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Review: Canadian Club Small Batch Sherry Cask

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 25, 2015

Sherry cask Port Manhattan SAM_1428Recently there have been some changes in the Canadian Club family. One of the brands which has undergone a revamping is the Canadian Club Sherry Cask which has been replaced by the Canadian Club Small Batch Sherry Cask. The newer version of the whisky has a new bottle and the two words, “Small Batch” have been added to the label. My understanding is the whisky is made from the familiar Canadian Club “blended at birth“  recipe of corn, rye, rye malt and barley spirits. The spirits from these grains are blended before entering the white oak barrel, and then set down for six to eight years to age. The matured whisky is then recasked for an additional finishing period  in Sherry Casks from Jerez Spain.

The second maturation allows the whisky to acquire some of the characteristics of the sherry (similar to sherry cask matured scotches); but this second maturation is of a much shorter time period which ensures that the core Canadian Club spirit remains the centerpiece of the whisky. When the Canadian Club Sherry Cask is bottled, it is done so at 41.3% alcohol by volume, just a hair over the regular 40 % strength of the rest of their line-up.

You may click on the following link to read my full review:

Review: Canadian Club Small Batch Sherry Cask

“… The initial aroma brings dark fruit (raisins and dates) and red licorice (Turkish delight) with fine wood spices running alongside which feature a smattering of ginger, white pepper and cardamom. As the glass sits, some rich tobacco builds up as does hints of orange marmalade, and rich baking spices (vanilla, dark brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and a hint of cloves) …”

Please enjoy the review and if you happen to have your own bottle already, do try my cocktail suggestion, the Sherry Cask Port Manhattan.

Cheers!

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

Review: Angostura 7 Year Old Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 22, 2015

Angostura 7 SAM_1377The Angostura 7 Year Old Rum is (like all of the Angostura Rums) produced from molasses on their five column still. Part of the rum is produced from a heavy distillate which is drawn from the multi-column still after passing through only one of the five columns. This heavily flavoured rum is aged and then blended with a more purely refined spirit which is distilled upon all five columns. Both portions of the blend are aged a minimum of 7 years in charred American oak bourbon barrels, after which each portion is hand drawn from the barrel, then blended, filtered and bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

You may read my full review of the Angostura 7 Year Old Rum here:

Review: Angostura 7 Year Old Rum

“… As the glass sits, the butterscotch begins to meld into the wood spices creating impressions of toffee and light tobacco. There are scents of orange peel which begin to move towards marmalade, and hints of chocolate and coffee riding the edges of the breezes …”

This 7 Year Old Rum is a versatile spirit which can be appreciated by all rum enthusiasts. I found myself enjoying a few Lemon Muddled Cuba Libre’s mixed with the Angostura Rum, and I suspect that if you try few, you will like them too.

Please enjoy my suggested cocktail and my review!

 

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Review: Poliakov Vanilla Flavoured Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 20, 2015

Vanille Daiquiria (Poliakov) SAM_1422In late November, I received an email from the Export Marketing Assistant for the independent French spirits group, La Martiniquaise. He was writing to me from Farnace to see if I would be interested in sampling some of the revamped new flavoured range of Poliakov Vodka. As it was explained to me in his email, Poliakov is attempting to bypass the prevailing “flavour fatigue”  which they feel reigns within the flavoured vodka category, and rather than conjuring up new exotic flavours which are probably unfamiliar to their customers, the revamped Poliakov range focuses on ‘within-reach flavours’ which are familiar to their customers.

I agreed to taste some of the Poliakov flavoured range, and William arranged for me to receive three flavours, Poliakov Vanilla, Peach and Lemon Flavoured Vodkas.

Here is a link to the review for Poliakov Vanilla Flavoured Vodka:

Review: Poliakov Vanilla Flavoured Vodka

“… the nose gives me very little indication of this sweetness except for maybe just a touch of sugar cane in the breezes. What I do receive clearly in the air above the glass is a relatively clean aroma of vanilla rising into the breezes along with lightly spicy grain accents …”

I consider Poliakov’s vanilla flavoured spirit an outstanding mixing spirit, and so of course my review includes a new Rum Howler recipe, Vanille Daiquiria.

