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Posts Tagged ‘Cocktails’

Review: Canadian Club Small Batch Sherry Cask

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 25, 2015

Sherry cask Port Manhattan SAM_1428Recently there have been some changes in the Canadian Club family. One of the brands which has undergone a revamping is the Canadian Club Sherry Cask which has been replaced by the Canadian Club Small Batch Sherry Cask. The newer version of the whisky has a new bottle and the two words, “Small Batch” have been added to the label. My understanding is the whisky is made from the familiar Canadian Club “blended at birth“  recipe of corn, rye, rye malt and barley spirits. The spirits from these grains are blended before entering the white oak barrel, and then set down for six to eight years to age. The matured whisky is then recasked for an additional finishing period  in Sherry Casks from Jerez Spain.

The second maturation allows the whisky to acquire some of the characteristics of the sherry (similar to sherry cask matured scotches); but this second maturation is of a much shorter time period which ensures that the core Canadian Club spirit remains the centerpiece of the whisky. When the Canadian Club Sherry Cask is bottled, it is done so at 41.3% alcohol by volume, just a hair over the regular 40 % strength of the rest of their line-up.

You may click on the following link to read my full review:

Review: Canadian Club Small Batch Sherry Cask

“… The initial aroma brings dark fruit (raisins and dates) and red licorice (Turkish delight) with fine wood spices running alongside which feature a smattering of ginger, white pepper and cardamom. As the glass sits, some rich tobacco builds up as does hints of orange marmalade, and rich baking spices (vanilla, dark brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and a hint of cloves) …”

Please enjoy the review and if you happen to have your own bottle already, do try my cocktail suggestion, the Sherry Cask Port Manhattan.

Cheers!

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Review: Angostura 7 Year Old Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 22, 2015

Angostura 7 SAM_1377The Angostura 7 Year Old Rum is (like all of the Angostura Rums) produced from molasses on their five column still. Part of the rum is produced from a heavy distillate which is drawn from the multi-column still after passing through only one of the five columns. This heavily flavoured rum is aged and then blended with a more purely refined spirit which is distilled upon all five columns. Both portions of the blend are aged a minimum of 7 years in charred American oak bourbon barrels, after which each portion is hand drawn from the barrel, then blended, filtered and bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

You may read my full review of the Angostura 7 Year Old Rum here:

Review: Angostura 7 Year Old Rum

“… As the glass sits, the butterscotch begins to meld into the wood spices creating impressions of toffee and light tobacco. There are scents of orange peel which begin to move towards marmalade, and hints of chocolate and coffee riding the edges of the breezes …”

This 7 Year Old Rum is a versatile spirit which can be appreciated by all rum enthusiasts. I found myself enjoying a few Lemon Muddled Cuba Libre’s mixed with the Angostura Rum, and I suspect that if you try few, you will like them too.

Please enjoy my suggested cocktail and my review!

 

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Review: Poliakov Vanilla Flavoured Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 20, 2015

Vanille Daiquiria (Poliakov) SAM_1422In late November, I received an email from the Export Marketing Assistant for the independent French spirits group, La Martiniquaise. He was writing to me from Farnace to see if I would be interested in sampling some of the revamped new flavoured range of Poliakov Vodka. As it was explained to me in his email, Poliakov is attempting to bypass the prevailing “flavour fatigue”  which they feel reigns within the flavoured vodka category, and rather than conjuring up new exotic flavours which are probably unfamiliar to their customers, the revamped Poliakov range focuses on ‘within-reach flavours’ which are familiar to their customers.

I agreed to taste some of the Poliakov flavoured range, and William arranged for me to receive three flavours, Poliakov Vanilla, Peach and Lemon Flavoured Vodkas.

