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Posts Tagged ‘Whisky Review’

Review: Canadian Club Reserve (9 Year Old)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 27, 2014

CCR 9YRRecently there have been some changes in the Canadian Club Whisky family. One of the brands which has undergone a revamping is the Canadian Club Reserve which used to be a 10-year-old blend, but which was recently revamped and now carries a 9 year age statement. The newer version of the whisky has a new square bottle (shown below) and the two words, “Triple Aged” have been added to the label. My understanding is the whisky has been constructed to match as closely as possible the original flavour profile of the 10-year-old whisky. Although whisky as young as 9-years-old are now being used in the blend, there is also much older whisky in the blend as well.

The Alberta Beam Global team recently gave me a sample bottle to examine recently, and I have decided to share the resulting review.

WoodcutterYou may click the following excerpt (link) to read my full review of the new 9-year-old blend;

Review: Canadian Club Reserve (9 Year Old)

“… The initial nose is rich with butterscotch, oak, cedar, and a growing impression of maple. As the glass breathes some dank corn notes rise into the breezes along with some spicy tobacco, oak vanillans, sticky orange marmalade, and a dusting of rye spice. If you wait long enough, some nice chocolate notes and dabs of bourbon-like honeycomb …”

At the conclusion of the review I have included a refreshing recipe, The Woodcutter, which mixes the Canadian Club Reserve with Apple cider.

Please enjoy the review, and my cocktail suggestion!

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

Review: The Macallan Ruby (Single Malt Whisky)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 18, 2014

Macallan 1824 RubyThe Macallan Distillers Ltd is a single malt Scotch whisky producer (distillery) which is situated near Easter Elchies House, at Craigellachie, in the Speyside region of Scotland. The brand and distillery are owned by the Edrington Group which purchased them from Highland Distillers in 1999.

Recently the brand launched a new line of Single Malt Whisky which they call, The Macallan 1824 Series. Each whisky in the 1824 Series is 100 % Sherry Cask whisky, and each whisky within the range draws its name from the colour of the whisky inside the bottle as the series moves up the ladder from Gold to Amber, Sienna, and finally to Ruby in that order. These whiskies carry no age statement. Instead, the consumer is asked to draw a parallel between the colour of the whisky in the bottle and its age, complexity, and quality. Because these whiskies are naturally coloured by the casks from which they are drawn, the implication is that the richer darker whiskies have aged longer, and/or have had more of their blend drawn from the higher quality Sherry oak casks.

The subject of this review is The Macallan Ruby (Single Malt Whisky), which is currently the darkest production whisky in the series. The Ruby is bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume, and all of this whisky was matured exclusively in European oak sherry casks (the labeling on the bottle tells me these sherry casks are all from Jerez, Spain).

You may read my full review of the Macallan Ruby by clicking on the following link and excerpt:

Review: The Macallan Ruby (Single Malt Whisky)

“… The entry into the mouth brought somewhat of an unexpected rush of oak and spice forward as the whisky carried even more oak spice across the palate than what the nose implied. The complexity is top-notch as I tasted bittersweet dark chocolate, caramel toffee, raisin filled fruit cake, canned apricots, and zesty orange peel all mingling within that spicy rush of oak sap …”

Please enjoy my review which represents my first look at the new Macallan 1824 Series. The 1824 series seems to represent a change in focus for The Macallan where they are traveling down a path where the quality of the oak is placed ahead of the age statement. It is the correct path to take in making quality whisky; but only time will tell if the marketing of the age statement has become an unstoppable monster that will destroy good intentions.

Slanite’!

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Note: I received my sample bottle for this review from the Beam Global Team here in Alberta. Beam Global is currently responsible for the distribution and marketing of The Macallan (and other Edrington Group spirits) in Western Canada.

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

Review: Rich & Rare Reserve Canadian Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 5, 2014

RichAccording to the Sazerac website, their company is a direct result of the famous cocktail which bears the same name. It began in 1938 when Antoine Peychaud created a special drink for his guests to enjoy in the evenings at his apothecary in the French Quarter’s Royal Street. He would mix brandy, absinthe and a dash of his secret bitters for his guests. This special drink became quite popular and began to appear in the various coffee house’ establishments in New Orleans. One such establishment, the Sazerac Coffee House became so popular serving their version of the drink (made with Sazerac de Forge et Fils Brandy) that it became known as the Sazerac Cocktail.

The Sazerac website also tells me that their Rich & Rare Reserve Canadian Whisky is distilled in Canada and then aged patiently in hand-picked oak barrels. It is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume. This brand is not available (as far as I know) in Canada, rather it is a brand produced exclusively for the American market.