Please enjoy both the review and my new recipe!

Posted in Flavoured Vodka, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Year In Rum (2014 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 19, 2015

RH-winner2014I have come to the last of my Rum Howler Awards as I determine my 2014 Rum Howler Awards for the excellence in the production of rum. This year, sadly, I have eliminated the Regional Rum Awards as time simply has gotten the best of me, and I must forge on into the year 2015 and leave 2014 behind.

In my discussions with different spirits companies I have noticed a welcome change in attitude regarding the oak barrel. Whereas, in the past these companies would only discuss how long their spirit had rested in that barrel, today those same companies are beginning to talk about the barrel itself. I hear terms like New Oak, First Fill, Second Fill, and re-charred oak barrels not just when companies are discussing whisky; but also now when they are discussing Rum. We are also seeing an influx of exotic finishing barrels like cognac casks, Sherry Casks and many more. It seems that as we are in this time of diminishing aged stocks, the spirits companies have embraced innovation to bring more flavours and more character forward in new and exciting ways. If this trend continues, then as the companies replenish their aged stocks over the next five and ten years, we will then enter into a new paradigm where the consumer may have the best of both worlds, a return to blends which contain only well aged rum as well as these same blends benefiting from all those years of innovation. We may indeed look back on this time as the shot in the arm that industry needed to bring something even more wonderful forward. Of course, only time will tell.

Here is a link to the Awards Page for the 2014 Rum Howler Award winners for excellence in the production of Rum. These are the spirits which have risen to the top and provided us with our greatest enjoyment in the World of Rum.

The 2014 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Rum

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The Year in Whisky (2014 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 10, 2015

It is timeRH-winner2014 for to unveil my Rum Howler Awards with respect to best Whisky I have tasted in 2014. 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 2014 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Whisky.

Here is a link to the Awards Page for the 2014 Rum Howler Award winners for excellence in the production of Whisky:

The 2014 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Whisky

Posted in Awards, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Year in Gin (2014 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 8, 2015

RH-winner20142014 was another strong year on my website as it relates to the spirit which is called Gin. During the month of August, I published the Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge a competition where I chose 17 different gins to pit against each other in constructing the quintessential summer cocktail, the Gin and Tonic. A fortunate by-product of my summertime challenge is that I obtained a large sampling of gin spirits for review this year and have a strong field from which to select my award winners this year.

As I usually do, I invited one of my gin loving friends to help me in the judging process for the 2014 awards. Each spirit was served in two cocktails (Darby Cocktail, and a Dry Gin Martini) as well as served neat with no ice. I also included the results from my Gin and Tonic Challenge in my analysis.

Here is a link to the Awards Page for the 2014 Rum Howler Award winners for excellence in the production of Gin:

The 2014 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Gin

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The Year in Vodka (The 2014 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 7, 2015

RH-winner2014Today I continue my 2014 Rum Howler Awards with a look at the year in Vodka. Last year I noted that my Vodka Reviews are amongst the most popular upon this website, both amongst producers who send me more vodka samples than I could ever hope to consume, and by my readers who seem to appreciate a review which incorporates not only my perception of taste and quality, but also my observations regarding cocktails and food pairings. My quirky style of vodka review also appears to have struck a chord with producers, especially those in Eastern Europe who have told me that my willingness to bring the gastronomic experience into my review process is much appreciated.

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 may 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 include those samples which were provided in the previous year so as to have a larger field to judge, and I may receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards.

Here is a link to the Awards Page for the 2014 Rum Howler Award winners for excellence in the production of Vodka:

The 2014 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Vodka

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The Year in Cognac and Brandy (2014 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 6, 2015

RH-winner2014I am a little late with my 2014 Rum Howler Awards. As some of you know, I took a sabbatical from my website at the end of the summer when my wife and my youngest son were each going through some medical difficulties. My time and attention was needed on the home front rather than on the web front, and as a result I made the decision in early October to postpone the publication of my Rum Howler Awards until after Christmas. I hope that no one minds the delay.

