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Rum Howler 2014 # 5 Rum – Appleton Estate Extra 12 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 20, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Appleton Estate 12 Year Old Rum is a molasses based rum produced on the Island of Jamaica. Over the past few years It seems that every time I re-sample this particular brand, I am forced to re-score my review and place it further up the ladder until this year it has reached the rungs occupied by what I feel are the best rums in the world.

Appleton 12 YO CanisterMy new score this year places the Appleton 12 Year Old Jamaican rum all the way up to the number 5 spot in my countdown of the best rums of 2014.

Here is a link to my latest review:

# 5 Rum – Appleton Estate Extra 12

“… I taste a dominant trio of dark brown sugar, charred caramel, and a spicy oak which asserts itself firmly into the flavour profile. I found if I was patient, and let the rum sit in my glass and then sipped very slowly, I could catch the nuances of other more subtle flavours underneath …”

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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

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #3 – Hennessy X.O

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 20, 2014

Hennessy XO SAM

Jas Hennessy & Co., is the largest Cognac producer in the world today with sales that exceed 45 million bottles per year. The company was founded in 1765 by Richard Hennessy who was an Irish Officer in the army of Louis XV. Hennessy XO Cognac traces its development back to 1870 when Maurice Hennessy created a special cognac for him to share with his closest friends. This cognac meant for his ‘inner circle’ was given the name X.O to denote it as an “extra old” cognac. This X.O designation has become a labeling standard used throughout the industry, and today denotes an older Cognac style which must meet a minimum age requirement of 6 years for all of the eaux de vie within  its assemblage.

The subject of this review is the modern Hennessy X.O Cognac. The spirit is produced from the fruity Ugni Blanc grapes which have been harvested from the four great crus of the Cognac region (Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois). The grape wine produced is (of course) double distilled upon Hennessy Distillery’s copper pot stills, and then selected eaux-de-vie is set down to age (some for as long as 30 years) in french oak casks which have constructed from old growth oak timbers.

Here is a link to my review:

The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #3 – Hennessy X.O

“… The initial aroma displayed a strong indication of oak and wood spice with firm scents of caramel and raisin buried within that spiciness. The oak is dominant, however there is enough caramel sweetness and raisin-like fruitiness to compliment the oak and entice me to go further …”

Although I believe this Cognac is wonderful to sip on its own, I could not resist mixing one cocktail to sip on as I watched the stars on a the cold December evening, a Cognac Old Fashioned!

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Stay tuned as between now and Christmas I will continue my series,the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Cognac Review | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off

Rum Howler 2014 #5 Canadian Whisky – Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 20, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014In November of 2005, Highwood Distilleries Ltd. 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 recent 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. (The Distillery uses the Highwood banner for all of its wheat based whiskies.)

Ninety 20 Year Old SAM_1400Highwood 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.

Here is a link to my recent review of the Number 5 spirit in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown:

#5 Canadian Whisky – Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

“… As I enjoy the breezes above the glass, I notice impressions of creamy vanilla pudding, hints of almond, some sticky marmalade, and a light sweetened grain-like component which actually reminds me of Post Honeycomb cereal. The longer you let the glass sit, the more firm and unified the aroma becomes, until after fifteen minutes or so it resembles a luscious butterscotch-oak-syrup that begs to be sipped …”

The Ninety “Decades of Richness” Canadian Rye Whisky has quickly become one of my very favourite whiskies, and for my palate, it is on par with the best Bourbons, and the best Single Malt Scotches I have tasted to this point in my whisky explorations.

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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 #6 Canadian Whisky – Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 19, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Lot No. 40 was first released in the 1990’s as an upscale connoisseur’s whisky for the North American market. Alas, timing is everything, and the whisky style never really caught on as apparently the market wasn’t quite ready for such a new style of Canadian Whisky. However, with the new upsurge of interest in Canadian Whisky across North America (and in particular at the premium end of the market), Corby (the owner of the Wiser’s Brand), was optimistic that the timing for this new whisky has finally arrived, and in 2012 they re-released Lot No. 40.

Lot No. 40 SAM_1398Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still Canadian Whisky is made with locally grown rye which has been distilled upon a single 12,000-litre copper pot still. The final whisky is aged in new oak barrels to showcase the creamy caramelized flavours which new freshly charred oak barrels bring.

I happen to love this new whisky style, and on my Countdown of the Best 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014, the Lot No. 40 arrives in the Number 6 spot.

Here is a link to my review:

#6 Canadian Whisky – Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still

“… As the glass breathes, smells of oak and wood sap gain more expression. I notice the rye now carries impressions of fresh fruit (green grapes and orange peel zest in particular). Whereas most Canadian whiskies have a clean hard rye scent, the impression I receive from the glass is of a much more earthy and complex whisky …”

Lot No. 40 is a great whisky. The flavour of new oak (which along with rye) is at the forefront. Although a few other brands of Canadian Whisky have been experimenting with new oak, Lot No. 40 is really the first one (in my opinion) to get the right balance between the sweet (caramel and maple flavours) and the sharp spice (that wood sap flavour). The result is a thoroughly enjoyable whisky which breaks new ground for the Canadian Whisky Category.

