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Posts Tagged ‘Whisky Review’

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 #9 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Legacy

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 16, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Wiser’s Legacy Canadian Whisky (a Corby Brand) was released in early 2010 as a new entry into the fledgling “Super Premium” category of Canadian Whisky. At the time, a few other Super Premium Whiskies already existed in the market-place (Wiser’s own Red Letter, and Crown Royal’s, Cask No. 16 and Crown Royal  XR); but the category hadn’t really caught the buying public’s imagination. In fact the Super Premium category had seen more disappointments than successes to that point (at least as far as Canadian Whisky was concerned). However the tipping point for the category seems to have been the year 2010, and the brand which (in my opinion) which helped the most to bring about a this change was Wiser’s Legacy.

Wiser's LegacyAt that time,  what the Super Premium category needed as far as  Canadian Whisky was concerned was a spirit which would be worth the hype. And in a nutshell, Wiser’s Legacy was. This whisky is produced from a rye forward mash bill (Canadian rye, rye malt and barley malt) using a slow copper pot distillation technique which was ‘fine-tuned’ to capture the very specific flavours and aromas during distillation. The new oak barrels used to age the resulting distillate were lightly toasted rather than heavily charred to help bring more of these specific flavours forward.

When I was tasting all of my Canadian Whisky spirits side by side as part of my deliberations for this countdown series, I noted that Wiser’s Legacy seemed to be appealing to me much more than it had in the past. For this reason I rescored the whisky and updated my tasting notes.

Here is my updated review for the number 9 Canadian Whisky in my countdown:

Review: Wiser’s Legacy Canadian Whisky

“… The aroma from the glass is rich in rye spice and caramel toffee, with a subtle corn and bourbon influence. The oak is very apparent as well, bring sappy notes of oak and cedar forward as well as rich damp tobacco. There are some nice indications of baking spices (vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon) as well as vague impressions of baked muffins full of banana, walnuts and chocolate chips. The aroma certainly lives up to the impressive bottle …”

The Legacy is extremely interesting because it is such a departure from a regular Canadian whisky. There is a great deal of complexity introduced by the young oak and this is definitely a giant step towards a more defined bourbon taste profile. It seems that this taste profile has grown on me over the past four years. I suspect it will grow on you as well!

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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 #10 Canadian Whisky – Pendleton 1910

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 15, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Pendleton 1910 Canadian Whisky is a 100 % Canadian Whisky. The spirit is produced and aged in Calgary Alberta, and then transported to Oregon where it is brought to bottling proof by Hood River Distillers using the glacial fed waters from Mt. Hood. The whisky is named to honour the year of the very first Pendleton Round-up, which is a respected rodeo in Pendleton, Oregon. In fact, Pendleton Whisky sponsors numerous rodeos, including the aforementioned  the Pendleton Round-Up, the Cheyenne Frontier Days, and the Walla Walla Frontier Days.

SAM_0916According to the company website, the whisky is crafted from 100 % rye, distilled and oak-aged in Canada for 12 years. (I was able to confirm that the whisky is distilled by Alberta Distillers Limited (ADL) in Calgary, Alberta. ADL is the largest distiller of rye whisky in the world.)

We have hit the top 10 in my countdown and Pendleton 1910 is the second 100 % rye whisky to be recognized as one of Canada’s Best.

Here is my most recent review:

#10 Canadian Whisky – Pendleton 1910

“… The Pendleton 1910 is sweet and spicy. It displays sweet honey and butterscotch complimented beautifully by a spicy oak and rye presence. I taste real cereal grain in the glass, mostly rye grain, but also hints of sweeter corn. Fresh tobacco, sandalwood, cardamom and ginger add to the spicy rye flavour …”

Pendleton 1910 reminds me of why I love rye whisky!  The combination of spicy rye and sweet butterscotch is just about perfect for me.

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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 #12 Canadian Whisky – Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 13, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014In 2002, the Gibson’s Finest brand was purchased by William Grant & Sons who acquired the brand to strengthen their position in the Canadian spirits marketplace.

