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Posts Tagged ‘Cocktails’

The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #11 – Hennessy Privilege V.S.O.P.

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 4, 2014

Medusa Coil SAM_1382

The Medusa Coil Cocktail

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.  Fifty two years later, in 1817, Hennessy Cognac was so highly regarded that the Prince of Wales, (who later would become King George IV of Great Britain) asked the Hennessy House to produce what was termed a “very superior old pale cognac“. This was apparently the genesis for the initials V.S.O.P (Very Superior Old Pale), and these initials have become a labeling standard used throughout the industry to this day.

The subject of this review is Hennessy’s Privilege VSOP 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 the Hennessy Distillery’s great copper pot stills and then selected eaux-de-vie is set down to age for at least 4 years in french oak casks which have constructed from old growth oak timbers.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Hennessy’s Privilege VSOP Cognac

“… The initial aroma displays a rich combination of oak spice and vanilla with leathery cedar accents. To some extent the oak dominates covering over the fruity scents of green grape and raisin. After a few minutes the breezes above the glass show me impressions of rich tobacco, dark baking spices, (vanilla, brown sugar, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon), sticky marmalade, apricot brandy and hints of maple …”

When I was contemplating a cocktail for the Hennessy Privilege VSOP, I wanted to put a modern spin on a traditional (or maybe the right word is ‘classic’) cocktail. I began with Leo Engels 1878 Brandy Crusta, and with a few additions and subtractions, I arrived at what I call the Medusa Coil.

Enjoy my review, and stay tuned for more of the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

 

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Rum Howler 2014 #21 Rum – Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva 18 Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 4, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Ron Matusalem prides itself on being a Cuban style of rum with a history in Cuba they trace back to 1872 when two brothers, Benjamin and Eduardo Camp, together with a partner, Evaristo Álvarez opened a distillery in Santiago de Cuba. According to the information I found last April on the Matusalem website, the rum they were producing began to win acclaim by the first quarter of the 20th century. The distillery apparently operated until the 1960′s when due to the Cuban Revolution the Álvarez family was exiled, and the rum they made disappeared from the landscape.

Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva 18 is aged according to the Matusalem company’s own style of solera aging process. According to the Matusalem website the average age of the rums (not the minimum age) which make up this Solera Blender is 18 years.

Ron Matusalem Rum Old fashioned

Ron Matusalem Old Fashioned

Here is a link to my recently written review which I wrote earlier this Year:

# 21 Rum – Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva 18

” … The initial aroma carries a nice mixed aroma of caramel, oakspice and vanilla. The rich scent is complimented by dabs of marmalade and banana. As the glass sits, the oak spices build in the air, and the rum scents in the air are enriched by added impression of maple toffee, hints of cinnamon and cloves, some pipe tobacco and perhaps a bit of roasted walnut as well …”

This is a relaxing rum with just enough nuance to keep the glass interesting as you sip, but restrained enough that the sipping experience never becomes demanding. It also makes a tremendous Rum Old Fashioned!

Cheers everyone, enjoy my countdown of the World’s Best Rums!

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #12 (tie) – Courvoisier VSOP (Fine Champagne Cognac)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 3, 2014

Lime Sour SAM_1376

Courvoisier VSOP Lime Sour

We can trace the origins of Courvoisier Cognac to 1809 when Emmanuel Courvoisier began a small wine and spirits company with the Mayor of Bercy, Louis Gallois in the French suburb of Bercy (Paris, France). The company and its Cognac was soon to achieve fame as in 1811, Napoleon Bonaparte visited Bercy, and it is said that after visiting Bercy, Napoleon stated that he wanted to have available a ration of cognac for his artillery companies during the Napoleonic Wars. And in fact, later (in 1869) Napoleon’s heir, Napoleon III stated a preference for Courvoisier and also bestowed the honourable title of “Official Supplier to the Imperial Court” to the company, and this title remains on display at the Courvoisier Museum in Jarnac.