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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 # 6 Rum – Rum Nation Demerara 23 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 19, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014The number 6 rum in my 2014 countdown is quite an interesting spirit. According to my correspondence with Mr. Rossi of Rum Nation, he purchased 3 casks of aged Demerara rum from a vendor in the United Kingdom in 2002. The barrels bore the marque from the famous Double Wooden Pot still of the Port Maurant Estate (PM). These ex bourbon casks were transferred into a Sherry Butt (Oloroso N. 61)  in 2004 and were left to age in an underground cellar in Bristol, England where “early landed cognac” (Hine and Delamain) was also aged. The cellar in Bristol was closed in 2007, and the rum was brought to the Piedmont area of Italy (famous for the nebbiolo grape varietal) where it continued to age until 2012 when it was bottled in Italy.

Demerara 23 1989The  age statement on the rum is based upon certification in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately there is no record of when the rum was shipped from Guyana to the UK; however my speculation is that it was probably meant to be part of the blend of a ‘navy style’ rum as Port Mourant Rum (from the Double Wooden Still) is one of the key ingredients in British Navy Rums.

Here is a link to my review of this very interesting and outstanding rum:

# 6 Rum – Rum Nation Demerara 23 Year Old

“… The initial aroma is perhaps a little daunting as rising from the glass are rich caramel scents laced with the smells of wood sap and resin. Felled poplar trees, spruce wood chips, and fresh unstained oak all seem to be part of that wood filled onslaught in the breezes above the glass. …”

A Note about the Port Mourant Still: The Port Mourant Sugar Factory was founded in 1753.  The original wooden pot still (the PM), is the only production still of its kind left in the entire world.  If one was to make a list of the Seven Wonders of the Rum World, the Port Mourant Wooden Double Pot Still would surely be upon that list as this ancient still produces Demerara Rum for DDL Distilleries to this day.

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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

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas # 4 – Pierre Ferrand Selection Des Anges

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2014

Pierre Ferrand Selection des Anges (599x800)Pierre Ferrand uses only small (25-hectoliter) copper pot stills to produce their Cognac; and after distillation, the resulting distillate (eaux de vie) is matured in 270-liter French Limousin oak barrels. During this aging process, the cognac may rest in any of seven different aging cellars (each with traditional earthen floors). Within each of these cellars, the spirit is monitored, and may be transferred several times during its aging life to different cellars and/or to different oak casks (with differing char levels) to maintain the integrity and character of the spirit.

Pierre Ferrand Selection Des Anges is blended solely from aged eaux de vie produced within the 1st Cru de Cognac, specifically the Grande Champagne Cognac appellation of France. Although the final spirit has no age statement, according to the information provided to me, the Cognac is blended to achieve an average age of 30 years.

Here is a link to my review of this wonderful Pierre Ferrand Cognac:

The 12 Cognacs of Christmas # 4 – Pierre Ferrand Selection Des Anges

“… I was greeted with firm wood spices which oozed chocolate and baking spices (allspice & nutmeg) onto my palate. There is both fresh green grape as well as spicy raisin mingled into the pungent baking spices. I also taste bits of black licorice, hints of damp cigar tobacco, and a lovely cooling menthol. The melded combination of flavours is very appealing …”

I tasted the Selection des Anges three separate times before I wrote this review. Each time I tasted it, I was forced to raise my scoring as my appreciation of the spirit grew and then grew again. My feeling is that the Selection des Anges is a special Cognac, one that perhaps deserves a place on my newly constructed Cognac Shelf!

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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

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Rum Howler 2014 #7 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve (Lot 1525)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014I have been inside the Highwood Distillery’s aging warehouse, and have seen up close the barrels of whisky stacked four levels high, row upon row. The wonderful aroma of the ‘angels share’ permeates the facility, and it offered me a gentle intoxication if only I were to stay a little longer. Perhaps, one day I will return and stay just a little longer; but, for now I am content to carry the memory of that heady aroma in my mind.

Somewhere in that barrel aging warehouse is a darkened corner where all of the oak barrels are all stamped “Lot 1525“. This  corner contains the oldest whisky in the entire facility, with the age of the whisky inside the barrels ranging  from 15 to 25 or more years. (It has been hinted to me that some of these barrels contain whisky that is up to 33 years old!) These whisky barrels were originally part of the consignment of whisky acquired when Highwood purchased the Potters Distillery in 2005. As such, these are barrels of whisky produced from the corn-based distillate in Kelowna, British Colombia.

Century Reserve 1525 SAM_1403These barrels made the journey to the Highwood facility in 2005 (from the Potter’s facility in Kelowna BC), and have been sitting in that darkened corner waiting to be tapped and bottled. When the time is right, Highwood’s Master Blender carefully chooses the right barrels, and then carefully blends the wonderful elixir within to create Lot 1525 Century Reserve Custom Blend Canadian Rye Whisky.