Gibson’s Finest Whisky is produced from of two sources: a base grain whisky (which would be a corn-based column still whisky) and a combination of rye based flavouring whiskies which contain rye and malted barley (distilled by a single column still and a pot still). It is bottled at 40 %abv.  When aging their whisky, Gibson’s Finest uses a variety of barrels, ex-bourbon barrels, new oak barrels, etc. The ratio of each barrel-type used can differ from batch to batch because the whisky is blended to a specific taste profile rather than to a specific barrel regimen. Gibson’s is currwntly produced at the Hiram Walker Distillery in Windsor, Ontario.

Gib 12We have reached the point where we are crossing into the second half of my 2014 Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown. And Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old checks in as the number 12 Canadian Whisky in the world today!

Here is my most recent review:

#12 Canadian Whisky – Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old

“… As the glass breathes, ripened fields of rye grain and corn seem to waft up out of the glass. I can sense the cornstalks and rows of freshly swathed grain. Sawdust, chaff, and then bits of orange peel bring to my nose a sense of dry spiciness that is appealing …”

I really enjoy Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old Canadian Whisky. It is a classic example of how tasty and smooth our Canadian Whisky can 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 2014 #13 Canadian Whisky – Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 12, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Danfield’s Canadian Whisky is produced in the small City of Lethbridge in my home Province of Alberta. It is produced for Williams & Churchill by Schenley Distilleries Inc. at the Black Velvet Distillery, (also referred to locally as the Palliser Distillery). Williams and Churchill are not distillers themselves, rather they appear to be a third-party company which owns the Danfield’s Brand. They are also very difficult to contact, and therefore the only information I have about the Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year Old Canadian Whisky comes from the little booklet which is strung around the neck of the bottle. According to this booklet, the 21 Year Old is a small batch whisky produced from rye, corn and malted barley. It is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume and prior to bottling, the whisky is apparently “diamond filtered” to add further polish to the whisky.

SAM_0833 Dan 21Here is a link to my review of the #13 Canadian Whisky in my countdown of the best that Canada has to offer:

#13 Canadian Whisky – Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year

“… As the glass sits the scents and smells from the glass deepen. Added to the fray are scents of spicy tobacco, and sweet corn lifting up into the breezes. The rye continues to pour out with the scent becoming earthier as it changes from a clean dry rye to a thick fruit-filled rye over the course of the nosing …”

The Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 year Old Canadian Whisky is a classic Canadian Whisky in every sense of the word. Although it is a rye forward whisky, the flavour elements of dank corn and nutty barley also ripple through the whisky providing the full grain spectrum of Canadian Whisky Flavour.

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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 #16 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 9, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014The Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve, (like all Forty Creek Whiskies), is built upon Whisky Maker, John Hall’s, foundation of three separately distilled grains: barley, corn and rye. Each grain is distilled and aged in oak separately. When each whisky is ready, the three finished whiskies are blended together and ‘married’ in oak once more allowing the three to become one.

copper-pot-heroJohn Hall’s flagship whisky, the Forty Creek Barrel Select is a perfect example of that concept of marrying three separately distilled and aged grain whiskies into one. His Copper Pot Reserve is a more ‘premium’ version of the Barrel Select. Mr. Hall chose his best grain whiskies as the base for the Copper Pot. He aged these best whiskies a little longer to bring in more flavour from the oak, and then he chose the best of these whiskies to marry together in oak once more to complete the final blend. The Copper Pot Whisky is bottled at 43 % abv. (rather than the traditional 40 %) allowing this premium whisky to showcase its robust flavour.

Here is a to my review of the Copper Pot Reserve, the #16 Canadian Whisky in my 2014 Top 25 Countdown:

#16 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve

“… The initial nose of the whisky brings oak and rye spices into the breezes above the glass with an effervescent orange peel zest riding the coattails of the spice. As the glass sits, green tobacco and orange marmalade jump in with a soft punky caramel tainting their scent …”

Forty Creek has taken their Barrel Select whisky to a new level with the Copper Pot Reserve!

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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 | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Rum Howler 2014 #17 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club 20 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 8, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Canadian Club Whisky (C.C. Whisky) is blended before it is aged, and this process, which has been called  ‘Blended at Birth’, is the foundation for the entire portfolio of Canadian Club Whiskies. The particular whisky which is examined in this review is the Canadian Club 20 Year Old Whisky. It is a blend of rye, rye malt, corn, and barley malt spirits which were set down to age together 20 years ago. In fact, I believe that the actual blending formula of base spirits for the 20-year-old Whisky is the same as the blending formula used for Canadian Club’s flagship brand, Canadian Club Premium, which is of course the 6-year-old Whisky which anchors the Canadian Club brand.

