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Archive for the ‘Rum Reviews’ Category

Review: Brugal 1888 (Ron Gran Reserva Familiar)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 3, 2016

Brugal 1888 SAM_2410The Brugal Distillery was founded in 1888, by Andrés Brugal Montaner. Although the Edrington Group now controls the company, George Arzeno Brugal, is the current chairman, and most of the current board members are direct descendants of the original company founder. My understanding based upon discussions with the local Brugal Brand Ambassador for Brugal is that when the Edrington Group gained control of the rum company, they instituted a new wood policy which governs how all of the Brugal spirits are aged. This practice brings the cask selection process into line with the wood policy the company uses for its Scotch whiskies.

Although Brugal still makes their rum in a traditional manner (from molasses) and ages it on site in Puerto Plata, the Brugal 1888 (Ron Gran Reserva Familiar) now undergoes a special double maturation process. The rum is first aged in medium toasted, ex-Bourbon White American Oak Casks for 6 to 8 years. This is followed by a second maturation in first-fill Spanish Oloroso Sherry Casks. The final rum is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to my latest Rum Review:

Review: Brugal 1888 (Ron Gran Reserva Familiar)

“… Despite the sherry enhancement the rum remains true to its cane roots as the initial nose brings forward classic aged rum notes of  oak sap, semi-sweet caramel and treacle, and spicy tobacco aromas. There is a light dryness implied with dusty sandalwood notes and light scents of banana and orange peel. As the glass sits, luscious baking spices evolve with dark brown sugars, vanillans, cinnamon and nutmeg all forming a wonderful menagerie of scents in the breezes above the glass …”

Please enjoy my review!


Posted in Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Review: Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 18, 2016

Dragon Zombie SAM_2379

Wray and Nephew: Dragon Zombie

Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum is a molasses based rum produced from field to glass in Jamaica by J. Wray and Nephew Ltd..

J. Wray and Nephew trace their history back to 1825 when company founder John Wray set up ‘The Shakespeare Tavern‘ in Kingston, Jamaica. By the middle of the century John Wray was distilling and blending his own rums (primarily for his patrons at the Tavern). In the early 1860s Charles J. Ward joined his uncle, and began selling their Jamaican rums internationally.

In 1916, J. Wray and Nephew was purchased by the Lindo Brothers & Co. who also acquired the prestigious sugar cane estate, the Appleton Estate. Lindo Brothers merged the two Jamaican entities into one company, J. Wray and Nephew Ltd.. The new company dominated rum production in Jamaica (and continues to do so) producing both Wray & Nephew Rum and the Appleton Estate Jamaican Rum. (They also produce other Jamaican Rum brands including Coruba Dark Jamaican Rum).

In 2012, Wray and Nephew Ltd. was purchased by the Campari group.

Here is a link to my review:

Review: Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum

“… The rum smacks you around a little when you take too large of a sip. The throat is seared (just a little) and the tonsils seem to cower hoping not to be whacked again. Sipping had best be a more cautious affair. The flavour is off the charts though, deeply complex and full of character. I taste mildly sweet brown sugar flavours with an ever so light saltiness, the combination reminds me of peanut brittle taffy …”

Please enjoy my review which includes two new cocktails, the High Test Daiquiri which was revealed yesterday, as well as the cocktail shown to the left, my new Dragon Zombie.



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Cocktail Hour: Crannon Blast

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 10, 2016

Cannon Blast Bottle ImageCaptain Morgan Cannon Blast began to appear on store shelves throughout North America in the fall of 2015. The new spirit from Captain Morgan (apparently produced from Captain Morgan Rum as well as natural flavours and spices) is being touted as a rum meant for the shot glass.

With that in mind, I invited my friend Lucas to sample the spirit with my last fall prior to my review. When he and I sampled it for the first time, we each took a cautious sip, and then downed shots to see how the spirit fared. I saw Lucas grimace, and I am sure he saw me grimace, as the tart flavour of sour citrus candies filled our mouths and overwhelmed our ability to control our reactions. The overt spiciness which followed contributed to our discomfort. Let’s just say that neither of us were fans at that point.

Having said that, my review for the Cannon Blast (see down below for a link) has been the most popular article on my website since I published it. Many people seem to be curious about the cannon ball shaped bottle and the rum inside.

Because of the spirit’s apparent popularity, I thought I would share a simple shot-style recipe sent to me recently by the media team for Captain Morgan Rum which mixed the Cannon Blast with Cranberry juice. Although the combination does not work for me, it apparently is quite popular at bars and clubs where the Cannon Blast is sold.


Crannon Blast

Cannon_Blast_Crannonblast-0031 oz. Captain Morgan Cannon Blast
1/2 oz. Cranberry juice
Shot Glass

Chill the Shot Glass in the freezer
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of your shaker begins to frost
Strain into the chilled shot glass.
Enjoy Responsibly!


