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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 2011 Rum Howler Awards – (Regional Whisky Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 22, 2011

Today I am continuing with my Rum Howler Awards as I am selecting the best whiskies from various parts of the world. I have an Award for Best Canadian Whisky, and Award for Best Scotch Whisky, and Award for Best American Whisky, and an Award for Best Irish Whisky.

All of these awards are based upon side by side tasting sessions held over a period of several weeks. I began at the start of August slowly tasting different whiskies from my collection of reviews samples bringing only the very best forward for the final tastings which took place over the past month.

The Rum Howler Award for Best Canadian Whisky

and the winner is:

Alberta Premium 30 Year Old

Honourable mention to Forty Creek Confederation Oak, Gibson’s Finest 12 Year, and Canadian Club 30 Year Old Whisky

It was a great year for Canadian Whisky, and I could easily have added several more honourable mentions to this category. I had great fun narrowing the field during some blind tasting runs where I had my wife pour me samples that I scored several times to arrive at the final four. The surprise finalist I guess would be the Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old, but truthfully all four finalists are deserving nominees. What was not surprising to me was my decision to grant the Award to the Alberta Premium 30 Year Old. It was not only the tastiest in head to head competition, it was also probably the best bargain in the entire Whisky World last year. (A 30 Year Old 100 % Rye Whisky, that sold for less than $50.00 per bottle in all markets where it was available.) Unfortunately I am using past tense, as at that price it is no small mystery that the Alberta Premium 30 has disappeared.


The Rum Howler Award for Best Scotch Whisky

and the winner is:

Highland Park 25 Year Old Whisky

Honourable mention to Signatory Dufftown 1984, and Glenmorangie Original

The fun continued as I had the opportunity this year to taste (and own) some incredible Scotch whisky. As with the Award for Best Canadian Whisky, I had my wife bring me small samples of each of the best Scottish Whiskies I had reviewed over the past year. It came down to three finalists, but in the end it was the staggering complexity of the Highland Park 25 Year Old whisky that won the day. This is a monster of a whisky and if you can afford to treat yourself to something really special, I recommend treating yourself to this one!


The Rum Howler Award for Best American Whisky

and the winner is:

Basil Hayden’s Straight Kentucky Bourbon

Honourable mention to Maker’s 46  Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

I have to admit that my experiences with American Whiskies were rather limited this year. I reviewed only five on my website, and my sampling at whisky shows and tastings did not broaden that experience significantly. However, I will say that I have become quite enthusiastic about Basil Hayden’s Straight Kentucky Bourbon. I really dig the laid back style of the Basil Hayden’s and highly recommend that you try it because I think if you give this whisky a fair chance in your glass that you will really dig it too.


The Rum Howler Award for Best Irish Whiskey

and the winner is:

Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Irish Whiskey

Honourable mention to Writer’s Tears Pot Still Blend, Greenore 8 Year Old Single Grain, and Redbreast 12 year Old

There was really no serious competition in this category, as the Jameson 18 Year old Limited Reserve was by far and away the best Irish Whiskey I have tasted to this point. I fell in love with the depth of its pot still flavour and the love affair has continued throughout the year. I did sample (but not review) quite a few other Irish whiskeys this year, the Greenore 8 Year Old Single Grain Whisky, Writer’s Tears Pot Still Blend, and the Red Breast 12 Year Old were a few of the notables which I tried. However, none of these whiskeys seemed to match the style and the depth of flavour of this gem from Jameson.


I have no award this year for the whiskies from the rest of the world. Simply put, I did not have the opportunity to sample many Japanese whiskies, or Indian whiskies, or the whiskies from other locales. I apologize for this unfortunate circumstance, but I will try to do better nest year.


And so to wrap up the Rum Howler Regional Whisky Awards:

The Rum Howler Award for Best Canadian Whisky:  Alberta Premium 30 Year Old

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Scotch WhiskyHighland Park 25 Year Old Whisky

The Rum Howler Award for the Best American WhiskyBasil Hayden’s Straight Kentucky Bourbon

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Irish Whisky: Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Irish Whiskey


Next week I shall tackle some Rum, cheers!

