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Archive for the ‘Extras’ Category

#100: Kicking Things off with Stalk and Barrel Blue Blend

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 16, 2017

The Rum Howler Top 100 Canadian Whisky Countdown kicks off with a brand new whisky from Barry Bernstein and Barry Stein own and run the Still Water Distillery.

#100 Stalk and Barrel Blue Blend

“… The nose is rye and corn forward with hints of anise and a few touches of sour fruit. Dusty sandalwood spices follow with clear impressions of vanilla and almond. I noticed some hints of canned fruit (peaches and apricots) and a building sweetness …”

Of course you can follow the countdown on Twitter  (#Top100CanadianWhisky) or check in on my Reveal Page which will be updated about once per week.

The Rum Howler – Top 100 Canadian Whiskies of 2017

Enjoy the Countdown: Chimo!

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Note: As indicated yesterday, I will not be posting every whisky in my countdown here on the website, but I am going to try to highlight every Canadian spirit that I have not reviewed previously. (Rum Howler on Twitter)

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

Oh My: The Rum Howler – Top 100 Canadian Whiskies of 2017

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 15, 2017

Tomorrow, I will begin to reveal my largest ever round-up of Canadian Whisky, The Top 100 Canadian Whiskies of 2017.

That’s right, the best 100 Canadian Whiskies in the nation!

When I published my first such list for Canadian Whisky in 2013, I was only able to include 25 spirits. Even then, I remember one person commenting on my website that they didn’t even know that there were 25 different Canadian Whiskies. Things have really changed. Most major distilleries in Canada have broadened their whisky portfolios by added new whisky brands. We may have lost some brands (for example Highwood Distillers have recently discontinued their Century 21 Reserve and Lot1525 Reserve); but many more brands have been added. In addition to the new brands available from Canada’s major distillers, we have had a sudden influx of new Micro-distillers (some like Shelter Point in British Columbia are not so micro) across the Country who in the last few years have began to market and sell their whisky regionally and across Canada.

As well as being the largest such list I have ever compiled, this list is also current. All of the Whiskies on this list are available in Canada at this time. I have also tasted and reviewed all of these whiskies within the past three years. Most of the reviews were based upon full bottle samples provided to me by industry; however, in order to include many of the new regional whiskies, and the new spirits from our young Micro-distilling industry, I also have included whiskies which I tasted and reviewed based upon the samples and tasting notes I generated as a juror for the 2017 Canadian Whisky Awards. (Davin De Kergommeaux does a great job with these awards, and last year in particular he did a fantastic job in discovering new Canadian Whiskies for the judges to rank and score.)

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Unlike other years, I am not planning to reveal every whisky with a front page posting (I will be revealing each whisky one at a time on Twitter instead.) However, I will be providing a front page post whenever the countdown reaches a whisky which I have either not reviewed before or a whisky whose character has changed such that a new review is needed. Additionally, when I reach the final 25 to Canadian Whiskies in early December, (just before Christmas), I will reveal those best spirits in a daily countdown as I have in years past.

This means that to follow the entire list on a daily basis, you should follow me on twitter (Rum Howler on Twitter). And then in December follow my postings here of the Rum Howler Blog.

Another easy way to follow the countdown is to 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.

This is my largest Canadian Whisky Countdown ever, I hope you all enjoy it!
( PS: use the hashtags  #Rumhowler  #Top100CanadianWhisky)

 

 

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

The 3rd Annual Edmonton Rum Festival

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 14, 2017

159736Rum lovers – get ready to experience the enjoyment of the spirit we call Rum. Edmonton’s 3rd Annual Rum Festival brings you distillers and importers who have rum brands to taste.  Edmonton Rum Festival is your signature event to meet and greet experts in the field.

Guests will also have the chance to bid on a number of rum themed items in the silent auction, while snacking on delicious appetizers provided by the Delta Edmonton South.

