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Davin De Kergommeaux: The Rock Star of Canadian Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 20, 2017

Davin De Kergommeaux

Last night I attended a special Whisky Tasting presented by Canada’s very own, Davin De Kergommeaux, whom I affectionately name The Rock Star of Canadian Whisky. Davin might be a little (or maybe a lot) embarrassed by the title I have given him, but t is hard to argue the influence he has had upon the landscape of Canadian Whisky.

Davin is a certified Malt Maniac and trained sommelier who has been analyzing, writing, and talking about whisky, as an independent commentator, for nearly two decades. I encountered Davin soon after I began writing about and reviewing spirits in 2009. Davin reached out to me because of a common bond, a love for Canadian Whisky. He recognized from my reviews and commentary that we both believed our National Spirit deserved to be placed on an equal footing with the wonderful Single Malts from Scotland and American Bourbons.

Davin not only believed this, he intended to do something about it. This began with Canadian Whisky, his website dedicated to not only reviews, but also news and well-aimed commentary regarding the industry in Canada and its failure to promote its spirit worldwide as a world-class whisky. He also created the independent Canadian Whisky Awards carefully choosing a wide cross-section of whisky judges from differing backgrounds and from different regions of Canada to help him as jurors and to promote the Awards not only in Canada, but across North America. His Canadian Whisky Awards have become the most prominent signal bearers of excellence in the Canadian Whisky industry.

Davin’s next step was perhaps his boldest. Armed with his extensive knowledge of the raw materials from which whisky is made (he spent six years in university studying the grains from which whisky is made, barley, wheat, rye and corn) as well as with his notes from his personal experiences visiting whisky distilleries across Canada, De Kergommeaux (in 2012) published his award-winning book, Canadian Whisky: the portable expert.

The impact of his book has been huge as Davin lampoons the critics of Canadian Whisky by undermining the myths that permeate their arguments. Not only did his critics take notice; but the entire Whisky Industry took notice as well. It is now not unusual for Davin to be invited to the largest distilleries in North America to discuss the production of Whisky with the World’s best distillers and Master Blenders. Crown Royal even asked Davin to select one of the first barrels for their 2015 release of Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel, one of the first single barrel releases in the history of Canadian Whisky.

And all of this finally brings me to the point of my essay and the reason that Davin is touring the country like a rock star. That book that Davin wrote that is revolutionizing the way that Canadian Whisky is being viewed on the world stage; it has just been revised and updated, and once again Davin has knocked it out of the park.

Canadian Whisky The New Portable Expert – Second Edition is once again the most complete story of Canadian Whisky ever written and it includes very important new information regarding the new micro-distilling revolution that is taking place across North America. As a reference book alone, Davin’s book will be invaluable to any student of whisky, Canadian or otherwise as within its pages is a treasure trove of information about the production and history of spirit we call whisky. However, much more importantly, Davin has remembered that the story of Canadian Whisky is just that,  a story. And that story is fascinating. Frankly, once you pick it up, The New Portable Expert is hard to put down.

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Canadian Whisky The New Portable Expert – Second Edition is available in bookstores across Canada. It can also be ordered online (here).

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#Top100Canadian Whisky of 2017: #66 Stalk and Barrel Rye

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 19, 2017

Barry Bernstein and Barry Stein own and run the Still Water Distillery, Ontario’s first micro-distillery which they founded in 2009.

According to the their website Stalk and Barrel Rye is made 100 % from locally grown Ontario rye grain distilled by hand in small batches in the distillery’s small copper pot still. The whisky is matured in ex-bourbon casks for a minimum of three years. Each barrel is bottled individually as a single cask offering in individually numbered bottles, offered at either cask strength or at 46% alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to my review of the Number 66 Canadian Whisky of 2017:

Review: Stalk and Barrel Rye

“… dusty grain and wood spice & rye. Fine wood spices build with light butterscotch and grassy tobacco. Chaff and straw, grain stubble …”

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Note: As indicated earlier, I will not be creating a posting for every whisky in my countdown on this website; but I am going to try to highlight every Canadian spirit that I have not reviewed previously.

To follow the countdown list on a daily basis, you should follow me on twitter (Rum Howler on Twitter) using the hashtag #Top100CanadianWhisky. Alternatively you can view the  list as it grows by viewing my Reveal Page:

The Rum Howler – Top 100 Canadian Whiskies of 2017

The Reveal Page will be updated at least weekly through September, October and November and then daily in December.

