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2015 Margarita Challenge #5 – Don Julio Blanco

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 18, 2015

Don Julio Margarita

Don Julio Margarita

The top 5 blanco tequila spirits (at least as far as making Margarita Cocktails is concerned) have been determined by my Rum Chums judging panel. We used a simple process of gathering all of the Blanco spirits I could get my hands on, and then designing a standard margarita which would be used throughout the competition. Spirits were judged in side by side flights of 4 or 5 Spirits with all of the winning spirits from each flight gathered together to be judged one more time against each other. The number 5 blanco Tequila as determined by my Rum Chums was Don Julio Blanco.

Because Don Julio Blanco placed so well in my competition, I decided to give my review (written almost 4 years ago) a bit of a facelift to more properly reflect how I felt the spirit in my newest sample bottle tasted relative to the other spirits I encountered in the competition.

Paloma

Paloma

Here is a link to my new review:

Review Don Julio Blanco:

“… The Don Julio tequila has a smooth presence in the mouth with a ‘soft’ agave flavour and warm citrus. I use the term ‘soft’ agave to try to give an indication that the typically earthy and punky flavour of agave is softened in this tequila to the point where I cannot really call it punky or earthy anymore ..”

Please enjoy my review which includes my version of the Paloma Cocktail for you enjoyment.

Note: Don Julio is a 100% Blue Weber Agave Tequila made from agave grown in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. As a highland tequila,we can expect the Don Julio to exhibit strong fruity citrus notes and to have a little hot pepper in the finish. The company was established by Don Julio González, who apparently began to examine the prospect of making his own Tequila in 1942.

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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 Blanco Tequila, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Bayou Silver Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 16, 2015

Lemon Daiquiri SAM_1553Louisiana Spirits was formed in 2011 with the stated aim to produce a world-class rum in Lacassine, Louisiana from Louisiana sugarcane.  By 2013 their distillery located a few miles east of Lake Charles, Louisiana, was producing a craft rum in what they call the largest privately owned rum distillery in the USA. They produce three rums, (a spiced, a flavoured, and a white rum) all of which have made their way into the Alberta market via Lifford Wines who distribute and market the spirit here in my home Province of Alberta.

Their white rum, Bayou Silver Rum, is distilled upon a traditional copper pot still using 100% locally (Louisiana) produced cane sugar and molasses. After distillation it is brought to bottling proof (40 % alcohol by volume) using triple filtered fresh water. The spirit is intended as a cocktail mixer or to be enjoyed over ice.

You may read my full review here:

Review: Bayou Silver Rum

“… When I bring the rum to my nose, I notice a few new scents and smells which I have not encountered before when nosing a white rum. The aroma is filled with tropical fruit with a gentle layer of cane sugar melded within …”

Please enjoy my latest rum review which include a nice refreshing summertime cocktail, the Lemon Daiquiri.

Chimo!

 

Posted in Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

2015 Margarita Challenge #6 – Casamigos Blanco

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 14, 2015

Casamigos SAM_1527

Casamigos Margarita

I have reached the halfway point in my Rum Howler countdown of the top 10 blanco agave spirits to serve this summer in my Margarita Cocktails. The number 6 spirit is a new Tequila brand promoted by George Clooney, Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman called Casamigos. According to the website information this is an ultra premium tequila made in a small batch process from ‘hand-selected 100% Blue Weber agaves, grown in the rich red clay and cool climate of the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico‘. The website goes on to tell us that the piñas of the hand selected agave are roasted in traditional brick ovens for 72 hours prior a long 80 hour fermentation. The Casamigos Blanco tequila is rested in American Oak for 2 months before bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

Carra Carra Margarita

Cara Cara Margarita

You may read my full review of the Number 6 Agave Spirit in the 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge by clicking the link here:

Review: Casamigos Blanco Tequila

“… I noticed a light punky agave scent within the breezes with the sharp spicy/peppery note which is typical of highland tequila somewhat muted. I noticed both grapefruit and lime zest weaving in and out the air with the mild white pepper spice, and I also notice a subtle smokey tone wrapped up within the fruity agave aroma …”

Please enjoy the review which includes a nice margarita style recipe which utilizes the unique flavour of Cara Cara Oranges. It is called of course, the Cara Cara Margarita.

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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 #7 – Jose Cuervo Especial Plata

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 12, 2015

Cuervo Margarita

Cuervo Margarita

The next entry in my 2015 Margarita Challenge is a spirit which caused more dissension amongst my judges than any other. Amongst the four Rum Chums who acted on my jury panel they was no agreement whatsoever regarding the Jose Cuervo Especial Plata. Two members of the panel had the spirit ranked near the top. One judge had the spirit ranked somewhere in the middle and one judge had it ranked well down her list. (In the case of every other agave spirit, my judges were very consistent in their rankings.)

When all the scores were tabulated and adjusted, the Jose Cuervo Especial Plata (a Mixto rather than a 100 % agave spirit) settled into the top 10 as the 7th best blanco tequila for Margarita Cocktails.

You can read my newly revised review here:

Review: Jose Cuervo Especial Plata

“… The entry into the mouth is smooth and unobtrusive with an obvious sweetness which again reminds me of cane syrup. The fruity agave is not aggressive; and there is only a mild white pepper spice heating the palate. Some lemon and lime accents are present …”

The Jose Cuervo Especial Plata lacks the “in your face” earthy herbaceousness and the spicy heat of a typical Blanco Tequila. It is instead, smooth and easy to drink; and carries a cane-like sweetness forward which will appeal to many people. Although the spirit lacks the character of a true 100 % Agave tequila; it nevertheless performs very well as a cocktail spirit.

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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, Mixto Tequila, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 2015 Margarita Challenge #9 – Cruz del Sol (Silver)

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: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 2015 Margarita Challenge #10 – Hornitos Plata Tequila

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

 
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