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Martini Monday: The Vesper Cocktail

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 8, 2015

Ali Dedianko, Belvedere Global Vodka Ambassador

Ali Dedianko, Belvedere Global Vodka Ambassador

Last week I introduced everyone to Belvedere’s Vodka Global Ambassador, Ali Dedianko who hosted the Belvedere Martini Seminar which I attended at the downtown Edmonton restaurant, North 53. During that seminar, she introduced me to a very delicious cocktail called the Reverse Vesper (which I will discuss in one of my future postings). The Reverse Vesper is of course, based upon the more famous Martini-style cocktail the Vesper, (which is the subject of this posting).

The Vesper appears to be the invention of Ian Fleming who first published the recipe in his famous 1953 novel, “Casino Royal (which is also of course the novel that introduced the world to the iconic British secret agent, James Bond). In chapter 7 of the novel, Bond tells a bartender to build him a dry martini in a deep champagne goblet. His specific instruction is:

“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.”

Felix Leiter who is accompanying him seems impressed with the bar drink, so James Bond goes on to explain to his CIA counterpart:

“I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad.”

Vesper SAM_1604Ian Fleming’s sentiments regarding proper cocktail construction hold a ring of truth as that is indeed the manner in which most of the bartenders I have spoken to prefer to build their best cocktails.

Of course Bond comes up with the perfect name for his cocktail when he meets Vesper Lynd in the next chapter. Her name was chosen by to her parents because she was “born on a dark and stormy night” and thus they chose the Latin word “vesper” for her name which means “evening”. James apparently feels the name suits his cocktail and asks Miss Lynd if he can borrow the name.

I have decided to construct my Vesper Cocktail as closely as possible (given what is available in my home bar setting) to James Bonds original formulation.

You can find this recipe by clicking on the following link which will bring you to my Vesper recipe page:

The Vesper Cocktail

Note: After the 1953 publication of Casino Royale,  the Vesper Cocktail became popular with bartenders around the world; however, the actual name of the drink and its complete recipe was not mentioned on-screen in the original, 1967 Casino Royale Movie. This first Casino Royale movie did not star Sean Connery. Instead actor David Niven played James Bond in what was actually  a spoof film which satirized the other James Bond films produced to that point. It was not until 2006 when the 2nd adaptation of the original Casino Royale novel was released as a movie, that we heard the first onscreen reference to the Vesper cocktail. Of course, by then the original novel had already made it famous.

Chimo!

 

 

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Twitter Tasting: Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 6, 2015

Crown Royal Single Barrel (Davin) SAM_1633Yesterday, I received my first bottle of the brand new Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel Whisky. What makes the bottle I received even more special is that this particular bottle has been drawn from a very particular barrel. The barrel that my good friend Davin De Kergommeax selected right out the Crown Royal whisky warehouse in Gimli, Manitoba.

If you do not know Davin, although I suspect many of you do, he is (like myself), is a true devotee of our great Canadian Spirit, whisky! He has created his own website (Canadian Whisky) where he publishes various articles about our mutual passion and of course his fantastic reviews. He has also been instrumental in launching the first ever fully independent Canadian Whisky Awards! These awards have highlighted not only the best tasting whiskies made in Canada, but they also award special achievements by Canadian Whisky Distillers in areas of innovation, brand extension, and media/advertising. And as if that was not enough, he is also the award-winning author of Canadian Whisky: the portable expert” which is probably the best guide ever published about the great Canadian Spirit.

If you haven’t heard of Crown Royal Hands Selected Barrel, it is the first production Canadian whisky ever to sold in the single barrel format, drawn from a single oak cask and brought to a full 51.5 % alcohol by volume bottling proof. Now the folks at Crown Royal didn’t just go into their warehouse and start checking random casks of whisky for this expression. They chose a very particular whisky to showcase as their first Single Barrel Whisky. A whisky from a rye heavy mashbill (64% corn, 31.5% rye, and 4.5% malted barley) which was distilled upon their one of a kind Coffey Rye still which is located in their Gimli facility.

Davin de Kergommeaux

Davin de Kergommeaux

Now, I was curious, and so I asked Davin how the selection process worked for him. He told me that he went down to the facility in Gimli in May of 2014 to taste some of the barrels. Then he went back in December (of the same year) to make his final selection. According to Davin:

“It was freezing cold so we tasted the whisky from four “finalist” barrels in the office.  They were remarkably different from each other.  I brought a sample home with me to sip on until the final product arrived a couple of weeks ago.  It really was a lot of fun from start to finish.”

