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Posts Tagged ‘Whisky’

Rum Howler 2014 #4 Canadian Whisky – Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Years Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 21, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014In 1856, John Gibson purchased 40 acres and built a distillery along the shore of the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania. By the turn of the century, the Gibson’s Distilling Company was the largest producer of rye whisky in North America. Unfortunately, early in the new century, fate dealt the company a tragic blow, in the name of Prohibition. Consumption of legal whisky all but dried up, and Gibson’s Distilling Company went bankrupt. In 1923, the entire contents of the distillery including the stills, the aging barrels, all of the remaining spirit, (and even the grain which was on site) was sold via Sherriff’s auction to Schenley Industries of New York. Fifty years later this whisky brand, which was born on the US side of the border in Pennsylvania, was resurrected by the brand owner at the Schenley Distillery in Valleyfield, Quebec. Now, of course, it has become one of the iconic brands of Canadian Whisky.

802621_18YRAccording to my correspondence with the media company responsible for, Gibson’s Finest Whisky, the Gibson’s Finest 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). When 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.

We have reached the number 4 spot in my Countdown of the Best Canadian Whiskies of 2014, and that spot belongs to Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Years Old.

Here is a link to my most recent review:

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

“… The initial aroma is spicy with a firm oak presence. 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 …”

There are only 3 spaces left in my 2014 Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown, and I hope that there has been a few surprises so far. The final three spirits were tasted against each other one more time just to be sure I had it right. I wonder if anyone can guess which three they are?

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #5 Canadian Whisky – Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 20, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014In 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 20 Year Old SAM_1400Highwood 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 recent review of the Number 5 spirit in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown:

#5 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.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #6 Canadian Whisky – Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 19, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Lot No. 40 was first released in the 1990’s as an upscale connoisseur’s whisky for the North American market. Alas, timing is everything, and the whisky style never really caught on as apparently the market wasn’t quite ready for such a new style of Canadian Whisky. However, with the new upsurge of interest in Canadian Whisky across North America (and in particular at the premium end of the market), Corby (the owner of the Wiser’s Brand), was optimistic that the timing for this new whisky has finally arrived, and in 2012 they re-released Lot No. 40.

Lot No. 40 SAM_1398Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still Canadian Whisky is made with locally grown rye which has been distilled upon a single 12,000-litre copper pot still. The final whisky is aged in new oak barrels to showcase the creamy caramelized flavours which new freshly charred oak barrels bring.

I happen to love this new whisky style, and on my Countdown of the Best 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014, the Lot No. 40 arrives in the Number 6 spot.

Here is a link to my review:

#6 Canadian Whisky – Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still

“… As the glass breathes, smells of oak and wood sap gain more expression. I notice the rye now carries impressions of fresh fruit (green grapes and orange peel zest in particular). Whereas most Canadian whiskies have a clean hard rye scent, the impression I receive from the glass is of a much more earthy and complex whisky …”

Lot No. 40 is a great whisky. The flavour of new oak (which along with rye) is at the forefront. Although a few other brands of Canadian Whisky have been experimenting with new oak, Lot No. 40 is really the first one (in my opinion) to get the right balance between the sweet (caramel and maple flavours) and the sharp spice (that wood sap flavour). The result 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 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #8 Canadian Whisky – Alberta Springs

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 17, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Alberta Springs is produced  by Alberta Distillers Limited (ADL). It is a rye forward whisky aged for 10 years just west of the Rocky Mountains at the ADL facilities in Calgary Alberta. When I met Rick Murphy, the Production Superintendent at ADL , he explained the heritage of Alberta Springs to me, how it started as a 10 Year Old pure rye whisky, and then how economics dictated a move to rye as well as corn in the 90s.

Alberta Springs SAM_1399But, Rick steadfastly maintained that 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 I was given in 2012, that of all the whiskies he makes at ADL, Alberta Springs was his favourite.

