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Archive for the ‘Whisk(e)y’ Category

Rum Howler #20 Canadian Whisky – Crown Royal Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 5, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Crown 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. This whisky was produced from specially selected casks which were tasted and monitored closely by the Crown Royal 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. In the fall of 2008, this more premium Crown Royal Special Reserve was relaunched as Crown Royal Reserve Canadian Whisky.

CRReserveI have to admit that I seem to have mixed reactions whenever I taste this particular whisky. When I originally scored it in 2010, I was underwhelmed; but, when I re-scored the spirit in January of 2013, my impression of the whisky had improved considerably.

As well, I have noticed that in blind tastings (when serving as juror for the Canadian Whisky Awards) I seem to have different reaction each time I sample a different bottle.

This time when doing my tastings for the Rum Howler Top 25 Whiskies of 2014, it seems to have improved just a little from its 2013 score, and the result is that the Crown Royal Reserve is the number 20 Canadian Whisky in this years countdown!

You may read my 2014 review here:

#20 Canadian Whisky – Crown Royal Reserve

“… Things begin with rich notes of oak and cedar mingling with rye grain and butterscotch. The punky corn accent so familiar in all Crown Royal whiskies is very apparent; but it is much more subdued in this expression … “

My Canadian Whisky Countdown has reached the top 20 with the Crown Royal Reserve. In my opinion, this is a whisky appears to vary from batch to batch. Fortunately though, those variations seem to be diminishing over time, and the Crown Royal Reserve seems to be finding out who she wants to be.

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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 #21 Canadian Whisky – Potters Special Old Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 4, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Potter’s Special Old Rye Whisky was originally produced by Potter’s Distilleries (founded by Ernie Potter in 1958). When Highwood Distillers finalized the purchase of Potter’s Distilleries in 2005, they brought all of the aging whisky stocks from the Potter’s warehouse facilities in Kelowna, British Colombia to their new warehouse facility in High River, Alberta and continued to let them age at their site in the foothills just east of the Rocky Mountains. From these aging whisky stocks Highwood has kept the Potter’s Whisky brands alive, incorporating them into their portfolio of whisky products.

Potter's Special OldPotter’s Special Old Rye Whisky is primarily a corn-based whisky which has been aged in charred American White Oak barrels for 4 – 5 years.

You may read my newly revised review by clicking the link below:

Review: Potter’s Special Old Rye Whisky

“… The rye is front and center on the nose with light vanilla following and hints of corn fields waving in the background. Fine wood spices and orange peel build in the air as the glass breathes and some light grassy tobacco scents gather as well. This smells like a good old-fashioned Canadian Whisky and in fact it reminds me of the style whisky I drank 25 years ago. … “

Potter’s Special Old is a really nice traditional Canadian Rye Whisky. Whether you want to enjoy it in a traditional rye cocktail, or if you want to slowly sip on a nice tonsil licking whisky, this one fits the bill. I have been impressed and delighted by what I have found.

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

Rum Howler # 22 Canadian Whisky – Masterson’s Straight Wheat Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 3, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Masterson’s Straight Wheat Whiskey is distilled and aged in Canada, for a California company located in Sonoma, called 35 Maple Street. As a straight whiskey, the spirit must be barreled and aged in new American Oak; however this Masterson’s whiskey also holds the distinction of being perhaps the only Canadian whiskey which is distilled on a copper pot still from a mash of 100 % wheat grain.

Mastersons_WheatIt is aged for 12 years, bottled at 50% alcohol by volume, and is apparently (like the rest of the Masterson’s line-up) named for the famous frontier lawman, William “Bat” Masterson.

You may read my review of Masterson’s Straight Wheat Whiskey by clicking the following link:

# 22 Canadian Whisky – Masterson’s 12-Year-Old Straight Wheat Whiskey

“… this 12-year-old straight wheat whiskey maintains its “Canadian Whisky” character with the smooth aromas of a rye-like wheat grain on full display. Mild butterscotch and toffee aromas mingle with the wood and spices, and subtle bits of dry fruit and orange peel drifting into the breezes for those who are patient enough to notice …”

By bottling this whiskey at a higher proof the guys at 35 Maple Street were able to capitalize on the smoothness of the wheat grain, while at the same time bringing more of this grain’s subtle flavours forward. The result is a very pleasant whisky indulgence; and in fact, the Straight Wheat Whisky is by far my favourite whisky expression in the Masterson’s family.

