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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

Rum Howler 2014 # 13 Rum – Ron Millonario Solera 15 Reserva Especial

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 12, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014When I contacted Fabio Rossi (founder Rum Nation who have already placed a couple of fine rums in my countdown) and asked him about his other Rum Company, Ron Millonario, he explained that although the parent company of the Ron Millonario brand (Rossi and Rossi S.R.I.) is headquartered in Italy, the rums of Ron Millonario are produced in Northern Peru. Because the rum produced by the Peruvian distillery (he declined to say exactly which distillery it is) are of such a high quality, he decided to market them on their own, separate from the Rum Nation Brand.

Millonario Sistema Solera 15 Reserva EspecialRon Millonario Solera 15 Reserva Especial, is produced in Peru from a 4 stage Solera process with the final stage bringing the oldest rum in the blend to 15 years. (Based upon the information sent to me by the brand owner, the youngest rum in the blend would 8 years.) The rum is also bottled in Peru at 40 % alcohol by volume.

I agree that the Peruvian rum is of high quality, and this year the Ron Millonario Solera Reserva Especial is my # 13 Rum in my top 25 countdown of the best rums in the world.

Here is my review:

Review: Ron Millonario Solera 15

“… This is a full flavoured rum which features impressions of burnt caramel (treacle), licorice laced molasses, dry fruit, wood spice, marmalade, pungent baking spices (cinnamon, cloves and allspice), dribbles of coffee and chocolate and rich tobacco. A bed of freshly cracked walnuts lies underneath providing a ribbon of bitterness which seems work well with the sweet molasses and the spicy oak flavours …”

The Ron Millonario Solera 15 Reserva Especial is a wonderful Rum. It is rich, full of strong flavours and carries just a bit of rough and tumble character forward with impressions of dark treacle, licorice laced molasses, and a firm oakiness set firmly into the rum.

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

Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Rum Howler 2014 # 14 Rum – Rum Nation Panama (Aged 21 Years)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 11, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Rum Nation is an Italian company created by Fabio Rossi, who began his life in the spirits trade as a Oenologist (one who has studied wine-making). After his studies, Mr. Rossi left the wine business and started up a whisky company in Edinburgh (Wilson and Morgan) acting as an independent bottler of Single Malt Scotch Whisky. His interest turned to rum, and in 1999 Fabio Rossi founded Rum Nation. His company is headquartered in Italy; but Fabio purchases select rums from various distillers in the Caribbean and the Americas. As a result Rum Nation provides a rather unique assortment of limited edition bottlings.

Panama 21

Panama 21

One such bottling is Rum Nation Panama which (according to the information sent to my from Mr. Rossi) is made from sugar cane molasses, distilled in continuous column and aged in American oak barrels (Quercus alba) for 21 years in Panama. Fabio has a good nose for rum and his Rum Nation Panama 21 Year Old is the 14th best rum I tasted in 2014.

Here is a link to my original review:

# 14 Rum – Rum Nation Panama (Aged 21 Years)

“… Dry fruit in the form of raisins, dates, and prunes are rising which seems to hint at a sherry influence although I have learned that these sherry-like accent are very typical for Panamanian Rums. Dark caramel, baking spices, walnuts and rich oak notes all build up as the glass sits …”

Rum Nation Panama 21 Year Old has a complex flavour profile full of oak spice, tobacco, canned fruit and dry fruit. Everything works together seamlessly with no single element stealing the show. Fabio Rossi obviously takes great care in the selection of his rum. We can expect to see more of Rum Nation later in the countdown.

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

Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

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: , , , , , | Comments Off

Rum Howler 2014 # 15 Rum – Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 10, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014The Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Rum is a blending of the company’s oldest Bajan Rum reserves. These selected rums were first aged in the Caribbean (in ex-bourbon casks). Then they are transported to France to be blended by Plantation Rum’s Cellar Master at Château de Bonbonnet. The blended rum is matured a second time in small French oak casks for another 12 to 18 months. This “double aging” gives rise to a startling increase in both the body of the rum and its complexity, and is the signature of Cognac Ferrand’s Plantation Rum portfolio.