Here is a link to the review for Poliakov Vanilla Flavoured Vodka:

Review: Poliakov Vanilla Flavoured Vodka

“… the nose gives me very little indication of this sweetness except for maybe just a touch of sugar cane in the breezes. What I do receive clearly in the air above the glass is a relatively clean aroma of vanilla rising into the breezes along with lightly spicy grain accents …”

I consider Poliakov’s vanilla flavoured spirit an outstanding mixing spirit, and so of course my review includes a new Rum Howler recipe, Vanille Daiquiria.

Please enjoy both the review and my new recipe!

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Ten Great Cognac Cocktails for 2015

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 4, 2015

Baby Doll

Baby Doll

During the month of December, I had a lot of fun tasting Cognac and researching different ways to enjoy the spirit. In the course of my research I was able to speak directly with experts from both small Cognac Houses like Pierre Ferrand, and larger houses like CAMUS. I also visited many of the producer’s websites, and the recurring theme was that the Cognac industry appears to be embracing the new cocktail revolution. In fact most of the websites I visited offered a variety of recipes for the consumer to enjoy with not just their VS Cognac, but also with their VSOP, and XO Cognac.

When I spoke directly with Richard Bush, the Area Manager (US Travel Retail, Canada and the Caribbean) for Camus Wines & Spirits, he told me that their CAMUS Cognac is not just for sipping in a brandy snifter. It can (and should) be enjoyed in a variety of other ways. In fact, when Richard served me a glass of his very special CAMUS Elegance Extra (see review here), he suggested that this expensive spirit could be tossed into the freezer overnight, and then served in a tulip shaped glass like a glencairn after it was thoroughly chilled. The idea is to slowly sip the Cognac over the course of an hour or so such that you may experience a fuller spectrum of flavours which are revealed as the spirit slowly warms in the glass. (You can try this with any premium sipping spirit, and if you do you will enjoy a similar delightful experience whether this be Rum, Whisky, or even Anejo Tequila.) Richard also offered his support to the notion that Cognac and Cocktails are partners which have a long history together.

I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with Richard, and when I published my Cognac Review Series, The 12 Cognacs of Christmas, I tried to convey the sentiment that Cognac is a much more versatile spirit than many persons suppose. I made the point in many of my reviews that one of the great ways to enjoy this premium spirit is in a fine cocktail. I suggested that bar drinks made with Cognac are not to be scoffed at, rather they are an intrinsic part of the enjoyment of the spirit. The truth is that mixing cocktails with Cognac has a tradition which dates back to the very earliest cocktails constructed by the original American bartenders who pioneered the art of mixology.

In keeping with the theme of serving great Cognac cocktails, I thought I would give you a list of ten of my favourite cocktail discoveries which I embraced during my review series. They are listed in no particular order, and if you are interested in making one for yourself just click on the highlighted name of the cocktail to be linked to its recipe page.

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1878 Cocktail SAM_1392

1878 Brandy Cocktail

1) 1878 Brandy Cocktail (In the nineteenth century different styles of bar drinks had their own names, the Crusta, the Smash, and the Julep just to name a few. At that time, the word ‘cocktail’ was reserved for a specific type of bar drink, which closely resembles what we call the Old-Fashioned Cocktail today. How the word ‘cocktail’ evolved to encompass all classes of bar drinks is unknown to me; but if you want to go back in time and build an original ‘Brandy Cocktail’, Leo Engels’ 1878 Bartender’s Guide, American and Other Drinks (and a nice bottle of Cognac), is a great starting place.)

2) Baby Doll (Very similar the modern Side Car except that it usually specifies the use of Courvoisier Cognac as the brandy of choice and Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge as the orange liqueur of choice in the construction of the recipe. It really doesn’t matter what we call this particular bar drink; the point is that it is delicious!)

3) Heretic (Because, some of my friends believe it is sacrilegious to mix brandy or cognac in bar drinks and cocktails, I decided to create my own heretical cocktail which features both a cognac and a well aged brandy. And for the record, it is a thoroughly delightful cocktail!)

4) 1878 Brandy Crusta (I also dug this cocktail out of Leo Engel’s 1878 amazing bartender’s guide, American and Other Drinks. It is not necessarily easy to make in its original format; but with the right Cognac, it is certainly worth the trouble to construct.)

