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Posts Tagged ‘Rum Howler Awards’

The Year In Rum (2014 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 19, 2015

RH-winner2014I have come to the last of my Rum Howler Awards as I determine my 2014 Rum Howler Awards for the excellence in the production of rum. This year, sadly, I have eliminated the Regional Rum Awards as time simply has gotten the best of me, and I must forge on into the year 2015 and leave 2014 behind.

In my discussions with different spirits companies I have noticed a welcome change in attitude regarding the oak barrel. Whereas, in the past these companies would only discuss how long their spirit had rested in that barrel, today those same companies are beginning to talk about the barrel itself. I hear terms like New Oak, First Fill, Second Fill, and re-charred oak barrels not just when companies are discussing whisky; but also now when they are discussing Rum. We are also seeing an influx of exotic finishing barrels like cognac casks, Sherry Casks and many more. It seems that as we are in this time of diminishing aged stocks, the spirits companies have embraced innovation to bring more flavours and more character forward in new and exciting ways. If this trend continues, then as the companies replenish their aged stocks over the next five and ten years, we will then enter into a new paradigm where the consumer may have the best of both worlds, a return to blends which contain only well aged rum as well as these same blends benefiting from all those years of innovation. We may indeed look back on this time as the shot in the arm that industry needed to bring something even more wonderful forward. Of course, only time will tell.

Here is a link to the Awards Page for the 2014 Rum Howler Award winners for excellence in the production of Rum. These are the spirits which have risen to the top and provided us with our greatest enjoyment in the World of Rum.

The 2014 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Rum

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The Year in Whisky (2014 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 10, 2015

It is timeRH-winner2014 for to unveil my Rum Howler Awards with respect to best Whisky I have tasted in 2014. As is the case each year, all of my Rum Howler Awards are based upon side by side tastings within each category of spirit. I taste the spirit neat, and I also mix a few cocktails with each spirit. All spirit samples which I receive to review on my website are automatically considered for my awards. I do my review, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit for the end of the year judging. I also receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards. My side by side tastings are completed, and it is time for me to reveal the recipients of my 2014 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Whisky.

Here is a link to the Awards Page for the 2014 Rum Howler Award winners for excellence in the production of Whisky:

The 2014 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Whisky

Posted in Awards, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Year in Gin (2014 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 8, 2015

RH-winner20142014 was another strong year on my website as it relates to the spirit which is called Gin. During the month of August, I published the Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge a competition where I chose 17 different gins to pit against each other in constructing the quintessential summer cocktail, the Gin and Tonic. A fortunate by-product of my summertime challenge is that I obtained a large sampling of gin spirits for review this year and have a strong field from which to select my award winners this year.

As I usually do, I invited one of my gin loving friends to help me in the judging process for the 2014 awards. Each spirit was served in two cocktails (Darby Cocktail, and a Dry Gin Martini) as well as served neat with no ice. I also included the results from my Gin and Tonic Challenge in my analysis.

Here is a link to the Awards Page for the 2014 Rum Howler Award winners for excellence in the production of Gin:

The 2014 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Gin

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The Year in Vodka (The 2014 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 7, 2015

RH-winner2014Today I continue my 2014 Rum Howler Awards with a look at the year in Vodka. Last year I noted that my Vodka Reviews are amongst the most popular upon this website, both amongst producers who send me more vodka samples than I could ever hope to consume, and by my readers who seem to appreciate a review which incorporates not only my perception of taste and quality, but also my observations regarding cocktails and food pairings. My quirky style of vodka review also appears to have struck a chord with producers, especially those in Eastern Europe who have told me that my willingness to bring the gastronomic experience into my review process is much appreciated.

As is the case each year, all of my Rum Howler Awards are based upon side by side tastings within each category of spirit. I taste the spirit neat, and I may also mix a few cocktails with each spirit. All spirit samples which I receive to review on my website are automatically considered for my awards. I do my review, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit for the end of the year judging. I also include those samples which were provided in the previous year so as to have a larger field to judge, and I may receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards.

Here is a link to the Awards Page for the 2014 Rum Howler Award winners for excellence in the production of Vodka:

The 2014 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Vodka

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The Year in Cognac and Brandy (2014 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 6, 2015

RH-winner2014I am a little late with my 2014 Rum Howler Awards. As some of you know, I took a sabbatical from my website at the end of the summer when my wife and my youngest son were each going through some medical difficulties. My time and attention was needed on the home front rather than on the web front, and as a result I made the decision in early October to postpone the publication of my Rum Howler Awards until after Christmas. I hope that no one minds the delay.

