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Archive for the ‘Awards’ Category

The Rum Howler’s #4 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 21, 2015

Ninety_20_Year_Old_-_shadow_2013_06In 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. 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 2013 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. (Highwood Distillers uses the Highwood brand for all of its wheat based whiskies.)

Highwood 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 the Rum Howler #4 Canadian Whisky of 2015:

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 (which actually reminds me of Post Honeycomb cereal) …”

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You may read about the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

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

#4 Dulce Vida Extra Añejo (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 21, 2015

Dulce Vida Tequila is produced from 100% organic agave grown in the Los Altos highlands which are situated in the Tequila Region of Mexico. The company produces the only 100° proof, 100% organic tequila (also free from additives of any kind) in the world. As well as being 100% organic, their tequila is also produced in a manner which embraces the concept of sustainability. During production of the spirit a complete waste recapture program is set in place which results in the production of a nutrient-rich soil supplement which is supplied to the local farming community.

Dulce Vida Extra Añejo SAM_1886Dulce Vida Extra Añejo is a celebratory spirit which has been matured for just over five years in single oak barrels from the Napa Valley. The Limited Edition spirit commemorates Dulce Vida’s five-year anniversary. This is the first Extra Anejo Tequila spirit which I have reviewed, and my review shall begin as it always does with a look at the bottle.

Here is a link to the best Tequila I have tasted, and the #4 Spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#4 – Dulce Vida Extra Añejo

“… I found myself spending a solid ten minutes just enjoying the aroma which drifted upwards from my glass. Along with that hint of red licorice were notes of dry fruit (dates and raisins), spicy oak and luscious milk chocolate. Given time, the agave did present itself, but it was a soft agave with smells of pumpkin pie and black pepper impregnating its presence …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

Posted in Awards, Extra Anejo Tequila, Extras, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on #4 Dulce Vida Extra Añejo (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

The Rum Howler’s #5 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 20, 2015

Northern Harvest RyeCrown Royal Northern Harvest Rye Whisky is a new blend from the folks who run the Crown Royal Distillery in Gimli, Manitoba. It is a bit of a throwback in style as the whisky features a heavy dose whisky produced from Canadian Winter Rye grain in the blend (almost 90% of the spirit is produced from Canadian Winter Rye grain). Winter rye imparts a robust spiciness throughout the spirit when distilled which (in my opinion) provides a much stronger ‘Canadian Whisky’ feel for this particular Crown Royal Whisky than we find with the flagship blend Crown Royal Deluxe which is produced predominantly from corn rather than rye.

This movement towards a more rye forward flavour profile seems to be a common theme within the Crown Royal family as two other recently released blends (Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel, and the new Crown Royal Monarch 75th Anniversary Blend) have recently followed that common path.

Here is a link to the Rum Howler #5 Canadian Whisky of 2015:

Crown Royal Northern Harvest

“… Although the whisky has an overt youthful brashness with  both wood and rye spices abounding, I receive barely a whisper of gentle alcohol burn. Malted milk chocolate and crusty rye bread flavours seem to ooze from the woody spices, and it seems I am adjusting my scores upwards with each sip. When sipped neat, the whisky is robust with a stronger presence of rye, orange peel and yellow fruit.  With an ice-cube, the whisky is extremely sippable as more milk chocolate flavours come forward carrying an unexpected sweetness …”

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You may read about the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Rum Howler’s #5 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

The Rum Howler Top 25 Rums of 2015 – #’s 5, 4 & 3

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 20, 2015

Diplomatico 2000We have now entered into the top 5 rankings for my 2015 Rum Howler Top 25 Rums of 2015, and up until now I have ranked each rum in my countdown based upon the score it received during my summer tasting sessions which I conducted as part of the determinations for the Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits. I decided to add another layer to my countdown at this point, and add in two more jurors to help me determine the rankings for the top 5. I gathered two friends, the same two who helped me determine the Rum Howler Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2015, and together we tasted the Top 5 Rum spirits of 2015 side by side. Using an amalgam of the three scores I assigned my final top 5 rankings.

Last year’s Rum Howler – Rum of the Year, Dictador Insolent lands at the number 5 spot while Don Pancho’s masterpiece from Panama, the Panamonte Reserva VVX grabs number 4. Entering into my countdown for the very first time is a limited edition rum created by DUSA Master Blender, Tito Cordero. I had thought that Diplomatico’s Exclusiva was the pinnacle of DUSA’s rum mastery, howerver this new Single Vintage Rum from Venezuela showed that the company is capable of even higher heights of rum glory.

Here are the next three fantastic cane spirits in my listing of the Best 25 Rums of 2015:

05)  Dictador XO Insolent Rum
04)  Panamonte Reserva XXV – 25 Year Old Rum 
03)  Diplomatico Single VTG 2000 Rum

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You may read about and follow the Top 25 Rum Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Rums

 

 

 

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Rum Howler Top 25 Rums of 2015 – #’s 5, 4 & 3

#5 Signatory Dufftown 1984 – Aged 26 years (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 20, 2015

Signatory Vintage was founded in 1988. It is family owned and managed, and the company proudly identifies itself as one of the few truly independent bottlers of whisky in Scotland. By calling themselves ‘truly independent’, Signatory is making a distinction between the independent companies who bottle their own products, and the independent companies whose products are bottled under contract.