I happen to agree with Rick, that Alberta Springs is a great Canadian Whisky. This year it has landed at the number 8 spot in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is my latest review:

#8 Canadian Whisky – Alberta Springs

“… The initial mouth-feel is slightly dryish as the whisky begins with flavours of dusty rye and light flavours of caramel toffee. The oak is present and brings forward some light orange peel and vanilla as well as hints of tobacco which are not as firm in the flavour as they were in the aroma. I taste a light mustiness, and  I taste a hint of honey sweetness …”

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 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #9 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Legacy

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 16, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Wiser’s Legacy Canadian Whisky (a Corby Brand) was released in early 2010 as a new entry into the fledgling “Super Premium” category of Canadian Whisky. At the time, a few other Super Premium Whiskies already existed in the market-place (Wiser’s own Red Letter, and Crown Royal’s, Cask No. 16 and Crown Royal  XR); but the category hadn’t really caught the buying public’s imagination. In fact the Super Premium category had seen more disappointments than successes to that point (at least as far as Canadian Whisky was concerned). However the tipping point for the category seems to have been the year 2010, and the brand which (in my opinion) which helped the most to bring about a this change was Wiser’s Legacy.

Wiser's LegacyAt that time,  what the Super Premium category needed as far as  Canadian Whisky was concerned was a spirit which would be worth the hype. And in a nutshell, Wiser’s Legacy was. This whisky is produced from a rye forward mash bill (Canadian rye, rye malt and barley malt) using a slow copper pot distillation technique which was ‘fine-tuned’ to capture the very specific flavours and aromas during distillation. The new oak barrels used to age the resulting distillate were lightly toasted rather than heavily charred to help bring more of these specific flavours forward.

When I was tasting all of my Canadian Whisky spirits side by side as part of my deliberations for this countdown series, I noted that Wiser’s Legacy seemed to be appealing to me much more than it had in the past. For this reason I rescored the whisky and updated my tasting notes.

Here is my updated review for the number 9 Canadian Whisky in my countdown:

Review: Wiser’s Legacy Canadian Whisky

“… The aroma from the glass is rich in rye spice and caramel toffee, with a subtle corn and bourbon influence. The oak is very apparent as well, bring sappy notes of oak and cedar forward as well as rich damp tobacco. There are some nice indications of baking spices (vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon) as well as vague impressions of baked muffins full of banana, walnuts and chocolate chips. The aroma certainly lives up to the impressive bottle …”

The Legacy is extremely interesting because it is such a departure from a regular Canadian whisky. There is a great deal of complexity introduced by the young oak and this is definitely a giant step towards a more defined bourbon taste profile. It seems that this taste profile has grown on me over the past four years. I suspect it will grow on you as well!

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #10 Canadian Whisky – Pendleton 1910

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 15, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Pendleton 1910 Canadian Whisky is a 100 % Canadian Whisky. The spirit is produced and aged in Calgary Alberta, and then transported to Oregon where it is brought to bottling proof by Hood River Distillers using the glacial fed waters from Mt. Hood. The whisky is named to honour the year of the very first Pendleton Round-up, which is a respected rodeo in Pendleton, Oregon. In fact, Pendleton Whisky sponsors numerous rodeos, including the aforementioned  the Pendleton Round-Up, the Cheyenne Frontier Days, and the Walla Walla Frontier Days.

SAM_0916According to the company website, the whisky is crafted from 100 % rye, distilled and oak-aged in Canada for 12 years. (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.)

We have hit the top 10 in my countdown and Pendleton 1910 is the second 100 % rye whisky to be recognized as one of Canada’s Best.

Here is my most recent review:

#10 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 …”

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

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #11 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve 21 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 14, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014In 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.

Century_Reserve_21_Yr_-_shadowCentury Reserve 21 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky, is a premium a 21-year-old single grain corn whisky. Those old Potter’s stocks from which this whisky is drawn (produced, I believe from a single bond) have been slowly aging with the result that the age of this whisky has been increasing each year even though the label still says 21 Year Old.

