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Posts Tagged ‘Whisky’

The Rum Howler Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 1, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYLast year in December, I published my 2012 Rum Howler – Top 30 Rums list based upon a series side by side tastings that my Rum Chums and I completed last fall. All of the rums upon the final list were aged sipping rums, and the list included some of the most expensive (Appleton Estate 50 Year Old) rums in the worlds, as well as some of the best rum bargains (Plantation Guatemala Gran Anejo Rum).

This fall, I completed a similar list for the Best Canadian Whiskies in the market today.  Over the next 25 days I will be counting down each of these Whiskies from number 25 to number 1 in an advent style list revealing the very best (as determined by my Rum Chums and I)  on Christmas Day. As I fill out the list, I will be providing my most up to date review for each spirit. These lists are really quite fun to create, and I hope that those who follow this countdown (and who read the reviews) have some fun. Disagreement with my Panel of Judges is welcome, as are your own opinions about the list.

If you are interested in such things, a detailed explanation of how I came up with this list is available here:

The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

copper-pot-heroI shall begin The Rum Howler Top 10 White Rum Countdown with the Number 25 Canadian Whisky as determined by my judges:

(Just click on the excerpt to read my review):

#25 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve

” … The initial nose of the whisky brings oak and rye spices into the breezes above the glass with an effervescent orange peel zest riding the coattails of the spice. As the glass sits, green tobacco and orange marmalade jump in with a soft punky caramel tainting their scent. I detect some cinnamon and ginger rising up from the glass and my sense is that the Copper Pot is going to be a very interesting and complex whisky ….”

The Copper Pot Reserve has everything I want in a whisky, a rush of spice that lingers throughout the taste experience, wonderful caramel and chocolate flavours balanced perfectly with a mildly bitter, but soft nuttiness, and a complexity which is off the charts.

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I hope everyone enjoys this year’s Christmas Countdown!

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

The Year in Whisky (2013 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 22, 2013

RH-winner2013I tasted a lot of great whisky this year from all over the world, and I noticed a few trends which deserve noting. Whisky is growing in popularity throughout the world, and this is having consequences in both the variety of whisky available to the consumer, and the quality of the whisky available to the consumer. In terms of variety, things have never been better as I can find whiskies on the store shelves from places I would never have imagined a few years ago. The number of brands available from India and Japan keep growing, and as well brands from places like New Zealand, England, Wales, and Australia are also surfacing in my local liquor stores. A stronger selection of brands available to the consumer can only be good news; and hopefully consumers (and whisky critics) can put their prejudices aside and give these brands the chance they deserve.

However the flip side of this world-wide popularity of whisky is a disturbing reluctance from some of the major players to maintain their age statements. The simple fact is that there is just not enough aged whisky stocks to maintain the present brands due to the growing world-wide popularity of the spirit. Of course the marketing hype proclaims the spirits are as good as ever, but I guess I question the veracity of those statements. Time will tell, and thankfully there are still many brands maintaining their standards and many more great whiskies for me to discover.

It is time for my to make my yearly proclamations regarding the best whiskies which I have personally tasted in the year which is 2013. As is the case each year, all of my Rum Howler Awards are based upon side by side tastings within each category of spirit. I taste the spirit neat, and I also mix a few cocktails with each spirit. 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. I also receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards. My side by side tastings are completed, and it is time for me to reveal the recipients of my 2013 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Whisky.

These Awards are for the best Whisky Spirits I encountered in the year 2013!

