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Archive for the ‘Whisk(e)y’ Category

The Rum Howler’s #4 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 21, 2015

Ninety_20_Year_Old_-_shadow_2013_06In November of 2005, Highwood Distillers 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 2013 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. (Highwood Distillers uses the Highwood brand for all of its wheat based whiskies.)

Highwood 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 the Rum Howler #4 Canadian Whisky of 2015:

Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

“… The different aspects of the aroma (the wood and rye spiciness and the corn and butterscotch sweetness) are melded together beautifully creating a very enticing aroma in the air above the glass. As I enjoy those breezes, I also notice impressions of creamy vanilla pudding, hints of almond turning to sweeter marzipan, zesty orange peel turning to sticky marmalade, and lightly sweetened cereal grain (which actually reminds me of Post Honeycomb cereal) …”

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You may read about the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Rum Howler’s #5 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 20, 2015

Northern Harvest RyeCrown Royal Northern Harvest Rye Whisky is a new blend from the folks who run the Crown Royal Distillery in Gimli, Manitoba. It is a bit of a throwback in style as the whisky features a heavy dose whisky produced from Canadian Winter Rye grain in the blend (almost 90% of the spirit is produced from Canadian Winter Rye grain). Winter rye imparts a robust spiciness throughout the spirit when distilled which (in my opinion) provides a much stronger ‘Canadian Whisky’ feel for this particular Crown Royal Whisky than we find with the flagship blend Crown Royal Deluxe which is produced predominantly from corn rather than rye.

This movement towards a more rye forward flavour profile seems to be a common theme within the Crown Royal family as two other recently released blends (Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel, and the new Crown Royal Monarch 75th Anniversary Blend) have recently followed that common path.

Here is a link to the Rum Howler #5 Canadian Whisky of 2015:

Crown Royal Northern Harvest

“… Although the whisky has an overt youthful brashness with  both wood and rye spices abounding, I receive barely a whisper of gentle alcohol burn. Malted milk chocolate and crusty rye bread flavours seem to ooze from the woody spices, and it seems I am adjusting my scores upwards with each sip. When sipped neat, the whisky is robust with a stronger presence of rye, orange peel and yellow fruit.  With an ice-cube, the whisky is extremely sippable as more milk chocolate flavours come forward carrying an unexpected sweetness …”

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You may read about the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

#5 Signatory Dufftown 1984 – Aged 26 years (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 20, 2015

Signatory Vintage was founded in 1988. It is family owned and managed, and the company proudly identifies itself as one of the few truly independent bottlers of whisky in Scotland. By calling themselves ‘truly independent’, Signatory is making a distinction between the independent companies who bottle their own products, and the independent companies whose products are bottled under contract.

Dufftown 1984 SAM_1875Dufftown is the largest distillery in Scotland belonging to Diageo. The whisky from this distillery is primarily intended for blending. Bell’s, Islander, Dewar’s White Label, and of course Johnnie Walker all require Dufftown Whisky as part of their construction.

The Signatory Dufftown 1984 is a single malt whisky matured in a single refill Sherry Cask (no. 79). 311 bottles were produced, and in April 2011, I reviewed bottle number 61. Fortunately for myself, I had also purchased bottle number 62, and when I was sampling the various spirits for this countdown, I decided that this particular spirit was the best Scotch Whisky I had ever tasted.

Here is the review for the #5 Spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#5 – Signatory Dufftown 1984 (Aged 26 years)

“… I smell a delightful alpine forest rising from the glass as the whisky is poured. Punky woody notes take shape with spongy moss, willow thicket, and floral notes abounding. Rich vanilla scents follow accented by a wonderful backdrop of honeycomb and oak. Caramel builds in the glass coexisting very nicely with a developing marzipan. Even though this whisky stems from a well aged barrel and arrives at a full 55 % alcohol strength, the whisky smells rich but not astringent. This has quickly become one of my favourite whiskies to nose …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

 

 

 

Posted in Awards, Extras, Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Rum Howler’s #6 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – J.P.Wiser’s 18 Years Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 19, 2015

cq5dam.web.1280.1280In the past, Wiser’s 18 Year Old advertised itself as a Limited Release bottling totaling only 3500 bottles for each batch produced. This year I noticed that the whisky has undergone a subtle brand change and is now listed as J.P. Wiser’s 18 Year Old Canadian Whisky. As part of the brand re-identification the bottle no longer contains any information on the label with respect to the batch size. Whether any real substantive change in the whisky inside the bottle has occurred is unknown to me but since we know that we can expect the whisky to change from batch to batch at a minimum, I thought it wise to provide a brand new review for the whisky this year.

Here is a link to the Rum Howler #6 Canadian Whisky of 2015:

J.P. Wiser’s 18 Years Old (2015 Release)

“… As the glass breathes the spiciness within the breezes above the glass continues unabated. Meandering within the spice are rich smells of butterscotch and maple with a few hints of sharp orange peel and dusty grain. Some baking spices begin to form after about five minutes with vanilla and  brown sugar spice, bits of cinnamon white pepper and cloves …”

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You may read about the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Spiced Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Rum Howler’s #7 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – Crown Royal Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2015

CRReserveCrown 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.

Here is a link to the Rum Howler #7 Canadian Whisky of 2015:

Crown Royal Reserve

“… The whisky displays itself as a rich mahogany coloured spirit which brings a rather rich menagerie of scents and smells into the breezes above the glass. 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 …”

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You may read about the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Rum Howler’s #8 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – Wiser’s Legacy

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 17, 2015

Wiser's LegacyWiser’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 failures 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.

