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Archive for the ‘Howls’ Category

Howls are my main method of posting on the front page. They are my way of communicating to you the general information of the site.

Inflategate?

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 24, 2015

QuarterbackA few months ago I wrote a small piece about the NFL’s Deflategate controversy where I questioned the conduct of the NFL with respect to the entire Deflategate affair (see article here). The questions I raised concerning how the NFL and its officials handled the affair before the incident in question, during the game in which the supposed incident occurred, and afterwards remain unanswered, but recently two related incidents have given me cause to revisit what has transpired. The first incident was Tom Brady’s appeal of his suspension which was heard yesterday which of course makes this posting topical, and the second incident was the publication by the American Enterprise Institute of their analysis of the Wells Report. (See AEI Report here)

For those who do not know, the Wells Report was the investigative report provided to the NFL by Ted Wells which served as the basis for the NFL pressing forward with its punishment of the Patriots and Tom Brady for Tom allegedly (more probably than not) being involved in a scheme to deflate footballs just prior to their 2015 Conference Finals Game against the Indianapolis Colts.

The amazing conclusion of the American Enterprise Institute Report is that it is unlikely that the Patriots deflated the Footballs. The report casts serious doubts not only upon the interpretation and methodology used by Ted Wells, but also upon his  factual understanding of the underlying statistical analysis used in the report.

This might all be small news, except the American Enterprise Institute is the same body which provided a testimony to former National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Paul Tagliabue regarding the Bountygate scandal. Their testimony was reported to be a contributing factor in his decision to withdraw penalties against the New Orleans Saints players involved.

With respect to the Wells Report, The AEI analysis makes several startling revelations:

1) The Wells Report relies on unorthodox statistical procedures which were inconsistent with the actual statistical methodology the report describes.

The Wells Report’s conclusions are based primarily upon air pressure measurements of the footballs before the game and at halftime. What complicates things is that the NFL officials had two different pressure gauges which might have been used. These each gave slightly different readings. Even though the NFL official in charge reported using a specific pressure gauge before the game, Wells concludes he must have used the opposite gauge. The conclusions drawn from the Wells Report’s statistical analysis hinge heavily upon which gauge was actually used before the game and which gauge(s) were used at half time. Wells appears to believe his analysis takes all of this into account; unfortunately the math does not back this statement up.

2) In interpreting the results, the Wells Report failed to take into account other reasonable scenarios which would explain the findings.

Basically the report investigated only whether the evidence supported that deflation of New England Patriot footballs had occurred relative to the Indianapolis Colts footballs, and concluded that this relative deflation when it was found was evidence of tampering. It did not take into account an equally plausible theory that instead the Indianapolis Colts footballs may have been showing anomalous inflation. It turns out that the AEI report concludes that this was more likely scenario, and it suggests that this over inflation was caused not by the Colts, but through inconsistent treatment of the footballs by NFL staff when they were measuring the air pressures.

3) The Wells report ignored the predictions of the Ideal Gas Law and the basic physics of inflation and deflation relative to temperature change. 

It turns out that when basic physics is applied to the understanding of how footballs would inflate or deflate relative to temperature and ambient air pressure, the amount of deflation which was noted to have occurred with the New England Patriots balls was pretty much what science would have predicted given the circumstances. It also turns out that the Indianapolis Colts Footballs did not show the amount of deflation which would have been expected given the outside temperature. The AEI report concludes that the most reasonable explanation for this was that when all of the balls were tested during halftime, the Patriot balls were tested at the start of halftime when the footballs were still cold, and the Colt footballs were tested afterwards, after they had warmed up in the locker room. This hypothesis was backed up by the admission in the Wells Report that all of the Patriot balls were tested first (which would have been at the start of halftime), and that they had time to only test four of the Colts balls because halftime had ended. The AEI report states that allowing the Colts balls to warm up in the locker room by as little as fifteen minutes more than the Patriots balls was the probable cause for the relative inflation of these balls relative to the colder Patriots balls.

