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Review: Legacy Small Batch Canadian Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 20, 2015

Legacy Small Batch SAM_1656The resurgence of interest in Canadian Whisky continues unabated as it seems that every time I venture into a local liquor store I see new brands that I have never tried before. One of these new brands, Legacy Small Batch caught my eye and I decided to request a bottle for review. The new brand is owned by Sazerac, and to produce this new Canadian spirit they import mature whisky from Canada and bottle it at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky.

There is not much information about this particular whisky on the Sazerac website except for a statement that, Master Blender Drew Mayville (Buffalo Trace), oversees the distillation of this particular whisky. Unfortunately I find this claim hard to reconcile based upon his own statements in a 2013 interview in The Spirits Business (see interview here) regarding the anonymity of Canadian Whisky distillers and his happiness at being a blender and not a distiller. (Note that Canadian Whisky by law must be at least 3 years old and therefore would have been distilled prior to those statements.) Perhaps the marketing people at Sazerac meant that Drew Mayville oversees the blending of the Legacy Small Batch, which of course would be right up his alley.

Canadian Caribou

Canadian Caribou

Here is a link to my full Review:

Review: Legacy Small Batch Canadian Whisky

“… I taste a very nice melding of rye-like spices with butterscotch toffee. There is a corn-like smoothness which permeates the whisky along with just enough peppery heat to pucker and dry the palate making it receptive to the next sip. There are also light bits of cinnamon, some gentle vanillans, and a touch of milk chocolate in the flavour profile and all of these flavours seem to be pulling in the same pleasant direction …”

Please enjoy my review which includes a nice recipe I created called the Canadian Caribou.


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Review: Iceberg Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 18, 2015

Reverse Vesper SAM_1632

Reverse Vesper with Iceberg Vodka

Iceberg Vodka is produced by the Canadian Iceberg Vodka Corp. (CIVC), which is headquartered St. John’s, Newfoundland. The spirit is produced by blending alcohol distilled from Ontario sweet-corn with water harvested from icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland with the aim of creating a premium vodka which is completely devoid of artificial pollutants. The arctic icebergs which float into what is called ‘iceberg alley’ just off the coat of Newfoundland are formed from glaciers which are over 10,000 years old.

When I opened my bottle of Iceberg Vodka for the first time, I was also sampling with three other vodka spirits, Polar Ice, Opulent and Skyy Vodka. I created a set of tasting notes for each spirit, and from those notes, and from a second set of tasting notes which I prepared in my private tasting room when I tasted each spirit in isolation from the others, I prepared my reviews.

Here is a link to the full review for Iceberg Vodka:

Review: Iceberg Vodka

“… When I took to sip, I allowed a little vodka to sit on my tongue before swallowing. I noticed a nice corn-like sweetness came though in front of the grainy spice and the combination of both was quite nice …”

Please enjoy my review which includes a nice recipe suggestion, the Reverse Vesper with Cucumber and Orange Peel.


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Review: Penny Blue XO Single Estate Mauritius Rum (Batch #002)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 16, 2015

bottleI was able to obtain a sample of Penny Blue XO Single Estate Mauritius Rum, from the Western Canadian distributor Charton Hobbs. This spirit is produced by the Indian Ocean Rum Company which is a partnership between the local Medine Distillery on the Island of Mauritius and the English spirits company, Berry Bros. & Rudd. Penny Blue is a true Mauritian Rum, distilled from the locally produced molasses from the Medine Distillery’s home-grown sugar cane.

According to the information provided to me, only 7000 bottles of Batch #002 were produced from 22 oak casks. Thirty percent of the rum was drawn from ex-Whisky casks, thirty percent from ex-Bourbon Casks, and 30 percent from ex-Cognac casks. The ages of these rums varied between 5 to 11 years. An astute person will note that this accounts for only ninety percent of the rum. The final ten percent of the rum was actually a portion drawn from Batch #001 which was added to the blend for additional flavour and complexity.

After blending the rum is bottled at the Medine Estate. This bottling strength may vary slightly from batch to batch, and Batch #002 was bottled at 43.2% alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Penny Blue XO Single Estate Mauritius Rum (Batch #002)

“… The butterscotch aroma is accented by hints of tobacco and leather, and the oak spice brings impressions of orange peel and baking spice (in particular cinnamon and bits of nutmeg). There is an underlying impression of almond as well as a few floral notes. The overall impression I have is that the rum promises to be quite pleasant with perhaps just a touch of heat to add to its character …”

Please enjoy my review and the cocktail suggestion which follows, The Rum Club Cocktail!


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Review: Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Port 2008

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 14, 2015

late-bottled-vintage-2008Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port wine is (as the name implies) a style of Port which is bottled later than the more prestigious Vintage Port. LBV Port wine remains in neutral wood between four to six years, rather than the 2 years which would be typical for a Vintage Port. Since Port wine matures more quickly in oak vats than it would in the bottle, it is ready to be served when it is bottled. However, Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Port, (unlike many other LBV Ports) is not filtered before it is bottled, as a result the Fonseca will continue to age and should continue to improve if stored properly.

