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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

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

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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

 

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

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!

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

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: , , , | Leave a Comment »

2017 Rum Howler Awards For Tequila

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 2, 2017

rh-winner2017

Beginning in 2015, I made a concentrated effort to make the Agave Spirit a larger part of my website. I began with my Rum Howler 2015 Margarita Challenge and, as part of that effort, designed my version of the quintessential tequila cocktail just for the competition, the Alfred Cointreau Margarita Cocktail. That effort triggered a response from industry as Tequila producers began to take note of my website, and I was contacted to provide spirit reviews from many new producers.

Margarita

Margarita Cocktail

Alas the quirks of Canadian Customs and Excise scared more than a few of these companies away as getting me samples is not easy if you are not based in Canada. However, a steady trickle of samples began to cross my desk and my Tequila Review Page began to grow. That trickle continued into 2016, and not only did the quantity of tequila which I was able to taste increase, the quality of tequila which I was exposed to went off the charts. This new high quality of agave spirit is reflected in the 2017 Rum Howler Awards for Tequila.  (I did make one significant change this year bringing my awards forward one year such that my awards would be in the same calendar year as the awards from other publications and websites.)

As most of you know, when I conduct my deliberations for my annual Rum Howler Awards. I consider not only the spirits which I received as samples in the given year, I also include the samples from the previous year. This means that the body of spirits for my 2016 Rum Howler Awards for Tequila represent the best agave spirits I have tasted to this point.

Here is a link to my 2017 Rum Howler Awards for Tequila:

The 2017 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Tequila

 

 

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

Rum Howler 2016 #1 Mixing Rum: Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2016

2016rum_howler_badgeRum Nation has been delighting me over the past few years with their fresh approach to the spirit we enjoy as rum. Fabio Rossi, who owns and manages the company, purchases select rums from various distillers in the Caribbean and the Americas, and provides a rather unique assortment of rare limited edition rum bottlings to both the European, and the North American market. Up until recently, all of Fabio’s rums have been well aged wonders.

Rum Nation Pot Still Cocktail SAM_1458Last year, Fabio went in a different direction entirely with his Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still Rum. In the case of this spirit, the dimensions of time and location with respect to maturity are rendered irrelevant. Instead, the dimension Fabio chose to explore within this rum monster, was flavour! While other rum companies are experimenting with 3, 4, 5 and 6-year-old barrel aged rums which are then refined and filtered with charcoal to achieve their smooth color free state as ultra premium white rums, Rum Nation’s new Jamaican White Rum is instead produced entirely without age. And rather than giving us a smooth refined ultra premium white rum, Fabio’s new rum revels in its brutish, concentrated (bottled at 57 % alcohol) Jamaican pot still flavour, and is anything but smooth and refined.

This is a new direction for white rum, and it is frankly a direction which flies in the face of current regulation in my home country which decrees that even clear white rum must see the inside of an oak barrel for one year. With Rum Nation’s new Jamaican White rum, it is the Jamaican Pot Still which is placed under the microscope for better or for worse. The result is a bold new style of white rum which has traveled in a direction that I appreciated so much that I have named it the Best Cocktail Rum in the World!

Here is my review:

#1: Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still Rum

“… what do we do with a rum which has so much flavour to offer; but one which also promises to do so much damage if you try to take more than a mere sip? The rum is simply too intense to sip neat, yet too marvelously complex to refrain from indulging. What I settled upon was a compromise, I decided would mix the rum into a cocktail; but I would follow the path of the daiquiri, rather than of the Cuba Libre. I was well pleased with the results, although as you will see, I had to make sure I adjusted my cocktail ratios to account for the sheer volume of flavour the rum possesses …”

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Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you enjoyed the countdown! You may see the entire list here:

The Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Mixing Rums Countdown

 

Posted in Awards, Extras, Overproof Rum, Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Rum Howler 2016 Top Canadian Whisky: J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2016

rum-howler-top-50-2016Wiser’s Red Letter was re-introduced to Canadians in 2007 to pay homage to the 150th anniversary of John Philip Wiser’s distillery in Prescott, Ontario 1857 – 2007), as well as to the original Red Letter Whisky which Wiser’s produced in the late 1800s. In 2009, when I reviewed the inaugural 150th Adversary Edition (see review here), I was told by my contacts within Corby, that the spirit contained various blends of whisky which (although they ranged in age) were all ten years old or more.

j-p-wisers-red-letter-sam_2661In 2013 Corby, once again in a tribute to their founder J.P Wiser, released Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky 2013 Release. The whisky was re-branded J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky in 2015, and just like the previous editions of the brand, the spirit is comprised of whiskies aged for at least 10 years in American bourbon barrels which are then further mellowed by finishing in virgin white oak casks. Of course it is still bottle at 45 % alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to what I believe is the Best Whisky currently made in Canada, and incidentally, one of the very best in the World:

#1: J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter

The 2015 version of the Red Letter Whisky seems to hearken back to the original 2007 version as the whisky pushes a bevy of spicy goodness across the palate giving the taste buds a treat and the tonsils a wallop as it goes down. Lush corn and bittersweet rye meld with the oak spices allowing flavours of rich chocolate, maple and vanilla to ride along with the oak spice and alcohol heat. This is lovely stuff.