The 2013 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Whisky

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Review: AC Black Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 10, 2013

AC BlackAC Black Whisky is blended and bottled by Jagatjit Industries Limited located in New Delhi, India. (Jagatjit Industries Limited was established in 1944 by Mr. L.P. Jaiswal in the erstwhile State of Kapurthala under the patronage of its Maharaja Jagatjit Singh.) In addition to whisky, this company also produces Rum, Gin and Vodka, and is currently the third largest IMFL (Indian Made Foreign Liquor) producer on the sub continent. According to their website, AC Black Whisky is produced  from a blend of imported scotch malts and selected Indian spirits. That same website tells me this is a semi-premium IMFL spirit which is:

“… Positioned around a man’s desire for pleasurable things in life and a high desire for achievements projected through “Kucch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai” …”

I was very curious about the above statement and about the whisky. You may read my full review by clicking the link below to learn what I found out:

Review: AC Black Whisky

“… The result is a honeyed aroma featuring a mixture of malty whisky-like scents (butterscotch, honey, sandalwood and oak spice) with a very light back drop of rum-like cane syrup flittering through the breezes as well …”

At the conclusion of my review (for your enjoyment of course) is a nice recipe which I have dubbed, Black Ginger.

Please enjoy the review!

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Indian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Collingwood Handcrafted Canadian Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 8, 2013

Collingwood Whisky Bottle shotCollingwood Handcrafted Canadian Whisky is produced at the Canadian Mist Distillery in Collingwood Ontario.This is of course the Distillery which produces its namesake brand, Canadian Mist, which is one of the best-selling Canadian Whiskies in North America. Most of those sales are in the USA where over 4 million cases of Canadian Mist are consumed annually.

This is a premium brand which is positioned a little higher on the rungs of the whisky ladder so to speak. However, it would be wrong to think of Collingwood as a more mature or refined Canadian Mist. It is produced from its own recipe and finished in a manner which gives the spirit a unique twist. Once the whisky is mature and has been blended, it is left in stainless marrying vats where its flavour is enhanced with staves of maple which have also been added to those vats. This process is unique as far as Canadian Whisky goes, and promises to bring a new flavour component into the landscape of Canadian Whisky.

You may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt:

Review: Collingwood Handcrafted Canadian Whisky

“… The breezes above the glass bring me the scents and smells of light butterscotch, sandalwood and rye spice. I also receive indications of vanilla and bits of sweet and sour fruitiness which reminds me of fermented grapes and apple cider …”

Please enjoy my review of the Collingwood Whisky!

Slainte’

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

Review: Forty Creek Heart of Gold (2013 Limited Release)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 5, 2013

Heart_of_Gold_bottleForty Creek Whisky has for the last number of years produced a special limited release whisky and allowed the public to participate in the release by offering to let you choose your own numbered bottle. As well you can have your bottle signed by their own Master Distiller and Whisky Maker, John Hall, when you arrive to pick up your pre-ordered bottles. These special release whiskies are built upon the foundation of the company’s flagship whisky, Forty Creek Barrel Select, and are basically versions of this whisky which have spent additional time finishing in selected oak barrels. The 2013 Special Limited Release Canadian Whisky, Heart of Gold, is a spirit with an emphasis on Canadian rye grain.

According to Whisky Maker, John Hall:

“This project started nearly a decade ago, focusing specifically on Canada’s noble rye grain. I have always brought out the spicy, fruity notes of rye in my whiskies, but this time, I wanted to perfect how to capture the underlying delicate floral notes of the rye that too often get lost in the process.“

Heart of Gold is not a 100 % rye grain whisky, as the whisky blend also includes a barley whisky, which adds some nutty flavours, and a corn whisky, which adds weight and body. But make no mistake about it, the intent of John Hall in creating this whisky is to showcase the spicy, fruity and floral notes of Canadian Rye.

I was given a pre-release media sample a few months ago and from that small sample I constructed a review of the spirit which roughly coincided with the numbered bottle offering upon the Forty Creek website. At that time the whisky was just being bottled, but as is John Hall’s way, these bottles are ‘rested’ for up to two months before the whisky is released to the public.  Now that the whisky has been released I have had an opportunity to sample the spirit from a full sealed bottle. I decided to revisit the review to see if this resting period had had any effect upon the spirit or my review.

Here is a link to my newly revised review (which incidentally contains very few changes):

Review: Forty Creek Heart of Gold (2013 Limited Release)

“… The breezes above the glass are full of wood spices (cardamom, ginger, sandalwood, sawdust and white pepper), and those breezes remind me of autumns past when the ripened grain in the fields was being combined …”

Cheers Everyone!