And now I have one of the bottles drawn from the barrel that Davin himself chose. I find this so remarkable, that I have decided to share my first tasting of this remarkable spirit with anyone who cares to join me tomorrow at 1:30 PM (Mountain Standard) on Twitter (https://twitter.com/RumHowler). I will have my camera ready and my glencairn glass full, and if all goes according to plan publish my first thoughts and tasting notes live online on my twitter account using the hashtag ‘Rum Howler Tastes Crown Hand Selected Barrel’. I hope some of you join me, and if any of you happen to also have a bottle or sample of Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel, please post your thoughts online as well.

(And if any of you have ideas as how to make this easier for everyone to follow and participate, please post your ideas, I am pretty much a rookie at Twitter Tastings, having never done one before.)

Chimo, and see you tomorrow at 1:30 PM (MST)!

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Review: Tanqueray Rangpur Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 5, 2015

Lady of the Empire

Lady of the Empire

Tanqueray Gin was originally produced by Charles Tanqueray in London, England in 1830 at the Bloomsbury Distillery. The distillery prospered through the nineteenth century; but after being in production for over one hundred years, it was badly damaged in the bombing raids of World War II by the German air force. One still survived, and this still affectionately called “Old Tom” was moved to the new facilities in Cameron, Scotland where Tanqueray gin is currently produced. Tangueray Rangpur is a new style of gin from Tangueray. Whereas their flagship gin simply called Tanqueray is a traditional London Dry Gin which features , juniper, coriander, angelica root and licorice as the four major botanicals used in its construction. The Rangpur on the other hand is not labeled as a London Dry Gin, (it is simple labeled Gin) and according to the Tanqueray website features the Rangpur Lime as one of its major botanicals along with Juniper, Coriander, Bay leaves and Ginger.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Tanqueray Rangpur Gin

“… The aroma from the glass is more citrus forward with scents of both lime and lemon dominating the breezes and the juniper trailing along behind. The Rangpur also seems to have a stronger herbal component with hints of menthol and grassy lemonbalm. The spiciness of the coriander and ginger is very restrained …”

Please enjoy the review which is followed by one of my gin cocktails, the Lady of the Empire.

Chimo!

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Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 4, 2015

3_Grain_Harmony_Bottle_21May2015This is one of my favourite times of the year, as every year in early June, Forty Creek Whisky announces their annual special limited release whisky. This years release has been named Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony, and the distillery is once again inviting the public to participate in the release by offering to let you choose your own numbered bottle.

Reservations for choosing your bottles open at noon on Monday, June 8th and continue until 5:00 p.m. on June 26th, 2015. Of course numbers are available on a first come basis and no two bottle numbers will be the same. (Only 9000 bottles will be produced.)

According to the folks at Forty Creek:

Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony is the 9th Limited Release from Forty Creek Whisky. This year, we decided to create a bit of music by carefully blending and harmonizing three single grains: rye, barley and corn. We began by fermenting and distilling each individual grain separately. Both the rye and the barley stocks date back to when we first began our Forty Creek Distillery. This Limited Release marks the first time these stocks have been introduced into one of our whiskies. As with many of our Signature Editions, the separate, single grain whiskies were patiently aged in toasted white oak barrels. At their peak flavour potential, they were then artfully blended to create the subtle yet complex whisky we named Three Grain Harmony.

The new special release whisky will be bottled at 43% alcohol by volume, and you can find more information here:

Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony

(Barley and Rye stocks that date back to the beginnings of the distillery sounds pretty special to me. I usually reserve a few bottles for myself, and this year will be no different.)

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

Review: Captain Morgan Coconut Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 3, 2015

Coconut Breeze SAM_1618On February 11, 2015, Captain Morgan introduced three flavors to its fleet of rums, CAPTAIN MORGAN® Pineapple Rum, CAPTAIN MORGAN® Coconut Rum, and CAPTAIN MORGAN® Grapefruit RumThese new Caribbean flavors are each five times distilled and of course made from cane molasses. Each of the expression blends natural flavors with CAPTAIN MORGAN® White Rum, resulting in a spirit which can be enjoyed as a summer cocktail mixer.

According to my Dan Kleinman, Vice President of Marketing, Rums for Diageo North America:

“This summer, we’re looking for consumers to flip over their hammocks and have a little fun with their mojitos and daiquiris by enjoying our new pineapple, coconut and grapefruit extensions. After last year’s successful launch of CAPTAIN MORGAN® White Rum, we wanted to expand our offerings in the category. These flavors allow adult fans to diversify their cocktails, providing them with a taste of the Caribbean no matter where they may be responsibly enjoying our products.”

Here is a link to my review for Captain Morgan Coconut Rum:

Review: Captain Morgan Coconut Rum

“… This flavour features a firm coconut melded into a rum-like cane sugar with bits of vanilla showing through. The rum seems to carry the right balance of sweetness alongside the coconut flavour such that sipping is pleasant and not cloying …”

Please enjoy the review, I will be tackling the Captain Morgan’s Pineapple Rum in a few short weeks.