Posted in Awards, Extras | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Canadian Club 40 Year Old Set To Arrive!

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 18, 2017

 

This Holiday season, a new rare Canadian whisky will be on the wish lists of whisky connoisseurs and Canadian Club fans alike. After 40 years of resting in American oak barrels in Windsor, Ontario, Canadian Club will release Canadian Club 40 Year Old – its oldest age expression released to date and possibly the oldest in Canadian whisky history.

According to Rob Tucker, Senior Brand Manager, Canadian & American Whiskies at Beam Suntory:

“With 160 years of great whisky making, Canadian Club’s numerous gold medal awards won in recent spirit competitions, and with our storied past as the preeminent club whisky in speakeasies which were known for stylish, stirring times, and a little mischief in mixed company, it only makes sense that a historic brand like Canadian Club gets to treat Canadians with such a delicious one-of-a-kind whisky like Canadian Club 40 Year Old,”

TASTING NOTES (From Canadian Club)

Aroma: Dark plum, rich vanilla, rye spiciness against a backdrop of toasted toffee and sweet oak.

Palate: Slightly sweet with hints of nutmeg, clove, dark berries, savoury dried fruit and orchard fruit, highlighted by a hint of caramelized sugar.

Finish: Ultra smooth and lingering that is warm, creamy and spicy sweet.

Tish Harcus, Canadian Club Global Brand Ambassador, adds:

“This whisky has the characteristic Canadian Club smoothness; yet it’s complex, with Christmas spices, butter tarts and finely refined barrel notes. You can taste the oak but it’s not overpowering.”

According to my sources, Canadian Club 40 Year Old will be available with full distribution in Ontario this week, and available across Canada in early November in very limited quantities. The Whisky aged a full 40 years in American Oak and bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume will retail at $249.95 per 750 ml bottle.

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If you are wondering whether this once in a lifetime whisky from Canadian Club will make an appearance in my #Top100CanadianWhisky Countdown of 2017? I can only say that I did leave room in my countdown list for samples which I knew would be arriving late, and as my sample is scheduled to be delivered today, it may well make an appearance.

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

#Top100Rums of 2017: #66 Zaya Gran Reserva

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 17, 2017

Zaya Gran Reserva Rum is a brand currently owned by Infinium Spirits. This rum brand was originally distilled and aged in Guatemala, but in 2008, Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala entered into a distribution arrangement with the Diageo spirits conglomerate which elevated some local brands such as Zacapa Rum, but which left other Guatemalan brands like Zaya without a similar arrangement. Because the Zaya brand was gaining a lot of momentum as a luxury sipping rum, the manufacture of Zaya was moved to Trinidad and Tobago where it is now produced by Trinidad Distillers Ltd.

Zaya Gran Reserva is apparently constructed from a secret recipe of several well aged rums to meet a specific taste profile which is very similar to the original Guatemalan rum. All of the rums in the Zaya blend are aged for a minimum of 12 years in small oak casks.

Here is a link to my recently re-scored review of the number 66 rum of 2017:

Review: Zaya Gran Reserva

“… rich vanilla, oak spice and pipe tobacco leading out into the air above the glass. Sweet caramel winds through the breezes, and I seem to catch accents of dry fruit, marmalade, marzipan and banana peel … “

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To follow the countdown list on a daily basis, you should follow me on twitter (Rum Howler on Twitter) using the hashtag #Top100Rums.

Alternatively you can view the list as it grows by viewing my Reveal Page:

The Rum Howler – Top 100 Rums of 2017

The Reveal Page will be updated at least weekly through September, October and November and then daily in December.

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

#Top100Rums of 2017: #67 Old Monk Gold Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 16, 2017

Old Monk is an aged dark rum produced by Mohan Meakin Limited in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. According to the information I received from the importer, the Gold Reserve 12 Year Blended Rum is a molasses distilled rum, aged for a minimum of 12 years in oak casks (in the tropical climate of India) and then blended to be a smoother, more refined version of the flagship,  Old Monk Very Old Vatted XXX Rum (7 Years Old Blended).

The brand receives very little attention from the press, and does not appear to be represented in any advertising campaigns which I have seen. Rather Old Monk appears to rely upon word of mouth and customer loyalty for its sales. Word of mouth must be good as the Old Monk brand is (again according to information I received) the second largest selling aged dark rum in the world.

