Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 30, 2014
Last year I embarked on a mission to determine the very best whiskies that Canada had to offer, by examining over my tasting notes and review scores for over 100 Canadian Whiskies which were available in the market as I compiled my list. This year we have seen the arrival of several new Canadian whiskies, and the disappearance of several of the Limited Edition whiskies which had made last year’s list. Some producers have made changes to their brands and some brands may have (in my opinion) evolved or changed in other ways during the past year. To account for these possible changes I recompiled my list based upon all of the new Canadian whiskies I have sampled during the past year, as well as older brands I re-sampled.
The list will be presented “Countdown Style” during the month of December with the Best Canadian Whisky of 2014 revealed on December 24, 2014 just in time for you to grab a bottle for Christmas and New Year’s cheer! A new whisky will be revealed each day (beginning today) as I count down to the Rum Howler’s Selection of the World’s Best Canadian Whisky of 2014!
You may follow my Countdown list here:
And with no further ado I announce the number 25 Canadian Whisky produced in 2014:
Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Canadian Whisky, Highwood, Ninety, Review, Top 25 Canadian Whisky | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 16, 2014
Hiram Walker was an American entrepreneur (born in New England), who immigrated north to Ontario, Canada and created the distinctive brand of Canadian Whisky which became known as Canadian Club. Although he began his distilling days in Michigan, he honed his craft north of the American border in what would become Walkerville, Ontario. The whisky which Hiram Walker created was unique using methods of production which were not just unusual, but actual contrary to common whisky practices of the day. And even today, his Canadian Club is made in that contrary fashion being the only major whisky brand in the world to be blended before being aged in oak barrels, (Blended at Birth).
Canadian 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.
You may read my full review of this newest Canadian Club Whisky by clicking on the following link:
“… As it should be, 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 …”
And as you can see from the photo above, the Chairman’s Select 100 % Rye Whisky makes an excellent Manhattan Cocktail!
* Incidentally, Alberta Distillers also produce Canada’s other major 100 % Rye grain Whisky brand, Alberta Premium (see review here).
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: 100 % Rye, Canadian Club, Canadian Whisky, Chairman's Select, Cocktaila, Manhattan, Whisky, Whisky Review | 2 Comments »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 12, 2014
In November of 2005, Highwood Distillers 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 2013 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. (Highwood Distillers uses the Highwood brand for all of its wheat based whiskies.)
Highwood 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.
The subject of this review, is the Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky. Although I have previously reviewed this Canadian Whisky based upon a pre-flood sample, I recently received a post-flood sample of the whisky, and decided to revisit the review.
You may read the results of my efforts by clicking the following link to read the full review:
“… The different aspects of the aroma (the wood and rye spiciness and the corn and butterscotch sweetness) are melded together beautifully creating a very enticing aroma in the air above the glass. As I enjoy those breezes, I also notice impressions of creamy vanilla pudding, hints of almond turning to sweeter marzipan, zesty orange peel turning to sticky marmalade, and lightly sweetened cereal grain (which actually reminds me of Post Honeycomb cereal) …”
Please enjoy my review revisitation. The Ninety “Decades of Richness 20 Year Old Canadian Whisky is one of the best spirits I have had the pleasure to taste this year!
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: 20 Year Old, Canadian Whisky, Century Distillers, Decades of Richness, Highwood Distillers, Ninety, Whisky, Whisky Review | 3 Comments »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 3, 2014
Today I am wrapping up my short series of Single Malt reviews based upon the small tasting my friend Dennis and I conducted a week ago last Sunday. Although we had a minor disagreement regarding the previously reviewed Sheep Dip Malt and Old Pulteney 12 Year Old as to which was the more enjoyable dram; their was no such argument as to which Whisky we each felt was the most satisfying that day, the Bowmore Tempest (Batch No. 3).
For your information, the Bowmore Distillery is the oldest of the Islay Distilleries in Scotland, (and it is one of the oldest distilleries in all of Scotland). It has sat at the edge of the sea on the craggy coastline of the Hebridean Island since 1779. This location close to the sea and of course close to the rich Islay peat has been linked to the distinctive floral and smoky character of the Bowmore Whisky. This character is a result of rich peat flavours being absorbed by the barley as it dries under the peated fire of the malt drying kiln, and of the whisky aging in the famous Bowmore seaside vaults (which are below sea-level) as the briny seaside air is allowed to mingle with the oak aging casks.