The wines used to produce Fonseca LBV were drawn from a reserve of some of the best full-bodied red ports produced during the 2008 harvest. These grapes were grown both on Fonseca’s own vineyards as well as on other properties in the Cima Corgo and Douro Superior areas of the Douro Valley. The wines are aged in wood vats of 50 pipes (27,500 litres) capacity and then bottled after five years.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Fonseca Late Bottled Vintage Port 2008, Bottled 2013

“…   As the glass sits I soon received lush fruity smells of fresh dark BC cherries and fresh ripe plums. I really enjoyed the evolution of aromas as the smells above the glass began with dry fruity aromas and moved slowly to a fuller fresher aroma of ripe succulent fruit …”

I like Port Wine, and in particular, I like LBV Port Wine with its bevy of fresh fruity flavours. Unfortunately, in my particular local we have a rather limited selection of LBV Port and so my reviews of this style of wine are rather scant. However, I can say without a doubt that the Fonsecu Late Bottle Vintage 2008 is a spectacular example of how great LBV Port can be.

Please enjoy the review!



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Review: Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 12, 2015

Crown RoyalCrown Royal Single Barrel (Davin) SAM_1633®Canadian Whisky is currently produced in Gimli, Manitoba, at the Crown Royal Distillery. The distillery and the brand are owned by the global spirits conglomerate Diageo, and I think it is fair to say that Crown Royal is Diageo’s flagship Canadian whisky. The brand was introduced in 1939 (by Samuel Bronfman of Seagrams) as a special whisky bottling to commemorate the Royal Tour of Canada by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth who traveled across the Country by train that year. (Apparently, the train carrying the Royal Couple was stocked with 10 cases of the new Crown Royal Blend.) Until 1964, the whisky was only available in Canada; however, today it is available world-wide, and is in fact the number one Canadian whisky brand sold in Canada and the USA by value. (I believe Canadian Club is still the number one brand in Canada by volume.)

Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel is the first production Canadian Whisky ever to sold in the single barrel format. It drawn from a single oak cask and bottled a full 51.5 % alcohol by volume bottling proof.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel

“… That intense butterscotch I noticed on the nose manifests itself as a sweet yummy honeyed butterscotch flavour when the spirit crosses the palate. Along with the sweet butterscotch are equally intense spicy rye wood spices which along with the 103 proof alcohol heat the mouth. I realize I have to be careful with this whisky, the flavour is so good I want a mouthful, but the heat the spirit possesses must be treated with respect …”

Please enjoy my review!



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Review: Finlandia Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 9, 2015

Finlnadia Martini SAM_1588Finlandia describes itself as the Vodka of Finland. When I researched the spirit, I discovered it is distilled in the Finnish village of Koskenkorva, by the Altia Corporation from locally grown six-row barley and what the Finlandia website calls ‘untainted glacier water’. After distillation, the spirit is transported to Rajamäki (also in Finland) where it is brought to bottling strength and bottled. It is imported into Canada by Brown-Forman.

I sampled Finlandia side by side in a flight of vodka spirits which also included the more premium Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka, and AnestasiA Vodka, as well as a locally produced spirit Alberta Pure Vodka which shares a similar price point with Finlandia. I compiled notes for each Vodka, and from those notes (and from my notes in a separate tasting in my private tasting room) I constructed my reviews.

Here is a link to my full review for Finlandia Vodka:

Review: Finlandia Vodka

“… only a few wisps of grainy spice were apparent in the breezes before I took my first sip. The vodka has a soft lightly sweet lemon balsam flavour which spreads across the palate as you sip. There is also a mild spiciness that covers the tongue …”

Please enjoy my latest review which includes two nice recipes at its conclusion, a Vodka Martini (with Grapefruit Peel) and the Vodka Daiquiri



Note: If you are interested, here are the links for the three other Vodka Spirits in the flight which I sampled side by side with the Finlandia:

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Review: Bayou Spiced Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 7, 2015

Bayou Spiced and Cola SAM_1668

Bayou Spiced Rum and Cola

Louisiana 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.

Bayou Rums are distilled upon a traditional copper pot still using 100% locally (Louisiana) produced cane sugar and molasses. According to the company website:

Spiced Bayou Rum is infused with classic traditional spices with a Louisiana twist. Featuring Louisiana grown ingredients, this special gumbo of spices creates a unique and satisfying blend that makes it the perfect rum for mixing. Spiced Bayou Rum livens up everything from a rum and cola to unsweet tea or an ice cube.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Bayou Spiced Rum 

“… I noticed a butterscotch and vanilla sweetness rode in the breezes alongside a pleasant, somewhat pungent, spiciness. The spiciness reminded me of nutmeg and allspice, with perhaps a touch of cardamom and ginger as well. I also seemed to sense some sharper aromatic spices akin to cinnamon and cloves …”

As you can see from my photograph to the left, Bayou Spiced Rum mixes very easily with cola, and for that reason alone, the Bayou Spiced Rum with Cola promises to be on my menu for many a barbeque this summer.