You may click on the following excerpt to read my full review:

Review: Rich & Rare Reserve Canadian Whisky

“… The Rich & Rare Reserve is lightly oily and/or creamy in the mouth with flavours of butterscotch, corn, and vanilla leading out on the palate. Some nice zesty spices ars present in the form of citrus zest, rye spice and hints of wood sap. Bits of tobacco and honeycomb are suggested as is a nice touch of maple syrup …

Included at the end of the review is a nice cocktail suitable for the Rich & Rare which I call the Iced Ruby Manhattan.

Cheers Everyone!

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

#1 Canadian Whisky – Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 25, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYEighteen months ago, Highwood Distillers, (Alberta’s only privately owned distillery) released a single bond offering (Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky) which was produced entirely from corn distillate which had been aged for a full 25 years in charred American white oak barrels. The release of this whisky commemorated the Centennial of Calgary’s world-famous rodeo (The Calgary Stampede), and it was bottled as a Limited Edition, Ultra-Premium, 25 Year Old Commemorative Canadian Whisky. This single grain offering was blended entirely with naturally sourced Rocky Mountain spring water, and was limited to a production run of only 6000 bottles.

Stampede WhiskyIn order to maintain good contact with the oak during the lengthy aging process, this bond was re-gauged or re-barreled twice during its maturing life. New barrels were not introduced when Highwood distiller’s made the liquid consolidation. Instead they chose to maintain the aging process in the original barrels into which the spirit began its maturation.

The result was a very special whisky, one which my judges without exception scored extremely well. In fact, this particular whisky was ranked number 1 by three out of the four judges (and the dissenting judge had it ranked number 3). This means that the Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky not only wound up as the Number 1 Canadian Whisky in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown, it actually separated itself from the rest of the field by a noticeable margin. Here is a link to my original review of the 25 Year old Commemorative Stampede Whisky which I published in July 2012, judged by my tasting panel to be the Best Canadian Whisky currently available in the world.

#1 Canadian Whisky – Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky

“… The initial nose is rich with smells of oak and cedar. Butterscotch notes rise into the air accompanied by strong scents of honeycomb and cereal. As the glass sits, the oak spices continue to grow above the glass. I also receive impressions of melted vanilla ice cream, some appealing notes of marmalade and marzipan, and some strong notes of corn whisky rising into the merry little breezes …”

This Stampede Whisky finishes with an explosion of spice and echoes of vanilla, butterscotch and honey. It has a long lingering finish which leaves the mouth heated, but also leaves me wanting another glass!

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

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

# 2 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYCanadian Club Whisky is the oldest (and arguably also the most influential) Canadian Whisky brand in the world. It is sold in over 150 countries world-wide, and sales in Canada are unmatched by any other whisky brand. The company has been granted numerous Royal Warrants from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II, and it has been reported that Canadian Club was the whisky of choice when Al Capone smuggled thousands of cases of Canadian Whisky into the USA during prohibition.

Classic Small batchRecently there have been some changes in the Canadian Club family. One of the brands which has undergone a revamping is the Canadian Club Classic (12 Years Old) which has been replaced by the Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12 (also 12 Years Old). The newer version of the whisky has a new bottle (shown below) and the two words, “Small Batch” have been added to the label. My understanding is the whisky is now constructed from a smaller selection of aged whisky (oak barrels) in an effort to bring a fuller flavour and more smoothness to the blend.

Apparently my Judging Panel likes the new blend, as the Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12 was selected the Number 2 Canadian Whisky in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is a link to the review I wrote this past July:

# 2 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12

“… The initial breezes above the glass bring forward scents of caramel and oak which are melded nicely with dabs of light tobacco and spicy orange peel.As the glass breathes, I notice some rye spices and some sweet corn pushing though. The oak and tobacco scents have deepened bringing me impressions of fresh-cut cedar and honeycomb. The caramel and wood spice come together as toffee, and the orange peel has softened into marmalade …”

It has come to my attention that most of the Canadian Club line-up is experiencing a bit of a revamping with new bottle designs and perhaps some tweaking of the blends. I will be reviewing a few of those tweaked offerings in the new year. My hope is that I will see similar improvements with those brands as well.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

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

#3 Canadian Whisky – Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 23, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYIn November of 2005, Highwood Distilleries Ltd. finalized the purchase of Potters Distilleries (founded by Ernie Potter in 1958). Part of this acquisition, was the purchase of all of the remaining barrel aged stocks of whisky in the Potters facility. These barrels of whisky were transferred from the Potters warehouse facilities in Kelowna, B.C. to the newly constructed warehouse facility in High River, Alberta, where they were allowed to continue to age at the foot of the Rocky Mountains on the western edge of the Canadian Prairies. The whisky brands which Potters Distilleries had established (Century and Potters) were added to Highwood’s portfolio of spirits where they have not only been maintained but also expanded upon. Part of that expansion was the recent addition of the ‘Ninety’ branded whiskies to the Century Distillers line-up. Like the other whiskies in the Century portfolio, the Ninety branded spirits are corn-based rather than wheat-based blends. (The Distillery uses the Highwood banner for all of its wheat based whiskies.)