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

Review: Stalk & Barrel Single Malt Whisky – Cask #1

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 26, 2013

Stalk and BarrelThe Still Waters Distillery proudly proclaim themselves to be the first Micro Distillery in the Province of Ontario. Barry Bernstein and Barry Stein commenced operations in the fall of 2009 and produced their first new-make spirit just two months after they received their custom German-made pot still. The year is now 2013, and this means that the Still Water’s Distillery, being in its fourth year of operation, is just now bottling their first batches of their own 100 % Hand-Crafted whisky which they have aged the required 3 years in oak barrels.

In the case of the Still Water’s Single Malt Whisky, the distillery has chosen to bottle each of the first barrels of whisky as Single Cask offerings. I was rather fortunate in that I received my sample of the Stalk and Barrel Single Malt Whisky from the very first cask (Cask 1) to produce Single Malt whisky at the Still Waters Distillery. This cask was a previously used American bourbon barrel, and the whisky it produced was bottled at 63.2 % alcohol by volume. This is a 3 Year Old Canadian Single Malt whisky, the youngest allowed by Canadian law.

You may read my full review by clicking on the following excerpt:

Review: Stalk & Barrel Single Malt Whisky – Cask #1

“… the initial aroma reminded me strongly of the 100 % corn whisky blends from the Highwood Distillery in Western Canada. The first breezes above the glass carried scents of sweet butterscotch bathed in corn syrup with tantalizing oak spices and almond scents meandering within …”

Enjoy my review of this surprisingly good 3 Year Old, Canadian Single Malt Whisky!

Cheers!

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

Review: Canadian Rockies 21 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 10, 2013

CR21The Canadian Rockies 21 Year Old is a Canadian Whisky which I have only tasted twice, and each time, it was in a blind tasting flight that contained over 45 other Canadian Whiskies. Of course this was when I served on the jury for the 2012 Canadian Whisky Awards. I made simple tasting notes for every whisky I tasted when I ran through the tasting flight the first time, and then I returned to those notes revising and adding to them when I went through the flight a second time. Each time I visited each whisky, all I knew about the spirit was its sample number. The samples were only 50ml in size, so I had to be judicious each time I tasted each sample such that my notes and my scores were accurate reflections of my feeling towards each of the whiskies.

The Fountana Group Canada is the brand owner, and it turns out the whisky is produced by Highwood Distillers right here in my home Province of Alberta. The Fountana Group contracted Highwood to produce a well aged whisky for export to Asia (where it apparently has been well received). I should point out that the whisky was also well received by the other jurors on that panel for the Canadian Whisky Awards as this brand won the prestigious Connoisseur Whisky of the Year for the Export Market at those 2012 Canadian Whisky Awards.

As I am unlikely to receive a bottled sample of this whisky, my review is based solely upon those brief tasting notes I wrote while I was acting as a whisky judge. I guess my hope is that the brand owner (and the folks at Highwood Distillery) might read the review, and figure out that maybe Canada deserves this Whisky too.

You may read my review of this outstanding Canadian Whisky by clicking the following link:

Review: Canadian Rockies 21 Year Old

Please enjoy the review!

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

Review: Auchentoshan 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 6, 2013

Auchentoshan 18The Auchentoshan Distillery (pronounced “OCK-un-tosh-un”, and meaning “corner of the field”) is located on the outskirts of Glasgow, and is somewhat of an anomaly amongst Scottish Distillers. It is currently the only Scottish Distillery that triple distills their entire core range of whisky. Triple distillation is common amongst Irish distillers, but very uncommon for a distillery producing Single Malt Whisky. The result of triple distillation is a more laid back easy-going style of whisky which perhaps carries more floral elements, but which also may be a little less robust in character than traditional single malts. As such, the Auchentoshan Whisky may be more approachable for novice Single Malt Whisky enthusiast.