Chimo!

Posted in Rum Reviews, Flavouerd Rums, Rum | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Captain Morgan Coconut Rum

Martini Monday: Traditional Martini (with grapefruit peel)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 1, 2015

The Vodka Martini can be served either in the traditional format, some prefer to call this a ‘Wet’ Martini, or in a more modern style which is typically called a ‘Dry’ Martini’. However, what makes a martini wet versus dry is a matter of debate. Most bartenders agree that the distinction between wet and dry is a matter of the amount of aromatized wine (usually vermouth) which is added to the cocktail. A wet martini has a higher ratio of vermouth to gin (or vodka) than does a dry martin. Exactly when the martini slips from wet to dry depends upon which bartender (or which cocktail enthusiast) you are speaking to.

Belvedere Martini Seminar

Ali Dedianko hosting her Belvedere Martini Seminar

At a recent Belvedere Martini Seminar I was invited to (hosted by Ali Dedianko, Belvedere’s Vodka Global Ambassador) it was suggested to me that a martini constructed at a ratio of 1 part vermouth to 2 parts vodka could be considered ‘wet’, whereas a martini constructed at a ratio of 1 part vermouth to 6 parts gin or vodka could be considered ‘dry’. Those ratios are as good a starting point as any; however that elusive tipping point from wet to dry remains a matter of conjecture.

Taditional Martini SAM_1591

Traditional Martini (with grapefruit peel)

The main theme of Ali’s seminar, was not in defining when a martini was wet or dry; it was the suggestion that each person should find their own sweet spot of wetness or dryness where they prefer their martinis to be. It was also suggested that the garnish chosen for your martini need not be confined to olives or lemon peel. Many other garnishes can and should be considered with the thought process being towards a flavour note which would compliment the base spirit and the vermouth rather than clash with them. (At the seminar, Ali Dedianko used cucumber, grapefruit peel, and lemon peel as her chosen garnishes to great effect.)

Over the next several weeks, and taking my cue from Ali who taught me a lot, I will be hosting Martini Mondays here on my website. Each week I will publish a different Martini recipe using different ratios of Vodka (and/or Gin) with Vermouth, and experimenting with different garnishes. The recipes I publish will feature Belvedere Vodka, Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka, No. 3 London Dry Gin, and Stock Vermouth all supplied by Charton Hobbes, and who arranged for me to attend the Belvedere Martini Seminar.

I will begin with a Traditional Martini which features a grapefruit peel garnish. You can find that recipe by clicking the link below which will send you to my recipe page:

Traditional Martini (with grapefruit peel)

It is my hope that some of you try these recipes at home, and perhaps make some suggestions of your own in my comments section. I may include some of your recipes too (depending upon whether I have the ingredients handy).

Enjoy the coming summer months everybody, its Martini Season!

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Note: North 53, a fantastic downtown Edmonton Restaurant was the venue for the Belvedere Martini Event. They have a unique menu featuring Northern cuisine and based upon the samplers we were served, the food is delicious! If you are looking for a great downtown restaurant, I recommend you give North 53 a try.

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Review: Glenglassaugh 26 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 31, 2015

Glenglassaugh 26 SAM_1599Glenglassaugh Distillery is located just outside of the Speyside Whisky Region in Northeast Scotland. It is near the town of Portsoy, Banffshire about 50 miles from Aberdeen. The distillery was established in 1875 by Col. James Moir who managed the business  (with his two nephews) until 1892, when Highland Distillers stepped in and acquired the facility. The distillery remained in production until 1986 when, due to industry consolidation, it was mothballed.

In 2008, the distillery and the Glenglassaugh brand was purchased by the Scaent Group with the intention of rebooting the facility to take advantage of the surge in interest in whisky word-wide. Part of the marketing strategy was to release some existing warehouse stocks as vintage whisky bottlings, as within the facility were barrels of whisky which had sat in limbo quietly aging since 1986.

Five years later, in 2013, due in no small part to the success of the vintage bottlings, (as well as the new whisky being produced) the BenRiach Distillery Company took over the Distillery bringing in new investment capital and corporate management to ensure the growth of the rebooted Glenglassaugh brand.

Glenglassaugh 26 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky is one of the iconic vintage bottlings which was produced from spirit which had been distilled in 1984, and then had sat silently in a mixture of various oak barrels including both American Oak and ex sherry barrels. This whisky was bottled at 46% alcohol by volume (abv) sometime in 2010 and limited to a small production of 1002 bottles.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Glenglassaugh 26 Year Old

“… The initial aroma is full of oaky smells along with candied toffee and fruity sherry-like aromas. As I let the glass sit there continued to be a lot of oak and cedar in the breezes; however these wood spice and woody sap-like smells seemed to be well melded into the sweet toffee and the dark fruit which gave the nose good balance …”

Please enjoy my review!