4) It is unlikely that the Patriots deflated the Footballs

The American Enterprise Institute Report concludes as follows:

The fact that the average pressure of the Colts balls was significantly above the prediction of the Ideal Gas Law, while that of the Patriots balls was not, is inconsistent with the findings of the Wells report. Our conclusion that the warming of the balls during halftime is the key factor overlooked in the Wells report is supported by the observation that the reading of the intercepted Patriots football, measured separately from the other Patriots balls, came in almost precisely at the prediction of the law. Under the hypothesis asserted by the Well report, the odds of this Patriots ball matching the Ideal Gas Law prediction were between 1 out of 3 and 1 out of 300. It is therefore unlikely that the Patriots deflated the footballs.

Posted in Howls | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Deflategate Cocktail of Misery

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 8, 2015

QuarterbackSome questions I have with respect to Deflategate:

1) Why, if as it appears from the Wells report the NFL was already suspicious of New England tampering with game balls, were the balls not tested before the game? 

If the integrity of the Conference Finals Playoff game was of any importance to the league office, should not have the NFL have made sure all balls were inflated properly at the beginning of the game? The outcome of the testing would theoretically have been the same, and if the balls were improperly inflated, it would have been exposed. This suggests to me that the integrity of the game was of secondary importance to the NFL. We can only speculate about what the primary aim of the NFL league office might have been.

2) Why, if 3 out of the 4 Indianapolis Colts balls tested at halftime were also deflated, was not every Indianapolis ball tested?

Apparently there wasn’t enough time to test all of the Indianapolis balls at half-time. Really … an entire half time expires and the NFL only has time to pressure test about 15 balls? And they stop testing when a similar trend of deflation is found within the group of Indianapolis game balls?

You would think that (if the NFL was really concerned about the integrity of the game), then 3 out of four Indianapolis balls under-inflated at half time would have warranted further investigation as well. Could they not have tested them after the game?

3) Why are teams even allowed to handle the balls prior to the game?

MLB Baseball requires the umpires to rub down the baseballs prior to the game and it is my understanding that neither team is allowed to handle them until the umpire releases each ball during the game. In light of the recent events, it seems rather ludicrous that the NFL had not taken similar pre-emptive steps to prevent a scandal like this from ever occurring.

4) Why did the Colts know that the balls might be tested, but not the Patriots?

I get it, you suspect the Patriots are tampering with the balls, and so you devise a plan to catch them. However, this is like a ref in hockey skating to one bench and telling the coach that he would be watching for a certain infraction closely and calling it by the book, but not telling the other team. This doesn’t pass the smell test of fairness. We want a level playing field, that must include equally transparent disclosure of information to both sides.

5) Is the NFL not aware that in their zeal to catch a team skirting beyond the edges of fairplay, that they appear to have trampled those same edges of fairplay much more aggressively?

Don’t get me wrong, if the Pats and/or Tom Brady broke the rules, they deserve punishment of some sort. But this whole incident has been mishandled by the NFL right from the start. They appear to have knowingly allowed the Patriots to play one half of Football with footballs they believe might have been tainted. They appear to applied a different standard of ball testing to the Patriots than they did to the Colts. Their own process of handling the games balls could have been changed prior to the events that transpired to ensure the game was not affected. And their own Commissioner promised that the investigation would also focus on how the NFL could have done things better, but it appears to have not even considered this possibility.

6) Am I wrong, or does this just smell like a league office completely out of touch with reality?

I am not saying the Patriots are innocent. What I am saying is that the NFL league office has to look themselves in the mirror and realize that their actions do not look well here. Because they appear to have acted hastily with an uneven hand, the controversy is sure to reflect as badly upon them as it does Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Comments Welcome!

Posted in Howls | 4 Comments »

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 »

Rare Dram Masterclass Features Glenfarclas 60 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 23, 2014

glenfarclas 60Last April, J & G Grant launched the release of their new 60 Year Old Glenfarclas Single Malt Whisky with only 360 bottles available world-wide.  According to George Grant, Glenfarclas’ Sales Director and 6th generation of the Grant family:

“At a time when more and more distilleries are going down the no age statement route for their super premium products, we are delighted to be able to release this magnificent 60-year-old Glenfarclas. My grandfather started laying down stocks for the future way back in the 50s, so it is thanks to his incredible foresight that we are able to bottle this today.I’m sure he would have been as impressed by it as I am.”