Dufftown 1984 SAM_1875Dufftown is the largest distillery in Scotland belonging to Diageo. The whisky from this distillery is primarily intended for blending. Bell’s, Islander, Dewar’s White Label, and of course Johnnie Walker all require Dufftown Whisky as part of their construction.

The Signatory Dufftown 1984 is a single malt whisky matured in a single refill Sherry Cask (no. 79). 311 bottles were produced, and in April 2011, I reviewed bottle number 61. Fortunately for myself, I had also purchased bottle number 62, and when I was sampling the various spirits for this countdown, I decided that this particular spirit was the best Scotch Whisky I had ever tasted.

Here is the review for the #5 Spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#5 – Signatory Dufftown 1984 (Aged 26 years)

“… I smell a delightful alpine forest rising from the glass as the whisky is poured. Punky woody notes take shape with spongy moss, willow thicket, and floral notes abounding. Rich vanilla scents follow accented by a wonderful backdrop of honeycomb and oak. Caramel builds in the glass coexisting very nicely with a developing marzipan. Even though this whisky stems from a well aged barrel and arrives at a full 55 % alcohol strength, the whisky smells rich but not astringent. This has quickly become one of my favourite whiskies to nose …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

 

 

 

Posted in Awards, Extras, Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on #5 Signatory Dufftown 1984 – Aged 26 years (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

The Rum Howler’s #6 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – J.P.Wiser’s 18 Years Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 19, 2015

cq5dam.web.1280.1280In the past, Wiser’s 18 Year Old advertised itself as a Limited Release bottling totaling only 3500 bottles for each batch produced. This year I noticed that the whisky has undergone a subtle brand change and is now listed as J.P. Wiser’s 18 Year Old Canadian Whisky. As part of the brand re-identification the bottle no longer contains any information on the label with respect to the batch size. Whether any real substantive change in the whisky inside the bottle has occurred is unknown to me but since we know that we can expect the whisky to change from batch to batch at a minimum, I thought it wise to provide a brand new review for the whisky this year.

Here is a link to the Rum Howler #6 Canadian Whisky of 2015:

J.P. Wiser’s 18 Years Old (2015 Release)

“… As the glass breathes the spiciness within the breezes above the glass continues unabated. Meandering within the spice are rich smells of butterscotch and maple with a few hints of sharp orange peel and dusty grain. Some baking spices begin to form after about five minutes with vanilla and  brown sugar spice, bits of cinnamon white pepper and cloves …”

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You may read about the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Spiced Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Rum Howler’s #6 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – J.P.Wiser’s 18 Years Old

#6 – Dictador XO Insolent (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 19, 2015

Dictator’s solera aging system is a cascading process where younger rums are aged in oak casks and then blended with older rums. The aged rum are arranged in different flights with the oldest distilled rum on the lowest levels of the Solera. The younger rums are placed on the upper levels with the very youngest rums at the top. As the rum is pulled from the lowest barrels for bottling, the barrels are not fully emptied, and those barrels (about half full) are then topped up with rum from the levels just above. This marrying of old and new softens the fiery younger rum and provides the final blended rum with a refined smoothness and flavor not found in ordinary rums.

Dictador Insolent

Dictador Insolent

For the Dictador XO Insolent in particular, the aging barrels used are pre-used oak barrels which have a significant percentage of oak obtained from Jerez Spain, as well as pre-used Port Wine Barrels. Near the end of the aging process, the barrels earmarked for the XO Insolent Rum are emptied (and the rum stored of course), and these barrels are subjected to an open flame process which caramelizes the rum soaked oak fibres on the interior of the barrel. These barrels are then refilled with the same rum allowing the spirit to draw the sweet caramelized flavours from the interior of the oak barrel.

Here is a link to the #6 Spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#6 – Dictador XO Insolent

“… simply luscious with sweet toffee smells rising from the glass tainted with impressions of butterscotch, vanilla, corn syrup, creme de brulee, maple syrup and peanut brittle. There is a backbone of firm oak sap and spice melded wonderfully into these sweeter butterscotch like aromas with delectable baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) and hints of milk chocolate lying underneath …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on #6 – Dictador XO Insolent (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

The Rum Howler’s #7 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – Crown Royal Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2015

CRReserveCrown Royal Canadian Whisky is currently produced in Gimli, Manitoba, at the Crown Royal Distillery. The distillery and the brand are owned by Diageo, and I think it is fair to say that Crown Royal is Diageo’s flagship Canadian whisky brand. In 1992, a premium version of Crown Royal was introduced as Crown Royal Special Reserve. This whisky was produced from specially selected casks which were tasted and monitored closely by the Crown Royal Master Blender. These ‘premium casks’ represented whiskies with special character, and they were allowed to age longer with the aim of producing a more premium whisky. In the fall of 2008, this more premium Crown Royal Special Reserve was relaunched as Crown Royal Reserve Canadian Whisky.