Earlier this year, I sent out a call to my contacts in the spirits industry as I was hoping to acquire 4 or 5 VSOP Cognac samples for a Rum Chums Tasting as well as for a short series of Cognac reviews to publish. The response I received was nothing short of amazing as instead of just a few VSOP Cognac, I also received an assortment of VS Cognac, and an even larger assortment of XO and super premium Cognac spirits. This meant that instead of a few VSOP spirits to review, I had suddenly acquired a bunch of Cognac spirits, sixteen samples in all. In fact I received enough sample spirits such that I am able to add the Cognac category to my annual Rum Howler Awards. (I also had a few very old Brandies which I added to the festivities.)

And thus it is time to reveal the recipients of the 2014 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Cognac (and Brandy). These Awards are for the best spirits which I encountered in the year 2014.

Here is a link to the Awards Page:

The 2014 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Cognac (And Brandy)

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Note: The awards page contains links to my latest reviews for CAMUS VS, Courvoisier VS, and Hennessy VS Cognac.

Posted in Awards, Brandy and Cognac Reviews, Brandy Review, Cognac Review, Extras | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Year in Cognac and Brandy (2014 Rum Howler Awards)

The Top 25 Rums of 2014

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 30, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Once again, I have prepared my annual listing of the best rums available in the world, this time for the year ending, 2014.

If you have followed any of my year-end countdown lists over the past few years you will have noticed that they are ever evolving as new spirits become available for me to taste each year, and as previously reviewed spirits disappear (for example: Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum – Jamaica Independence Reserve) or become unavailable in my market for me to re-evaluate.

Another factor causing change in my rankings each year is the evolution of the various spirit brands which, contrary to popular opinion, do not necessarily remain consistent from year to year (or even from batch to batch). Within spirit companies, and within individual distilleries, philosophies and styles change as does the quality of the spirit produced from year to year (and from batch to batch).

download7_1680x1050My list as usual will be presented “Countdown Style” beginning on November 30th, and then through the month of December with the best rum of 2014 revealed on December 24, 2014 just in time for you to grab a bottle for Christmas and New Year’s cheer! As you return to this page each day (beginning November 30th), a new spirit will be revealed as we count down to the best rum I have personally tasted in 2014!

As so with no further ado, allow me to present my countdown list of

The Rum Howler – Top 25 Rums of 2014

And of course, allow me to present my choice as the 25th best rum in the World:

Flor de Caña Centenario 12

Note: I will be publishing two additional advent lists in the run up to Christmas, my 2nd annual Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014, and my newest review series, The 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Top 25 Rums of 2014

The Rum Howler 2013 Regional Rum Awards

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 31, 2013

RH-winner2013Things have been pretty much been nonstop for me the last three months, and I covered so much territory that I almost ran out of time before I could publish my 2013 Rum Howler Regional Rum Awards and name my 2013 Rum Howler Rum of the Year!

For those who are unfamiliar, 2013 Regional Rum Awards recognize the best rum produced in the various rum producing regions of the world. These awards are not based upon where a particular rum is distilled; but rather they are based upon where these spirits are bottled. This is because many rums are actually blended from a variety stocks which are distilled in more than one country. As well, many aged rums are purchased in bulk and then are transported to be matured a further length of time in other locations, and they may even be treated specially (or perhaps I should say in a unique manner) before they are blended and bottled. This of course makes the final spirit very different from when it was originally distilled or transported in bulk. Because of the special treatment a rum may receive either through blending or aging outside of the country where the rum was originally produced, it makes sense for me to consider these spirits as a product of the country where they were bottled, rather than where they were distilled.

And so on the final day of the year I finally wrap up my Rum Howler Awards for 2013. You may click the following link to read about the awards::

The 2013 Rum Howler Awards for Rum (The Regional Awards)

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Note: As an added bonus you can find my recently updated 2013 list of the World’s Best Rums here: The 2013 Rum Howler – Top 30 Rums

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on The Rum Howler 2013 Regional Rum Awards

#1 Canadian Whisky – Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 25, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYEighteen months ago, Highwood Distillers, (Alberta’s only privately owned distillery) released a single bond offering (Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky) which was produced entirely from corn distillate which had been aged for a full 25 years in charred American white oak barrels. The release of this whisky commemorated the Centennial of Calgary’s world-famous rodeo (The Calgary Stampede), and it was bottled as a Limited Edition, Ultra-Premium, 25 Year Old Commemorative Canadian Whisky. This single grain offering was blended entirely with naturally sourced Rocky Mountain spring water, and was limited to a production run of only 6000 bottles.

Stampede WhiskyIn order to maintain good contact with the oak during the lengthy aging process, this bond was re-gauged or re-barreled twice during its maturing life. New barrels were not introduced when Highwood distiller’s made the liquid consolidation. Instead they chose to maintain the aging process in the original barrels into which the spirit began its maturation.