5) Blood Orange Bitters (I found this recipe on the Hennessy Cognac website (which has quite a few more great looking recipes). Hennessy and I agree that orange and lemon are great complimentary flavours for brandy or Cognac!)

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The Classic SAM_1370

The Classic

6) The Classic Cocktail (The truth is that Brandy and Cognac are perhaps the original cocktail mixers. It was not until these spirits all but disappeared in the 1870’s (until the end of the 19th century because of the phylloxera), that other spirits such as whisky, rum and gin began to dominate the mixed drink category. Here is a recipe which has its roots firmly fixed in those earlier times when Brandy and Cognac were kings of the cocktails.)

7) 1878 Mint Julep (The original Mint Julep was probably made with Cognac, not whiskey, in the early nineteenth century. The recipe I am sharing here is loosely based upon the Mint Julep construction found in Leo Engels’, American and Other Drinks. This classic cocktail has stood the test of time and tastes every bit as good today as it did almost 200 years ago.)

8) French Presbyterian (The tall Presbyterian Cocktail is a simple bar drink which mixes Scotch Whisky with ginger ale and soda water. When made with Cognac, I believe it is more appropriate to call this construction a French Presbyterian. This cocktail is hard to beat when a long refreshing dink is called for.)

9) Wisconsin Old Fashioned (This is a regional cocktail which has been receiving bit of press in the cocktail blogs lately. It is not to be confused with the more well-known Old Fashioned Cocktail; however, this favorite of the Dairyland state is definitely yummy in its own right!)

10) Medusa Coil (This is a cocktail of my own construction which evolved when I wanted to put a somewhat modern spin on a traditional (or maybe the right word is ‘classic’) cocktail. I began with a Leo Engels 1878 Brandy Crusta, and with a few additions and subtractions, I arrived at what I call the Medusa Coil. I think it is very good, and I am hoping some of you will try it as well.)

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #8 – Camus VSOP Elegance

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 9, 2014

Champs Élysées SAM_1383The construction of the CAMUS VSOP Elegance begins with a selection of particular aromatic eaux-de-vie which are partially distilled on the lees. These include eaux-de-vie from the famous Borderies cru which are selected to strengthen the aromatic character of the VSOP Elegance as it ages. The aging barrels selected for this VSOP are medium toasted rather than lightly toasted which helps to maintain the original characteristic aromas of the eaux-de-vie.

The ages of the varies blended Cognac in the VSOP Elegance must be (by law) a minimum of four years of age, although to maintain a consistent flavour profile from year to year, it would not be unusual for some of the specific Cognac in the blend aged longer.

Here is a link to my latest review:

Review: Camus VSOP Elegance

“… The initial aroma of from the glass brings forward a very nicely fruited mixture of green grape, apricot and raisin all of which are melded nicely into the rising scents of fine oak spices. There is a gentle sweetness in the breezes represented by indications of sweetgrass and butterscotch. As the glass sits I sense a light herbaceous quality within the air with hints of camphor and menthol tickling the senses …”

I have formed a very positive impression of the Camus VSOP. It is a very nice sipping spirit with enough complexity and depth of flavour to keep me interested all the way to the bottom of the glass. I also had a lot of fun mixing cocktails, and I have shared one of the most interesting cocktails as my suggested recipe for the Camus, Champs Élysées.

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Stay tuned as between now and Christmas I will continue my series,the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #9 – Pierre Ferrand Ambre

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 8, 2014

Pierre Ferand Amber SAM_1048

Pierre Ferrand Ambre and the Grande Champagne Sidecar

Pierre Ferrand Ambre (Grande Champagne Cognac) is blended solely from aged eaux de vie produced within the 1st Cru de Cognac, more specifically from the Ugni Blanc and Colombard grapes grown within the Grande Champagne Cognac appellation (region) of France. Although the final spirit has no age statement, according to Guillaume Lamy, (Vice President – North America for Cognac Ferrand), this is because the spirit is blended to meet an age profile that represents a 10-year-old spirit. To maintain product consistency from year to year, the actual average age of the blended cognac will vary depending upon the cellar conditions during maturation and the interactions between the oak and the aging eaux de vie.

