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Archive for the ‘Extras’ Category

2015 Margarita Challenge #10 – Hornitos Plata Tequila

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 5, 2015

HORNITOS SAM_1519

Hornitos Margarita

A few days ago I announced that my Rum Chums and I had been busy during the months of March and April sampling a variety of Blanco Tequilas cocktails (Margarita Cocktails to be exact) with the aim of determining which was the best agave spirit for the quintessential Tequila cocktail, the Margarita. Beginning today, on Cinco de Mayo, and then in a countdown format throughout the month of May, I shall publish the results. I am also going to take this opportunity to reassess many of my previous tequila reviews, with the aim of incorporating the newest information available about each brand and of course incorporating my groups deliberations into the review process. I shall begin my publications with the spirit my group judged as the 10th Best Blanco Tequila to use for mixing your Margarita Cocktails, Hornitos Plata.

And in fact, you may read my most recent review of the Hornitos Plata by clicking on the following link:

Review: Hornitos Plata Tequila

“… The entry into the mouth is spicy with more heated citrus zest than I noticed on the nose. In addition to citrus zest, the spicy flavour also carries black pepper, a touch of cloves and perhaps a little ginger across the palate as well …”

If you wish to follow my 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Countdown, I have created a summary page which will list all of the results as they are published. That page is available here:

2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge

Note: Hornitos Plata Tequila is a 100 % Agave Tequila produced by the Sauza Tequila Import Company. The Plata Tequila is said to be the creation of Don Francisco Havier Sauza (Don Franco), who is a third generation member of the Sauza family which founded the La Preseverancia, distillery. Incidentally, Don Franco is credited with helping the Mexican Government to establish the Jalisco region of Mexico as the exclusive origin of genuine tequila in 1974.

Please enjoy this new Rum Howler Challenge!

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2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 3, 2015

Alfred Cointreau Margarita SAM_1517s

Alfred Cointreau Margarita

During the months of March and April, my Rum Chums and I embarked on a Tequila Odyssey, as we sampled and tasted a series of blanco spirits in an attempt to determine the best Tequila to feature this summer when sipping Margarita Cocktails. Prior to this engagement, I contacted several of my industry sources letting them know about my plans for the Margarita Challenge which I would publish as a series of reviews during the month of May. I was of course provided with samples from some of these sources and after combining those samples with the bottles of tequila which I already owned, I felt I had enough agave spirit to make for a worthwhile competition. Hence my plans for the 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge came to fruition.

During my initial deliberations regarding the Margarita Challenge, the folks at Select Wines stepped up and arranged for me to receive a bottle of Cointreau singed by Alfred Cointreau himself, and asked me if I would consider using their spirit as the orange liqueur of choice for the cocktail challenge. I thought using the special bottle of Cointreau was a splendid idea, and in honour of Mr. Cointreau (for supplying and signing my bottle) I have dubbed my version of the quintessential Tequila cocktail used for the challenge, the Alfred Cointreau Margarita.

(You can find the recipe here.)

Herencia Margarita SAM_1514s

Herencia Margarita

The deliberations regarding the Margarita Challenge are complete and my Rum Chums and I have determined what we believe are the best 10 blanco tequila spirits for this summer’s backyard cocktail enjoyment. I will begin to publish the official results on May 05 (Cinco de Mayo), however I could not resist providing you with a prequel of sorts by offering my recently re-visited review for Herencia de Plata Tequila a spirit which deserves an honourable mention as it fell just outside the top ten.

Here is a link to the newly republished and re-scored review of Herencia de Plata review:

Review: Herencia de Plata Tequila

“… The aroma from the glass is somewhat soft and earthy with hints of honey caressed by a very light smoke and even lighter vanilla. A smattering of white pepper and of zesty lime has risen into the breezes, and that punky agave scent we know so well has melted nicely into the citrus and pepper …”

This inexpensive blanco tequila is a real crowd-pleaser with a taste which matches many much more expensive brands.