Canadian Club 20 YrAlthough the 20 Year Old was originally intended to be a specialty bottling when it was first introduced, the whisky became a standard bottling when Beam Global acquired the Canadian Club brand. It remains a Limited Edition whisky with each bottle individually numbered.

Here is a link to the review of the 17th best Canadian Whisky in the World today:

#17 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club 20 Year Old

” … Toffee and caramel poured out of the glass with deep oaky accents and rich baking spices. Rye scents followed as did that full dank corn aroma which is so typical of the Canadian Club line-up. …”

I enjoy the Canadian Club 20 Year Old immensely, and if you need a special gift for the Canadian Club aficionado this Christmas, this whisky certainly fits the bill.

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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 #18 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 7, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve was built upon the foundation of Whisky Maker, John Hall’s flagship whisky, Forty Creek Barrel Select, and is basically a version of this whisky which has been finished in first run bourbon barrels for a final period of aging. This Double Barrel Reserve Whisky was introduced in the fall of 2008, as one of the distillery’s annual limited edition releases. However, the reaction to this ‘double barrel’ whisky was so positive that John Hall decided to make the Double Barrel Reserve a regular member of the distillery’s whisky line-up.

This is the first of the Forty Creek whiskies to crack my Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014 Countdown, I do not think I am letting too much out of the bag to say it will not be the last. Forty Creek makes great Whisky!

FC DBR

The (Canadian) Godfather

Here is a link to the review of the 18th best Canadian Whisky in the World today:

#18 Canadian Whisky – Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

” … my nose detects the scent of maple syrup and rye spices with a nice rich oak and cedar woodiness from both glasses. This is a very bourbon-like nose complete with light indications of corn and almond as well as a honeycomb and vanillans …”

The Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve (Lot 247) is a step towards a new style of Canadian Whisky. The use of young first run bourbon barrels brings more fresh oak flavour forward creating a more complex (although perhaps also a slightly rougher) final spirit. I see this as a step forward in the evolution of Canadian Whisky made for consumers who relish a stronger oak presence in their whisky.

This stronger oak presence allows for more creativity on the cocktail front as well as my new (Canadian) Godfather recipe at the conclusion of the review testifies.

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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 #19 Canadian Whisky – Schenley OFC

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 6, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Schenley OFC is currently produced at the Lethbridge, Alberta Distillery by Schenley Distilleries. The Distillery in Lethbridge Distillery usually referred to as the Black Velvet Distillery, as this is where Black Velvet Canadian Whisky is produced, and, as well, it is referred to as the Palliser Distillery, as it is also where brands such as Danfield’s Canadian Whisky (a Palliser Brand) is produced.

Alas, the Schenley OFC brand seems to have disappeared from the shelves of many liquor stores stateside, and I suspect that this is related to industry consolidation where for reasons beyond my understanding, solid money earning brands are dumped in favour of the economy of scales which are achieved by promoting fewer brands names across a portfolio.

Schenley OFC LabelThankfully, the Schenley OFC is still found on the shelves of many liquor stores here in Alberta. It is a whisky which I hold in high esteem, and one which I felt I ought to re-visit this year on my website.

This revisitation resulted in its placing at #19 on this year’s Rum Howler Canadian Whisky Countdown:

#19 Canadian Whisky – Schenley OFC

” … As you allow the glass to breathe, the air above the glass becomes enriched with dusty grain fields, sandalwood and oak spices, hints of cinnamon and clove, and a touch of almond-like marzipan. If you like a typical dry Canadian Whisky, you will like the nose very much …”

This is a very satisfying Canadian whisky. We have that light bourbon influence which has become all the rage in whisky today, but the makers did not forget that this is a Canadian whisky first. That nice rye flavour works well in combination with the vanilla and honey bourbon aftertaste.

It also makes a great Canadian Caribou cocktail!

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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 | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

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

 
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