Be sure to grab your commemorative Glencairn glass upon arriving, and enter in the Rum Bottle Per Month for A Year Draw!

All proceeds from this event will go directly to the MS Society of Canada.

The festival is brought to you by the great folks at Vines Riverbend Wine Merchants (who have produced the very successful Edmonton Whisky Festival for the past 7 years) and they have teamed up with Lexus Edmonton and Capital FM 96.3 to bring you the Edmonton Rum Festival for the third year in a row!

2015_Presenting-Sponsors-680x130

I am going to say it again because it is important:

All proceeds raised at the event will be donated to the MS Society of Canada – Alberta Division.

This is a great chance to taste a strong selection of rums produced from around the world as well as to meet and discuss the noble cane spirit with industry and distillery representatives.

Monies raised at the event will help those affected by MS in our community, as well as help to fund research towards a cure.

Where: Edmonton Delta South Hotel – Grand Ballroom
4404 Gateway Boulevard

When: Friday October 13th
7:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Ticket Price: $85.00 each: available online here
(Tickets are also available in-store at Riverbend Wine Merchants (780 434 9444 ))

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Frequently asked Questions:

How do I order Rum tickets?

To purchase Edmonton Rum Festival tickets online, click here or call the MS Society at 780 463 1190. 

What do you receive for the price of a regular admission ticket?

A commemorative Glencairn glass, an event program, a gourmet buffet throughout the evening, over 75 rums to sample, a chance to win a bottle of rum a month for a year and an opportunity to bid on a number of rum themed silent auction items. The price of a ticket includes entrance and rum sampling (you do not have to buy additional sample tickets).

Are tickets available at the door?

Although tickets will be available at the door, it is strongly advised that you order your tickets in advance to ensure your attendance!

Is there parking at the hotel?

The hotel has limited available free parking. However, it is encouraged that you use public transportation and cabs.

Can you get a preferred rate at the Delta as part of the Festival?

Yes! Stay at the Delta Edmonton South for the night at a rate of $135. Call the Delta Edmonton South at 780-434-6415 and ask to book in the Rum Festival open block.

Should I have a game plan?

Absolutely! Take a minute to study your program and decide which rums of the 75 being shown you have to try. You can only seriously taste and analyze a few before palate fatigue sets in. The key to surviving any event involving alcoholic spirits is not to over indulge, practice quality over quantity. You can help yourself by drinking lots of water during the tasting and having a solid meal before the event.

Is there a Dress Code or What should I wear to the Edmonton Rum Festival?

Most people prefer to go in Business attire, although I prefer Business Casual. Rum really has no pretense.

What if I lose my nosing glass?

If you lose your nosing glass, we’ll have wine glasses available in the Grand ballroom. Sorry, we cannot replace any lost or broken nosing glasses.

There’s a rum on the list that I want to be sure to try. How can I find out which booth is pouring it?

The booklet you receive on entering is set out alphabetically by the local agent/importer responsible for that distillery. The tables in the ballroom follow that list in a clockwise direction. Each table is marked with the name of an agent/importer.

Do I need purchase drink tickets to be able to taste the rum I want to try?

Through the purchase of your General Admission ticket, you will receive 30 sampling tickets. For each sample that you take, you will give the vendor one sampling ticket. If you go through all 30 sampling tickets, you can purchase more at the rate of 1 ticket for $2.75 (as per AGLC regulations).

Should I keep my ticket page?

Absolutely! Bring your page into Vines Wine Merchants by the end of November 2017 to receive 10% off any bottle of rum.

Is there a coat check available?

There is a coat check available by donation to the MS Society.

May I bring my briefcase with me?

Backpacks, briefcases, tote bags, or any other such items, are not permitted inside of Rum Fest. You will be asked to leave them at the coat check.

Will there be food available?

A gourmet buffet is provided throughout the evening, and we encourage you to eat from time to time.

When I discover a new rum that I love at Rum Fest, can I buy a bottle of it right there?