I am a big fan of Highwood Distillers and their great whiskies, their Century Reserve 21 Year Old checks in as the 11th best Canadian Whisky of 2014!

#11 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve 21 Year Old

“… 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 …”

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #13 Canadian Whisky – Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 12, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Danfield’s Canadian Whisky is produced in the small 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. They are also very difficult to contact, and therefore the only information I have about the Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year Old Canadian Whisky comes from the little booklet which is strung around the neck of the bottle. According to this booklet, 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 21Here is a link to my review of the #13 Canadian Whisky in my countdown of the best that Canada has to offer:

#13 Canadian Whisky – Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year

“… As the glass sits the scents and smells from the glass deepen. Added to the fray are scents of spicy tobacco, and sweet corn lifting up into the breezes. 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 …”

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 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #14 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club Chairman’s Select – 100% Rye

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 11, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Canadian Club Whisky is now the oldest (and probably the most influential) Canadian Whisky brand in the world.  It is found in over 150 countries, with sales in Canada that are unmatched by any other premium whisky brand.

Recently Canadian Club (owned by Beam Suntory) launched a new 100% rye grain whisky, Canadian Club Chairman’s Select – 100% Rye. It is of course produced exclusively from rye grain, distilled (and almost certainly aged) in Calgary by Alberta Distillers Ltd (who are also owned by Beam Suntory). The Chairman’s Select is aged in American Oak (bourbon barrels), cut to bottling strength (40 % abv) and then bottled in Walkerville Ontario, the home of Canadian Club.

cc chairman's select SAM_1332The new Chairman’s Select – 100 % Rye grabs the Number 14 slot in my Top 25 Canadian Whiskies Countdown of 2014.

Here is a link to my recent review:

#14 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club Chairman’s Select – 100% Rye

“… the Chairman’s Select 100 % Rye whisky is very rye forward with lots of fine peppery wood spice dancing with that rye in the breezes. Melded into the spicy rye is a lovely light sweetness of butterscotch with a gentle sweep of vanilla and a few bits of almond. I also receive strong impressions of freshly harvested grain fields with dusty chaff blowing in the wind and lots of fresh straw lying in the windrows …”

Chairman’s Select – 100 % Rye appears to have been constructed with an emphasis on allowing the rye grain to run free within the spirit. It has a full, rich and spicy flavour which appeals to me very strongly. Definitely a must have whisky for the Rye lover on your Christmas list. (That’s a strong hint to my wife and kids.)

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

 

 

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #15 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Small Batch

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 10, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Wiser’s Small Batch Canadian Whisky was brought to the market in the fall of 2008 replacing the Wiser’s Reserve. When this whisky was released,there were a few important differences in its make-up which made it important as far Canadian Whisky was concerned.

In the first place, it is apparently produced in small batches using more traditional distilling methods, hence the name Wiser’s Small Batch, and in the second place, its bottling strength is 43.4 % alcohol by volume, rather than the traditional 40 %. Canadian Whiskies at the ultra premium end of the scale had of course in the past been produced at a higher bottling strength, and in small production runs. However, Wiser’s Small Batch appears to be the first of the lower priced (I hate calling them economy) whiskies to walk this path (at least as far as I can determine).

WisersSmBatch-Oct12-lgThis year we noticed that at least one of Wiser’s competitors (Century Distillers) have followed along that path of producing a higher bottling proof – low priced Canadian whisky as well (Ninety 5 Year Old). Let us hope that a few others join in, and this trends continues to grow.

Wiser’s Small Batch checks into my countdown as the 15th Best Canadian Whisky, I have tasted this year.

Here is a link to my most recent review:

#15 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 …”

The Wiser’s Small Batch is a great example of how good, 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 neat or to mix in cocktails.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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