What Rough Beast
The Bowmore Tempest is a relatively new 10-year-old peated whisky aged in first-fill bourbon casks. (A first-fill cask is one which has only been used once before usually for either bourbon or sherry). This whisky has seen five separate releases to this point. Small Batch Release No. 3 which is the subject of this review is non-chill filtered and bottled at a full 55.6% alcohol by volume.
Here is a link to my updated review:
” … The nose is full of phenolic peat smoke with plenty of rubbery smells rising into the breezes above the glass. Within this menagerie of peat smoke are some welcome scents of orange peel, lemon grass, and hints of floral woodland (heather, lavender and wood spices). A mild effervescence exists which borders on the edge of astringency, no doubt a reminder that the spirit is a full 56 % abv. …”
Islay whisky presents a challenge to the cocktail buff. The peat, the smoke, and the iodine is a peculiar mixture more usually reserved for the single malt aficionado than the cocktail connoisseur. I have I found though, that a quality gin may often provide the basis to bring balance to the Islay cocktail, and working from that basis I constructed one of my favourite cold weather cocktails, What Rough Beast which is included (for your enjoyment at the conclusion of my review.
Posted in Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: Bowmore, Cocktails, Peated Whisky, Single Malt, Tempest, What Rough Beast, Whisky, Whisky Review | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 31, 2014
As I indicated a few days ago, my friend Dennis and I had a small whisky tasting this past Sunday featuring 3 malt whiskies from Scotland. The second spirit in the line-up was Old Pulteney 12 Year Old Single Malt. According to the Old Pulteney website, this whisky is produced at the northernmost distillery on the Scottish mainland, in Wick. The distillery lies in the heart of ‘Pulteneytown’, which was created for the fishermen in the area, and the distillery is an integral part of the history of this coastal town.
A couple of years ago, Old Pulteney shocked more than a few people when their 21-year-old expression (click to read my review) won the big award in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible as his choice as the world’s best whisky in 2012. Last year they made a few more waves with the release of the distillery’s oldest production release, a 40-year-old single malt whisky. (The Old Pulteney 40 Year Old (click for more information) is extremely limited; but it has apparently been seen in a few stores here in Alberta.)
Here is a link to my review of the Old Pulteney 12 year Old Single Malt Whisky:
“… The initial breezes above the glass set into my mind a vision of a lowland meadow as the scents carry light aromas of almond, vanilla, honey, meadowland grasses, and wood spice. As the glass sits, I catch some scents of sea brine and it makes me think there must be an ocean nearby. The wood spices build in the glass bringing me images of orange peel, willow, and fresh tobacco …”
For your added enjoyment I have included a nice recipe which mixes Old Pulteney with Drambuie, lime juice and Q-Ginger. The most refreshing, Black Donald cocktail.
Note: My most recent 700 ml sample bottle of Old Pulteney 12 Year Old Single Malt was provided by Woodman Wines and Spirits Inc. who are the importers/distributors of this brand in the Province of Ontario. I am told that this whisky is currently in about 90 locations (Whisky Shop Sections) of LCBO stores across that Province. It is also quite readily available in Alberta.
Posted in Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Black Donald, Cocktails, Old Pulteney, Scotch, Single Malt, Whisky, Whisky Review | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 29, 2014
My friend Dennis, and I had a small whisky tasting at my house this past Sunday where we sampled three interesting malt whiskies from Scotland. As we sampled each dram, I wrote up some tasting notes based upon our impressions and then we had some fun arguing about what we liked and disliked. The first whisky we sampled was Sheep Dip Malt Whisky, produced by the Spencerfield Spirit Company.
The Spencerfield Spirit Company was created by Alex Nicol, the former Marketing Director of Glenmorangie, and whisky aficionado who has held directorships with major spirits companies such as Whyte and Mackay, Beefeater Gin, and Laphroaig as well as with Scottish and Newcastle and Cadbury Schweppes. The company he formed is a family run business dedicated to an eclectic handful of whisky brands.