Here is a link to the #67 Rum on my list of the Best 100:

Review: Old Monk Gold Reserve Rum

“… the breezes also bring me indications of black pepper, cinnamon and cloves with a light, but firm vanilla accent. As the glass sits, the aroma deepens bringing forward dark brown sugary smells and rich baking spices with impressions of cigar tobacco and crushed walnuts …”

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To follow the countdown list on a daily basis, you should follow me on twitter (Rum Howler on Twitter) using the hashtag #Top100Rums.

Alternatively you can view the list as it grows by viewing my Reveal Page:

The Rum Howler – Top 100 Rums of 2017

The Reveal Page will be updated at least weekly through September, October and November and then daily in December.

 

Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

#Top100CanadianWhisky of 2017 – #69 Glen Saanich Single Malt Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 16, 2017

John & Cathy Windsor manage the family owned and operated de Vine Vineyards on Vancouver Island (near  Victoria British Columbia). As well as growing grapes for wine making the vineyard houses a small still from which they distill both grapes and grains producing a variety of spirits including Vodka, Gin and Single Malt Whisky.

I had an opportunity to taste Glen Saanich Single Malt Whisky when I acted as a juror for the 2017 Canadian Whisky Awards. While judging, I wrote up tasting notes for each dram as I scored them (in a blind tasting format). I also saved a wee bit of each sample such that I could revisit them after the judging when it was revealed to me which sample belonged to which whisky. From those tasting notes and from my last sampling session afterwards I wrote this review.

Here is a link to the #69 Canadian Whisky on my 2017 List:

Review: Glen Saanich Single Malt Whisky:

“… The whisky has a ribbon of corn-like bourbon in its profile which is melded into impressions of oak spice and barley malt. Sweet and sour fruit (apples pears and canned peaches come to mind) hang in the breezes with a nice wisp of vanilla as well as an herbal quality which is almost like a mixture of fresh clover and mint …”

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Note: As indicated earlier, I will not be creating a posting for every whisky in my countdown on this website; but I am going to try to highlight every Canadian spirit that I have not reviewed previously.

To follow the countdown list on a daily basis, you should follow me on twitter (Rum Howler on Twitter) using the hashtag #Top100CanadianWhisky. Alternatively you can view the  list as it grows by viewing my Reveal Page:

The Rum Howler – Top 100 Canadian Whiskies of 2017

The Reveal Page will be updated at least weekly through September, October and November and then daily in December.

 

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review, Whisky Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

#Top100CanadianWhisky of 2017 – #71 Shelter Point Artisanal Cask Strength

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 14, 2017

Shelter Point Artisanal Single Malt Whiskies are distilled in small batches on Vancouver Island (British Columbia). The distillery uses a single grain approach, and the Canadian barley used for distillation is grown right on their own family farm (in Oyster River) and never blended with other grains. The water source is the spring water that comes from the mountain-fed aquifer directly beneath the Island. Perhaps the only things that aren’t sourced locally are the oak barrels, which were sourced from Kentucky bourbon distillers, and the massive copper pot stills which came from Scotland.

This Shelter Point Whisky was bottled at Cask Strength (58.4% alcohol by volume).

Here is a link to the review of the # 71 Canadian Whisky of 2017:

Review: Shelter Point Artisanal Cask Strength

“… Intense heat and spice from high alcohol strength. Malt and Speyside spiciness and red licorice and raisin. Some sweet and sour fruit, and some  spicy musty tobacco and leather …”

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Note: As indicated earlier, I will not be creating a posting for every whisky in my countdown on this website; but I am going to try to highlight every Canadian spirit that I have not reviewed previously.

To follow the countdown list on a daily basis, you should follow me on twitter (Rum Howler on Twitter) using the hashtag #Top100CanadianWhisky. Alternatively you can view the  list as it grows by viewing my Reveal Page:

The Rum Howler – Top 100 Canadian Whiskies of 2017

The Reveal Page will be updated at least weekly through September, October and November and then daily in December.

Posted in Books, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review, Whisky Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

#Top100Rums of 2017 – Stiggins’ Fancy Plantation Pineapple Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 13, 2017

Pineapple Rum was quite a popular delicacy in the 19th century. In fact, in Charles Dickens first serial novel The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (published in 19 monthly magazine instalments, from March 1836 to October 1837), Pineapple Rum is the preferred tipple of the fictitious Reverend Stiggins, who while publicly preaching temperance, secretly enjoys his pineapple rum, usually mixed with hot tea.