Posted in Awards, Howls | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Rum Howler Awards – Vodka, Gin and Tequila

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 15, 2011

Last week, I began to present my 2nd Annual Rum Howler Awards for excellence in the production of distilled spirits. The Awards last week were presented to those spirits which performed the best in what I considered to be a basic (but classic) cocktail for each category of distilled spirit. I had an award for the best rum in a Daiquiri; an award for the best whisky in a Horses Neck (Whisky and Ginger-ale): an award for the best tequila in a Margarita, an award for the best gin in a Gin Fizz, and an award for the best vodka in a Cosmopolitan.

Today I will recognize the best of the Vodka, Gin and Tequila spirits. I included all of the spirits I sampled over the past two years. (Going back two years allows me to include a larger volume of samples for each category which I hope makes the Rum Howler Awards more relevant.) The judging was based upon side by side comparisons using a combination of suitable cocktails and sipping the samples neat.

Here are my Rum Howler Awards for Vodka, for Gin, for Tequila.


The Rum Howler Award for Best Flavoured Vodka

and the winner is:

Pristina Espresso Flavoured Vodka

Honourable mention to Nemiroff Rye Honey and Zubrowka (Bison Grass) Vodka.

Because of the wide variation in product styles, this was a hard category to judge; but one which I feel I got right. All three of the nominees are spirits which I would have no problem sharing with which ever guests happen to pop by. They rise to a standard of excellence which was recognized when I did my initial reviews for them. I had some help deciding this category, and in a kind of committee approach, my friends and I decided that the Pristina Espresso Flavoured Vodka was the clear winner. 


The Rum Howler Award for Best Value Priced Vodka 
(Under $30.00 in my Alberta Marketplace)

and the winner is:

Russian Standard Original Vodka

Honourable mention to Nemiroff Original Vodka and Nemiroff Ukrainian Wheat Vodka

In my marketplace, taxes and storage fees can increase the price of a product by $13.00 a bottle (In some cases as high as  $18.00 a bottle). This means the value priced spirits usually begin at a price of $22.00 per bottle in most of the liquor stores. My upper limit of $30.00 per bottle,therefore,  eliminated a wide swath of products. I considered two major factors in determining the Best Value Priced Vodka. The first was the Vodka’s mixability in a range of cocktail styles, (the Screw Driver, the Cosmopolitan and the Vodka Tonic), and I weighed this equally against the performance of the Vodka served neat at room temperature. All three of the nominees are excellent choices, but the Russian Standard was not only my choice, but it was also the choice of my entire Vodka tasting group in this category.


The Rum Howler Award for Best Vodka
(Price irrelevant)

and the winner is:

Wyborowa Exquisite (Wodka)

Honourable mention to Patriot Excellence Vodka, Pristina Vodka, and Nemiroff Lex Vodka.

The Nominees for this category were judged in much the same way that the nominees for the Best Value Vodka were judged. However much more weight was attached to the performance of the Vodka when sipped neat at room temperature. To be honest, I have no complaints with any of these spirits and would happily receive them at any gathering. Having said that, the Wyborowa Exquisite is exactly what its name says it is, an exquisite Vodka which oozes class and luxury upon the palate. When I want a superior cocktail, this Vodka fits the bill beautifully, and when I want a great sipping bottle to share with friends and food, again the Wyborowa Exquisite is my first choice.


The Rum Howler Award for the Best Gin

and the winner is:

No. 3 London Dry Gin

Honourable mention to Tangueray No. 10

This was a two-horse race right from the start, and to make my determination I decided to mix three cocktails, a Gin and Tonic, a Key Lime Gimlet, and a Gin Fizz. Then I sampled each gin neat at room temperature. Half the score was based upon the taste of the cocktails, and half the score was based upon the performance of the gin when served neat. Although both of these spirits are wonderful. The No. 3 Gin was my clear choice.


The Rum Howler Award for Best Blanco Tequila

and the winner is:

Cabo Wabo (Blanco)

Honorable mention to PaQuí Tequila (Silvera)

Last week I awarded the PaQui Tequila Silvera with the award for the best Blanco tequila in a Margarita with the Cabo Wabo Blanco Tequila as the runner-up. This week the two spirits flip positions as the more complex earthy tones of the Cabo Wabo made it the clear winner in the head to head contest when I sipped the spirits neat.