Earlier this year, I sent out a call to my contacts in the spirits industry as I was hoping to acquire 4 or 5 VSOP Cognac samples for a Rum Chums Tasting as well as for a short series of Cognac reviews to publish. The response I received was nothing short of amazing as instead of just a few VSOP Cognac, I also received an assortment of VS Cognac, and an even larger assortment of XO and super premium Cognac spirits. This meant that instead of a few VSOP spirits to review, I had suddenly acquired a bunch of Cognac spirits, sixteen samples in all. In fact I received enough sample spirits such that I am able to add the Cognac category to my annual Rum Howler Awards. (I also had a few very old Brandies which I added to the festivities.)

And thus it is time to reveal the recipients of the 2014 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Cognac (and Brandy). These Awards are for the best spirits which I encountered in the year 2014.

Here is a link to the Awards Page:

The 2014 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Cognac (And Brandy)

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Note: The awards page contains links to my latest reviews for CAMUS VS, Courvoisier VS, and Hennessy VS Cognac.

Posted in Awards, Brandy and Cognac, Brandy Review, Cognac Review, Extras | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ten Great Cognac Cocktails for 2015

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 4, 2015

Baby Doll

Baby Doll

During the month of December, I had a lot of fun tasting Cognac and researching different ways to enjoy the spirit. In the course of my research I was able to speak directly with experts from both small Cognac Houses like Pierre Ferrand, and larger houses like CAMUS. I also visited many of the producer’s websites, and the recurring theme was that the Cognac industry appears to be embracing the new cocktail revolution. In fact most of the websites I visited offered a variety of recipes for the consumer to enjoy with not just their VS Cognac, but also with their VSOP, and XO Cognac.

When I spoke directly with Richard Bush, the Area Manager (US Travel Retail, Canada and the Caribbean) for Camus Wines & Spirits, he told me that their CAMUS Cognac is not just for sipping in a brandy snifter. It can (and should) be enjoyed in a variety of other ways. In fact, when Richard served me a glass of his very special CAMUS Elegance Extra (see review here), he suggested that this expensive spirit could be tossed into the freezer overnight, and then served in a tulip shaped glass like a glencairn after it was thoroughly chilled. The idea is to slowly sip the Cognac over the course of an hour or so such that you may experience a fuller spectrum of flavours which are revealed as the spirit slowly warms in the glass. (You can try this with any premium sipping spirit, and if you do you will enjoy a similar delightful experience whether this be Rum, Whisky, or even Anejo Tequila.) Richard also offered his support to the notion that Cognac and Cocktails are partners which have a long history together.

I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with Richard, and when I published my Cognac Review Series, The 12 Cognacs of Christmas, I tried to convey the sentiment that Cognac is a much more versatile spirit than many persons suppose. I made the point in many of my reviews that one of the great ways to enjoy this premium spirit is in a fine cocktail. I suggested that bar drinks made with Cognac are not to be scoffed at, rather they are an intrinsic part of the enjoyment of the spirit. The truth is that mixing cocktails with Cognac has a tradition which dates back to the very earliest cocktails constructed by the original American bartenders who pioneered the art of mixology.

In keeping with the theme of serving great Cognac cocktails, I thought I would give you a list of ten of my favourite cocktail discoveries which I embraced during my review series. They are listed in no particular order, and if you are interested in making one for yourself just click on the highlighted name of the cocktail to be linked to its recipe page.

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1878 Cocktail SAM_1392

1878 Brandy Cocktail

1) 1878 Brandy Cocktail (In the nineteenth century different styles of bar drinks had their own names, the Crusta, the Smash, and the Julep just to name a few. At that time, the word ‘cocktail’ was reserved for a specific type of bar drink, which closely resembles what we call the Old-Fashioned Cocktail today. How the word ‘cocktail’ evolved to encompass all classes of bar drinks is unknown to me; but if you want to go back in time and build an original ‘Brandy Cocktail’, Leo Engels’ 1878 Bartender’s Guide, American and Other Drinks (and a nice bottle of Cognac), is a great starting place.)

2) Baby Doll (Very similar the modern Side Car except that it usually specifies the use of Courvoisier Cognac as the brandy of choice and Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge as the orange liqueur of choice in the construction of the recipe. It really doesn’t matter what we call this particular bar drink; the point is that it is delicious!)