Plantation AnniversayThe Plantation XO Anniversary Rum received a facelift earlier this year with a snazzy new bottle; and the rum inside that snazzy bottle is a delicious as ever; in fact, it is the # 15 Rum in my Countdown of the Best rums of 2014.

Here is my 2012 review, which I have updated only by adding the new bottle shot:

# 15 Rum – Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Rum

“… The initial nose surprised me a little with its strong oaky presence and luscious smells of caramel and toasted coconut. Some nice orange marmalade chimes in as well as hints of marzipan and tobacco. As the glass sits, rich baking spices full of dark brown sugar, vanilla, and dabbles of cinnamon and nutmeg rise into the breezes. Then the oak wells up again and pours out of the glass …”

The Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Barbados Rum is an excellent way to cap off on evening. The rum is full of oak spice, and in some ways it reminds me very much of a fine oaky Cognac. But perhaps comparing this rum to a fine cognac is a little unfair to the rum. For unquestionably this is rum, not cognac. And a Rum this good, need not be compared to anything!

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

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

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: , , , , | Comments Off

Rum Howler 2014 # 16 Rum – Dicatador 12 Year Solera

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 9, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014We have reached number 16 in my Countdown, and this is already the third entry for Dictador Rum. Dictador is produced in Colombia on the Caribbean coast at Cartagena de Indias City. Rather than being produced from molasses, the rum is produced from the virgin honey of sugar cane which has been distilled upon a stainless steel alembic, and aged using Dicatador’s unique take on the solera-style aging system.

Dictator’s solera aging system is a cascading process where younger rums are aged in oak casks and then blended with older rums. The aged rum are arranged in different flights with the oldest distilled rum on the lowest levels of the Solera. The younger rums are placed on the upper levels with the very youngest rums at the top. As the rum is pulled from the lowest barrels for bottling, the barrels are not fully emptied, and those barrels (about half full) are then topped up with rum from the levels just above. This marrying of old and new softens the fiery younger rum and provides the final blended rum with a refined smoothness and flavor not found in ordinary rums.

Dictador 12 SAM_1388Here is a link to my full review of the 16th Best Rum of 2014, the Dictador 12 Year Solera:

# 16 Rum – Dicatador 12 Year Solera

“… . The initial nose is very pleasant, full of rich baking spices which include a brown sugary toffee rising from the glass as well as cinnamon, and vanilla. There is a light accent of marzipan which reminds me of toasted almonds and charred marshmallow. I also sense fresh and dry fruit and a complex oak profile that is firm but not too strong …”

I am even more impressed now, than I was when I received my first taste of several of the Dictador 12, a few years ago.  I have been told by the producers of this rum that the average age of their 12 Year Solera Rum has increased by a few years since it was first introduced, which perhaps explains why its score has crept up in this most recent review. The Dictador 12 Year Solera is a complex rum full of oak nuances and dry fruit which achieves a full flavour while maintaining proper balance and complexity.

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

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

Rum Howler 2014 #16 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 9, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014The Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve, (like all Forty Creek Whiskies), is built upon Whisky Maker, John Hall’s, foundation of three separately distilled grains: barley, corn and rye. Each grain is distilled and aged in oak separately. When each whisky is ready, the three finished whiskies are blended together and ‘married’ in oak once more allowing the three to become one.

copper-pot-heroJohn Hall’s flagship whisky, the Forty Creek Barrel Select is a perfect example of that concept of marrying three separately distilled and aged grain whiskies into one. His Copper Pot Reserve is a more ‘premium’ version of the Barrel Select. Mr. Hall chose his best grain whiskies as the base for the Copper Pot. He aged these best whiskies a little longer to bring in more flavour from the oak, and then he chose the best of these whiskies to marry together in oak once more to complete the final blend. The Copper Pot Whisky is bottled at 43 % abv. (rather than the traditional 40 %) allowing this premium whisky to showcase its robust flavour.