To produce their VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac, Courvoisier utilizes eaux-de-vie from only two of the crus in the Cognac appellation,the Grande Champagne,and Petite Champagne crus which are generally recognized at the two premier regions within the overall Cognac appellation. The grape juice from which the cognac is distilled is produced solely from white grapes which have been grown within these two appellations. The spirit is distilled twice upon a copper Charentes Still, and the resulting eaux de vie is aged in barrels handmade from 200-year old oak sourced from the Tronçais Forest in France.

Here is a link to my full review of the Courvoisier VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac:

Review: Courvoisier VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac

“… The initial aroma is somewhat restrained, but soon opens to reveal fine wood spices and sandalwood in front of some nice aromas of caramel and butterscotch melded into aromas of sugared green grapes and canned peaches …”

As I indicated two days ago, Cognac is a great mixing spirit, and the Courvoissier VSOP is no exception. I used my sample bottle to experiment a little and came up with a sour recipe I quite enjoyed, the Cognac Lime Sour.

Enjoy my review, and stay tuned for more of the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

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Rum Howler 2014 # 22 Rum – Havana Club Selección de Maestros

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 3, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Havana Club’s Selección de Maestros is an authentic Cuban rum that has replaced the Havana Club Barrel Proof in the portfolio of Havana Club Rums. It is my understanding that the Selección de Maestros is produced in the same manner as the discontinued Havana Club Barrel Proof, and any differences between the two rums are more a matter of normal variation in batch production than any real difference between the rums.

This Havana Club rum undergoes a rather unique maturation process where it is first aged in old white oak barrels, and when the final rum is blended, it is then finished in specially ‘selected’ younger finishing casks. I have heard of this ‘Double Barrel’ approach with whisky, but , the Selección de Maestros, is one of the first rums that I know of which uses older white oak maturation casks and then younger fresh oak finishing casks.

Selección de MaestrosHere is a link to my review:

# 22 Rum – Havana Club Selección de Maestros

” … The immediate nose is of sweet toffee, with a nice complement of cinnamon. Nutmeg and cloves work their way into the breezes along with a little oak, some hot orange peel and a touch of green tobacco. As the glass sits, the aroma of toffee intensifies making the rum seem very attractive, which of course leads me to steal a sip …”

The Havana Club Selección de Maestros really is a fine rum. It is a little spicier than most well aged rums in the market, but the spiciness (for me) works very well within the context of the overall flavour profile. The spirit is an excellent sipper, and if you wish to explore the cocktail rum just a bit, you will find the spiciness of this Cuban spirit works wonders in that realm as well. In fact I created a new cocktail recently, Cuban Style, which uses this Havana Club Rum’s spiciness to great effect.

Cheers everyone, enjoy my countdown of the World’s Best Rums!

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# 23 Rum – Dictador XO Perpetual

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 2, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Dictador 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. Although the rum is produced upon a stainless steel alembic, the inner workings of this still contain more than enough copper such that it functions in basically the same manner as a copper pot still.

DictadorXOStatements on the Dictador website speak to a difference in the aging regimen used for their XO rums. Although the information is not specific, it appears that the major difference is in the oak selected. The intent seems to be to create a different rum flavour profile for the rum connoisseur.

This new rum flavour profile is (in my opinion) very appealing, and it has landed the Dictador XO Perpetual at the number 23 spot on my 2014 countdown:

Here is a link to my recently revised review I wrote for this outstanding rum:

# 23 Rum – Dictador XO Perpetual

” … I sense a wonderful butterscotch sweetness underneath a bouquet of oak and baking spices (vanilla, brown sugars, and cinnamon). Orange peel wells out of the glass, but if you are patient the orange peel soon melds with the butterscotch to give the air a lovely impression of marmalade …”

The Dictador XO Perpetual is a rum which carries a bit of flamboyance through its delivery. I found it especially good in an Old Fashioned cocktail the recipe of which is shared at the conclusion on my review.

Cheers everyone, enjoy my countdown of the World’s Best Rums!

