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Archive for the ‘Howls’ Category

Howls are my main method of posting on the front page. They are my way of communicating to you the general information of the site.

The Rum Howler Introduces Mezcal

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 24, 2018

Some of you may have noticed recent changes to the labels on your favourite bottles of Mezcal.. These changes are a result of the new Mexican regulations which are part of the new labeling standards for the spirit (NOM 070-SCIFI-2016) which were put into effect last year (April 2017). These regulations are an effort of the Mexican Government to regulate and categorize Mezcal in a similar manner to the way that Tequila is regulated. They are meant to bring consistency to the production of Mezcal, but more importantly to establish a region of origin such that the spirit remains a true Mexican Spirit.

From the appearance of the liquor store retail shelves in Edmonton, this attempt by the Mexican Government (and Mezcal producers) has been very successful to date, as the number of Mezcal Spirits available in my retail market has jumped significantly. As a result, I have decided that it is time to introduce the spirit to my website.

Thus far I have secured a few sample bottles, and am working hard to secure more such that I can begin a review series in early June.

Mezcal is a much more varied product than is Tequila as the number of varieties of Maguey (agave) which may be used is much higher. As well the new classification system for Mezcal is somewhat more complicated (some might say more thorough). As my first posting with respect to the newly regulated Mexican spirit, I thought I might attempt to unravel some of the mystery regarding is labeling and classification.

This is my attempt to explain some of the changes and the new classifications for Mezcal.

100% Maguey

Going forward, all commercial bottles of Mexcal must be labeled with the phrase ‘100% Maguey‘ or ‘100% Agave‘. Maguey and Agave may be considered synonymous, and the intent of this criteria is to inform the consumer that Mescal is a 100% agave product. There is no ‘Mixto’ classification.

Denomination of Origin Protected

Going forward, Mescal brand owners are required to place upon the front label of their Mescal spirit either a “Made in Mexico” statement or use the “Eagle’s Head” to indicate to the consumer that the spirit was produced in Mexico. This exact phrase must be listed on the front label, in a font that is not to be any smaller than 3 mm in height. This phrase is to identify that what is in the bottle was made within the demarcated region for mezcal and according to all laws and regulations dictating its production.

Categories of Mezcal

In addition, according to the new regulations, Commercial Mezcal must now be categorized based upon how the maguey is cooked, fermented, crushed, and distilled. Each bottle must display on the front label, which of the three catagories, Mezcal, Artesanal, or Ancestral, the spirit belongs to. The specifications for each category are as follows:


Cooking: Cooking of agave piñas or juice in underground pits, above ground masonry ovens or autoclaves.

Milling: Tahona, Chilean or Egyptian mill, cane press, chipper, or roller mills.

Fermentation: Fermentation can take place in wood, concrete, or stainless steel vats

Distillation: Alembic still, continuous or column still made from copper or stainless steel.

Mezcal Artesanal

Cooking: Agave piñas must be cooked in underground pits or above ground masonry ovens.

Milling: Wooden mallet, tahona, Chilean/Egyptian mill, cane press, or chipper.

Fermentation: Fermentation can be performed in rock pits, in-ground pits, tree trunks, clay urns, wooden vats, or animal hide. The fermentation may include agave fibers.

Distillation: Distillation must be fueled by direct fire beneath a boiler of either copper or clay. The head or “hat” of the still may be made of clay, wood, copper, or stainless steel.

Mezcal Ancestral

Cooking: Agave piñas must be roasted in underground, earthen pits.

Milling: Roasted agave can only be crushed using wooden mallets, tahona, or a Chilean/Egyptian mill.

Fermentation: Fermentation can only take place in rock pits, in-ground pits, tree trunks, masonry tanks, clay urns, or wooden vats, or animal hide. Process may include fibers.

Distillation: Stills must be fueled by direct fire with boilers constructed of clay, with the head or “hat” of the still constructed of clay or wood.