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

# 23 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club Small Batch Classic

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 2, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Canadian Club Whisky is the oldest (and arguably also the most influential) Canadian Whisky brand in the world. It is sold in over 150 countries world-wide, and sales in Canada are unmatched by any other whisky brand. The company has been granted numerous Royal Warrants from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II, and it has been reported that Canadian Club was the whisky of choice when Al Capone smuggled thousands of cases of Canadian Whisky into the USA during prohibition.

Recently there have been some changes in the Canadian Club family. One of the brands which has undergone a revamping is the Canadian Club Classic (12 Years Old) which has been replaced by the Canadian Club Small Batch Classic  (also 12 Years Old). The newer version of the whisky has a new bottle (shown below) and the two words, “Small Batch” have been added to the label. My understanding is the whisky is now constructed from a smaller selection of aged whisky (oak barrels) in an effort to bring a fuller flavour and more smoothness to the blend.

Classic Small batchIn my opinion the new approach has been very successful as this Canadian Whisky is ranked number 23 on my list of the Best Canadian Whiskies of 2014.

You may read my latest review by clicking the link below:

Review: Canadian Club Small Batch Classic

“… The initial breezes above the glass bring forward scents of caramel and oak which are melded nicely with dabs of light tobacco and spicy orange peel. As the glass breathes, I notice some rye spices and some sweet corn pushing though … “

The Canadian Club Small Batch Classic (12-year-old) seems to me to be a different whisky than it was before. I taste more oak and cedar in the taste profile, and the result is a richer-fuller taste experience than what I remember from the previous Classic 12 Year Old.

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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

# 24 Canadian Whisky – Hiram Walker Special Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 1, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014According to the Corby Brands website, Walker’s Special Old has been available throughout Canada, from Hiram Walker & Sons since 1858. Hiram Walker Special Old is the modern version of this original whisky. It has a bold upfront rye flavour that landed it at the number 24 spot in my Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014 Countdown.

_0068_hiramwalker-sp-oldHere is a link to my newly updated review:

# 24 Canadian Whisky – Hiram Walker Special Old

“… as I pour the whisky I also catch strong fruity accents, a dash of corn, and a mild vanilla arriving off of the pour. The colour of the whisky is a rich coppery brown reminiscent of old Macintosh toffee. In fact I believe I can smell some of that old toffee in the air as well …”

Hiram Walker Special Old is a very nice Canadian Whisky full of rich rye flavour and spicy oak!  The boldness of the flavour really appeals to me, especially in the  finish which was so nice and smooth in spite of the aggressiveness of the whisky.

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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

The Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 30, 2014

On My Deck 2Last 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.

Ninety_5_Year_Old_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:

The Rum Howler 2014 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies!

And with no further ado I announce the number 25 Canadian Whisky produced in 2014:

#25    Ninety (Premium cask Aged) 5 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky

Note:

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

Review: Canadian Club Chairman’s Select – 100% Rye

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 16, 2014

cc chairman's select SAM_1332Hiram 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.

Rum Manhattan SAM_1078

Manhattan Cocktail

You may read my full review of this newest Canadian Club Whisky by clicking on the following link:

Review: Canadian Club Chairman’s Select – 100% Rye

“… 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!

Cheers!

* 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: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 12, 2014

Ninety_25_Year_Old_-_shadow_2013_06In 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:

Review: Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Whisky

“… 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: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Review: Bowmore Tempest Batch No. 3

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 3, 2014

tempestToday 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.

SAM_0604 What Rough Beast

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:

Review: Bowmore Tempest Batch No. 3

” … 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.

Slanite’!

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

Review: Old Pulteney 12 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 31, 2014

OP 12YOAs 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.)

Black Donald

Black Donald

Here is a link to my review of the Old Pulteney 12 year Old Single Malt Whisky:

Review: Old Pulteney 12 Year Old

“… 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: , , , , , , | Comments Off

 
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