3) Heretic (Because, some of my friends believe it is sacrilegious to mix brandy or cognac in bar drinks and cocktails, I decided to create my own heretical cocktail which features both a cognac and a well aged brandy. And for the record, it is a thoroughly delightful cocktail!)

4) 1878 Brandy Crusta (I also dug this cocktail out of Leo Engel’s 1878 amazing bartender’s guide, American and Other Drinks. It is not necessarily easy to make in its original format; but with the right Cognac, it is certainly worth the trouble to construct.)

5) Blood Orange Bitters (I found this recipe on the Hennessy Cognac website (which has quite a few more great looking recipes). Hennessy and I agree that orange and lemon are great complimentary flavours for brandy or Cognac!)

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The Classic SAM_1370

The Classic

6) The Classic Cocktail (The truth is that Brandy and Cognac are perhaps the original cocktail mixers. It was not until these spirits all but disappeared in the 1870’s (until the end of the 19th century because of the phylloxera), that other spirits such as whisky, rum and gin began to dominate the mixed drink category. Here is a recipe which has its roots firmly fixed in those earlier times when Brandy and Cognac were kings of the cocktails.)

7) 1878 Mint Julep (The original Mint Julep was probably made with Cognac, not whiskey, in the early nineteenth century. The recipe I am sharing here is loosely based upon the Mint Julep construction found in Leo Engels’, American and Other Drinks. This classic cocktail has stood the test of time and tastes every bit as good today as it did almost 200 years ago.)

8) French Presbyterian (The tall Presbyterian Cocktail is a simple bar drink which mixes Scotch Whisky with ginger ale and soda water. When made with Cognac, I believe it is more appropriate to call this construction a French Presbyterian. This cocktail is hard to beat when a long refreshing dink is called for.)

9) Wisconsin Old Fashioned (This is a regional cocktail which has been receiving bit of press in the cocktail blogs lately. It is not to be confused with the more well-known Old Fashioned Cocktail; however, this favorite of the Dairyland state is definitely yummy in its own right!)

10) Medusa Coil (This is a cocktail of my own construction which evolved when I wanted to put a somewhat modern spin on a traditional (or maybe the right word is ‘classic’) cocktail. I began with a Leo Engels 1878 Brandy Crusta, and with a few additions and subtractions, I arrived at what I call the Medusa Coil. I think it is very good, and I am hoping some of you will try it as well.)

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2015 Edmonton Whisky Festival

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 2, 2015

Edmonton Whisky Festival2015 Edmonton Whisky Festival

(In Support of the MS Society)

Once again the folks at Vines Riverbend Wine Merchants have teamed up with the Alberta Division of the MS Society to bring you Edmonton’s Premier Whisky Festival. This is a unique chance to taste whiskies from around the world and to meet and discuss the noble spirit with industry and distillery representatives. Monies raised at the event will help those affected by MS in our community, as well as help to fund research towards a cure.

Where: Edmonton Delta South Hotel

When: Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ticket Price: $85.00 each (purchase online here)

The Edmonton Whisky Festival is a must for any whisky enthusiast or for those new to the exciting world of whisky, and the price of a ticket includes entrance, whisky sampling, and the annual commemorative Glencairn Whisky Glass.

Please attend the festival and ejoy yourself chatting in a relaxed atmosphere with whisky and scotch principals and enthusiasts from across Canada and around the world.

Master Classes

Master classes are available again this year.  They are all from 6:30-7:30 pm, and cost an additional $25 on top of your Festival ticket cost.  The lineup is:

Compass Box Masterclass with Chris Maybin
Laphroaig Masterclass with Simon Brooking
Kavalan Masterclass with Nick Haltigin
Canadian Whisky Masterclass with Dan Tullio

All proceeds raised at this event are donated to the MS Society of Canada – Alberta Division.

For more information please contact:

Vines – Riverbend Wine Merchants (Edmonton)
Telephone: 434-9444
Email: info@vineswinemerchants.com

or visit the Edmonton Whisky Festival Website

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Tickets are now available from Vines or through the event website: (purchase online here)

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