Posted in Awards, Blanco Tequila, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge

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 Reviews, Brandy Review, Cognac Review, Extras | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Year in Cognac and Brandy (2014 Rum Howler Awards)

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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Thank You for 2,000,000 visits in 2014

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 31, 2014

On My DeckThank you everyone, for making my website (The Rum Howler Blog) one of the most popular independent spirit review websites in the entire world!

According to the information provided to me in the 2014 Annual Report (sent to me by WordPress), The Rum Howler Blog received over 2,000,000 page views in 2014. In fact, the report tells me that if my website were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 86 days for that many people to see it.

It turns out that last year people from 222 different countries (and from all seven continents of the world) visited The Rum Howler Blog. I received a visit from Vatican City, and yes, I even had a visit from a viewer in Antarctica who apparently read my blog.

I decided to dig into the numbers, and when I checked my web stats at the independent web metrics site ALEXA, I was pleasantly surprised to see that according to their calculations I was ranked as the 350,000th most popular website in the word. Considering the sheer volume of websites out there (over 20 million), that is impressive. According to ALEXA, each person who visits my website spends on average 2 minutes and 23 seconds when they visit. Taking that information along with the information provided by WordPress (which indicates that each person who visits views (on average) 2.5 pages each time they visit), this (if my math is correct) means that a total of 114.5 million seconds of time were spent by various people throughout the world reading what I have written. That translates into 31,778 hours or 1325 days spent by my followers and casual visitors reading my reviews.

All of these numbers translate into a total picture which as of December 31, 2014 ranks The Rum Howler Blog as the most popular spirit review website in Canada; and also, one of the most popular in the entire world.

I guess I want to say …

Thank You!

Posted in Extras, Howls | Tagged: | 9 Comments »

Rum Howler 2014 – Canadian Whisky of the Year: Wiser’s Red Letter (2013 Release)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Wiser’s Red Letter was re-introduced to Canadians in 2007 to pay homage to the 150th anniversary of John Philip Wiser’s distillery in Prescott, Ontario 1857 – 2007), as well as to the original Red Letter Whisky which Wiser’s produced in the late 1800s. In 2009, when I reviewed the inaugural 150th Adversary Edition (see review here), I was told by my contacts within Corby, that the spirit contained various blends of whisky which (although they ranged in age) were all ten years old or more. After these mature whiskies were blended they were then finished in virgin white oak barrels for 150 days. Once the final characteristic of flavour had been achieved, the Red Letter was bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume (non chill filtered). In developing the spirit, the folks at Wiser’s apparently researched the original J.P Wiser’s Red Letter 19th century recipe using it as a guideline to construct their celebratory whisky.

Red Letter SAM_1386Last year Corby once again in a tribute to their founder J.P Wiser released Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky (2013 Release). As with the 150th Anniversary edition the whisky was finished in virgin white oak casks and then bottled without chill filtering at 45 % abv..

Although it took me a full year to acquire my sample bottle, I am glad that I was persistent, as this year Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky is without a doubt the finest Canadian Whisky I have sampled all year, and well deserving of the accolade, Rum Howler 2014 Canadian Whisky of the Year!

Here is my review for Wiser’s Red Letter (2013 Release):

Rum Howler 2014 #1 Canadian Whisky – Wiser’s Red Letter (2013 Release)

“… I taste a firm presence of sharp wood spices and orange peel, however, this sharpness ( which I am sure is also due to the 90 bottling proof) is contrasted by the silky mouth feel of a luscious corn whisky. Honeycomb and maple flavours slide through the hot spiciness of the whisky, and soon the orange peel tastes more like marmalade, and the fine wood spices more like a nice spicy maple toffee. Underpinning everything is a impression of lovely chocolate flavours which seem to ooze from the whisky as it is swallowed …”

Every year I seem to encounter a whisky gem which knocks me for a loop. The 2013 Red Letter Whisky is full of spice and attitude, yet it has its silky softer side which makes it all the more engaging. A wonderful whisky, one of Canada’s very best ever!

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Note: You may find my full 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 on Rum Howler 2014 – Canadian Whisky of the Year: Wiser’s Red Letter (2013 Release)

 
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