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Posts Tagged ‘Whisky Review’

# 10 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Portwood Reserve 2012

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 16, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYForty Creek Whisky (as you know if you have been following this countdown) has for the past several years produced a special limited release whisky and allowed the public to participate in its release by offering to let those who pre-order the whisky to choose their own numbered bottle(s). These special release whiskies are built upon the foundation of the company’s flagship whisky, Forty Creek Barrel Select, and are actually versions of this whisky which have spent additional time finishing in certain selected oak barrels. Last year’s special release was the Forty Creek Portwood Reserve – 2012 Whisky.

PortwoodWhat makes this whisky special is that this edition of Forty Creek Whisky has been finished in Port Wine Barrels. The whisky was produced at 45 % alcohol by volume and was limited to only 6600 bottles.

I almost decided not to include the Portwood Reserve in my Countdown, not because I felt it wasn’t worthy (it definitely is); but rather because this particular bottling is almost gone. When I checked the AGLC and LCBO listings, I discovered that the Portwood Reserve is only available in very limited quantities as this whisky is almost sold out. My suggestion to those who are fans of Forty Creek Whisky is that if you do not have this whisky or if you want to gift a bottle this Christmas, you had better act fast. The Number 10 Canadian Whisky in my Christmas Advent Countdown, the Forty Creek Portwood Reserve (2012), will be all but gone by the end of this year.

You may read my 2012 review here:

# 10 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Portwood Reserve 2012

“… The scents and smells rising into the breezes above the glass remind me of dark ripe BC cherries, blackberries and raspberries. Some dry fruit sensations (reminiscent of raisins and prunes) are part of the overall fruit and berry aroma. Subtle but firm impressions of cinnamon and cloves join in with a bit of sweet Demerara sugar thrown in for good measure …

Glowing embers of cinnamon and cloves seem to take hold of the whisky in the exit. Rye spices, ginger and cardamom join in with vanilla and Demerara sugar chasing them.This is a beautiful sipping 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

#11 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve (Lot 1525)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 15, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYI have been inside the Highwood Distillery’s aging warehouse, and have seen up close the barrels of whisky stacked four levels high, row upon row. The wonderful aroma of the ‘angels share’ permeates the facility, and it offered me a gentle intoxication if only I were to stay a little longer. Perhaps, one day I will return and stay just a little longer; but, for now I am content to carry the memory of that heady aroma in my mind.

Somewhere in that barrel aging warehouse is a darkened corner where all of the oak barrels are all stamped “Lot 1525“. This  corner contains the oldest whisky in the entire facility, with the age of the whisky inside the barrels ranging  from 15 to 25 or more years. (It has been hinted to me that some of these barrels contain whisky that is up to 33 years old!) These whisky barrels were originally part of the consignment of whisky acquired when Highwood purchased the Potters Distillery in 2005. As such, these are barrels of whisky produced from the corn-based distillate in Kelowna, British Colombia.

CenturyReserve_2012_ShadowThese barrels made the journey to the Highwood facility in 2005 and have been sitting in that darkened corner waiting to be tapped and bottled. When the time is right, Highwood’s Master Blender carefully chooses the right barrels, and then carefully blends the wonderful elixir within to create a spirit which contains the distillery’s most prized well aged whisky, Lot 1525 Century Reserve Custom Blend Canadian Rye Whisky. The spirit represents yet another gem from those folks in High River, and this gem of a whisky is ranked Number 11 in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is a link to the review I posted on August 28, 2010:

#11 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve (Lot 1525)

“… A beautiful amber hue seems to accent a lovely honey and caramel aroma rising from the glass. Wonderful mellow rye notes accompany the honey and the caramel and a light bourbon vanilla seems to drift above the glass in the breezes.  The impact of nosing the glass is a well received feeling of luxury, and elegance which is divine …”

I have said before, that Highwood Distillers are one of the best kept secrets of the whisky world. This whisky is one of their crowning achievements. It is a grand whisky which revels in smoothness and luxury.

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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

#12 Canadian Whisky – Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still (2012 Edition)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 14, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYLot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still represents Canadian Whisky in a familiar yet different form. It is familiar, because this is a true rye whisky, made with locally grown Canadian rye grain carrying that wonderful spicy rye flavour forward. It is different because the distillate for the whisky was produced on a single copper-pot still rather than on those tall column stills which dominate the large Canadian distilleries. It is different also because that pot still distillate was aged (for at least part of its life) in new freshly charred oak barrels to showcase the creamy caramelized flavours which those new oak barrels bring.