Their Flagship brand, Sheep Dip Malt Whisky is a vatting of malt whiskies crafted by Scotland’s only third generation Master Blender, Richard Paterson. It is comprised of sixteen separate Single Malt Whiskies chosen from all four of the traditional malt whisky regions of Scotland. These chosen whiskies range in age from between 8 and 21 years and they have all been married together in fresh (first-fill) American oak barrels to produce the Sheep Dip Malt.
Here is a link to my new review of this interesting Malt Whisky:
“… The initial nose brings to mind impressions of ready to cut grassy hay fields waving in the wind with a few spruce and poplar trees standing in the background. There is a gentle sweetness which grows as you sniff the glass, which as it builds, gave me indications of raisins and sugared dates …”
Included with this review is a nice cocktail suggestion which combines two high-end mixers from Q-brands with the Sheep Dip Malt Whisky, the Presbyterian Cocktail.
Note: You only get out of a mixed drink what you put into it. Better ingredients in the form of not only better mixers, but also better spirits definitely results in tastier cocktails!
Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Cocktails, Malt Whisky, Presbyterian Cocktail, Scotch Whisky, Sheep Dip, Whisky, Whsiky Review | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 26, 2014
Just before the disruptions caused by flooding during the summer of 2013 in Southern Alberta, Highwood Distillers released a limited quantity of their new “Ninety” branded whiskies under their Century Distillers banner. The news of these whisky releases was unfortunately drowned out (quite literally) by the waters that engulfed Southern Alberta. If you followed the news regarding the aftermath of the flood (see story here) you will know that it took more than a few weeks for the company to bring itself back onto its feet. In fact, all of the bottled inventory in Highwood’s warehouse had to be destroyed due to potential contamination from the water that penetrated the distillery.
An unfortunate victim of all this disruption was those “Ninety” branded whiskies which all but disappeared from liquor store shelves as Highwood had to temporarily abandon production of this new brand in order to focus on re-establishing their other major brands across Canada. The good news is that the Ninety branded whiskies have been relaunched as both the Ninety 5 Year Old and the Ninety 20 Year Old have made a re-appearance in Alberta and British Columbia, and their first appearance in Ontario.
The subject of this review, is the Ninety (Premium cask Aged) 5 Year Old Whisky, which is produced from corn-based distillate which has been matured for 5 years in charred oak barrels and bottled at 90 proof or 45 % alcohol by volume.
Although I have previously reviewed the Ninety 5 Year Old Whisky based upon a pre-flood sample, this week I revisited a post-flood sample of the whisky. You may read the results of my efforts by clicking the following link to read the full review:
“… The initial breezes above glass reveal scents of freshly sanded oak, spicy rye, fresh cornstalks, and delicate touches of honey, butterscotch, vanilla and a light dab of corn syrup …”
For your entertainment, I have added one of my original recipes for you to try at the conclusion of my review, the Canadian Caribou.
Please enjoy both the new review and the suggested recipe!
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: 5 Year Old, Canadian Whisky, Highwood Distillers, Ninety, Whisky, Whisky Review | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 23, 2014
Last April, J & G Grant launched the release of their new 60 Year Old Glenfarclas Single Malt Whisky with only 360 bottles available world-wide. According to George Grant, Glenfarclas’ Sales Director and 6th generation of the Grant family:
“At a time when more and more distilleries are going down the no age statement route for their super premium products, we are delighted to be able to release this magnificent 60-year-old Glenfarclas. My grandfather started laying down stocks for the future way back in the 50s, so it is thanks to his incredible foresight that we are able to bottle this today.I’m sure he would have been as impressed by it as I am.”
In describing his 60 Year Old whisky, George Grant tells us that the spirit was matured in a first fill sherry butt and has a very dark rich mahogany colour. George goes on to say:
“It is surprisingly vibrant with lots of dried fruits, demerara sugar and spice coming through on the nose as well as the rich, oaky tannins that one would expect from a whisky of this venerable age. The sherry influence really comes through on the palate, with rich treacle, bitter coffee and espresso notes all making an appearance. The finish is the longest I have ever experienced – 20 minutes later you will still be able to taste the subtle nuances of this incredible dram.”