In describing his 60 Year Old whisky, George Grant tells us that the spirit was matured in a first fill sherry butt and has a very dark rich mahogany colour. George goes on to say:

“It is surprisingly vibrant with lots of dried fruits, demerara sugar and spice coming through on the nose as well as the rich, oaky tannins that one would expect from a whisky of this venerable age. The sherry influence really comes through on the palate, with rich treacle, bitter coffee and espresso notes all making an appearance. The finish is the longest I have ever experienced – 20 minutes later you will still be able to taste the subtle nuances of this incredible dram.”

Fortunately for those of us who live in Alberta, a few of these special bottles have made it into our marketplace and George Grant has arranged a very special tasting featuring not only the Glenfarclas 60 Year Old Whisky, but also 3 special Family Cask Whiskies each paired with decadent appetizers on the evening of November 3rd at 8:00PM.

Tickets are available for the November 3, 2014 Glenfarclas Rare Dram Masterclass via telephone or email from:

Willow Park Wine and Spirits
10801 Bonaventure Dr SE Calgary
Telephone: 403-296-1624
Email: events@willowpark.net

Cost: $500.00 per ticket

I have been invited to the event, and if I can clear my schedule for that day, I will certainly do my best to attend!

Note: The Glenfarclas Distillery is located on the Recherlich Farm at Ballindalloch in the heart of Speyside. The Distillery was purchased by the Grant Family in 1865, and has remained in the control of the Grant Family for six generations up to the present day. In fact, Glenfarclas is one of only a few distilleries remaining in Scotland which is independently family owned and managed.

Posted in Howls, Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Rare Dram Masterclass Features Glenfarclas 60 Year Old

Leave of Absence

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 15, 2014

Here is just a quick note to let everyone know I will be back to writing reviews soon. Some family health issues have required (and still require) my attention and support, and so I have taken a brief Leave of Absence.

Posted in Howls | 12 Comments »

Q Tonic vs Schweppes

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 3, 2014

Two and a half years ago, I published a comparative review of Schweppes Tonic versus a new upstart Tonic water which had just entered the Alberta market, Q Tonic.

It all started when I was visiting one of my favourite Liquor Stores, (Lacombe Park Spirits in St. Albert if you want to know), when Karim, who is one of the owners, asked me to try a Gin and Tonic with a new Tonic Water he had started to carry called Q Tonic.

I let him make me a small sample cocktail, and it was pretty good. In fact, I was intrigued enough to make contact with Jordan Silbert, the founder of Q Drinks and asked him if he would like to send me a sample and some information, especially as I had began to receive quite a few a few gin samples to review and a premium Tonic water seemed like a good idea.

My thought was that it would be fun to make some side by side cocktails with Q Tonic and Schweppes Tonic to see if I preferred one over the other consistently. Jordan agreed, and I received a few small bottles of Q Tonic in the mail shortly before Christmas. This was good because the gin samples were beginning to pile up, and I wanted to get at them.

So with four different gins, Beefeater 24, Citadelle Reserve, Port of Barcelona and Broker’s Gin, I set out over the next couple of weeks to test the Gin and Tonic Cocktail with both Q Tonic and Schweppes Tonic.

I published the results of this exercise in January, 2012 and you may read those results by following the provided link:

Comparative Review: Schweppes Tonic VS Q Tonic

Although my Schweppes vs Q Tonic comparison was published over two years ago, I thought it appropriate to revisit this publication as a sort of teaser for my next project, the Gin and Tonic Challenge! Throughout the month of August I will be examining about 15 different Gins I have collected in an effort to find the Best Gin for the quintessential summer cocktail, the Gin and Tonic.

Stay tuned ….

 

Posted in Howls | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

The Rum Howler is Number 1 on Google

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 16, 2014

Wiser's Red LetterIt all began in the Spring of 2007 when my Brother-in-law (Merv) reached into his liquor cabinet and pulled out a bottle of Wiser’s 18 Year Old Whisky which he had bought 25 years earlier with the intention of sharing it with a friend on a special occasion. The occasion wasn’t really that special, I was just traveling through Calgary with my family and decided to stop by to say hello. But Merv decided that this visit was the special occasion he had been waiting for. And his generosity set everything in motion for what was to follow. You see, as touched as I was by my brother-in-law’s generosity, I realized that at some point I would need to reciprocate. Therefore, when I arrived back home in Edmonton, I set out to find a special bottle which I could share with him (should he ever manage to tear himself away from Calgary and come up to Edmonton to visit me).