Thank you all for following my Countdown all the way to the Number 1 Canadian Whisky.

Chimo!

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* You may find my complete 2016 Top 50 Canadian Whisky Countdown list here:

The Rum Howler – Top 50 Canadian Whiskies of 2016

 

 

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Mixing Rum Countdown #2: Panama Red 108

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 23, 2016

2016rum_howler_badgePanama Red 108 is a Panamanian rum brought to you by PANAMONTE BRANDS. The rum is handcrafted by the creator of Zafra Master Reserve, Master Blender, Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez. It is produced from the sugar cane that grew in Las Cabras de Pese, the same region where the Distillery is located.

Panama Red 108Although the rum is stated as overproof, Don Pancho has assured me that the rum will feel much smoother in the mouth than a typical overproof rum. It has as its base, a 3 year molasses based rum which is aged in used Bourbon casks at the distillery warehouse in Pese.

Don Pancho was certainly accurate in his assessment, and his wonderful rum is the Number 2 spirit in my 2016 Rum Howler Top 50 Mixing Rum Countdown. Here is my original review:

#2: Panama Red 108

“…  After just a few sips, the rum has heated the mouth with orange peel spiciness, and then I began to notice the baking spices building. The longer I allowed the glass to decant, the richer and more complex the flavour became as the baking spices continued to build in the glass to the benefit of my palate …”

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Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I will be revealing my choice for the Number 1 Cocktail Rum in the entire world, stay tuned!

And you can follow the rankings by bookmarking this page:

The Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Mixing Rums Countdown

Posted in Awards, Extras, Overproof Rum, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Mixing Rum Countdown #2: Panama Red 108

Top 50 Canadian Whisky Countdown #2: Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 23, 2016

rum-howler-top-50-2016In November of 2005, Highwood Distillers 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. 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 2013 addition of the ‘Ninety’ branded whiskies to the Century Distillers line-up.

sam_2646Highwood Distillers chose the brand name ‘Ninety’ for their new corn grain whiskies because these 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 the number 2 ranked whisky in my 2016 Rum Howler Canadian Whisky Countdown:

#2: Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

“… The different aspects of the aroma (the wood and rye spiciness and the corn and butterscotch sweetness) are melded together beautifully creating a very enticing aroma in the air above the glass. As I enjoy those breezes, I also notice impressions of creamy vanilla pudding, hints of almond turning to sweeter marzipan, zesty orange peel turning to sticky marmalade, and lightly sweetened cereal grain …”

Stay tuned as the countdown continues tomorrow with the Number 1 Canadian Whisky.

Chimo!

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* You may follow my 2016 Canadian Whisky Countdown by bookmarking this link:

The Rum Howler – Top 50 Canadian Whiskies of 2016

 

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

2016 Top 50 Mixing Rum Countdown #3: Stiggins’ Fancy Plantation Pineapple Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 22, 2016

2016rum_howler_badgePineapple 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.

Fancy Autumn Pineapple SAM_2737Alexander 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.

The collaboration was an unmitigated success and their Stiggins’ Fancy Plantation Pineapple Rum has roared up my list to grab the honour of being the 3rd best Mixing Rum in my 2016 Countdown.

Here is a link to my recent review:

#3: Stiggins’ Fancy Plantation Pineapple Rum

“… Alexandre Gabriel and Dave Wondrich created this spirit with and eye towards cocktails, and so I thought I would try my hand at mixing one. With the pineapple accent so obvious within the rum, I decided that pairing that flavour with lime make the most sense. I added a bit of Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, a dash of bitters and a touch of sugar syrup and shook it over ice. The result was wonderful …”

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Stay tuned for more mixing rum revelations as I will be adding to this list each day until Christmas Eve.

And you can follow the rankings by bookmarking this page:

The Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Mixing Rums Countdown

 

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 2016 Top 50 Mixing Rum Countdown #3: Stiggins’ Fancy Plantation Pineapple Rum

 
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