You may read my review of this outstanding Cognac here:

Review: Pierre Ferrand Ambre (Grand Champagne Cognac)

“… Pierre Ferrand Ambre has a wonderful freshness featuring both floral and citrus elements which reached out of that glass and teased my nostrils. Mixed into those breezes are firm impressions of ripe green grapes and a gentle sweep of vanilla. I also sense an herbal grassy note, as well as a few wisps of spicy raisins, and a mild winding of sandalwood and oak …”

Please enjoy my review which includes not one cocktail recipe but two, the 1878 Mint Julep, and the Grande Champagne Sidecar!

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Stay tuned as we have more to come as between now and Christmas I will continue my series,the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

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Rum Howler 2014 # 18 Rum – Rum Nation Barbados Anniversary Edition

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 7, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Rum Nation is an Italian company created by Fabio Rossi. 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 rums from various Caribbean producers. His Rum Nation Barbados Anniversary Edition (12 Years Old) celebrates the first 15 years of Rum Nation (2001 to 2014) as an independent bottler of unique rum.

This Bajan rum was distilled from sugar cane molasses upon a column still in Barbados at the facilities of R.L. Seale in 2001 (Batch Number L14/059). It was matured in the Caribbean (in Ex American Bourbon casks) for the majority of its aging life. However the rum was transported to Italy to be finished in Piedmont (the Italian area of the Nebbiolo Wine) for the last 18 to 24 months. For finishing, the rum was transferred to Ex Spanish Brandy and Ex sherry Oloroso casks before being bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

SAM_1126 FINE DALLIANCE

A Fine Dalliance

The Rum Nation Barbados Anniversary Edition (12 Years Old) enters my Countdown of the Best Rums of 2014 as the 18th best in the world.

Here is a link to my recent review:

# 18 Rum – Rum Nation Barbados Anniversary Edition

“… Within the rum, flavours of oak spice and dark brown sugar take center stage with wonderful accents of vanilla and baking spices. Butterscotch, toffee and molasses lie underneath. My palate was also tickled by black licorice, hints of salt, some zesty orange peel and a dollop of marmalade …”

Rum Nation has never failed to disappoint me with any of their rum offerings, and the Rum Nation Barbados Anniversary Edition is no exception!

The review contains my new cocktail recipe which, just like this bajan rum, surely is A Fine Dalliance.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Rums of 2014 here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Rums of 2014

 

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #10 – H by Hine

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 6, 2014

The Classic SAM_1370

The Classic

Hine is one of the oldest Cognac Houses in the commune of Jarnac, (within the Cognac appellation of France of course), and Hine has produced their Cognac since 1763. Their new H by Hine Fine Champagne Cognac (VSOP) is produced from a blend 20 Cognac spirits which in turn were each produced from grapes grown in 2 of the finest crus in the heart of France’s Cognac appellation, the Grande Champagne and the Petite Champagne. As this Cognac carries a VSOP designation, I should point out that the youngest eaux de vie in the H by Hine Fine Champagne Cognac blend must be a minimum of 4 years old.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: H by Hine Fine Champagne Cognac (VSOP)

“… The breezes above the glass carried a nice blended aroma which represents a melding of oak and wood spice, some vibrant fresh fruit and light toffee scents. The spiciness of the oak is firm but not assertive which appeals to me as sometimes oak can dominate a spirit to the detriment of the other aromas and flavours. …”

While some people scoff at the notion of mixing Cognac into cocktails and bar drinks, the truth is that Brandy and Cognac are perhaps the original cocktail mixers. It was not until these spirits disappeared in the 1870’s (until the end of the 19th century because of the phylloxera), that other spirits such as whisky, rum and gin began to dominate the mixed drink category. At the conclusion of my review I share a recipe called The Classic which has is origins in those earlier times when Brandy and Cognac were kings of the cocktails.