Here is a link to the Rum Howler #7 Canadian Whisky of 2015:

Crown Royal Reserve

“… The whisky displays itself as a rich mahogany coloured spirit which brings a rather rich menagerie of scents and smells into the breezes above the glass. Things begin with rich notes of oak and cedar mingling with rye grain and butterscotch. The punky corn accent so familiar in all Crown Royal whiskies is very apparent; but it is much more subdued in this expression …”

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You may read about the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Rum Howler’s #7 Canadian Whisky of 2015 – Crown Royal Reserve

#7b Diplomatico Single VTG 2000 Rum (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2015

The Diplomatico Single VTG 2000 was produced from a blend of rums which were all distilled in the year 2000. This limited edition rum was created by DUSA Master Blender, Tito Cordero and follows on from his first limited edition rum, the VTG 1997, which (unfortunately for the rest of us) was only released in Venezuela. The distillate from the year 2000 was chosen to be featured in a Single Vintage bottling because of the tremendous sugar cane harvest which was produced that year. Apparently a series of climactic factors in Venezuela combined to produce exceptional growing conditions which led to the bountiful cane harvest. The Limited Edition Single VTG 2000 Rum is a celebration of that exceptional year.

Spanish Diplomat SAM_1677The bulk of the distillate for this particular rum was apparently produced upon copper pot stills, with a smaller portion of the distillate produced upon copper kettle stills. The spirit spent the first 10 years of its aging life in American ex-bourbon barrels, after which it was finished for another 2 years in Sherry casks (Pedro Ximénez). The final rum was bottled in 2012.

Here is a link to the review of the #7b spirit on my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown of the best spirits I have ever tasted.

#7b – Diplomatico Single VTG 2000 Rum

“… The initial scents are aromatic and fruity. There is a beguiling butterscotch sweetness underneath a triumvirate of oak spice, dark sherried fruit (raisins and dates) and luscious baking spices (vanilla, brown sugars, nutmeg, and cinnamon). Orange peel and almond scents entwine themselves into the aromatic breezes melding into the oak and butterscotch giving me impressions both of marmalade and marzipan …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

Note: I admitted earlier in the countdown that I had to place two spirits in the #25 spot because I had inadvertently failed to re-taste one extremely good spirit, and this necessitated a correction and addition of one extra spirit upon my list. 

I have to confess that another minor error occurred which requires an addition. When I constructed my list, I made a counting error and halfway through the countdown I realized that I had one too many spirits upon the list. Because I felt the number 7 ranking in my Countdown caused me the most anguish, I decided to fix my error and score two spirits (a tie) at number 7.

Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on #7b Diplomatico Single VTG 2000 Rum (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

#7 Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2015

Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon is part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection. This collection is composed of Booker’s, and the previously reviewed Baker’s, Knob Creek,and Basil Hayden’s. The whiskey collection is considered by Jim Beam Distillers to be a selection of ‘ultra-premium’ bourbon whiskeys created to establish a high-end category for bourbon, and thus to appeal to the serious whiskey aficionado. The Booker’s Bourbon was named for Booker Noe, who in 1992 began to produce the Booker’s whiskey bottled “straight-from-the-barrel, uncut and unfiltered”.

Booker's SAM_1112Interestingly, Booker’s Bourbon does not carry a consistent age statement from batch to batch as barrels are chosen for character and flavour rather than for being a specific age. For that reason the age of a particular bottle can vary between 6 to 8 years old. Because the whiskey is bottled straight from the barrel the bottling strength can also vary (according to the website) between 59.5 % to 64.55 % per batch.

Here is the review for the #7a Spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#7a – Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon

“… I was treated to even more richness as indications of dry fruit revealed themselves above the glass along with hints of treacle and pan roasted walnuts. There were also delightful aromas of leather chairs and rich pipe tobacco meandering into the breezes with undertones of smoky charcoal and dabbles of licorice mixed in. What I sense only a little of, is any undo astringency from the whopping 64.55 % alcohol within the glass. Maybe I have a bottle from a particularly outstanding batch; but air above my glass represents a masterpiece of whiskey goodness …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

Note: I admitted earlier in the countdown that I had to place two spirits in the #25 spot because I had inadvertently failed to re-taste one extremely good spirit, and this necessitated a correction and addition of one extra spirit upon my list. 

I have to confess that another minor error  occurred which requires an addition. When I constructed my list, I made a counting error and halfway through the countdown I realized that I had one too many spirits upon the list. Because I felt the number 7 ranking in my Countdown caused me the most anguish, I decided to fix my error and score two spirits (a tie) at number 7.

Posted in Awards, Extras | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on #7 Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

 
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