According to David Doyle, who was the Master Blender for Wiser’s Legacy:

“I have selected only the finest new, white oak casks, which are essential to the aging process and help mellow the perfect distillate under tightly controlled conditions. It is this careful and deliberate craftsmanship that makes Wiser’s Legacy the ultimate achievement in traditional Canadian whisky distilling.”

Here is a link to the Rum Howler #8 Canadian Whisky of 2015:

Wiser’s Legacy

“… The legacy seems like an attempt to inject a fuller oak presence into the Canadian Whisky profile. Fresh oak tannin is at the forefront of the flavour which is thick with corn and bourbon tones swimming in a pool of rye. A kind of punky dankness lingers under these flavours, and I catch hints of maple, and perhaps a touch of anise buried in that dankness …”

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You may read about the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Rum Howler’s #9 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – Century Reserve (Lot 1525)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 16, 2015

CenturyReserve_2012_ShadowSomewhere in the Highwood Distillery 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 years. (It has been hinted to me that some of these barrels contain whisky that is perhaps even older!)  These whisky barrels were originally part of the consignment of whisky acquired when Highwood purchased the Potter’s Distillery in 2005.  As such, these are barrels of whisky produced from a corn-based distillation by the old Potters Distillery, in Kelowna British Colombia. The barrels made the journey to the Highwood facility in 2005 and have been sitting in the darkened corner waiting for the right moment to be tapped and bottled.  From this darkened corner, the Master Blender has carefully chosen just the right barrels, and then just as carefully blended the wonderful elixir within to create a blend of whisky which contains the distillery’s most prized aged whisky, the Lot1525 Century Reserve Custom Blend Canadian Rye Whisky.

Here is a link to the Rum Howler #9 Canadian Whisky of 2015:

Century Reserve (Lot 1525)

“… Upon entry into my mouth, I taste a clean rye whisky which oozes honey and spice.  A nice  light corn flavour rests underneath supporting the whisky with a gentle elegance.  Like the Centennial rye which I reviewed previously, this is polished, with the hard rye buffed and smoothed into a silky suave flavour experience. Oak spices and marzipan weave in and out of the corn, the rye, and the honey …”

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You may read about the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

#9 Wiser’s Very Old 18 Year (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 16, 2015

Wiser's 18 SAM_1885

In the early 2000s, Wiser’s 18 Years Old Canadian Whisky carried the moniker ‘Very Old, and it was usually my whisky of choice when I wanted a special treat. By the time my website had opened, the spirit had been re-branded as Wiser’s 18 Year Old Limited Edition as such I never reviewed the whisky from the ‘Very Old’ bottle. However, in my collection of rare spirits, I still have a few that I purchased from that time before I began to write reviews. When I began my tasting deliberations for this countdown, I decided to sample one of these older bottles (purchased in 2006) next to some of my current favourites. It turns out, that in 2006 when the spirit was called still Wiser’s Very Old , it was quite spectacular (at least the 2006 version was).

Here is the review for that particular bottle of whisky which arrives as the #9 Spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#9 – Wiser’s Very Old (18 Years Old)

“… as I waited for a moment, the nose coalesced into a deep dark rich baking spice aroma with dark brown sugars,  rich toffee, vanilla, and wisps of cinnamon.  It is a wonderfully rich aroma.  Behind the rich baking spices is a rich oak sap imparting a sturdy backdrop of oak wood and tannin.  This is the type of whisky aroma which makes my mouth water in anticipation of what is coming next …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

 

 

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Rum Howler’s #10 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 15, 2015

Lot No. 40Lot No. 40 is, make no mistake about it, a new style of  Canadian Whisky. It 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. Hiram Walker Distillery Master Blender, Dr. Don Livermore. elaborated on the process for me:

Without getting into specific recipes, Lot 40 is comprised of 100% of our (Hiram Walker) rye whisky. This whisky was made via pot distillation and subsequently aged in new casks. There is a proprietary proportion of distillers malt(s) used in the brewing process that allows for conversion of the rye grains into fermentable sugars. The brewing process is made in small batches according to the traditional recipes dating back to the early 1900s.”

Here is a link to the Rum Howler #10 Canadian Whisky of 2015:

Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still

“… The whisky has all the flavour that the nose implies with fresh new oak and lots of rye blazing a trail of flavour through the mouth. Bits of fruit (grapes and applesauce), some spicy wood sap, green tobacco, and orange peel join in the onrush of whisky flavour that threatens to batter the taste buds. Tempering the full throttle of oak and rye however, are sweet accents of honeycomb, toffee, maple and hints of chocolate …”

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You may read about the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

 

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Rum Howler’s #11 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Years Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 14, 2015

Gibson's Finest 18 SAM_1743According to my correspondence with the media company responsible for, Gibson’s Finest Whisky, the Gibson’s Finest brand is produced from of two sources: a base grain whisky (which would be a corn-based column still whisky), and a blend of rye based flavouring whisky which contains rye and malted barley (distilled by a single column still and a pot still). 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 Finest Rare 18 Years Old Whisky is limited to a production of not more than 12,000 bottles per year. All of the whisky in the blend, is of course 18 years old or more, and it is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to the Rum Howler #11 Canadian Whisky of 2015:

Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Years Old

“… the clean oak spice that poured into the breezes above the glass is the centerpiece of the whisky. It is hot with rye spice and white pepper; but the spiciness brings along just enough flavours of caramel, butterscotch, maple, and canned fruit (apricot and pear) to make this a joyous ride through the glass. The rye brings me impressions of ginger and cardamom. I sense waving fields of ripened rye and barley in the foreground, and more distant fields of ripened corn in the background …”

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You may read about the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Rum Howler’s #11 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Years Old

 
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