples bringing only the very best forward for the final tastings which took place over the past month.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Canadian Whisky

and the winner is:

Alberta Premium 30 Year Old

Honourable mention to Forty Creek Confederation Oak, Gibson’s Finest 12 Year, and Canadian Club 30 Year Old Whisky

It was a great year for Canadian Whisky, and I could easily have added several more honourable mentions to this category. I had great fun narrowing the field during some blind tasting runs where I had my wife pour me samples that I scored several times to arrive at the final four. The surprise finalist I guess would be the Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old, but truthfully all four finalists are deserving nominees. What was not surprising to me was my decision to grant the Award to the Alberta Premium 30 Year Old. It was not only the tastiest in head to head competition, it was also probably the best bargain in the entire Whisky World last year. (A 30 Year Old 100 % Rye Whisky, that sold for less than $50.00 per bottle in all markets where it was available.) Unfortunately I am using past tense, as at that price it is no small mystery that the Alberta Premium 30 has disappeared.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Scotch Whisky

and the winner is:

Highland Park 25 Year Old Whisky

Honourable mention to Signatory Dufftown 1984, and Glenmorangie Original

The fun continued as I had the opportunity this year to taste (and own) some incredible Scotch whisky. As with the Award for Best Canadian Whisky, I had my wife bring me small samples of each of the best Scottish Whiskies I had reviewed over the past year. It came down to three finalists, but in the end it was the staggering complexity of the Highland Park 25 Year Old whisky that won the day. This is a monster of a whisky and if you can afford to treat yourself to something really special, I recommend treating yourself to this one!

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The Rum Howler Award for Best American Whisky

and the winner is:

Basil Hayden’s Straight Kentucky Bourbon

Honourable mention to Maker’s 46  Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

I have to admit that my experiences with American Whiskies were rather limited this year. I reviewed only five on my website, and my sampling at whisky shows and tastings did not broaden that experience significantly. However, I will say that I have become quite enthusiastic about Basil Hayden’s Straight Kentucky Bourbon. I really dig the laid back style of the Basil Hayden’s and highly recommend that you try it because I think if you give this whisky a fair chance in your glass that you will really dig it too.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Irish Whiskey

and the winner is:

Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Irish Whiskey

Honourable mention to Writer’s Tears Pot Still Blend, Greenore 8 Year Old Single Grain, and Redbreast 12 year Old

There was really no serious competition in this category, as the Jameson 18 Year old Limited Reserve was by far and away the best Irish Whiskey I have tasted to this point. I fell in love with the depth of its pot still flavour and the love affair has continued throughout the year. I did sample (but not review) quite a few other Irish whiskeys this year, the Greenore 8 Year Old Single Grain Whisky, Writer’s Tears Pot Still Blend, and the Red Breast 12 Year Old were a few of the notables which I tried. However, none of these whiskeys seemed to match the style and the depth of flavour of this gem from Jameson.

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I have no award this year for the whiskies from the rest of the world. Simply put, I did not have the opportunity to sample many Japanese whiskies, or Indian whiskies, or the whiskies from other locales. I apologize for this unfortunate circumstance, but I will try to do better nest year.

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And so to wrap up the Rum Howler Regional Whisky Awards:

The Rum Howler Award for Best Canadian Whisky:  Alberta Premium 30 Year Old

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Scotch WhiskyHighland Park 25 Year Old Whisky

The Rum Howler Award for the Best American WhiskyBasil Hayden’s Straight Kentucky Bourbon

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Irish Whisky: Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Irish Whiskey

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Next week I shall tackle some Rum, cheers!

Posted in Awards, Howls | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

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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The 2011 Rum Howler Awards – Part 1 (Best Mixers)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 8, 2011

Last year I began my Rum Howler Awards which sought to recognize the most favoured spirits I had sipped and sampled over the past year. Today I am continuing what I hope will be an annual tradition with my Second Annual Rum Howler Awards! Of course, everyone should understand that I must introduce some provisos when I hand out these awards. I cannot judge any spirit which I have not tasted. I also cannot attempt a comparative final tasting when the previous sample I received for my review, was so small that I now have none left to compare. Fortunately for the most part, like last year, I was able to save enough of each product sample just for the purpose of these awards.

The Rum Howler Awards are meant to be a fun excuse for me to revisit my most favoured distilled spirits and share that re-visitation with you my readers. I am trying to choose the best of the best, but like all competitions of this nature, the awards are subjective and will reflect my personal preferences. The awards for today will concentrate on those spirits which I have found make particularly tasty cocktails. (I have added Gin, Tequila and Vodka categories to round out the awards to include all distilled spirits I review.)

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Best White Rum in a Daiquiri

And the Winner is:

Newfoundlander’s White Rum

Honorable mention to Mount Gay Eclipse Silver.

I consider the daiquiri to be the benchmark cocktail for white rums. In my side by side tastings it was basically a contest which pitted the clean crisp flavour of  Newfoundlander’s White Rum against the funky character of the Mount Gay Silver Eclipse. I found that the new White Rum from the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation was simply outstanding in the cocktail. (The Silver Eclipse from Mount Gay is very ‘funky’ and delicious as well.)

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Most Outstanding Gin in a Lime Fizz

And the winner is:

Tangueray No. 10

Honourable mention to No. 3 London Dry Gin, and Bombay Sapphire Gin.

A Gin Fizz (similar to a Tom Collins) is a simple cocktail which mixes gin with lemon or lime juice, simple sugar and soda. It is a very popular bar-drink/cocktail, and because I like ‘fizz’ style bar-drinks more than Martinis or the standard Gin and Tonic, I decided to use the Gin Fizz as my cocktail of choice for judging this spirit in a cocktail. It was the smoothness of the Tangueray No. 10, which won the day in my side by side comparisons.

