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Review: Centennial Canadian Rye Whisky Dark Chocolate

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 11, 2015

Centennial_Dark_Chocolate_-_shadowHighwood Distillers is a Canadian spirits manufacturer in the town of High River, Alberta, which is situated 40 minutes south of Calgary, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. When I visited their facilities a few years ago I could not help but notice how they make their spirits one batch at a time in a friendly, family style atmosphere. I was impressed and I have been a fan of Highwood ever since.

Recently I received a sample of their Centennial Canadian Rye Whisky (Dark Chocolate). The spirit represents a melding of their Centennial Rye Whisky with the a small dollop of Dark Chocolate flavour. The flavoured whisky is bottled at 35 % alcohol by volume.

Orange Chocolate Martini

Orange Chocolate Martini

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Centennial Canadian Rye Whisky Dark Chocolate

“… The Dark Chocolate Whisky has a pale mahogany colour which seems at odds with the rich dark chocolate scents which seem to ooze out of the rye and wood spices drifting in the breezes above the glass. The impact of the chocolate seems to be softened by an impression of fresh dairy cream within the make-up of its aroma …”

This spirit plays well with caramel, cola, coffee, and even (if you check out my recipe below) orange liqueurs. Those are some of my favourite flavours, so I think you can safely assume that my recommendation for the Centennial Dark Chocolate is quite enthusiastic.

Please enjoy my review which includes a nice dessert martini recipe which have I dubbed the Orange Chocolate Martini.

 

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

2015 Margarita Challenge #8 – Avion Silver Tequila

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 9, 2015

Avion SAM_1535

Avion Margarita

Avion Silver Tequila is a 100% Weber Blue Agave tequila made from the hand-picked fruit grown in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. As a highland tequila, we can expect the Avion Tequila to exhibit strong fruity citrus notes and to have a little hot pepper in the delivery and in the finish. (This is as opposed to lowland tequila which has stronger earthier flavours of agave and less hot pepper.)

According to the information provided to me, to produce Avion Tequila, the harvested agave from the highlands is first slow roasted in brick ovens to bring out its natural flavors and aromas. After distillation, but before the tequila is bottled it is run through a proprietary “Ultra Slow Filtration” process which apparently lasts ten times longer than the filtration process for other tequilas. Something good must be happening because according to the Judges at the 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, this tequila is pretty darn good. They awarded Avion Silver Tequila as the Best Unaged White Spirit, and then gave it a Double Gold Medal for two years in a row.

It turns out that my judging panel for the 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge also believe that something good is happening with Avion Tequila as My Rum Chums and I have determined their Silver Tequila is the 8th best blanco tequila for mixing Margaritas this summer.

Here is a link to my newly revised review:

Review Avion Silver Tequila

“…  I noticed a light effervescent almost spicy aroma of grapefruit zest is reminiscent of the smells of my back garden after a light rain shower. I find  the aroma light and clean almost refreshing. I also noticed a moderately punky/fruity agave aroma with a mild white pepper scent rising from the glass with a light fruity sweetness carried by the agave …”

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Note: 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 Countdown

Posted in Awards, Blanco Tequila, Tequila, Tequila Review | 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 »

2015 Margarita Challenge #9 – Cruz del Sol (Silver)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 7, 2015

CRUZ SAM_1521

Cruz Margarita

The Number 9 spirit in my 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge (according to the Cruz Tequila website information) contains no chemicals, additives or flavorings, and is produced entirely from Blue Weber agave plants grown in the highlands of the Los Altos region of Jalisco, Mexico.

The harvested agave is slow cooked in traditional brick ovens for two days, then cooled before the juice is extracted and naturally fermented. The fermented juice is double distilled in small batches and all Cruz Tequila is packaged and bottled using recycled materials. This includes the blown glass bottles and the aluminum caps as well as the aluminum cross on the front label.

During the deliberations for the 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge, my judging panel found Cruz del Sol Silver was a lightly earthy spirit with a building spiciness, and those features of flavour worked well in the Margarita Cocktail I served in the competition. Well enough to rank this tequila as the number 9 spirit in my challenge.

Here is a link to my newly revised review which incorporates the information learned during my most recent tasting sessions as well as the information gleaned during the competition tasting:

Review: Cruz del Sol Silver

“… There is an almost tender quality to the agave which is very pleasant with some interesting earthy flavours of fresh garden squash and cucumber laying underneath the agave fruit. As I continue to sip I taste tiny bits of cinnamon, hints of black licorice, and sweet impressions of sugar cane and mint. Building alongside these subtle flavours is a spicy white pepper and a citric zest which heats the palate a little more with each sip …”

The Cruz Del Sol Silver is a good spirit to serve when introducing persons to the highland tequila taste profile. The soft lightly sweet notes in the flavour profile are more approachable than one finds in a typical blanco tequila from the highlands.

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Note: 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 Countdown

Posted in Awards, Blanco Tequila, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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!

Posted in Awards, Blanco Tequila, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Bulleit Rye Frontier Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 1, 2015

Bulleit Rue SAM_1513

Bulleit traces its heritage back to 1830 when tavern keeper Augustus Bulleit (after a few experimental trials) created his Bulleit Bourbon and began to market his whiskey both locally and then later to areas outside of Kentucky. As misfortune would have it, Augustus Bulleit disappeared while transporting some barrels of his bourbon to New Orleans, and the brand disappeared for over 100 years. In 1987, Tom Bulleit revived the brand which bears his great-great grandfather’s name. (Today the brand is owned by the Diageo Conglomerate who market the product throughout North America and into Europe.)