So a week later, I found myself in one of those boutique Wine and Spirits stores asking the manager for some help to find a special whisky. I settled on Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky and happily went home to show my wife (Maureen) the $150.00 bottle of whisky I found. Her reaction set me further along the path I had started, as rather than scolding me for spending a ridiculous amount of money upon a bottle of whisky; she said, “I thought Merv liked Gin.”

SAM_0968 TanquerayShe was right of course; although Merv had shared a very special whisky with me, if I was to truly reciprocate, I would have to find a special bottle of gin to share with him. So I went back to the boutique store, asked about gin, and came home with a bottle of Tangueray No. 10. This time my wife (who is ever helpful) said, “What about the rest of your family?”

My head fell; because again, she was right. I wasn’t worried about my friends, they would be cool with just about anything as long as it was cold. But the members of my immediate (and some of the extended) family tend to be a tad jealous of each other. If it became known I had bought a special bottle to share with Merv, then the others would expect the same treatment. So I ambled back to that boutique liquor store a few more times, and by the time I was done, I had bought 2 bottles of rum (Flor de Cana 7 Year Old Rum and Matusalem 12 year Solera Blender), a bottle of vodka (Wyborowa Exquisite), a bottle of Tequila (Herradura Reposado) and a bottle of The Macallan 15 Year Old Fine Oak Single Malt Scotch to go with my bottles of Tangueray No. 10 and Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky.

I was hooked of course. It was so much fun going to that liquor store, tasting samples from a few of their open bottles, and then choosing something special to bring home. I soon had many more bottles and a brand new liquor cabinet to house them in. I explained to my wife that I had learned that there were many different styles of both rum and whisky, and surely when a special guest arrived I should have some sort of selection for them to choose from. And the Vodka, Gin and Tequila were needed in case someone was partial to those spirits instead. It was all part of my effort to be a good host when special guests arrived. Of course, I wasn’t fooling anyone, my wife and I both knew the real reason I was continuing to go back and forth to find new bottles. It was because I had caught the collecting bug, and it had bitten me hard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI continued to taste and collect different spirits over the next few years, and I discovered I was growing particularly fond of rum. So much so, that I began to haunt the online forums trying to locate the best brands for my collection. I enjoyed this research especially reading reviews of various spirits and comparing what I tasted to what was being written. Soon I got the idea into my head that it would be fun to write my own reviews about the spirits I had been collecting.

It turned out that all that research I had done to find the best bottles, and all that tasting I did before adding each new prize to my collection had served me well. I began my writing by placing a few somewhat brief ‘reviews’ on my favourite rum website, “The Ministry of Rum“. Although I was strictly an amateur, my reviews (and my quirky style) seemed to strike a chord with the other collectors and members of that website. One of those members had his own rum website, “Rum Connection” and he invited me to be a guest reviewer on his site. After writing a few reviews for Rum Connection (which were received extremely well), I decided that I should open my own review website which I did in the late fall of 2009.

My writing and my website have attracted a loyal and growing following which opened many doors for myself and led to some wonderful opportunities. This includes invites from rum companies who have offered to fly me down to look over their operations (see here), and similar invitations to all manner of rum and whisky festivals all over North America. As well, I began to receive requests to act as a Spirits Judge at some of the major Spirit’s Competitions in Canada and the USA. In fact I have served three times on the jury for the annual Canadian Whisky Awards, as well as twice in the same capacity for the International RumXP Competition at Rum Renaissance in Miami.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Rumhowler at Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

The Rum Howler at Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

This all brings me to the point of this article. Recently, it has come to my attention that my website, The Rum Howler Blog (according to Google), has become the number 1 internet source people turn to for Rum Reviews. The proof of that statement can verified by simply typing the key words “Rum Reviews” into your Google search engine. What you will find is that this website will be listed on the first page of the Google Search, usually ranked Number 1.