Posted in Rum, Rum Reviews, Spiced Rum | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Review: Canadian Club Chairman’s Select Maple

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 5, 2015

Select mapleCanadian Club Whisky (owned by BeamSuntory) is the oldest (and probably the most influential) Canadian Whisky brand in the world. The company has been granted numerous Royal Warrants from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II and it has been reported that Canadian Club was the whisky of choice when Al Capone smuggled thousands of Cases of Canadian Whisky into the USA during prohibition. Today Canadian Club Premium is the flagship brand for the company. In Canada, it is aged for a minimum of 6 years in white oak barrels and bottled at 40 per cent alcohol by volume.

Recently Canadian Club added to their flavoured and spiced portfolio by releasing a new maple flavoured whisky , Canadian Club Chairman’s Select Maple. According to the Canadian Club website:

Our master distillers have brought together the world’s finest Canadian whisky with the perfect hint of maple flavour.

Maple Mammy

Chairman’s Maple Mammy

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Canadian Club Chairman’s Select Maple

“… When I steal a sip from the glass, again it is the flavour of maple which one notices immediately (as we should). However, I was pleased to taste a firm whisky presence within the spirit as well. Despite the obvious maple taint, the flavoured whisky still retains its character as a whisky …”

Included in my review is a nice cocktail suggestion which combine the Canadian Club Chairman’s Select Maple with lime juice and ginger-ale, the Chairman’s Maple Mammy.


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Review: Belvedere Unfiltered (Rare Diamond Rye) Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 3, 2015

belvedere-unfiltered-rye-vodkaBelvedere Vodka is (according to their website) “the world’s first luxury vodka“. It is a four-time distilled spirit produced in the Polish town of Żyrardów from Dankowski rye and water pulled from Belvedere’s own underground artesian wells.

I first tasted the new Unfiltered Belvedere Vodka at a recent Martini Seminar hosted in Edmonton by Ali Dedianko, the Belvedere Vodka Global Ambassador. At the seminar Ali described the Belvedere Unfiltered spirit as a ‘whisky drinkers vodka’ which was produced to allow the flavour of the Dankowski Rye to shine through. This is because the spirit is produced exclusively from Dankowski Rye grain grown on a Single Estate on one selected Polish farm. (It has its own terroir, if you will.) Furthermore the new Vodka, after being distilled four times, is bottled without filtering (at 40 % Alcohol by Volume) to ensure that the rye flavour within the vodka is not lost.

Unfiltered Reverse Vesper

Unfiltered Reverse Vesper

After the Martini event, I contacted the Western Canadian distributor of Belvedere products, Charton Hobbs who provided my sample bottle for this review.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Belvedere Unfiltered (Rare Diamond Rye) Vodka

“… When I brought the chilled vodka to my nose I could detect light aromas of  fresh-baked rye bread combined with a lovely milk chocolate scent. I was surprised that the aroma was so firm as the Vodka was very well chilled. As the Vodka warmed, the spicy rye grain seemed to unravel itself from the lightly sweet chocolate giving me another olfactory dimension to enjoy …”

Please enjoy the review, and at its conclusion I hope you also enjoy two Martini recipes I created which feature the outstanding flavour of the Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka, a Dry Vodka Martini (with lemon garnish) and a Reverse Vesper Martini (with cucumber and lemon garnish).


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Review: Rum Nation Jamaica Pot Still 8 Year Old Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 1, 2015

Jamaica_8yoRum Nation is an Italian company created by Fabio Rossi, who began his life in the spirits trade as a Oenologist (one who has studied wine-making). After his studies, Mr. Rossi left the wine business and started up a whisky company in Edinburgh (Wilson and Morgan) acting as an independent bottler of Single Malt Scotch Whisky. His interest turned to rum, and in 1999 Fabio Rossi founded Rum Nation. His company is headquartered in Italy; but Fabio purchases select rums from various distillers in the Caribbean and the Americas. As a result Rum Nation provides a rather unique assortment of limited edition bottlings. One such bottling is Rum Nation Jamaica 8 Year Old Rum (2015 release).

The 8 Year Old Jamaican Pot Still Rum was distilled in 2006 in a traditional Pot Still (distillery located St. Catherine, on the Island of Jamaica) and spent the first 7 years of its maturation on the island in ex-bourbon casks. From Jamaica, the rum was transported to Italy where it was transferred to ex-sherry casks (Oloroso), and then it spent an additional year aging in a cool wine cellar in the Piedmont. The final rum was bottled at a full 50 % alcohol by volume in Italy in 2015.

Pot Still Punch SAM_1674

Jamaican Pot Still Punch

According to Fabio Rossi:

We decided to bottle at 50% because we wanted it to stay ballsy, and appeal to whisky drinkers!”

You may read my full review of this ‘ballsy’ rum by clicking on the following link:

Review:  Rum Nation Jamaica Pot Still 8 Year Old Rum

“… The breezes seem to be filled with baking spices (vanilla, cinnamon, and a touch of cloves), rich brown sugar, and sherry-like aromas of dark fruit (raisins and dates). I also sense a strong presence of orange peel which is typical of Jamaican rums. In the midst of those familiar rummy scents are the punky notes of the Pot Still …”

Please enjoy my review as well as the suggested punch recipe at its conclusion, Jamaican Pot Still Punch.

Happy Canada Day!

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