Bulleit Rye Frontier Whiskey is bottled at 45% alcohol by volume and (according to the Bulleit  website) the spirit is a straight whiskey produced from a heavy rye mashbill (95 % rye) which also contains a small amount of malted barley (5 %). The whiskey carries no age statement, however based upon my tastings I would estimate the age of the spirit to be in the range of 5 years old with some of the whiskey possibly older, and some of the whiskey possibly younger.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Bulleit Rye Frontier Whiskey

“… full of sappy new wood smells of both oak and cedar with accents of fresh rye bread. Dusty dry grain and honeycomb are is evident as well. There is a sense of fresh tobacco and some light baking spices (vanilla, ginger and cinnamon) and maple syrup as well. As the glass sits, the woody oak builds, some bittersweet chocolate reaches up and more rye and rye spice well up into the breezes …”

Please enjoy my review!

Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Blue Chair Bay Coconut Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 23, 2015

bluechair_coconutFishbowl 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 country 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.

Nylon Pool

Nylon Pool

Here is a link to my full review for the Blue Chair Bay Coconut Rum:

Review: Blue Chair Bay Coconut Rum

“… The initial aroma is very nice with firm coconut scents mingling with cane and vanilla accents. I like that the aroma appears laid back, clean and natural. I served the rum to my Rum Chums a few weeks ago, and they all seemed to quite like the natural aroma and felt the spirit was a step up from other coconut flavoured rums they had tried in the past …”

Please enjoy my review which includes a nice summertime cocktail, the Nylon Pool.

Chimo!

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Note: Here are links to my other reviews of Kenny Chesney’s Rums:

Review: Blue Chair Bay White Rum
Review Blue Chair Bay Coconut Spiced Rum

Posted in Flavouerd Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: 1921 Añejo Tequila

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 19, 2015

1921 Anejo1921 Tequila is made from 100% Agave cultivated in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. The distinction between tequila made from highland agave versus tequila made from lowland agave is important because agave grown in the highlands tends to carry a different flavour profile into the final tequila than lowland tequila. Highland tequila tends to have more sweet fruity citrus flavours and perhaps a touch more hot pepper in the finish.

The website for 1921 Tequila states that their Añejo Tequila has spent  a year in white oak. The tequila is described on the website as:

“…It is definitely a Tequila made to be tasted calmly and enjoyed slowly in a cognac wine glass, allowing the description of the authentic taste of the white oak barrel aged for 12 months, where the wood has blended its most sophisticated characteristics with the agave from Jalisco´s soil…”

I decided to follow the advise of the website and began my tasting session with a cognac glass and the 1921 Añejo Tequila served neat without ice.

Maximiliano Tequila

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: 1921 Añejo Tequila

“…As I brought the brandy glass up to my nose, the fruity agave began to assert itself into the air around the glass. Nice soft pepper and ginger notes come forward out of the glass as well, followed by lime citrus and soft butterscotch. A hint of  vanilla wafts into the air with some scattered tea leaves.  The aroma is very nice…”

I have followed the review with a cocktail recommendation called, Maximiliano Tequila.

Please enjoy my review!

Note: I have been on a bit of a tequila kick lately re-visiting the many of the brands which I first reviewed several years ago. This has all been in preparation for the Rum Howler 2015 Margarita Challenge which my Rum Chums and I have been working on in secret the last several weeks. The purpose of the Challenge is to determine what we feel is the best Blanco Tequila for this Summer’s Margarita Season. The results of our determinations will be published in May, when I will revisit many Blanco spirits here on my website and introduce a few more. Until then I hope you have been enjoying my re-visitations of the previously reviewed Reposado and Anejo tequila spirits on my website. (The astute observer will have noticed a few new reviews were scattered in as well.)

Posted in Anejo Tequila, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review Crown Royal XO

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 17, 2015

Crown Royal XO bottle 2Last year, (January 16, 2014) Crown Royal® made an addition to its portfolio of Canadian Whiskies (in the USA) with the introduction of Crown Royal XO, which they have promoted as an “ultra-premium blended Canadian whisky”.  The whisky was crafted by Crown Royal Master Blender, Andrew MacKay and according to the fact sheet I was sent, it is a blend of more than 50 of Crown Royal’s finest whiskies which are finished in cognac casks from the French Limousin Forest.

According to Mr. MacKay:

“The ultra-premium nature of Crown Royal XO and the smoothness of the liquid can be attributed to the handcrafted approach we took while creating the unique blend. We’re looking forward to sharing this special blend with adults across the country and encourage them to incorporate it into their celebrations of extraordinary moments and events.”

For those of you familiar with the family of Crown Royal whiskies available in Canada, Crown Royal XO, sounds remarkably similar to the Crown Royal Cask No. 16 (click on the link for my previous review) which according to the Crown Royal (Canadian) website, is also a blend of more than 50 different aged Canadian whiskies which are finished in Cognac casks from the Limousin forest in France.

Here is a link to my full review which includes information regarding how these two blends differ as well as how they compare:

Review: Crown Royal XO

“… The initial aroma from the glass revealed sweet butterscotch and maple rising into the air with a combination of light but firm rye accents and fine wood spices. As the glass sat I began to sense some of that typically punky Crown Royal sweet corn aroma along with a few slightly musty ripe corn cobs alongside some spicy grain. I searched for an indication of the Cognac Cask enhancement and found a few apple scents wandering in the air and some very light indications of dry raisins …”

Please enjoy my review which includes a new cocktail suggestion, Crowning Glory.

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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