Dr. Don Livermore (the Hiram Walker Distillery Master Blender) elaborated on the process for me when I had a chance to speak directly with him about Corby’s newest premium whisky:

Lot No. 40Without getting into specific recipes, Lot 40 is comprised of 100% of our (Hiram Walker) rye whisky. This whisky was made via pot distillation and subsequently aged in new casks. There is a proprietary proportion of distillers malt(s) used in the brewing process that allows for conversion of the rye grains into fermentable sugars. The brewing process is made in small batches according to the traditional recipes dating back to the early 1900s.”

This difference in fermentation, distillation and aging processes brings about a real difference in whisky style. Lot No. 40 isn’t a hard column still rye whisky which likes to take your tonsils for a ride. Instead this is a pot still rye whisky with a soft earthiness that runs through the whisky. More than any other whisky in my tasting flights for the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown, the Lot No. 40 divided the judging panel. Two of the judges, (myself included) absolutely loved the soft pot still flavour. The other two judges, were somewhat baffled by where this spirit fit in to the landscape of Canadian Whisky.

What we decided was that the Lot No. 40 Copper Pot Still fit in as the Number 12 Canadian Whisky in my 2013 Christmas Advent Countdown:

#12 Canadian Whisky – Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still (2012 Edition)

“… the initial nose is filled with the scents and smells of honeycomb, freshly harvested rye, and freshly cut oak and cedar planks which are still seeping bits of sap from the wood grain. Caramel toffee and green tobacco, and even more fresh rye climb up out of the glass into the breezes …”

Lot 40 Single Copper Pot Still is a thoroughly enjoyable whisky which breaks new ground for the Canadian Whisky category.

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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: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

# 13 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Confederation Oak

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 13, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYForty Creek Confederation Oak was built upon the foundation of John Hall’s flagship whisky, Forty Creek Barrel Select, and is basically a version of this whisky which has been finished in Canadian Oak Barrels. These oak barrels were made from oak trees (growing only 40 miles from the distillery) which began their growth in Canadian soil approximately 150 years ago at the time of Confederation (the birth of Canada as a nation), hence the name chosen for the whisky, Confederation Oak.

Confederation oakWhen I spoke to John Hall (Forty Creek founder and Whisky Maker) about this whisky, he mentioned that Canadian oak trees are heavier and more dense than American oak due to the harsher Canadian climate. As a result, the oak barrels made from these trees impart a different flavour characteristic to the whisky. The vanillans are more pronounced, and the wood tannins seem to be slightly stronger. In fact, John told me he almost scrapped this whisky altogether when after the first and the second years of ‘finishing’ in the Canadian oak barrels, the whisky was, to him, harsh and unappealing. But rather than scrapping the whisky, he allowed time to take its course. To his delight the whisky mellowed considerably after the third year of finishing, and the desired flavour profile for his whisky was achieved.

And what a flavour that was, John Hall’s Forty Creek Confederation Oak ranks Number 13 in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown. Here is a link to my review:

# 13 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Confederation Oak

“… The aroma from the glass begins with typical Canadian Whisky notes of light rye and oak.  Soon, however, I begin to notice caramel corn and light baking spices building, then a strong indication of the new oak barrels imparting their fresh tannin into the liquid as fresh scents of honeycomb, vanilla, cedar and toffee rise into the breezes above the glass. As the glass breathes, the oak becomes firmer and a certain smokiness from dried fruit develops. Fresh sap, raisins, dried apricots and spicy toffee are all apparent in the fully decanted glass …”

I am very happy that Forty Creek is a distillery that believes in patience. The extra time this whisky spent in the new oak barrels has paid handsome dividends. The result was not just a good whisky. Rather it is a whisky that is so good I shall be hoarding it, and I will dole out a dram here and a dram there just for special occasions and just special friends.

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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

#14 Canadian Whisky – Crown Royal Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 12, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYCrown Royal Canadian Whisky is currently produced in Gimli, Manitoba, at the Crown Royal Distillery. The distillery and the brand are owned by Diageo, and I think it is fair to say that Crown Royal is Diageo’s flagship Canadian whisky brand. In 1992, a premium version of Crown Royal was introduced as Crown Royal Special Reserve. In the fall of 2008, the name of the brand was tweaked and relaunched as Crown Royal Reserve Canadian Whisky.

reserve-bottleAccording to the information I received from the brand owner (and gleaned from the Crown Royal website), this particular Crown Royal whisky is produced from selected casks which were tasted and monitored closely by their Master Blender. These ‘premium casks’ represented whiskies with special character, and they were allowed to age longer with the aim of producing a more premium whisky.