Rum Fest is a tasting event only. Your event program includes an order form which can be left with a Vines staff member. Please note your ticket stub when presented at Vines before the end of November 2017 will entitle you to a 10% off discount on any bottle of rum.

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VinesThe folks at Vines do a fantastic job every year with both the Annual Edmonton Whisky Festival and the Annual Edmonton Rum Festival.

I encourage you to attend and enjoy yourself. It is a great atmosphere with Rum Insiders, Brand Ambassadors, and Rum Enthusiasts from across Canada and around the World. You might even run into the Rum Howler, as I have my two tickets reserved already!

Note: All proceeds raised at this event are donated to the MS Society of Canada – Alberta Division.

For more information please contact:

Vines – Riverbend Wine Merchants (Edmonton)

Posted in Festivals, Howls | Leave a Comment »

Introducing: The Rum Howler Top 100 Rums of 2017

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 14, 2017

Yesterday (on Twitter) I kicked off my annual Rum Howler Rum Countdown which is better than ever with a full 100 rums counted down from #100 to #1.That’s right, 100 wonderful Cane Spirits..

As well as being the largest such list I have ever compiled for the spirit we call rum, this list is also current. I have also reviewed and/or re-tasted each of these rums within the past three years. All Rum reviews were based upon bottle samples either purchased by myself or provided to me by industry. I should mention as well that all of the spirits on this list are available in North America at this time.

Unlike other years, I am not planning to reveal every rum with a front page posting on my website, instead I have begun the Countdown on Twitter (#Top100Rums). However, for those who are regular readers of mine, once or twice a week I will introduce one of the drams from the list with a full review for you to enjoy. When my daily Twitter Reveal brings me to the Top 25 Rums of 2017 in early December, (just before Christmas), I will reveal the best 25 Rum Spirits available in North America with daily postings here on the Rum Howler Blog. (The Best rum Review Website in the World!)

Just some of the great rums of 2017

This means that to follow the entire list daily, you will need to first follow me on twitter (Rum Howler on Twitter). And then in December follow my postings here on my website.

Of course you may also follow the countdown by visiting my Reveal page.

The Rum Howler – Top 100 Rums of 2017

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

This is my largest Rum Countdown ever, I hope you all enjoy it!
( PS: use the hashtags  #Rumhowler  #Top100Rums)

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

An Interview with Allen Smith (Mount Gay Rum)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 29, 2017

I would like to welcome Allen Smith, Master Blender at Mount Gay Rum Distillery to my website. I was offered an opportunity to sample his newest creation, the Mount Gay 1703 Old Cask Selection (see review here) and to follow-up my tasting sessions with an interview to learn more about Mount Gay Rum.

I will be forthright and admit I am not an experienced journalist so rather than conducting an oral interview over the phone, I submitted a list of questions via email to Allen and after a few weeks he sent them back with his responses. The interview covers a range of topics from the Micro-Distilling Industry to the Cocktail Revolution, as well as general questions regarding his Mount Gay Rum and of course the Mount Gay 1703 Old Cask Selection Rum.

The entire interview has been posted in the Industry Interviews section of my website and you can access it via the following link:

Interview with Allen Smith: Master Blender – Mount Gay Rum Distillery

I hope you enjoy the Q & A with Allen Smith where he not only reveals some of the secrets behind his latest creation, Mount Gay 1703 Master Select Rum, he also indulges me by revealing his favourite cocktail, the previously posted Black Storm.

Chimo!

 

 

 

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The Hansen Distillery

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 19, 2017

Head Distiller Kris Sustrik

On January 26, 2017, I attended the VIP Launch Event for the Hansen Distillery, a brand new Craft Distiller situated here in Edmonton. The small distillery is located in Edmonton’s West End (17412 111 Ave NW), and the launch included a small tour of the distillery as well as an evening of cocktails made from Hansen’s craft spirit.