And if you are interested in how I scored the Cannon Blast, here is a link to my full review:

Review: Captain Morgan Cannon Blast

“… The aroma carries an obvious rum-like caramel aroma which is tainted by the sweet and sour scent of a lemon drop candy. The lemon drop candy scent grows stronger as you let the rum breathe, and as well I begin to notice a light spiciness, which reminds me of ginger and cardamom …”

Please enjoy this review which includes another recipe, Blasted Brew, which mixes the Cannon Blast with Lager Beer.

Chimo!  (#Boom)

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Review: Vizcaya VXOP Cask No. 21

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 9, 2016

Ziscaya Cask 21Vizcaya Rum is produced in the Dominican Republic for a third-party (the neck label says “Imported by Amex Spirits“) by the independent company Oliver and Oliver. Oliver and Oliver produce a variety of rum brands using distillate from various Caribbean producers which they age in their own warehouse facility. Many of these rums are produced using what is called a solero method which blends rums of various ages in single barrels and then continues to age them together to create consistent flavour profiles combining both the complexity of aged rums and the brashness of younger rums together in the aging barrel.

According to the Vizcaya website:

“Vizcaya VXOP is one of the world’s finest sipping rums. It is distilled in small batches according to time-honored rum making methods in which the fragrant juice extracted from pure sugar cane is fermented and aged in select oak barrels.”

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Vizcaya V.X.O.P. Cask No. 21

“… The initial nose is rich with caramel and maple scents accented by raisins and dates. Some orange peel and marmalade scents well up as do some luscious cinnamon bun smells (vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon. and roasted pecans). The only flaw in the aroma is a few underlying grassy notes and some alcohol astringency which each hint at a larger portion of younger rum used in the blend than I was expecting …”

Please enjoy my latest review!

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Review: Bacardi Gold Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 27, 2016

Bacardi GoldIn 1862, Facundo Bacardi and his brother José bought the Santiago de Cuba Distillery and began to distill what would become the most popular commercial rum in the world. Using a method of charcoal filtering, and oak barrel aging  along with a still of copper and cast iron, Facundo Bacardi created a smoother more refined version of the locally made rum. His smoother version of the spirit became local favourite, and over time, an international sensation.

The Bacardi Gold Rum is  produced using column still distillation and oak barrel aging (for one to two years). The final rum is further ‘shaped’ by filtering the aged rum through a secret blend of charcoal. This charcoal filtration helps to blunt some of the harsh flavour characteristics of a young rum. Along with Bacardi Superior White Rum, this spirit forms the backbone of Bacardi’s portfolio of brands which includes more than 200 different labels.

Here is a link to my latest review:

Review: Bacardi Gold Rum

“… The rum translates well from nose to palate. Leading out is a soft butterscotch flavour melded with banana and orange peel with a smattering of oak, cardamom and ginger spices following. Almond and vanilla ride along with hints of brown sugar spice and cinnamon …”

Please enjoy the review!

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Review: Ron Abuelo Anejo 7 Anos

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 16, 2016

Abuelo Anos 7Ron Abuelo Rum is produced by Varela Hermanos SA in Panama, Central America. This company has a history which dates back to 1908 when Don José Varela Blanco launched the first sugar mill in the then recently formed Republic of Panama. In 1935, the site began to distill sugar cane juice for the production of various kinds of spirits. Now today, the company produces an impressive array of products which includes over one million boxes of spirits and of course a strong variety of rums. The Ron Abuelo brand is just one brand from this wide assortment.

According to the website, the Ron Abuelo Anejo 7 Anos is produced from molasses and aged for 7 years in white oak bourbon casks.

Here is a link to my latest rum review:

Review: Ron Abuelo Anejo 7 Anos

“… Dark brown sugary baking spices have evolved with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and hints of clove. There is also an impression of pecans. The menagerie reminds me of the smells of cinnamon buns baking in the oven. Hints of orange marmalade rise up as well …”

Please enjoy may review of this Panamanian Rum!

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Review: Havana Club Añejo 7 Años

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 14, 2016

Havana thumbSometimes when I take the first sip of new rum, I close my eyes; and I let the rum show me where it belongs. This rum brought me to an old tavern, close to the docks.  The kind of place you see in old movies where the rum flows and stories get taller in the telling.  The place has an oily, tobacco stained floor. Cigarette smoke drifts up to the ceiling mingling here and there with the occasional smell of a Cuban cigar.

A girl sits on a boardwalk stage, singing slightly out of key, as the patrons in the tavern pay more attention to their stories than to her. A burly bartender, who looks like he can handle whatever trouble comes his way, wipes the sweat from his brow, and then with the same towel wipes the bar-top. He glances at me playing solitaire in the corner of the room and sipping the rum he served me. I had told him I would stay and pay him well if the rum was good.