The Rum Howler Award for Best Reposado Tequila

and the winner is:

Alamo Reposado Tequila

Honourable mention to Cabo Wabo Reposado, and Herencia de Plata (Reposado)

Cabo Wabo Reposado Tequila was the very first Tequila I reviewed on my website, and in a way it has served as the standard for all other tequila spirits that followed. It was the first tequila I reviewed because I really like it, and it became the Tequila I was most likely to serve when I made a margarita for myself or my friends. When I sampled the Herencia de Plata (Reposado), I began to serve the either of the two interchangeably depending upon whether I wanted the clean flavour of Herencia or the more funky flavour of Cabo Wabo. When I later sampled the Alamo Reposado Tequila, my serving habits for Margaritas did not change; but that is only because I do not serve the Alamo in a Margarita; I serve the Alamo neat at room temperature. It really is that good!


The Rum Howler Award for Best Anejo Tequila

and the winner is:

1921 Anejo Tequila

Honourable mention to Corzo Anejo Tequila

The 1921 Anejo Tequila is simply outstanding. It is one of those spirits which tastes great the first time you sip it, and then as you let the spirit breathe, the tequila  gains even more character in the glass. I did my side by side tasting with Corzo Anejo early in the fall. It was at first a very close contest, but as the 1921 Tequila decanted in the glass its character grew by leaps and bound making it the clear winner.


To recap:

The Rum Howler Award for Best Flavoured VodkaPristina Espresso Flavoured Vodka

The Rum Howler Award for Best Value Priced Vodka:  Russian Standard Original VodkaThe Rum

The Rum Howler Award for Best Vodka:  Wyborowa Exquisite (Wodka)

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Gin: No. 3 London Dry Gin

The Rum Howler Award for Best Blanco TequilaCabo Wabo (Blanco)

The Rum Howler Award for Best Reposado TequilaAlamo Reposado Tequila

The Rum Howler Award for Best Anejo Tequila:  1921 Anejo Tequila


Next week I will tackle whisky!


Posted in Awards, Howls | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on The Rum Howler Awards – Vodka, Gin and Tequila

Talk to Joy Spence on Facebook

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 10, 2011

I thought I would give everybody a quick heads up that Appleton Estate, Master Blender, Joy Spence will be participating in a live chat on Facebook this Friday (November 11) from 4:00 to 5:00 PM EST, Appleton on Facebook (this is the link to the live chat). I believe this is the first ever live Facebook Chat for Appleton Estate Rum.

You can post your questions in advance on Appleton’s Facebook Page, and slip over later to see if they were answered, or you can participate in the Live Chat from 4 to 5 (EST) tomorrow.

Cheers Everyone!

Posted in Howls | 1 Comment »

Put the Rum Howler on the Cover!

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 22, 2011

In 6 to 8 weeks (January 5th is what I have been told) a new internet magazine is going to launch called ‘flave‘. It’s kind of a “user manual for being a guy” magazine. Or maybe it’s more of a “the best way to waste your time” kind of magazine. I think they are still kind of figuring that out. Now normally, I do not go out of my way to promote magazine launches, but in this case (because I have been asked to be a contributing writer) it’s in my self-interest to do a little promoting. We are still working out the details, as I have insisted that I will not contribute if my independence is compromised. I will write what I want, when I want, without regard for who their sponsors may be.

Of course, the magazine has no idea that I plan to begin an immediate campaign to put myself on the cover of the first issue. (They want a nice picture of a sexy Helen Anahita instead.)  So to make my case I have arranged to have a  ‘mocked up’ first ever flave magazine cover made (pictured to the right) with yours truly on the cover.

If you are with me on this, then send in your subscription request with a demand to put me on the cover. (I guess if you want the sexy Helen Anahita instead you can just send in the normal subscription request.)

The Magazine will be free to all who sign up at

If you want the Rum Howler on the cover, just send them an email ( with the subject line:

Put the Rum Howler on the Cover!

Cheers Everyone!

Posted in Howls | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Review: 1 Barrel Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 15, 2011

1 Barrel Rum is a product of Belize, the northernmost mainland country of Central America. A former British Colony, Belize lies just south of Mexico with the Caribbean Sea to the east and Guatemala to the west and south. Travellers Liquors Limited has been involved in the production of 1 Barrel Rum in Belize since the early 1960s originally working with independent distillers. In 1989 Tavellers acquired full control of their own distillery and has remained in full control of the brand ever since.