The result was a very special whisky, one which my judges without exception scored extremely well. In fact, this particular whisky was ranked number 1 by three out of the four judges (and the dissenting judge had it ranked number 3). This means that the Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky not only wound up as the Number 1 Canadian Whisky in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown, it actually separated itself from the rest of the field by a noticeable margin. Here is a link to my original review of the 25 Year old Commemorative Stampede Whisky which I published in July 2012, judged by my tasting panel to be the Best Canadian Whisky currently available in the world.

#1 Canadian Whisky – Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky

“… The initial nose is rich with smells of oak and cedar. Butterscotch notes rise into the air accompanied by strong scents of honeycomb and cereal. As the glass sits, the oak spices continue to grow above the glass. I also receive impressions of melted vanilla ice cream, some appealing notes of marmalade and marzipan, and some strong notes of corn whisky rising into the merry little breezes …”

This Stampede Whisky finishes with an explosion of spice and echoes of vanilla, butterscotch and honey. It has a long lingering finish which leaves the mouth heated, but also leaves me wanting another glass!

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on #1 Canadian Whisky – Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky

# 2 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYCanadian Club Whisky is the oldest (and arguably also the most influential) Canadian Whisky brand in the world. It is sold in over 150 countries world-wide, and sales in Canada are unmatched by any other whisky brand. 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.

Classic Small batchRecently there have been some changes in the Canadian Club family. One of the brands which has undergone a revamping is the Canadian Club Classic (12 Years Old) which has been replaced by the Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12 (also 12 Years Old). The newer version of the whisky has a new bottle (shown below) and the two words, “Small Batch” have been added to the label. My understanding is the whisky is now constructed from a smaller selection of aged whisky (oak barrels) in an effort to bring a fuller flavour and more smoothness to the blend.

Apparently my Judging Panel likes the new blend, as the Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12 was selected the Number 2 Canadian Whisky in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is a link to the review I wrote this past July:

# 2 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12

“… The initial breezes above the glass bring forward scents of caramel and oak which are melded nicely with dabs of light tobacco and spicy orange peel.As the glass breathes, I notice some rye spices and some sweet corn pushing though. The oak and tobacco scents have deepened bringing me impressions of fresh-cut cedar and honeycomb. The caramel and wood spice come together as toffee, and the orange peel has softened into marmalade …”

It has come to my attention that most of the Canadian Club line-up is experiencing a bit of a revamping with new bottle designs and perhaps some tweaking of the blends. I will be reviewing a few of those tweaked offerings in the new year. My hope is that I will see similar improvements with those brands as well.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on # 2 Canadian Whisky – Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12

#3 Canadian Whisky – Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 23, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYIn November of 2005, Highwood Distilleries Ltd. finalized the purchase of Potters Distilleries (founded by Ernie Potter in 1958). Part of this acquisition, was the purchase of all of the remaining barrel aged stocks of whisky in the Potters facility. These barrels of whisky were transferred from the Potters warehouse facilities in Kelowna, B.C. to the newly constructed warehouse facility in High River, Alberta, where they were allowed to continue to age at the foot of the Rocky Mountains on the western edge of the Canadian Prairies. The whisky brands which Potters Distilleries had established (Century and Potters) were added to Highwood’s portfolio of spirits where they have not only been maintained but also expanded upon. Part of that expansion was the recent addition of the ‘Ninety’ branded whiskies to the Century Distillers line-up. Like the other whiskies in the Century portfolio, the Ninety branded spirits are corn-based rather than wheat-based blends. (The Distillery uses the Highwood banner for all of its wheat based whiskies.)

Ninety_25_Year_Old_-_shadow_2013_06Highwood chose the brand name ‘Ninety’ because these new whiskies are bottled at 90 proof (or 45 % alcohol by volume) rather than the usual 80 proof (40 % alcohol by volume). The higher bottling strength means that the final whisky will retain a character closer to the original cask strength whiskies from which they were blended. In the case of the Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky, the bulk of blend almost certainly has been drawn from Highwood’s treasured reserves of remaining Potters whisky stocks which are rumoured to contain barrels of whisky as old as 33 years.

Here is a link to my new review of the Number 3 spirit in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown:

#3 Canadian Whisky – Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

“… As I enjoy the breezes above the glass, I notice impressions of creamy vanilla pudding, hints of almond, some sticky marmalade, and a light sweetened grain-like component which actually reminds me of Post Honeycomb cereal. The longer you let the glass sit, the more firm and unified the aroma becomes, until after fifteen minutes or so it resembles a luscious butterscotch-oak-syrup that begs to be sipped …”

The Ninety “Decades of Richness” Canadian Rye Whisky has quickly become one of my very favourite whiskies, and for my palate, it is on par with the best Bourbons, and the best Single Malt Scotches I have tasted to this point in my whisky explorations. I wrote four years ago that Highwood Distillers was one of the best kept secrets in the whisky world, I suspect that is about to change.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on #3 Canadian Whisky – Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

 
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