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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

The 2018 Rum Howler Awards for Micro Distillers

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 24, 2018

A great change has occurred in the landscape of spirits worldwide which is sure to change the industry forever. This change, which began several years ago is all about the economics of distilling. It wasn’t that long ago, that spirits writers could write confidently about the significant start-up cost of a distillery which served to act as an effective barrier to entry into the industry. The cost of a new distillery, was not millions; it was tens of millions if not hundreds. Not so anymore.

The start-up cost of a new distillery has been reduced by at least an order of magnitude, if not two. The same type of innovation which was the hallmark of the Micro-Brewers is now being realized by Micro-distillers. Single Malt Whiskies, Blackstrap Rums, Small Batch Vodka and Gins, and all manner of flavoured spirits have began to pour into the market place taking up retail space that once belonged to the big guys.

The Micro-Distillers are here, and more are coming. Whisky, Rum, Vodka and Gin will never be the same again.

In recognition of the importance of the new arrivals, these are My Rum Howler Awards for the Best Micro-Distilled Spirits in North America:

The 2018 Rum Howler Awards – The Micro Distillers

Chimo!

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The 2018 Canadian Whisky Awards Announced

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 19, 2018

During the months of November and December, I was busy with an important Canadian Whisky project initiated by Author and fellow Whisky Blogger, Davin De Kergommeaux, whom I affectionately name The Rock Star of Canadian Whisky.

Corby Distillery Team accept 2018 Canadian Whisky Awards – Whisky of the Year for J.P. Wiser’s 35 Year Old Canadian Whisky. (from left to right – Brand director Chris Bhowmik, Colin MacDougal, Spencer Gooderham, Co-host Heather Leary, Chair & Co-host Davin de Kergommeaux and Dave Mitton.) (CNW Group/Canadian Whisky Awards)

Davin created the independent Canadian Whisky Awards in 2010 and now these Awards have become the most prominent signal bearers of excellence in the Canadian Whisky industry. For each of the past 7 years a North American Panel of Canadian Whisky Experts has received a set of blind samples to be judged independently, and then Davin amalgamates the scores into various categories depending upon the nature of the whisky, and the market for which it is intended.

2018 Canadian Whisky Awards – Whisky of the Year

I was asked to be part of this panel for 6 of the past 7 years (including this year), and I am happy to announce that the results of the annual Canadian Whisky Awards Competition were awarded this past Thursday evening at the Victoria Whisky Festival in Victoria, B.C.

The 2018 Canadian Whisky Awards Whisky of the Year was J.P. Wiser’s 35 Year Old Canadian Whisky. Othe Top Award Winners were: Caribou Crossing (2018 Multi-Market Connoisseur Whisky of the Year), Collingwood Town Collection Double Barreled (2018 Domestic Sippin Whisky of the Year), Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel (2018 Export Sippin Whisky of the Year), Highwood Rye (2018 Domestic Value Whisky of the Year), and Hiram Walker & Sons , (2018 Distiller of the Year.)

For the full listing of all the Award winners and medallists here is a link to the full breakdown on Davin’s Canadian Whisky Website:

Canadian Whisky Awards 2018

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The 2018 Rum Howler Awards for Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 17, 2018

I have written before that I believe Vodka is the most maligned of the popular mainstream spirits. It is considered by many people to be a colourless, odourless, and tasteless spirit. In fact, many people believe the only utility Vodka possesses is that of a mixer.

This simply is not true. There are subtle aromas and flavours which can be appreciated when Vodka is sipped or when it is consumed as a shot. As well, when served with good food, a quality vodka has the ability to enhance the gastronomic experience by cleansing the palate between bites allowing you to taste each morsel more completely.

When I review Vodka on my website, I try very hard to convey my appreciation of these subtle nuances and the pleasure I derive when I encounter them.