I was given a bottle of 1 Barrel Rum by Blake Christensson of  Travellers Liquor Canada for the purpose of this review.

Here is an excerpt from that review:

“…That laid back quality I sensed on the nose continues into the mouth with a rum which has a few rough spots but has a flavour which is easy to enjoy. Caramel and toffee lead out with a light spiciness that heats up the mouth just a little. I taste a light almond flavour, some orange peel spiciness, hints of coconut, and hidden away underneath is a light fruity quality that is reminiscent of canned apricots…”

Here is a link to the full review:

Review: 1 Barrel Rum

As well I constructed a nice tall cocktail which I have named, Baron Bliss.

Please enjoy the review and the cocktail!

Posted in Howls | Comments Off on Review: 1 Barrel Rum

Review: Shiver Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 23, 2011

I contacted Gregg Kerr of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Commission (NLC) a few months ago informing him of my plans to begin a series of vodka reviews on my website, and how I was hoping to include at least a few Canadian spirits. Greg was kind enough to forward me a bottle of their new Vodka.

Shiver Vodka is a new product of the of the NLC.  Made in Newfoundland and Labrador from Ontario grown corn, Shiver Vodka is four times distilled and triple filtered for clarity and purity.  It is what the NLC calls an economy priced Premium Vodka, meant to be light on the pocketbook, but also meant to compete well in the Premium Vodka Spirit category.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“…We all felt the Vodka was very clean on the nose with just a few hints of citrus and grain apparent, however once the Shiver Vodka was sipped that citrus spiciness grew in strength considerably. The sensation warmed our mouths more than a little bit…”

You may read the full review here:

Review: Shiver Vodka

I have included I a nice cocktail adapted from the Shiver Vodka Website, the Arctic Sun.

Please enjoy the review and the cocktail!

Posted in Howls | Comments Off on Review: Shiver Vodka

Top Ten Rums (you should avoid)!

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 9, 2011

My writings on this website are primarily to help my readers chose better spirits when making that purchase decision. To that end I thought I should publish my first warning list. These are the purchase decisions you want to avoid. Those sugar-cane based spirits which will help to empty your wallet, but will leave little in the way of reward. I expect this list to be somewhat controversial, and if I slight one of your favourites please chime in with a comment to defend your rum of choice. But, having said that, I must confess, that these are anything but my rums of choice. These are my regrets, and I publish this list in hopes that I can help you avoid a regret or two.

And so without further adieu, here are…the top ten Rums you should avoid.

Top Ten Rums (you should avoid)!

And for more fun here is a link to the Video that inspired this posting:



Posted in Howls, Rum | Tagged: | Comments Off on Top Ten Rums (you should avoid)!

Big Black Dick Dark Caribbean Rum Update

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 26, 2011

My Big Black Dick Dark Caribbean Rum Review has aroused the curiosity of almost everyone who visits my website, and that’s why it has become my most ‘clicked on’ review of all time. I thought I should provide an update for my readers because the Big Black Dick Rum website referred to in my review shut down barely two weeks after my original review. (We hope my review was not responsible.)

However, I can now let everyone know, after much hard work on my part, that I have found the new website for Big Black Dick Rum.  The Rum is now featured on the Blackbeard’s Trading Co. Ltd. website. The new website is not quite as ‘colourful’ as the old website, but it still advertises that “stiff, yet tasty” flavour of the Big Black Dick Dark Caribbean Rum!

And for those few who never read my original review of this Dark Caribbean Rum, here is an excerpt:

“….I would have expected this rum to have more thrust and energy in the delivery, but instead it is rather limp and subdued as if waiting for you to arouse its charm. What is found instead of charm is a molasses and dark caramel laden rum. Prunes, raisins, and dates rest with a leathery tobacco deeper down adding a bitterness that sits beside the sweeter molasses. …”

You may read the full review here:

Review: Big Black Dick Dark Caribbean Rum

Posted in Dark Rums, Flavouerd Rums, Howls, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Big Black Dick Dark Caribbean Rum Update

Rum Renaissance 2011 Opens With The ‘Zombie Jamboree’

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 29, 2011

The Miami Rum Renaissance Festival 2011 kicks off with the Zombie Jamboree at the Mai Kai Polynesian Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale on Monday, April 25 from 5 to 7pm . This event will be hosted by author, and celebrated Tiki Cocktail authority, Jeff  “Beachbum” Berry. (Mr. Berry’s published books include Beachbum Berry Remixed, Sippin’ SafariGrog Log, Intoxica and Taboo Table.)