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

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #12 (tie) – Rémy Martin VSOP

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 1, 2014

RM_VSOPBOTTLE_750ML_hiTo produce their VSOP Fine Champagne CognacRémy Martin utilizes eaux-de-vie from only two of the crus in the Cognac appellation, Grande Champagne,and Petite Champagne which are generally recognized at the two premier region within the Cognac appellation. The grape juice from which the cognac is distilled is produced solely from white grapes which have been grown within these two appellations. The spirit is distilled twice upon a copper Charentes Still, and the resulting eaux de vie is aged in new french oak barrels and/or french oak barrels which previously contained Cognac eaux de vie.

The ages of the varies blended cognac in the VSOP Cognac must be (by law) a minimum of four years of age, although to maintain a consistent flavour profile from year to year, it would not be unusual for some of the specific cognac spirits in the blend to be aged for a longer period of time.

Fancy Brandy Cocktail SAM_1371

Fancy VSOP Cocktail

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Rémy Martin VSOP (Fine Champagne Cognac)

“… As I continue to nose the glass my impression is that this is a much heavier more oak laden VSOP than the other VSOP Cognac spirits I have encountered to this point. The oak aroma is leathery and the fruit smells which dominate are figs, dry apricots, and dark raisins. There is also a bit of baked apple complete with touches of cinnamon and clove and some dark black tarry tobacco spice and treacle as well …”

Contrary to popular opinion, Cognac is a great mixing spirit. As I go through my Christmas Cognac Series I plan to provide a few recipe suggestions along the way. In the case of Rémy Martin VSOP, my suggested cocktail is a Fancy VSOP Cocktail.

Enjoy my review, and stay tuned for more of the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

 

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# 24 Rum – El Dorado 8 Year Old Cask Aged Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 1, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014According to the El Dorado Website, the El Dorado 8 Year old Cask Aged Rum is blended from selected stocks of rum which were produced from no less than four of Demerara Distillers’ traditional Heritage Stills including both the original Wooden Coffey Still which was rescued from the Enmore Estate and the Double Wooden Pot Still which was rescued from the Port Mourant Estate. Each of these stills is well over 200 years old and they represent the last of their kind operating in the world today. The use of these ancient stills ensures that the Demerara Rum produced at DDL’s Diamond Distillery is unlike anything produced anywhere else in the world. (For more information on the unique Heritage Stills in operation at the Diamond distillery you may read my first hand account here (Diamond Distillery Tour).

Rum Manhattan with El Dorado 8 Year Old Rum

Rum Manhattan with El Dorado 8 Year Old Rum

The new 8 Year Old Rum from El Dorado Rum was first released in Ontario, and has recently been made available here in Alberta too.

Here is a link to my recent review I wrote for this outstanding new rum from Demerara Distillers Limited:

#24 Rum – El Dorado 8 Year Old Cask Aged Rum

“… The immediate nose reveals a nice mixture of oak and coarse brown sugar as well as spicy scents of cinnamon and toffee, some luscious vanilla, and some not so subtle hints of orange marmalade …”

As good as this rum is to sip on its own, it is just as good when mixed in a classic cocktail. My  suggested recipe for the El Dorado 8 Year Old Rum is a Rum Manhattan.

Cheers everyone, enjoy my countdown of the World’s Best Rums!

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

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Review: Dulce Vida Organic Tequila (Blanco)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 28, 2014

Lexi's Cocktail SAM_1367Dulce Vida Organic Tequila is produced from 100% organic agave grown in the Los Altos highlands which are situated in the Tequila Region of Mexico. Dulce Vida produces the only 100° proof, 100% organic tequila (also free from additives of any kind) in the world. As well as being 100% organic, this spirit is also produced in a manner which embraces the concept of sustainability. During production of the spirit a complete waste recapture program is set in place which results in the production of a nutrient-rich soil supplement which is supplied to to the local farming community. As well, the methane gas which is produced as a by-product of the waste collection & processing is captured and utilized to help power Dulca Vida’s production facilities in the village of San Ignacio Cerro Gordo at Campanario (in Mexico of course).