I guess that my tasting panel agrees that something more special has resulted from all this care and attention as the Crown Royal Reserve lands in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown in the Number 14 position.

Here is a link to my latest review:

#14 Canadian Whisky – Crown Royal Reserve

“… I am impressed by the complex structure of the whisky which is all at once tart and spicy, sweet and creamy, and rich with flavour. The whisky is lightly oaky with wood spices leading out as orange peel and pepper. Some clear rye spices (ginger in particular) jump in and this spicy montage of flavour is accented by sweet flavours of caramel and maple …”

The Crown Royal Reserve is very appealing and complex. It does though, require a bit of time in the glass to reach its full potential.

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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

#15 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club 20 Year Old Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 11, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYCanadian Club Whisky (C.C. Whisky) is blended before it is aged, and this process, which has been called  ‘Blended at Birth’, is the foundation for the entire portfolio of Canadian Club Whiskies. The particular whisky which is examined in this review is the Canadian Club 20 Year Old Whisky. It is a blend of rye, rye malt, corn, and barley malt spirits which were set down to age together 20 years ago. In fact, I believe that the actual blending formula of base spirits for the 20-year-old Whisky is the same as the blending formula used for Canadian Club’s flagship brand, Canadian Club Premium, which is of course the 6-year-old Whisky which anchors the Canadian Club brand.

728935Although the 20 Year Old was originally intended to be a specialty bottling when it was first introduced, the whisky became a standard bottling when Beam Global acquired the Canadian Club brand. It remains a Limited Edition whisky with each bottle individually numbered. The Limited Edition Canadian Club 20 Year Old Whisky checks in at the Number 15 spot in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.  You may read my review of this fabulous whisky by clicking the following excerpt:

#15 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club 20 Year Old Whisky

“… Toffee and caramel poured out of the glass with deep oaky accents and rich baking spices. Rye scents followed as did that full dank corn aroma which is so typical of the Canadian Club line-up. The cooler temperature was certainly not inhibiting this whisky.  It is when the glass is fully decanted that the aroma becomes sublime. Deep, dark brown sugars and a hint of charred marshmallow become evident as well as mildly sour citrus fruit. Although that final descriptor may not sound lovely, you will have to trust me that it is …”

I enjoy the Canadian Club 20 Year Old immensely, and if you need a special gift for the Canadian Club aficionado this Christmas, this whisky certainly fits the bill.

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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

#18 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve 21 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 8, 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 had established (Century and Potters) were added to the Highwood portfolio and have recently been expanded upon.

Century_Reserve_21_Yr_-_shadowAccording to the information provided me when I reviewed this whisky the first time, Century Reserve 21 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky, is a premium a 21-year-old single grain corn whisky. This makes the Century Reserve something of a rarity upon the landscape of Canadian Whisky as there are very few single grain whiskies produced in Canada. It is also true that this whisky serves a very good example of how wonderful and tasty our Canadian Whisky can be. The 2013 bottling of the Century Reserve 21 Year Old arrives on my Christmas Countdown as the Number 18 Canadian Whisky!

Here is a link to my newly written review of the most recent bottling made available to me:

#18 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve 21 Year Old (2013)

“… The breezes above the glass are luscious. Indications of roasted corn-0n-the-cob, rich oak spices, toffee, butterscotch, and tobacco all rise up to greet my nose. As the whisky breathes, those scents and smells above the glass become even richer with oak sap, stronger tobacco accents, marmalade and hints of vanilla pudding marrying themselves into the overall aroma …”

Note: Although I did not include a cocktail suggestion at the conclusion of my new review, if you are inclined to break through the boundaries of rigid convention, I would heartily endorse the Century Reserve 21 Year Old consumed in the manner of the Old Fashioned Cocktail.

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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

#19 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Small Batch

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 7, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYWiser’s Small Batch Canadian Whisky was released in the fall of 2008 replacing the Wiser’s Reserve. There were a few important differences in Wiser’s Small Batch which made it something of a market leader as far Canadian Whisky was concerned. First, because this whisky is made in small batches using traditional distilling methods, the moniker ‘Small Batch’ was attached to the name. Secondly, although this whisky does not sit in the ‘super premium’ tier, its bottling strength was increased to 43.4 % from the traditional 40 %. On both these counts the industry seems to be catching up with Wiser’s as small batch production whiskies and higher bottling strength whiskies are both becoming more and more common.