Ninety_25_Year_Old_-_shadow_2013_06Highwood chose the brand name ‘Ninety’ because these new whiskies are bottled at 90 proof (or 45 % alcohol by volume) rather than the usual 80 proof (40 % alcohol by volume). The higher bottling strength means that the final whisky will retain a character closer to the original cask strength whiskies from which they were blended. In the case of the Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky, the bulk of blend almost certainly has been drawn from Highwood’s treasured reserves of remaining Potters whisky stocks which are rumoured to contain barrels of whisky as old as 33 years.

Here is a link to my new review of the Number 3 spirit in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown:

#3 Canadian Whisky – Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

“… As I enjoy the breezes above the glass, I notice impressions of creamy vanilla pudding, hints of almond, some sticky marmalade, and a light sweetened grain-like component which actually reminds me of Post Honeycomb cereal. The longer you let the glass sit, the more firm and unified the aroma becomes, until after fifteen minutes or so it resembles a luscious butterscotch-oak-syrup that begs to be sipped …”

The Ninety “Decades of Richness” Canadian Rye Whisky has quickly become one of my very favourite whiskies, and for my palate, it is on par with the best Bourbons, and the best Single Malt Scotches I have tasted to this point in my whisky explorations. I wrote four years ago that Highwood Distillers was one of the best kept secrets in the whisky world, I suspect that is about to change.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

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

#4 Canadian Whisky – Alberta Springs

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 22, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYI tasted my first bottle of Alberta Springs in the fall of 1988 when I was gifted a bottle on my birthday. It came in a cool wooden box, and it proudly proclaimed its ‘Alberta’ heritage. It was also, I believe, back in those days, a pure 100 % rye whisky. My love for rye whisky was cemented, and for years the Alberta Springs was my favourite whisky.

Twenty some years later when I began to write about whisky, one of the perks I received was a private tour of the ADL Distillery where I met Rick Murphy, the Production Superintendent. He explained the heritage of Alberta Springs to me, how it started as a 10 Year Old pure rye whisky, and how economics dictated a move to rye as well as corn in the 90s.

Alberta SpringsBut, he also steadfastly maintained the whisky is currently (and has always been) a predominantly rye based whisky with a consistent taste profile. He also explained how his computerized dials and gauges in the distillery, and his quality assurance tasting panel, ensure that the flavour does not change as the mash bill may change slightly over time. Rick Murphy also made it very clear to me during the tour, that of all the whiskies he makes at ADL, Alberta Springs is his favourite.

I think it can be safely said that my judging panel agrees with Rick Murphy that Alberta Springs is a great whisky, as the Alberta Spring has arrived in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown in the Number 4 position.

Here is a link to my latest review:

#4 Canadian Whisky – Alberta Springs

“… The initial nose from the glass is of a spicy rye which carries scents of tobacco along for the ride. There is a nice presence of oak and a touch of vanilla but the spicy rye is dominant. As the whisky decants the tobacco gains a little steam and a ripe sweet and sour fruitiness is evolving from the rye which is also filling the air with scents of ginger and cardamom …

Whenever I relax in the evening with a glass Alberta Springs Whisky and a well placed ice-cube with just a splash of ginger-ale, I must admit this particular whisky is hard to beat.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

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

# 5 Canadian Whisky – Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Years Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 21, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYThe Gibson’s Finest Whisky brand was purchased by William Grant & Sons in 2002. Some time after the acquisition, William Grant & Sons moved the production of Gibson’s Whisky from the Schenley plant in Valleyfield Quebec, to the Hiram Walker Distillery in Windsor, Ontario. According to my correspondence with the media company responsible for Gibson’s Finest Whisky, the Gibson’s brand is produced from of two sources: a base grain whisky (which would be a corn-based column still whisky), and a blend of rye based flavouring whisky which contains rye and malted barley (distilled by a single column still and a pot still).