The Auchentoshan 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky is part of the core range of Auchentoshan Single Malts. It is (of course) a triple distilled whisky which has been produced from stocks matured solely in American bourbon casks, and then bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume. (The Auchentoshan Distillery and its brands are owned by Morrison Bowmore.)

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

Review: Auchentoshan 18 Year Old Single Malt Whisky

“… I receive spicy notes of oak and fresh willow which share the breezes alongside a waving field of ripening barley. The scent is clean and fresh with dabs of sweet honey and butterscotch, and some hints of tobacco. As the glass breathes I notice a grassy hayfield nearby with green foxtail, millet, and timothy just beginning to ripen in the late summer sunshine …”

Please enjoy my latest review!

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

Review: Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 3, 2013

HW_Rye_Whisky_shadowAs the Highwood Distillery readies itself to recommence production at their facilities in High River, Alberta in the aftermath of the June 20th, 2013 flash flood. I thought it would be an appropriate time to revisit their flagship spirit, Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky. The Highwood Distillery is the only locally (Albertan) owned distillery in Canada. It sits in the heart of the High River community, producing more than 300,000 cases of bottled spirits per year. Although the bulk of their production goes towards Vodka, Flavoured Vodka, and Premixes, they also produce a sizable (and growing) amount of Canadian Whisky each year.

I consider the Highwood Canadian Whisky to be a unique product unlike anything else on the Canadian whisky landscape (I also find it very tasty). What is so original about the Highwood Whisky is the grain from which it is distilled. Highwood uses local Canadian prairie wheat for the distillation base of all of their Highwood branded whisky. This is because wheat alcohol, rather than barley or corn alcohol, has less heavy non-digestible components. This makes for an extremely smooth easy to drink whisky. After sampling most of the Highwood Whisky range, I have come to the conclusion that they are making some of the smoothest whisky in the world.

Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky is produced from prairie rye and wheat grain in a batch style distillation (the grains are distilled and aged separately). The whisky is aged for at least five years in charred American white oak barrels (without the addition of additives), and when it is mature, it is blended to produce that distinctive Canadian ‘rye’ flavour profile consistent with our Canadian Whisky. The whisky is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

You may read my review by clicking on the following excerpt (link):

Review: Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky

“… The first thing I noticed about the Highwood Whisky as I sipped it was that it is a smooth, gentle, and mellow whisky which has the soft sensation in the mouth of a much older whisky. Honeycomb, ginger, wood spice, and a light dab of vanilla all support a wonderfully clean, dusty rye flavour. There is polish in evidence here …”

I included two classic Canadian Whisky cocktails at the end of the review, the Canadian Rye-Whisky Splash, and the Old Fashioned Cocktail.

 

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

Review: Glenfarclas 17 Year Old Highland Single Malt Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 29, 2013

g17The Glenfarclas Distillery is located on the Recherlich Farm at Ballindalloch in the heart of Speyside. The Distillery was purchased by the Grant Family in 1865, and it has remained in the control of the Grant Family for six generations up to the present day. In fact, Glenfarclas is one of only a few distilleries remaining in Scotland which is independently family owned and managed.

All of the Glenfarclas whisky is matured in two styles of oak barrels, plain oak barrels which have previously contained Bourbon or Scotch whisky, and Spanish oak which has previously contained Oloroso or Fino Sherry from Seville. The whisky is stored in traditional ‘dunnage’ warehouses that date from the late 1800s. These warehouses have thick stone walls and earth floors. The subject of this review, the Glenfarclas 17 Year Old Whisky is bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume.

You may read my full review of Glenfarclas 17 Year Old Highland Single Malt Whisky by clicking on the following excerpt:

Review: Glenfarclas 17 Year Old Highland Single Malt Whisky

“… The 17 Year Old Whisky enters the palate with nice mellow wood spices which have combined or melded with the smooth sherry flavours which are full of bittersweet dark chocolate and dried fruit. The vanilla is more obvious in this whisky than in the younger expressions, as is a nice nutty lightly bitter walnut flavour which sits underneath …”

Have a great day, and please enjoy the review!

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

 
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