‘Beachbum’ Berry  will host a discussion on the origin (and the evolution) of the Zombie cocktail. His seminar will feature samples of Don the Beachcomber’s classic 1934 and 1956 Zombie recipes. The fun will continue as several other noted mixologists will present their own variations of the Zombie Cocktail to serve as examples of how this wonderful cocktail continues to evolve.  (Please click on the Zombie Jamboree banner at the top of this posting for more information, and to learn how to RSVP your reservation for this great opening event.)

And that is just the first evening of the festival. From there, the events include nine VIP Parties, a three-day RumXP International Tasting Competition, various ancillary competitive events including The International Tiki Face Off Competition and the Baritt’s Ginger Beer Cocktail Competition. Finally, it all wraps up with 2 days at the Grand Tasting Finale where there will be seminars, cocktail competitions, and a Island Lifestyle Showcase.

Last year I was invited to act as one of the International Judges at the 2010 RumXP International Tasting Competition which was held in conjunction with Rum Renaissance 2010. I spent five days soaking up the atmosphere of the festival, and of the city. I must have done a decent job as a Rum Judge as this year I have been invited back to reprise my role as the an International Judge once again. This year I want to extend a bit of an invitation to those who read and follow my blog to come to Miami this year to join in the festivities of the Largest Rum Festival in the World. The festival promises to be even better than last year. It has grown from three fun filled days in 2009; to five days last year in 2010; to a full seven days of fun and frolic in 2011.

Let me quote Robert Burr, the organizer and prime motivating force behind the Festival:

“Rum is experiencing a Renaissance of appreciation as more savvy consumers discover a truly remarkable range of fine rums from the Caribbean region, North, Central and South America, and around the world.

The Miami Rum Renaissance Festival is one of the world’s premier international rum events, presenting a unique and exciting celebration of the fine arts of distillation, maturing and blending fine cane spirits.

Enjoy a full week of exclusive VIP parties at Miami’s most notable venues, a grand two-day exhibition of the best rum brands, the excitement of the Island Lifestyle Showcase, celebrity seminars, workshops and cocktail competitions, the annual RumXP competition and awards, an opportunity to rub shoulders with dignitaries and notable experts, and more.”

You can purchase tickets for either day (or both) of the Grand Tasting Finale, or you can enjoy the full experience and obtain a VIP Pass and join in the fun of all of the VIP events all week-long. And of course everyone who attends can enjoy beautiful Miami Beach.

Posted in Howls, Rum | Tagged: | Comments Off on Rum Renaissance 2011 Opens With The ‘Zombie Jamboree’

Rhum Clement Visits Calagary

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 12, 2011

Rhum Clement Profile

I met Benjamin Melin-Jones last year at Rum Renaissance when I was enjoying myself at the Rhum Clement sponsored VIP Party which was, of course, one of the major features at the Rum Renaissance Festival. For those who do not know Benjamin Jones is the person primarily responsible for relaunching the Rhum Clement Brand in the USA (and Canada).

Rhum Clement is the leading producer of A.O.C Martinique Rhum Agricole. Rhum Agricole is produced from sugar cane juice rather than molasses, and Rhum Clement is an agricole rhum which is further refined being produced solely from within a specific terroir of Martinique, hence receiving the A.O.C. certification.

Why I am bringing all of this to your attention?  The reason is that Benjamin Melin-Jones will be arriving in Calgary, Alberta to show off his Rhum Portfolio for two days. The first tasting will be at Willow Park Liquor Store on Wednesday March 16 at 7:00 PM. The Second will be at the Crowfoot Liquor Store on Thursday March 17, at 7:00 PM.

This will be a unique opportunity to not only sample a world-renowned spirits brand, but also a chance to speak directly to Benjamin Jones who just happens to be a direct descendant of Homere Clement, physician and mayor of Le Francios,  but more importantly to us, the man responsible for pioneering and producing Rhum Agricole on the French Island of Martinique over one hundred years ago.

I hope a few of my readers can take advantage of this opportunity.

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