Chimo!

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Glenglassaugh 26 Year Old

2015 Margarita Challenge #1 – Roca Patrón Silver Tequila

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 29, 2015

Roca Patron SAM_1530The month of May is almost complete, and my Tequila odyssey has arrived at its destination. My Rum Chums and I, through a series of side by side tastings have determined the Best Blanco Tequila spirit for our summer Margaritas, Roca Patrón Silver Tequila.

When I served this silver tequila to my jurors, the Rum Chums, it was in a blind format (See 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge). In that blind format, this was the spirit that my entire judging panel went crazy over. It would not be an understatement to say that the Roca Patrón Silver ran a scythe through the competition. What amazed me was that, even though the agave and the hot peppery spice are understated in this expression of Patrón Tequila, those aspects of the spirit nevertheless shone through the cocktail experience. I suspect that it is the high bottling proof (45 %) which gives this agave spirit so much punch and staying power in the cocktail format.

Suffice it to say, everyone in my tasting group loved the Margarita made with Roca Patrón Silver.

Metro Mexico

Metro Mexico

You may read my full review of this wonderful agave spirit here:

Review: Roca Patrón Silver Tequila

“… As you sip, heat does build up upon the palate in the form of black and white pepper and these flavours linger on the palate after wards. There is also a light herbal tone with echoes of mint and lime zest resting within the spice …”

Of course it is not just Margaritas which taste great with the Silver Roca Patrón, I also shared another great recipe which I call Metro Mexico at the conclusion of my review.

I hope everyone enjoyed my 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge this month, Chimo!

__________________________________________________________________________

Note: If you wish to see the final ranking for my 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Countdown, I have created a summary page which lists all of the results. 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 #1 – Roca Patrón Silver Tequila

Review: Shellback Caribbean Silver Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 27, 2015

Trifecta SAM_1590Shellback Rum is a new brand developed by E & J Gallo (the California Winemaker), and it is sold in various North American Markets including here in Alberta. Although the back of my bottle says IMPORTED & BOTTLED BY GRANDE ANTILLES CANE SPIRITS, MODESTO, CA, I have learned that the rum inside the bottle was distilled at the West Indies Refinery at Brighton, Black Rock, St. Michael, Barbados. This distillery is today more commonly known as the West Indies Distillery, and is the same facility which produces both the Cockspur and the Malibu rum brands.

Shellback Caribbean Silver Rum has been aged for 12 months in American Oak barrels before being filtered clear and bottled.

You may read my full review which includes my new Trifecta cocktail here:

Review: Shellback Caribbean Silver Rum

“… I noticed that it (Shellback Silver Rum) has a candy-like aroma filled with tropical fruit smells which lie alongside a rummy butterscotch, and firm vanilla scents. Underneath the more obvious rum-like scents is a mild mineral scent of sand and loose gravel …”

Please enjoy the new review and stay tuned on Friday when I reveal the Best Blanco Tequila for making Margaritas this summer.

Chimo!

Posted in Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Shellback Caribbean Silver Rum

2015 Margarita Challenge #2 – Tromba (Blanco Tequila)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 25, 2015

Tromba SAM_1522

Margarita Tromba

I have arrived at the Number 2 Margarita Spirit in my 2015 Rum Howler Margarita ChallengeTequila Tromba (Blanco).

I will admit now, that this particular spirit actually ranked number 1 on my independent scorecard; however my other judges overruled me (although none of my jurors has the Trombo Spirit placed lower than third on any of their scorecards). This new spirit surpised and delighted all of the judges most of whom had never tasted the spirit before. It is well deserving of its high placement in the Margarita Rankings.

In case you are unfamiliar with the brand, Tromba is a new boutique tequila created by Marco Cedano. According to the website information, Marco first forged his reputation in Mexico as the original Master Distiller for Don Julio. After working with one of the largest (and most well-known) tequila brands in the world, he decided to go ahead on his own, as both Master Distiller and Founder his new independent brand, Tequila Tromba.

Sandy Silence SAM_1508

Sandy Silence

Here is a link to my full review of this new Tequila Spirit:

Review: Tromba Tequila (Blanco)

“… I was very delighted with the aroma which the glass presented to the breezes. There was a light but firm punky agave scent within those breezes with had melded very nicely into the typically sharp peppery note of the highland tequila. There is a ‘freshness’ rising into the air with effervescent scents of lime zest combined with fruity agave, hints of spearmint, and a touch of licorice …”

Tromba was in fact such a nice spirit that I could not resist designing a new cocktail experience for this outstanding agave spirit. This mixed drink, Sandy Silence, can be found at the conclusion of the review.

All the best everyone, and stay tuned for the spirit my judges ranked number 1.

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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, Cocktails & Recipes, Extras, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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