Fortunately for those of us who live in Alberta, a few of these special bottles have made it into our marketplace and George Grant has arranged a very special tasting featuring not only the Glenfarclas 60 Year Old Whisky, but also 3 special Family Cask Whiskies each paired with decadent appetizers on the evening of November 3rd at 8:00PM.
Tickets are available for the November 3, 2014 Glenfarclas Rare Dram Masterclass via telephone or email from:
Willow Park Wine and Spirits
10801 Bonaventure Dr SE Calgary
Cost: $500.00 per ticket
I have been invited to the event, and if I can clear my schedule for that day, I will certainly do my best to attend!
Note: The 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 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.
Posted in Howls, Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky | Tagged: 60 Year Old, George Grant, Glenfarclas, Rare Dram, Single Malt, Whisky, Willow Park | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 16, 2014
Schenley Golden Wedding is a Canadian Whisky produced at the Black Velvet Distillery in Lethbridge, Alberta for Constellation Brands. The spirit is one of Constellation’s economy Canadian Whisky brands, and when I encounter the spirit in the local liquor stores it usually occupies the bottom shelf of the Canadian Whisky section of the store. Not only is it bottom shelf, the brand has such a low profile, that I can not even find it represented as a whisky brand on Constellation’s website. It is almost as if the company has forgotten it.
I have over the past few years received several requests from readers to review Golden Wedding, and after a sample came my way earlier this summer, I have finally found the time to fulfill this desire.
You may read my full review by clicking on the following link:
“… I notice the Golden Wedding has a light amber colour, and that the breezes above the glass contain a mixture of peppery rye spice, toffee, caramel and light wisps of corn syrup. There are also indications of fresh grain, sandalwood, chaff, vanilla, some intense honey and butterscotch …”
I hope you enjoy my latest review and the bar drink which accompanies it, the Canadian Cooler.
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Bar drinks, Canadian Cooler, Canadian Whisky, Cocktails, Golden Wedding, Schenley, Whisky, Whisky Review | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 1, 2014
Angel’s Envy was founded by Lincoln Henderson (a former Brown-Forman Master Distiller) and his son Wesley in 2010. Although the company now has the facilities in place to produce their own whiskey, Lincoln and Wesley have (since opening in 2010) sourced their whiskey from another (undisclosed) distillery such that they would have finished whiskey to sell immediately.
According to Wes, when the company began to contemplate their Rum Finished Whiskey, they began by sampling over one hundred rums to find the right flavour complement for their bold style of rye whiskey. They also compared six different blends of rye which were eventually narrowed down to just one, a 95 % Rye Whiskey which (according to my emails with the distillery) was aged for 7 to 8 years in new charred American oak barrels. They chose to finish this Rye Whiskey for 18 months in ex-Plantation XO Rum Barrels.
In case you did not know, these Plantation barrels began their life as French Cognac barrels which were then were used as the finishing barrels for Plantation’s fantastic XO Anniversary Rum (See my review for Plantation XO 20th Anniversary Rum here). Thus these finishing barrels contained not only the compliment of a fantastic rum within their oak fibres, they also may have contained hints of cognac as well. The finished whiskey is bottled at 50 % alcohol by volume.
Note: Angel’s Envy is a craft producer who blends their whiskey in small batches. The Whisky is not available in Canada; however, fortunately for me, I was given a sample bottle by the good folks at UNWINED – Fine Wine, Spirits and Ales in St. Albert a few weeks ago when I served as the guest host for their El Dorado Rum Tasting (thanks for your hospitality guys).
You may read my full review of this wonderful whiskey by clicking on the following excerpt link:
“… The whiskey is a maple and spice delight with a full flavour that rocks the palate with layers of rye and wood spice coupled with the candied sweetness of maple and brown sugar. Hot wood spices full of cinnamon and clove heat the palate while sweet maple and dark brown sugar have their way with my taste buds. Vanilla and oodles rye spice crash the party joined by port dipped cigars and old-fashioned home-made cinnamon buns stuffed with walnuts and pecans …”
Please enjoy this review of a spectacular new Rye Whiskey!
Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: American Whiskey, Angel's Envy, Rum Finished, Whisk(e)y Review, Whiskey | Comments Off