The Hansen Distillery has an unlikely history that began in the midst of the Great Depression when Carl and Amanda Hansen began to make moonshine in Southern Alberta. As I learned at the VIP event, this wasn’t about running ‘shine across the border to make tons of money off Prohibition, this was about keeping their farm and feeding a growing family by providing a little hooch for local socials and dances. Apparently Amanda made the moonshine, and Carl made it available to the local community. When World War II ended, the Depression was over as well, and Carl and Amanda left moonshining behind to go back to farming full-time. Of course they continued to distill the odd batch here and there for family occasions, and the recipe Amanda created was handed down to her children, and then to her grand children, and finally all the way to great-grandchildren, Kris and Shayna Sustrik. Kris and Shyna have decided to relaunch that family tradition and together they built the new Hansen Distillery here in Edmonton Alberta.

Border Crossing Rye Spirit

For more complete information about the Hansen Distillery you can follow this link to read about the launch event and my subsequent my tour of the facility.

The Hansen Distillery Tour

and if you are interested in how their spirit tastes, here is a link to my review of their Border Crossing Rye Spirit (a 100% locally Alberta-grown, un-aged white rye).

Review: Hansen Border Crossing Rye Spirit

“… The nose is very interesting with scents of mushy banana and plantain rising alongside zesty citrus notes and fresh spicy rye grain. Grilled zucchini and pineapple are hinted at as well …”

Please enjoy both the distillery tour and my Border Crossing Rye review which incidentally includes a great signature cocktail designed especially for the rye spirit called the Green Card.

Chimo!

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2017 Rum Howler Awards for Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 13, 2017

rh-winner2017

This past year was a busy time for the Rum Howler as I not only wrote and published many new reviews, I also spent a great deal of time re-examining many of the rum spirits which I had previously reviewed. This work was done with the aim of providing my readers with specific lists they could use to help them choose the appropriate rum for their particular needs.

During the past year I examined and ranked all of the Spiced Rums I owned. I also built cocktails all year round to determine a ranking of the 50 Best Mixing Rums (a few internet trolls are unhappy with that term; so if you like, you can call them the ‘Best Young Cocktail Rums‘) I have tasted as well. Finally, I also combed through my reviews and determined what I believe are the 50 Best Rums of 2016.(Admittedly there is overlap in these three lists.)

Rum Old Fashioned

Rum Old Fashioned

All this work done throughout the year meant that for this year’s Rum Howler Awards, I had the luxury of having already compiled the necessary lists which recognized the best rums in various categories:

To determine my Rum Howler Award Winners, I merely had to examine these lists, determine which of the rums on each list had been tasted at some point in the past two years, and then select the best spirit for each of my categories.

It is time for me to bring forward my 2017 Rum Howler Awards Winners. These are the spirits which have risen to the top and provided me with my greatest enjoyment.

Here is a link to my 2017 Award winners for the excellence in the production of Rum:

The 2017 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Rum

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

2017 Rum Howler Awards For Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 11, 2017

rh-winner2017I am a little late with this posting as bad luck (and the bad weather we have been having up north) is playing havoc with my publication schedule. My desktop computer (which I do most of my writing on) crashed after a major software update, and because my truck is in the shop (radiator leak) I can’t get my computer fixed. So I have been working with my old laptop trying to finish my Rum Howler Award Postings.

The 2017 Rum Howler Awards for Whisky should be particularly interesting to everyone as they feature a link to a previously unpublished review for Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Bourbon Whisky, and they also highlight the best scoring (and best tasting) whisky I have encountered (a stunning 30 Year Old Grain Whisky) to this point.

Elijah Craig Old Fashioned

Elijah Craig Old Fashioned

The major whisky trend of 2017 will be the continuation of the micro-distilling revolution. Ten years ago I could count all of the whisky distilleries in Canada on the fingers of my two hands. Now, if I use all of my fingers, and all of my toes, I am not even half way through the list, and the numbers of new Distilleries in the USA is much larger (and those numbers are growing as I write this). Time will tell where this is all leading; but at this point the major beneficiary is the whisky consumer who has more brands to choose from than ever before.