Alexander Gabriel (President and Owner, of Cognac Ferrand) in collaboration with Dave Wondrich (cocktail guru and author of Imbibe) researched the original recipes of Pineapple Rum, and then set about to re-create this lost libation.

Here is a link to the Number 70 Rum of 2017:

Review: Stiggins’ Fancy Plantation Pineapple Rum

“… Rum-like scents of butterscotch toffee, vanilla and baking spice (cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) lead out with both orange peel and yummy citrus pineapple scents riding along. There are light accents of almond and a mild sweep of tobacco which complete the nose …”

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To follow the countdown list on a daily basis, you should follow me on twitter (Rum Howler on Twitter) using the hashtag #Top100Rums.

Alternatively you can view the list as it grows by viewing my Reveal Page:

The Rum Howler – Top 100 Rums of 2017

The Reveal Page will be updated at least weekly through September, October and November and then daily in December.

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews, Spiced Rum | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

#TopCanadianWhisky of 2017 – #72 Caldera Hurricane 5

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 13, 2017

Caldera Distilling is a new Canadian distillery located in the historical shipbuilding community of River John, in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. Not only is the distillery based in the community of River John, according to their website, the ingredients used to produce their  premium whisky are grown on the Distillery property, meaning that the entire grain to glass process happens in one place and is a true expression of that small community in the maritime province of Nova Scotia.  In an homage to the community’s early beginnings the distilling company is named after one of the largest ships ever built in River John, the Caldera.

Here is a link to the #72 Canadian Whisky of 2017:

Review: Caldera Hurricane 5

“… Flavours of butterscotch and vanilla mingle with fine wood spice, and soon impressions of baking spices develop as well (cinnamon and a touch of cloves and nutmeg). There is a little orange peel struggling to make the transition to marmalade, and a light winding of grassy tobacco and nutty almond flavours …”

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Note: As indicated earlier, I will not be creating a posting for every whisky in my countdown on this website; but I am going to try to highlight every Canadian spirit that I have not reviewed previously.

To follow the countdown list on a daily basis, you should follow me on twitter (Rum Howler on Twitter) using the hashtag #Top100CanadianWhisky. Alternatively you can view the  list as it grows by viewing my Reveal Page:

The Rum Howler – Top 100 Canadian Whiskies of 2017

The Reveal Page will be updated at least weekly through September, October and November and then daily in December.

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review, Whisky Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

#Top100CanadianWhisky of 2017: #73 Fils du Roy – L’Eau d’Août

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 12, 2017

Fils du Roy – L’Eau d’Août is an experimental whisky produced in New Brunswick by Sebastien Roy at Distillerie Fils Du Roy. When Sebastien began making his whisky, he started with a blend of 75% Single Malt Whisky and 25% Corn Whisky. The spirit he created was intended as R&D project where Sebastien was trying to darken his whisky without using artificial caramel colourant. Instead he used local maple syrup harvested at the end of the season which is very dark and woody. The intention of course is not for the whisky to taste maple syrup; but rather to substitute the artificial colourants sometimes use in the industry with a natural colouring agent. This whisky (which is the subject of this review) is his rarest product (only 363 bottles) and the entire whisky is aged a full 3 years.

According to Sebastien, L’Eau d’Août means “Water of August” in French. It also has a connotation of sweet water “Eau doux”. The name was chosen because the whisky is released only once per year on the first of August. There were only 363 bottles this year, and the entire production was sold out by August 4th.

Review: Fils du Roy – L’Eau d’Août

“… Sweet and sour note of dank corn and fruit, butterscotch, light underlying mustiness with burlap and dry wood spice which comes through later. …”

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Note: As indicated earlier, I will not be creating a posting for every whisky in my countdown on this website; but I am going to try to highlight every Canadian spirit that I have not reviewed previously.

To follow the countdown list on a daily basis, you should follow me on twitter (Rum Howler on Twitter) using the hashtag #Top100CanadianWhisky. Alternatively you can view the  list as it grows by viewing my Reveal Page:

The Rum Howler – Top 100 Canadian Whiskies of 2017

The Reveal Page will be updated at least weekly through September, October and November and then daily in December.

 

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisky Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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