Here is a to my review of the Copper Pot Reserve, the #16 Canadian Whisky in my 2014 Top 25 Countdown:

#16 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 …”

Forty Creek has taken their Barrel Select whisky to a new level with the Copper Pot Reserve!

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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 | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Rum Howler 2014 #17 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club 20 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 8, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Canadian 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.

Canadian Club 20 YrAlthough 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.

Here is a link to the review of the 17th best Canadian Whisky in the World today:

#17 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club 20 Year Old

” … 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. …”

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 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

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

Rum Howler 2014 # 17 Rum – Angostura 1824

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 8, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014The House of Angostura traces its beginnings to 1824 when German doctor, Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, who was then a Surgeon-General in the Venezuelan Army, created a blend of aromatic herbs which he called “Amargo Aromatico” and which would become the world-famous Angostura Bitters. Although the company he created to manufacture these bitters was originally founded in the town known as Angostura (later to be renamed Bolivar City), the company was relocated by his successors (his younger brother and son), who  moved it to Port of Spain, Trinidad in 1876.

Angostura 1824 SAM_1380Of course the House of Angostura remains famous for its world-class bitters; however, it has also become well know for the rum which is produced by their five column still, under the direction of Master Distiller, John P. Georges. Angostura 1824 pays homage to the company’s humble beginnings in Angostura, Venezuela, and it is the #17 rum in my countdown of the best rums of 2014.

Here is a link to my new review:

# 17 Rum – Angostura 1824 (12 Years Old)

“… As the glass breathes, the breezes in the air begin to display a few more woody sap-like notes of cedar, a ripple of maple, and nice aromatic baking spices (brown sugar, cloves cinnamon and nutmeg). There are indications of tobacco and toasted walnut rising into the breezes as well a few hints of dry fruit and raisin, bits of licorice, and a tar-like scent …”

The Angostura 1824 is a magnificent rum. The flavours are rich and inviting, and although we taste a strong impression of oak and orange peel spice, the complimentary flavours of caramel and chocolate bring the rum into a wonderful balance making the spirit easy to sip and enjoy.

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

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

Rum Howler 2014 #18 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 7, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve was built upon the foundation of Whisky Maker, John Hall’s flagship whisky, Forty Creek Barrel Select, and is basically a version of this whisky which has been finished in first run bourbon barrels for a final period of aging. This Double Barrel Reserve Whisky was introduced in the fall of 2008, as one of the distillery’s annual limited edition releases. However, the reaction to this ‘double barrel’ whisky was so positive that John Hall decided to make the Double Barrel Reserve a regular member of the distillery’s whisky line-up.

This is the first of the Forty Creek whiskies to crack my Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014 Countdown, I do not think I am letting too much out of the bag to say it will not be the last. Forty Creek makes great Whisky!

FC DBR

The (Canadian) Godfather

Here is a link to the review of the 18th best Canadian Whisky in the World today:

#18 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

” … my nose detects the scent of maple syrup and rye spices with a nice rich oak and cedar woodiness from both glasses. This is a very bourbon-like nose complete with light indications of corn and almond as well as a honeycomb and vanillans …”

The Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve (Lot 247) is a step towards a new style of Canadian Whisky. The use of young first run bourbon barrels brings more fresh oak flavour forward creating a more complex (although perhaps also a slightly rougher) final spirit. I see this as a step forward in the evolution of Canadian Whisky made for consumers who relish a stronger oak presence in their whisky.

This stronger oak presence allows for more creativity on the cocktail front as well as my new (Canadian) Godfather recipe at the conclusion of the review testifies.

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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: , , , , , | Comments Off

 
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