You may read my latest tequila review by clicking the following link:

Review: Dulce Vida Organic Tequila (Blanco)

“… There is a light earthy quality which sits within the spicy pepper and some effervescent citrus notes which remind me of lightly sweet grapefruit and lime citrus zest. The breezes above the glass also carry impressions of fresh garden mint, some very mild licorice and a hint of the smell of wet grass just after a light rain shower …”

I had a few friends over when I poured out the Dulce Vida Blanco for the first time, and with the help of my new friend Lexi, we constructed a Lemon-Lime Margarita that tastes absolutely wonderful with the Dulce Vida spirit. I have included Lexi’s Cocktail at the conclusion of the review.

Cheers Everyone!

Note: Dulce Vida Organic Tequila was recently released in Ontario, and I was provided a sample bottle of the blanco spirit by the distributor Woodman Wine and Spirits.

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Review: Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 25, 2014

Allie's Punch SAM_1366Fishbowl Spirits Llc. is a company wholly owned by Kenny Chesney, the well-known Country Music Singer from Knoxville, Tennessee. In May, 2013 Fishbowl Spirits launched Blue Chair Bay Rum, which features an assortment of rums which were apparently inspired by the relaxed island lifestyle of the county music star. The line-up includes an assortment of flavoured rums (a Coconut Rum, a Coconut Spiced Rum, a Banana Rum and a limited time only Coconut Spiced Rum Cream, as well as a standard White Rum. Although Blue Bay Chair Rum is based in Nashville, the assortment of rums they produce are distilled in Barbados and then bottled in Rochester NY by LiDestri Food & Beverage.

Three of these spirits, the Coconut and Coconut Spiced rums, as well as the White Rum have been brought into Alberta by Glazer’s Of Canada Llc, and they arranged for me to receive all three rums to review here on my website.

You may click the link below to read my full review of Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Punch, which incidentally was awarded the highest score I have ever granted in the Spiced category!

Review: Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Rum

“… The aroma seems mellow and relaxed with scents of sweetened coconut and light spices running through the breezes …”

At the conclusion of the review I share my newest cocktail recipe which mixes the Coconut Spiced Rum with delicious fresh squeezed fruit and ginger ale. I chose to coll the new mixed drink, Allie’s Cocktail.

Cheers Everyone!

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Review: Disaronno Originale (Amaretto Liqueur)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 9, 2014

DSaronno750Canada_okDisaronno Originale is an Amaretto style liqueur apparently based upon a recipe which may date from as early as the year 1525. It is produced in Saronno, Italy by Illva Saronno S.P.A., and is distributed in Canada by Peter Mielzynski Agencies Ltd. (aka PMA).

Gladiator's Punch

Gladiator’s Punch

The Amaretto flavour of this liqueur is the result of an infusion of apricot kernel oil with neutral alcohol, caramelized sugar, and the essence of up to seventeen selected herbs and fruits. Amazingly, despite what seems to be an obvious almond flavour, Disaronno Originale apparently does not contain the essence of any nuts or almonds. The spirit is bottled and sold at 28 % alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to my full review of this Amaretto liqueur:

Review: Disaronno Originale (Amaretto Liqueur)

” … The breezes above the glass reflect an almond-like scent, which gives me impressions very much like I am sniffing a mixture of crushed apple seeds and apricot brandy (this is probably the apricot kernel oil I am sensing). There is an obvious sticky sweet aroma in the air which carries indications of butterscotch, canned fruit (peaches and apricots), and hints of maple … “

I found the Disaronno Originale worked very well as a flavourful sweetener in both short and tall cocktails. One recipe which I constructed and shared at the conclusion of my review was a tall bar drink I call, Gladiator’s Punch.

Welcome to the beginnings of winter everyone. We can’t change the weather so we might as well enjoy it!

 

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