I am very pleased that my spirit reviews have been received so well, and my readers continue to find value in them. My recent number 1 ranking on Google is extremely satisfying! However, as pleased and satisfied as I feel about my work and my website, I would like to stress that my opinions expressed on this website are just that, opinions. Please, enjoy what I write; but trust your own instincts as well. Opinions vary and everyone’s preferences are unique. The only person who can truly decide if a spirit gives you enjoyment is yourself. I am flattered that so many people have come to trust my reviews; but I want you to trust your own tastes and preferences as well.

It all started when my Brother-in-law offered to open and share a special whisky with me seven years ago, and I can’t even guess where it will go from here …

Posted in Extras, Howls | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on The Rum Howler is Number 1 on Google

The Rum Howler Top 10 Most Popular Reviews

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 30, 2014

Bg Black DickSometimes I get asked what the most popular articles on my website are. Today I decided to go through my web stats and find out. So if you have every wondered what the most popular reviews on my website are, then you need wonder no longer.

Here is the list of The Rum Howler Top 10 Most Popular Reviews:

10) Bacardi 8 Year Old Rum
09) Crown Royal XR Canadian Whisky (Waterloo)
08) Ron Zacapa XO (25 Year Solero) Rum
07) Bacardi Oakheart Smooth Spiced Rum
06) Appleton Estate Extra Old 12 Year Old Rum
05) Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial Rum
04) El Dorado 12 Year Old Special Reserve
03) Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva 
02) Big Black Dick Dark Caribbean Rum 
01) Kraken Black Spiced Rum 

Who would have thought that a relatively unknown flavoured rum from the Cayman Islands would inspire the second most page views on my website? (I wonder if all those search engines that find that particular review are really looking for Rum?)

Cheers Everyone!

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Edmonton Whisky Festival: Master Class with Whisky Insider – J. Wheelock

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 11, 2014

jEdmonton Whisky Festival

Master Class with Whisky Insider – J. Wheelock

Featuring: BenRiach, Compass Box, Dalmore, GlenDronach, & Whyte & Mackay

Where: Edmonton Delta South Hotel

When: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 (6:30 PM – 7:30 PM)

Ticket Price: $25.00 each

The 2014 Edmonton Whisky Festival is proud to introduce to Edmonton, Whisky Insider, J. Wheelock. Based in Calgary, Alberta, J.’s role is to connect with like-minded individuals, groups and establishments, from the Prairies to the Pacific, espousing the virtues of the whiskies he’s been charged to represent. His schedule is chock-a-block full of meetings and events held by various whisky appreciation groups, where he works on building relations and cultivating connoisseurs who have the very same passion for whisky that attracted him to the business eleven years ago, when he started with the famed family of whiskies held by The Edrington Group (Macallan, Highland Park and The Famous Grouse). Having recently joined the Authentic Wines and Spirits team in Calgary (Dalmore, Jura, Glendronach, BenRiach, Compass Box), his philosophy has not changed.

“My vision is to help establish Canada as a major consumer on the world stage, which ultimately means we get more of the unique and hard-to-find bottlings. I like to call it ‘collective selfishness’.”

J. is also responsible for connecting his brands with people in the spirits trade, from staff at some of the country’s top bars and white table clothed-restaurants, all the way to swanky speakeasies and stalwart pubs.

“Some just want the basic knowledge in order to enhance their sales abilities. Others want to get to the heart of the brands and become ambassadors in their own right. The range of what is available in Canada is better than ever, and there’s always something to talk about.”

For more information please contact:

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

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Tickets are now available from Vines or through the new website: (http://edmontonwhiskyfestival.ca/)

Posted in Howls | Comments Off on Edmonton Whisky Festival: Master Class with Whisky Insider – J. Wheelock

Announcing – Edmonton Whisky Festival 2014

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 28, 2013

EWF2014

Edmonton Whisky Festival

Why: In Support of the MS Society

Where: Edmonton Delta South Hotel

When: Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ticket Price: $85.00 each

This event is a must for any whisky enthusiast or for those new to the exciting world of whisky.

Tickets includes entrance, whisky sampling, and the commemorative Glencairn Whisky Glass.

Chat in a relaxed atmosphere with whisky and scotch principals  and enthusiast from from across Canada and around the world.

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

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Tickets are now available from Vines or through the new website: (http://edmontonwhiskyfestival.ca/)

Posted in Howls | Comments Off on Announcing – Edmonton Whisky Festival 2014

 
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