Enjoy my review, and stay tuned for more of the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

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Rum Howler #19 Canadian Whisky – Schenley OFC

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 6, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Schenley OFC is currently produced at the Lethbridge, Alberta Distillery by Schenley Distilleries. The Distillery in Lethbridge Distillery usually referred to as the Black Velvet Distillery, as this is where Black Velvet Canadian Whisky is produced, and, as well, it is referred to as the Palliser Distillery, as it is also where brands such as Danfield’s Canadian Whisky (a Palliser Brand) is produced.

Alas, the Schenley OFC brand seems to have disappeared from the shelves of many liquor stores stateside, and I suspect that this is related to industry consolidation where for reasons beyond my understanding, solid money earning brands are dumped in favour of the economy of scales which are achieved by promoting fewer brands names across a portfolio.

Schenley OFC LabelThankfully, the Schenley OFC is still found on the shelves of many liquor stores here in Alberta. It is a whisky which I hold in high esteem, and one which I felt I ought to re-visit this year on my website.

This revisitation resulted in its placing at #19 on this year’s Rum Howler Canadian Whisky Countdown:

#19 Canadian Whisky – Schenley OFC

” … As you allow the glass to breathe, the air above the glass becomes enriched with dusty grain fields, sandalwood and oak spices, hints of cinnamon and clove, and a touch of almond-like marzipan. If you like a typical dry Canadian Whisky, you will like the nose very much …”

This is a very satisfying Canadian whisky. We have that light bourbon influence which has become all the rage in whisky today, but the makers did not forget that this is a Canadian whisky first. That nice rye flavour works well in combination with the vanilla and honey bourbon aftertaste.

It also makes a great Canadian Caribou cocktail!

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

 

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #11 – Hennessy Privilege V.S.O.P.

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 4, 2014

Medusa Coil SAM_1382

The Medusa Coil Cocktail

Jas Hennessy & Co., is the largest Cognac producer in the world today with sales that exceed 45 million bottles per year. The company was founded in 1765 by Richard Hennessy who was an Irish Officer in the army of Louis XV.  Fifty two years later, in 1817, Hennessy Cognac was so highly regarded that the Prince of Wales, (who later would become King George IV of Great Britain) asked the Hennessy House to produce what was termed a “very superior old pale cognac“. This was apparently the genesis for the initials V.S.O.P (Very Superior Old Pale), and these initials have become a labeling standard used throughout the industry to this day.

The subject of this review is Hennessy’s Privilege VSOP Cognac. The spirit is produced from the fruity Ugni Blanc grapes which have been harvested from the four great crus of the Cognac region (Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois). The grape wine produced is (of course) double distilled upon the Hennessy Distillery’s great copper pot stills and then selected eaux-de-vie is set down to age for at least 4 years in french oak casks which have constructed from old growth oak timbers.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Hennessy’s Privilege VSOP Cognac

“… The initial aroma displays a rich combination of oak spice and vanilla with leathery cedar accents. To some extent the oak dominates covering over the fruity scents of green grape and raisin. After a few minutes the breezes above the glass show me impressions of rich tobacco, dark baking spices, (vanilla, brown sugar, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon), sticky marmalade, apricot brandy and hints of maple …”

When I was contemplating a cocktail for the Hennessy Privilege VSOP, I wanted to put a modern spin on a traditional (or maybe the right word is ‘classic’) cocktail. I began with Leo Engels 1878 Brandy Crusta, and with a few additions and subtractions, I arrived at what I call the Medusa Coil.

Enjoy my review, and stay tuned for more of the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

 

Posted in Brandy and Cognac Reviews, Cognac Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #11 – Hennessy Privilege V.S.O.P.

 
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