The spirit represents a gem of a whisky from those folks in High River, and this whisky is ranked Number 7 in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is a link to the review I posted on August 28, 2010:

#7 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve (Lot 1525)

“… A beautiful amber hue seems to accent a lovely honey and caramel aroma rising from the glass. Wonderful mellow rye notes accompany the honey and the caramel and a light bourbon vanilla seems to drift above the glass in the breezes.  The impact of nosing the glass is a well received feeling of luxury, and elegance which is divine …”

My review for the Century Reserve (Lot 1525) has remained unchanged for over four years despite several tasting session over this time when I chose to revisit the brand. Whereas I seem to notice subtle changes in other spirits over time, this particular whisky seems to maintain consistency from batch to batch and from year to year. In 2010 it was a great whisky, and now in 2014 it remains so.

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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 # 7 Rum – El Dorado 12 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Demerara County (in Guyana) is popular across the world for its rich, three hundred year history of rum production. Using a combination of old wooden stills in conjunction with modern stills and distilling techniques, Demerara Distillers Ltd. (DDL) has built a reputation for outstanding quality and consistent production. In fact, Demerara Distillers is the currently the largest supplier of bulk Caribbean rums to Europe and North America.

El Dorado 12 SAM_1389The El Dorado 12 Year Old Special Reserve Rum is blended from aged stocks (the youngest being no less than 12 years old) from the original Wooden Enmore Coffey still, the original metal Diamond Coffey still, as well as from the ancient Port Mourant double wooden pot still which was used to produce ‘navy’ rum for the English Admiralty. All of the Demerara Rum produced by El Dorado is aged exclusively in American oak (bourbon barrels).

Checking in as the 2014 – 7th best rum in the world (that I have tasted anyways), here is my review for the El Dorado 12 Year Old Rum:

# 7 Rum – El Dorado 12 Year Old

” … This rum enters my mouth with a spicy sweet baking spice explosion. Deep dark brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves and hints of orange peel and citrus fruit lay upon a foundation of oak and wood spices. Rich tobacco accents the flavour and some luscious dark fruit (dates and raisins) finds its way into the flavour profile …

I have tried this rum in different settings and in a few cocktails, and it pleases me almost completely every time. I find that the sweetness of the rum is perfectly balanced with the spicy oakiness, and I also appreciate that the flavour of the El Dorado 12 Year Old remains robust and complex yet very approachable.

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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 #8 Canadian Whisky – Alberta Springs

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 17, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Alberta Springs is produced  by Alberta Distillers Limited (ADL). It is a rye forward whisky aged for 10 years just west of the Rocky Mountains at the ADL facilities in Calgary Alberta. When I met Rick Murphy, the Production Superintendent at ADL , he explained the heritage of Alberta Springs to me, how it started as a 10 Year Old pure rye whisky, and then how economics dictated a move to rye as well as corn in the 90s.

Alberta Springs SAM_1399But, Rick steadfastly maintained that the whisky is currently (and has always been) a predominantly rye based whisky with a consistent taste profile. He also explained how his computerized dials and gauges in the distillery, and his quality assurance tasting panel, ensure that the flavour does not change as the mash bill may change slightly over time. Rick Murphy also made it very clear to me during the tour I was given in 2012, that of all the whiskies he makes at ADL, Alberta Springs was his favourite.

I happen to agree with Rick, that Alberta Springs is a great Canadian Whisky. This year it has landed at the number 8 spot in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is my latest review:

#8 Canadian Whisky – Alberta Springs

“… The initial mouth-feel is slightly dryish as the whisky begins with flavours of dusty rye and light flavours of caramel toffee. The oak is present and brings forward some light orange peel and vanilla as well as hints of tobacco which are not as firm in the flavour as they were in the aroma. I taste a light mustiness, and  I taste a hint of honey sweetness …”

Whenever I relax in the evening with a glass Alberta Springs Whisky and a well placed ice-cube with just a splash of ginger-ale, I must admit this particular whisky is hard to beat.

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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 # 8 Rum – Juan Santos 21 Year

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 17, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014The rums of Juan Santos are produced in Colombia, South America by Santana Liquors. The 21 Year Antigua Reserva is a molasses based rum which has been apparently been aged  for 21 years in used whisky and bourbon barrels from Kentucky. At this time the Juan Santos brand is available only in Western Canada, although the Ron Santero brand from Santana Liquors is available in other markets.

Juan Santos 21 SAM_1397Although the Juan Santos brand is relatively unknown outside of the Western Canadian market I have discovered that these rum brings an astounding level of smoothness and depth to the rum glass.

Here is my review of the Number 8 Rum in my 2014 Top 25 Rum Countdown:

# 8 Rum – Juan Santos 21 Year

“… Soft caramel notes are mingled with light spices, and the whiskey character I noted in the breezes above the glass has in fact melted into the rum creating a buttery praline cream. The result is a well-balanced rum with remarkably deep flavour. Vague hints of almonds and cinnamon are apparent with ghostlike vestiges of caramel, nutmeg, allspice, and rye spice …”

Juan Santos 21 Year Old Rum is one of the very smoothest rum I have encountered. The balance is wonderful, as the various flavours the rum possesses seem to melt and merge into each other such that individual flavours were very hard to discern. This mixing and melting of flavours results in a truly wonderful rum. Just about perfect!

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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

 
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