802621_18YRWhen aging their whisky, Gibson’s Finest uses a variety of barrels: ex-bourbon barrels, new oak barrels, etc. The ratio of each barrel-type used can differ from batch to batch because the whisky is blended to a specific taste profile rather than to a specific barrel regimen.

Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Years Old Whisky is limited to a production of not more than 12,000 bottles per year. All of the whisky in the blend, is of course 18 years old or more, and it is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume. It is also the Number 5 spirit in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown. Here is a link to my review published earlier this year:

# 5 Canadian Whisky – Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Years Old

“… The breezes above the glass are filled with tobacco, rye, and (what I am going to term) clean firm oak spices. These dominant scents are accented by caramel, butterscotch and vanilla. Some dusty dry notes of freshly harvested grain, autumn cornstalks, and dry straw rise into those initial breezes as well …”

Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Years Old gives the whisky connoisseur all the clean spicy oak and rye flavours which our Whisky is famous for. Although there are many other wonderful nuances within this 18 Year Old whisky; these nuances within are subtle and serve as accents upon the flavour profile without disturbing the grandeur which is Canadian Whisky.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

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

#6 Canadian Whisky – Crown Royal Cask No. 16

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 20, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYCrown Royal® Canadian Whisky was originally introduced in 1939 (by Samuel Bronfman of Seagrams) as a special whisky bottling to commemorate the Royal tour of Canada by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in that year. Until 1964, the whisky was only available in Canada; however, today it is available world-wide and is in fact the number one Canadian whisky brand sold in the USA. Crown Royal is currently produced in Gimli Manitoba, at the Crown Royal Distillery which (since the dissolution of the Seagrams portfolio in 2000) is owned by the spirits conglomerate Diageo.

cask-16-bottleCask No. 16 was introduced in 2007; but was apparently discontinued in 2012. However, the whisky is still readily available (at least in the Alberta market), and when I checked the Crown Royal Website, I found it was still listed as part of the Crown Royal family.

According to the information found on their website, The Cask No. 16 is,

“Handcrafted from more than 50 different aged Canadian whiskies and then finished in Cognac Oak casks from the Limousin forest in France for another layer of richness and complexity.”

This spirit represents the second entry from Crown Royal in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown and it arrives at Number 6. Here is a link to my February 2010 review:

#6 Canadian Whisky – Crown Royal Cask No. 16

“…   A mellow corn whisky is up front on the palate, but rich soft butterscotch and caramel and sweet brown sugar sit under the corn flavour supporting and enhancing the experience.  A nice spicy bite which has the hallmarks of pears and grapes grabs at the taste buds.   Carrying all of this flavour forward is a wonderful mild oak presence that never dominates.  The oak acts as it should, as a garnish which heightens the other flavours with its presence …”

For those who prefer a more subdued corn profile and a milder rye like burn, this is probably the perfect Canadian whisky.  It is wonderfully luxurious and rich, yet full of character and complexity. Sip it neat, or on the rocks and you will not be disappointed.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

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

#7 Canadian Whisky – Pendleton 1910

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 19, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYPendleton Whisky is named to honour The Pendleton Round-up, a rodeo in Pendleton Oregon, and in fact, Pendleton Whisky sponsors numerous other rodeos, including the aforementioned  the Pendleton Round-Up, the Cheyenne Frontier Days, and the Walla Walla Frontier Days.

Their premium whisky, Pendleton 1910 Canadian Whisky, is definitely a spirit with a western flair. It is crafted from a 100 % rye blend, distilled and oak-aged in Canada for 12 years. After the spirit is fully matured, it is transported to Oregon in bulk where it is brought to bottling proof by Hood River Distillers using the glacial fed waters from Mt. Hood.

a1910Note: I was able to confirm that the whisky is distilled by Alberta Distillers Limited (ADL) in Calgary, Alberta. ADL is the largest distiller of rye whisky in the world.

The folks down at Hood River are onto something good as their 12-year-old 100 % rye whisky checks into my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown in the Number 7 position. Here is a link to my September 2012 Review:

#7 Canadian Whisky – Pendleton 1910

“… The Pendleton 1910 is sweet and spicy. It displays sweet honey and butterscotch complimented beautifully by a spicy oak and rye presence. I taste real cereal grain in the glass, mostly rye grain, but also hints of sweeter corn. Fresh tobacco, sandalwood, cardamom and ginger add to the spicy rye flavour. A delicate dusting of cinnamon heats up the palate further while the honey, maple and butterscotch continue to provide just the right amount of sweetness …”

Pendleton 1910 reminds me of why I love rye whisky!  The combination of spicy rye and sweet butterscotch is just about perfect.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

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

 
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