WisersSmBatch-Oct12-lgThis year a new bottle was unveiled for the Wiser’s Small Batch. Although the bottle changed, the quality inside seems to have remained intact as Wiser’s Small Batch is the Number 19 whisky in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown:

Here is a link to my recently written 2013 review:

#19 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Small Batch

“… Wiser’s Small Batch is soft and supple on the tongue with hot oak spices which carry a bevy of flavour along for the ride across the palate. I taste some fresh oak and cedar; some sweet caramel, butterscotch and maple; soft corn and spicy rye; some light impressions of honeycomb and tobacco, and some delicious canned fruit (marmalade, apricots and pears) …”

The Wiser’s Small Batch is a great example of how tasty our inexpensive Canadian Whisky can be. It has a wonderful richness and depth of flavour, and I like the higher bottling strength which helps to concentrate these flavours, making them more assertive. In spite of the higher alcohol percentage, the whisky is smooth like Canadian whisky should be and a real pleasure to sip.

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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

#20 Canadian Whisky – Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 6, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYDanfield’s Canadian Whisky is produced in the City of Lethbridge in my home Province of Alberta. It is produced for Williams & Churchill by Schenley Distilleries Inc. at the Black Velvet Distillery, (also referred to locally as the Palliser Distillery). Williams and Churchill are not distillers themselves, rather they appear to be a third-party company which owns the Danfield’s Brand. The 21 Year Old is a small batch whisky produced from rye, corn and malted barley. It is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume and prior to bottling, the whisky is apparently “diamond filtered” to add further polish to the whisky.

SAM_0833 Dan 21I am not sure what ‘diamond filtering’ accomplishes; however, I do know that aging a Canadian Whisky for 21 years usually reaps great rewards. Apparently my judging panel agrees, and Danfield’s 21 year Old Whisky checks in at Number 20 on my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is a link to a recent review of mine:

#20 Canadian Whisky – Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year Old

“…  The rye continues to pour out with the scent becoming earthier as it changes from a clean dry rye to a thick fruit-filled rye over the course of the nosing. Hints of marzipan and orange peel come forward as does a nice underlying nuttiness which reminds me of the wild hazelnuts which grown around the lakes in west-central Alberta …”

The Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 year Old Canadian Whisky is a classic Canadian Whisky in every sense of the word. Although it is a rye forward whisky, the flavour elements of dank corn and nutty barley also ripple through the whisky providing the full grain spectrum of Canadian Whisky Flavour.

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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

#21 Canadian Whisky – Coyote Ugly

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 5, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYOn January 27, 1993, Wall Street intern, Liliana Lovell opened the first Coyote Ugly Saloon in New York City. If you watched the Jerry Bruckheimer movie Coyote Ugly (released in 2000), then you know all about this place where the waitresses, called ‘Coyote Girls’, serve the drinks, dance and sing, and even (apparently) down shots of whisky with the customers. According to the movie, at the Coyote Ugly Saloon, things are kept pretty simple. The drinks are served straight up with no frills (unless you call things like girls dancing on the bar a frill). They don’t use soda for mix; they don’t even add a drop or two of water. In fact, if you ask for water, rather than receiving a little for your whisky, you are more likely to get doused with the stuff to a chorus of customers chanting, “Hell No … H2O!”

Coyote Ugly WhiskyTo make a long story short, the success of the movie spawned more Coyote Ugly Saloons across the USA and even as far away as Russia. Building upon that success, Celebrity Cellars International founder, Jeff Harder, teamed up with the founder of the Coyote Ugly Saloon, Liliana Lovell and launched Coyote Ugly Canadian Whisky on March 12, 2012.

Last year (2012), I was asked to provide a review of Coyote Ugly upon my website to serve as a preview for its world-wide launch. This year, Coyote Ugly (made in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies) arrives at the Number 21 spot in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

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

#21 Top Canadian Whisky – Coyote Ugly

“… The whisky smells of rich butterscotch and caramel. Light rye scents waft into the breezes with dabs of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. A light footprint of vanilla and almond compliment the delicate baking spices leaving impressions of marzipan in the air above the glass …”

Enjoy the Review!

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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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