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Most Outstanding Whisky in a Horses Neck

And the winner is:

Chinook Canadian Whisky

Honourable mention to Gibson’s Finest Sterling Canadian Whisky, and Pendleton (Let ‘er Buck) Canadian Whisky.

Anyone who has read my reviews realizes that I love to mix cocktails and bar drinks. I believe that the vast majority of whisky drinkers do the same even when they buy a premium bottle. The Horse’s Neck (Whisky and ginger-ale) is the standard cocktail that I like to drink with my whisky, and as such it is a very suitable bar drink to use for judging the mixability of each whisky. All three of the Nominees above are great whiskies for serving with ginger-ale; but my friends and I have been ‘hooked on the Chinook‘ ever since we first tried it several months ago.

It was no surprise to me that it won the day in my head to head taste-off.

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Most Outstanding Blanco Tequila in a Margarita

And the winner is:

PaQuí Tequila (Silvera)

Honourable mention to Cabo Wabo Blanco

Like the Daiquiri, the Margarita is another benchmark cocktail. Whenever I review Blanco Tequila, I mix a Margarita to begin to test the spirit’s cocktail range. I tasted four different spirits side by side in a Margarita taste-off this summer, and it came down to a choice between the Cabo Wabo and the PaQui. Both were excellent; but, by a small margin I preferred the Margarita made with PaQui Tequila. 

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The Best Vodka in a Cosmopolitan

Pristina Vodka

Honourable mention to Patriot Excellence Vodka, Nemiroff Lex Vodka, and Last Mountain Hand Crafted Vodka.

Of all the awards presented today, I think perhaps that his was the toughest to judge. I (and some of my friends) sampled the Cosmos several times attempting to rank the spirits; but we seemed to come up with a different winner each time. It was the Pristina Vodka however, which always seemed to rank first or second each time I did a taste comparison. You cannot go wrong with any of these Vodkas for mixing premium cocktails, but by the slimmest of margins, I prefer the Pristina.

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And there you have it, the first five Rum Howler Awards for 2011:

The Best White Rum in a Daiquiri, Newfoundlander’s White Rum.

The Best Gin in a Lime Fizz,Tangueray No. 10.

The Best Whisky in a Horses Neck, Chinook Canadian Whisky.

The Best Blanco Tequila in a Margarita, PaQuí Tequila (Silvera).

The Best Vodka in a Cosmopolitan, Pristina Vodka

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Each week until Christmas I shall reveal some more of the Awards… Stay Tuned!


Posted in Awards, Extras | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Rum Howler Awards – The Whisky Wrap-up

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 23, 2010

And today I reach the last of my Rum Howler Awards Postings presenting the ‘grand prize’ awards for best whiskies I have tasted over the past year.  As with the rum, I wanted to be completely fair about things so I brought in some help and had the final tasting sessions done by panel rather than by myself alone.

All final tastings were done in a blind format. The panel members were not even tasting the same spirits at the same time. The whiskies were ranked  by each panel member, and then the rankings were compared to choose the best spirit for each category.

Unlike the Rum awards which were based upon age and price, the whisky awards were based solely on price.  I allowed for a bit of leeway ($10.00) when it came to imported whiskies as I understand the costs of shipping into my locale from other parts of the world.

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky under $40.00:
(A price point below $40.00 in my market (Alberta) was required.)

Alberta Premium Rye 25Yr Old

Honourable mention to Wiser’s Small Batch, The Black Grouse, and Gibson’s Finest 12 YR.

The decision to make the determining factor, price rather than age, was based upon the sheer volume of whiskies with no age statement in my market. However once that decision was made, it was a foregone conclusion that Alberta Premium 25 Yr Old Limited Edition would waltz away with the first award. In the under $40.00 price range there just isn’t a better whisky in the world. The good news for the competitors is that this whisky has pretty much sold out and will not be in the competition next year.  The bad news for the competitors is that Alberta Premium 30 Year Old is apparently on its way.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky under $80.00:
(A price point below $80.00 in my market (Alberta) was required.)

Highland Park 12

Honourable mention to Johnnie Walker Black LabelAlberta Premium Rye 25Yr Old and Wiser’s 18 Years Old.

The Highland Park 12 Year Old Whisky is my go to whisky when I want a nice aromatic peated whisky in the middle of the cold spells in winter. I was immensely satisfied when the panel verified my thoughts that this is a world-class spirit.  The Johnny Walker Black, The Alberta Premium 25, and the Wiser’s 18 Year Old were all very strong competitors in what was the closest race for an award in this series.  If you began your whisky collection with these four spirits, you would do yourself no wrong.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky (Any Price)

Bruichladdich Black Art

Honourable Mention to Wiser’s 18 Years Old, Highland Park 12, and Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey (15YR).

Four panel members each chose a different whisky in the blind tastings. But when all the scores were analyzed the Black Art from Bruichladdich was deemed to be the most popular. I found it interesting that the Irish whiskey from Cooley’s scored so well. It seems that every time this bottle is opened it gains new converts. I also found it interesting that the Wiser’s 18 and the Highland Park 12 scored much higher than many more expensive offerings.

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And there we have the final “Grand Prize” Rum Howler Awards for Whiskies! Here is a summary of today’s Awards:

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky under $40.00, Alberta Premium Rye 25Yr Old

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky under $80.00, Highland Park 12

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky (Any Price), Bruichladdich Black Art

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All of my 2010 Whisky Awards can be found on this summary page:

The Rum Howler Awards for Whisky Excellence!

Posted in American Whiskey, Canadian Whisky, Howls, Indian Whisky, Irish Whskey, Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

 
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