This expansion is of course not confined to North America. Many new distilleries are appearing in the United Kingdom, and throughout Europe. And it is probably true that in India, China, Japan, Australia, and in fact, everywhere that grain is grown, new distilleries are appearing. There is going to be an economic reckoning as at some point, the limit of consumption will be reached, and the world will be awash in excess whisky (and other spirits). I suspect that the economic fallout will catch many by surprise; hopefully those who are entering into this high stakes game (and those who are already there) have a solid game plan going forward.

And this brings me to my 2017 Rum Howler Whisky Awards. All of that great selection has brought us new award winners with whisky better than I have ever tasted before.

Here is a link to my 2017 Rum Howler Award Winners for excellence in the production of Whisky:

The 2017 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Whisky

 

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2017 Rum Howler Awards for Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 6, 2017

rh-winner20172016 was a tremendous year for that spirit which we call Gin (at least as far as my website reviews are concerned). Not only did I add many new gin reviews to my website during that year, I also revisited many of my old favourites with new reviews and new cocktails. The impact of all this writing catapulted my website onto the front page of many internet search engines including google where (as of the time I am writing this) The Rum Howler Blog is the number 3 listed independent spirits review website listed when the search term ‘Gin Reviews‘ is searched.

1878 Gin Cocktail

1878 Gin Cocktail

In 2016 I also spent a great deal of time exploring gin cocktails, researching new recipes as well as refining some of my older constructions as my appreciation for the juniper spirit has continued to increase.

The result of all of this effort has been that I was able to examine and taste 20 different gins at one point or during the last year. When those 20 are added to those juniper spirits I examined during 2015, the result was that I had a field of over 30 Gins to choose from for this years awards.

The best have been brought forward to receive 2017 Rum Howler Awards.

Here is a link to my Awards Page:

The 2017 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Gin

I hope everyone is enjoying the awards to this point. Stay tuned for the Whisky and Rum Awards which will publish early next week!

Chimo!

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2017 Rum Howler Awards for Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 4, 2017

rh-winner2017Last year, I pointed out that there seems to be a divide among vodka producers between those who value purity of spirit above all else, and those producers who allow their vodka spirit to express a certain level of flavour. I am firmly in the camp of those who enjoy the subtle aromas and flavours which can be appreciated when Vodka is sipped or when it is consumed in a cocktail. However, this past year I began to notice that some vodka makers are taking this philosophy too far.

This new phenomena appears to be part of the craft spirit movement. Using their small micro-stills the micro-producers are embracing a great deal of more flavour within their vodka spirit than I would ever have suspected. As one micro-distiller explained to me,

Dry Vodka Martini SAM_1606“Vodka doesn’t have to be a colourless odourless spirit meant only to be hid in a cocktail or tall soda drink.It can and should be enjoyed on its own, for its own sake.”

That sentiment sounds right to a point; however after tasting this particular producer’s vodka I wondered if perhaps he was merely justifying the outcome of a distilling process that (for economic reasons) did not fully rectify the spirit. The heavy congeners within the spirit certainly gave it flavour; however the flavour achieved was fusel with strong  vegetal components the combination of which did not fit my paradigm of excellent vodka.

To that end, my call to all producers (new distillers and old) is that when they distill this spirit which we call vodka, the aim should be to eliminate fusel flavours and heavy congeners. That is not to say that vodka should be refined to the point of being a tasteless spirit. But the flavours that are left within should be light subtle flavours which enhance rather than dominate the vodka experience (and the cocktail experience). This may be a more expensive road to tread; but it is a road that will lead to repeat sales (and perhaps even a Rum Howler Award).

You can find out who won this years Rum Howler Awards for Vodka by following this link:

The 2017 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Vodka

Chimo!

Posted in Awards, Extras, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on 2017 Rum Howler Awards for Vodka

 
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