Classifications within each Category:

All Mescal must be further classified based upon its maturation. These Classes are as follows:

Blanco or Joven: Mezcal which has not been altered in any way after distillation. (No aging)

Madurado en Vidrio: Mezcal that has been rested in glass vessels larger than 5 liters for over 12 months either buried underground or in a specialized area that minimizes variations in light, temperature, and humidity.

Reposado: Mezcal that has rested in wooden barrels for two months but not longer than 12 months in a specialized area that minimizes variations in light, temperature, and humidity. There are no specifications or limits regarding the shape or size of the barrels.

Añejo: Mezcal that has rested in wooden barrels for over twelve months in barrels that are no larger than 1,000 liters. They must be rested in in a specialized area that minimizes variations in light, temperature, and humidity.

Abocado con/Infused with: Mezcal that has had ingredients or extracts added to the mezcal post-distillation to contribute flavor. These ingredients can include, but are not limited to: Agave worm, damiana, orange, lime, mango, honey, or others, provided they are authorized by Ministry of Health.

Destilado con/Distilled with: Mezcal that is distilled with ingredients to influence flavor. Ingredients used can include, but are not limited to: Turkey or chicken breast, rabbit, mole, and plums, among others.


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IWSC Names Flor de Caña the #1 Rum Producer in the World

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 28, 2017

Here a Press Release I thought I should share today:

Flor de Caña, the premium rum brand from Nicaragua, was named Global Rum Producer of the Year by the prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in London. The IWSC is the most respected organization focused on awarding excellence to spirits worldwide, with over 400 global experts judging products from more than 90 countries.

This distinction, the highest within the global spirits industry, is the most powerful endorsement of Flor de Caña’s quality and excellence. Flor de Caña, a 5th generation single family estate rum, is naturally aged without sugar, additives or artificial ingredients, enriched by an active volcano and distilled with 100% renewable energy.


About Flor de Caña Rum

Flor de Caña, Nicaragua’s #1 exported brand, is present in over 40 countries worldwide and is one of the fastest growing premium rum brands in the United States. With more than 125 years and 5 generations of family tradition, Flor de Caña has been recognized as the world’s best rum in prestigious international competitions in London, Madrid, San Francisco and Chicago. Flor de Caña, the leading premium rum in Central America, is manufactured and distributed by Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua, S.A. (CLNSA).


My Hearty Congratulations!

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The 3rd Annual Edmonton Rum Festival

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 10, 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!


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
(Call Riverbend Wine Merchants for more information (780 434 9444 ))


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.


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)

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Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 2, 2017

Joy Spence, Appleton Estate’s Master Blender and World’s First Female Master Blender (of a global brand) with more than 20 years of experience, was awarded the honour of the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander (CD) by the Government of Jamaica in recognition of her contribution to the promotion of Jamaica’s rum industry and Brand Jamaica globally. The Order of Distinction is a national order in the Jamaican honours system conferred upon citizens of Jamaica who have rendered outstanding and important services to Jamaica, or to distinguished citizens of a country other than Jamaica.

Joy now finds herself among a prestigious group of fellow countrymen that have received this honor, including the current Governor-General of Jamaica, Sir Patrick Allen, and the fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt.

Additionally, Joy was named one of the Most Influential Women in Food & Drink by the prestigious Food & Wine Magazine in partnership with their sister publication, Fortune Magazine.  The award-winning publications recognized Joy in their list of 20 female trailblazers and trendsetters who have raised the bar and changed the way we enjoy food and drink. Joy is credited for elevating the recognition and desirability of high-end rums as a Master Blender and rum evangelist.

More about Joy Spence

Joy fell in love with chemistry at age thirteen, and set her mind on becoming a scientist. After graduating from the University of the West Indies with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and the University of Loughborough with a Master of Science in Analytical Chemistry, she joined Appleton Estate in 1981 as Chief Chemist and quickly became fascinated with the art of sensory analysis and the process of creating rums. Over the next 16 years, under the expert guidance of then Master Blender, Owen Tulloch, Joy honed her acute sensory skills, developing an unrivalled mastery of taste and smell.