Ketel One Vodka Martini

This year, I added a new Craft Distilling category to my Vodka Awards. This is in recognition of the efforts of the new Craft Micro Distilleries which have spread across the continent. These small distilleries are bringing about a change in the culture of consumers who are beginning to embrace the small batch spirits these distillers provide. Micro distilling is now more than a trend, it has become a permanent fixture in the landscape of spirits worldwide.

As is the case each year, all of my Rum Howler Awards are based upon my tastings and reviews of each vodka. I taste the spirit neat, and I may also mix a few cocktails with each spirit. All samples which I receive to review on my website are automatically considered for my awards for the year in which they are reviewed as well as the following year. I do my reviews, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit aside until the end of the year when I reassess for the purposes of determining my award winners. As indicated, I also include those samples which were provided in the previous year so as to have a larger field to judge. (I may also receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards.)

Here is a link to my 2018 Award Winners:

The 2018 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Vodka

Chimo!

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The 2018 RumHowler Awards for Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 11, 2018

Beginning in 2016, I began to seek out and review as many juniper based spirits as I could get my hands on. It would be true in fact, to state that in the past two years, I have been as likely to be found enjoying a nice gin cocktail as I would have been found to enjoying a nice sip of Rum or Whisky. I have learned two important things in my gin journey. The first is that gin is much more complicated than I first suspected with several divergent styles of gin being produced. The second important thing I have come to realize, is that of those styles, my preference leans towards traditional London Dry Gin with juniper at the heart of the spirit’s flavour profile.

Sentimental Bloom

That is not to say that I cannot appreciate a more floral style; but in my opinion, floral botanicals within the spirit’s construct should serve the purpose of enhancing and elevating the juniper rather than ambushing or hiding it. This means that I am sort of at odds with the current trend in North America where many of the new producers are seeking a gin with a broader botanical base, and with new flavours which serve to propel the spirit forward. The spirit which is being produced often doesn’t taste like my idea of gin at all.

As one producer even confided in me,

“I don’t really like gin, so I have made a gin that doesn’t taste like gin.”

That statement caught me off guard, but it certainly explained a lot regarding my gin experiences of the past few years.

My 2018 Rum Howler Awards for Gin are of course based upon my enjoyment, not the enjoyment of others. This means that my award winners are a celebration of the juniper berry above all other botanicals. That does not mean that floral spirits have been ignored, it just means that those floral spirits which have garnered awards, were first and foremost spirits of the cypress berry genus Juniperous.

Here is a link to my Awards page:

The 2018 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Gin

Stay tuned for more of my Award Winners in the days to come!

Chimo!

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The 2018 RumHowler Awards for Tequila

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 9, 2018

Tequila has been a part of my website almost since the beginning. When I first made the decision to write about the Mexican spirit, it was with some trepidation. You see, I wasn’t familiar with agave, and I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to write a meaningful review. However, my website is about exploration and discovery, and I felt that it would be a growth experience to push myself in directions I had never trod.

One thing I discovered quite quickly, was that Tequila had much more to offer than I originally anticipated. The agave plant (more specifically its cooked and fermented juice) brings rich flavours though the distillation and unlike whisky, it is the agave rather than flavours drawn from an oak barrel which is at the centerpiece of the spirit’s character. My first reviews were cautious, but by focusing my discussion upon the my enjoyment of the spirit, my reviews found favour not only among Tequila novices like myself, but also among many seasoned agave enthusiasts.

Tequila Old Fashioned

I have learned a lot in the last eight years as my understanding of the Mexican Spirit has grown. So this year I plan to re-boot my Tequila Reviews section revisiting many of my early reviews with new tasting notes and new scores for each spirit. That doesn’t mean I will ignore new agave spirits which come my way, in fact I hope to expand the tequila section at the same time. I hope everyone sticks around for the ride.

Last year was a good year for the Tequila, and if you are starting your own home bar, a great place to begin will be with my Rum Howler Award Winners for 2018.

Here is a link to my Awards Page for the Agave Spirit:

The 2018 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Tequila

Stay tuned for the rest of my Award Winners in the days to come!

Chimo!

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