In 1997 Joy was appointed as the world’s first female Master Blender, shattering the spirits industry’s glass ceiling at a time when rum was primarily made and consumed by men. At once an artist and a scientist, Joy has spent the last 20 years creating some of the world’s finest rums.

Speaking about her latest achievement Joy comments:

“I am truly humbled as I never anticipated being awarded with recognitions such as these. I thank those who nominated me for their confidence and appreciation. I would also like to thank my family, colleagues and others who have supported me along the way. The work I have accomplished over these many years is the result of the passion I have for the rum industry, Appleton Estate and Brand Jamaica.”

Throughout her illustrious career numerous awards have been presented to Joy in recognition of her exceptional life’s work. Joy was previously awarded the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Officer, (OD) by the government of Jamaica for her service and contributions to the spirits industry in 2005 and “Outstanding Contribution” at the International Spirits Challenge in 2014. Joy was also given an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies.

2017 marks Joy’s 36th anniversary at Appleton Estate and 20th anniversary as Master Blender. She continues to pour her passion into the industry daily. To celebrate her 20th anniversary as Master Blender, this year she released Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend, a rare 25-year-old limited edition rum that is the culmination of Joy’s pioneering spirit, inventive mind, and dedication to her craft.


The Rum Howler Blog offers our hearty congratulations to Joy Spence. The honours you have earned are well deserved!

(And I will have more on Joy Spence’s, Appleton Estate Joy Anniversary Blend Rum Howler Top 100 Rums of 2017 later this year as I continue to count down the .)  #Top100Rums


Review: El Dorado 3 Year Cask Aged Demerara Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 12, 2017

The El Dorado Mojito

The Diamond Distillery sits on the East Bank of the Demerara River near Georgetown, Guyana. The Distillery, originally attached to the now closed Diamond Sugar Estate, is home to Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL). Several years ago, I was invited by DDL and Woodman Wines and Spirits to travel to Guyana for a very exclusive tour of DDL’s facilities with a small group of Canadian Spirits Writers and Restauranteurs. Some of the ‘Heritage Stills’ I saw in operation were over 250 years old, and they were still producing (as closely as possible) the same historic marques of rum which they had produced over two centuries ago. Superimposed upon the scene of ancient Stills and equipment was the dichotomy of a brand new distillation plant which had just begun to produce its own marques of rum side by side with the ancient historic stills. The new distillation plant represents a bridge to DDL’s future of new technology and methods of production. However, by continuing to operate the old plant and maintaining the unique marques of rum upon which the company built its original success, the foundations for that bridge to the future have been set firmly in their historic past.

The El Dorado 3 Year Cask Aged Demerara Rum is blended from aged stocks (the youngest being no less than 3 years old) and then filtered twice through charcoal filters to produce a clear rum. All of the Demerara Rum produced by El Dorado is aged exclusively in American oak (45 gallon bourbon barrels).

Here is a link to my new review which includes my suggested recipe, The El Dorado Mojito:

Review: El Dorado 3 Year Cask Aged Demerara Rum

“… The rum has a pleasant soft texture with light oil-like mouth-feel. There is no bitterness, and the soft butterscotch/caramel flavours remain firm through the palate accented with light minty candy-like flavours. There is also a light spiciness which hints at citrus zest and banana peel …”


I originally reviewed the El Dorado 3 Year Cask Aged Demerara Rum eight years ago as one of my original reviews to open the website. (I revisited it again four years ago when I was doing side by side comparisons of White Rums during the summer of 2013,) Although the scores have been adjusted slightly in this review, it remains one of my very favourite white rums. It is smooth and flavourful enough to be sipped enjoyably, and it also brings outstanding character to the cocktail experience.


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