He served me a soft oily, smoky rum called Havana Club.  I smile… the tip will be generous tonight.

Review: Havana Club 7 Year Old Cuban Rum

“… The nose displays a moderate amount of smoke which seems to subdue the aroma from the glass to a certain extent. Over time, molasses, dark brown sugary baking spices, dried fruit (raisins and prunes) and a lurking tobacco all find their way out of the glass and into my nostrils. I would have scored this a little higher had the nose been more assertive …

Posted in Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Flor de Caña Centenario 18

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 7, 2016

fdc-18Flor de Caña has a history of rum production which is dated to 1890 at the San Antonio Sugar Mill, in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua. The company was founded by Francisco Alfredo Pellas and today, over 120 years later, the company is led headed by the fifth generation of the Pellas family. It has grown to be not only one of Central America’s leading brands of rum, it is also one of the most recognized rum brands in the world.

Recently, the entire Flor de Caña line-up has received a make-over with splashy new bottle designs. Part of this redesign was the elimination of a definitive age statement upon the new labels. Correspondence with the company indicates that the Company wanted to modernize the bottle presentation; but they maintain that no changes to the flavour profile of their rums has occurred. Further persistence on my part has revealed however that the age profile of their rums has indeed changed. Coinciding with the bottle modernization was a new blending regimen. In the previous iteration of the Flor de Caña Centenario 18 Year Old Rum, the entire contents of the bottle were stated to be a minimum of 18 years old. The new bottling however, the Flor de Caña Centenario 18 is now blended to an average age of 18 years. It is a subtle, but meaningful difference which strongly implies that the brand is across the board is younger than it was before.

I decided that it would not be a bad idea to investigate the newest iteration, and I shall begin the review with a brand new bottle of Flor de Caña Centenario 18.

Here is a link to my first new Rum Review of 2016:

Review: Flor de Caña Centenario 18

“… This is a clean dry rum displaying a strong fine oak spice personality. This spicy personality is tempered slightly with mild indications of butterscotch accenting the oak spice. There is a lightly bitter flavour of poplar sap and tobacco keeping the mouth dry and heated. As I let the rum breathe the butterscotch sweetness grows slightly in intensity providing a nice foil for the dry spicy bitterness. I can taste a ribbon of orange peel and vanilla and a growing impression of marzipan …”

Please enjoy my review!

Posted in Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

The Year In Rum – (The 2015 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 31, 2015

RH-winner2015I have come at last too what is regularly the most popular posting on my website, my annual Year in Rum – Rum Howler Awards which recognize those brands  which have achieved excellence in the production of rum. For the second year in a row, sadly, I have eliminated the Regional Rum Awards as once again time simply has gotten the best of me, and tomorrow I must forge on into the year 2016 and leave 2015 behind.

This year, to determine my Rum Howler Award Winners I first checked my review scores in all of the categories of each rum I had sampled in the last two years and chose for each category the 5 top spirits based upon those review scores. Then I asked two friends of mine to rank each of the rums I had chosen within each of the categories. The only category in which cocktails were constructed to help assist in the rankings was for the white rums, and the cocktail constructed was a simple daiquiri. All other rum categories were judged neat.

I compared the rankings assigned by my two jurors for each spirit within each category with my review rankings and determined the Winner as well as the Runners-up and the Honourable Mentions for each category. The results turned out to be very consistent with my review scores although there are a few exceptions. No system is perfect, but I believe my friends and I did a thorough job with good results.

It is time for me to bring forward my 2015 Rum Howler Awards Winners. These are the spirits which have risen to the top and provided us with our greatest enjoyment.

Here is a link to my Year in Rum Awards Page:

The 2015 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Rum

Please remember, that the aim of my website is not to help you drink more spirits, it is to help you drink better spirits! (Wishing everyone a safe and enjoyable New Years.)


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The Rum Howler’s #1 Rum of 2015 – El Dorado 21 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2015

El Dorado 21 SAM_1893I have noticed that the El Dorado 21 Year Old (like most well aged spirits) is subject to some amount of batch variation each year. As a 21 Year Old rum which blended from various marques from various stills, this is not to be unexpected. However, I have also noticed that despite these variations in taste profile, my appreciation for this particular rum is always very high, and every year when I do my rum rankings it is right near the top. This year it reached the pinnacle, and I have named it, The Rum Howler 2015 Rum of the Year!

As a bit of background information, the DDL Master Blender is credited with the creation of El Dorado 21-Year-Old Rum which uses a blend of rums selected from their world-famous stills, the Enmore (wooden Coffey still), the Versailles (single wooden pot still), and the Albion (Savalle still). All of the rums in the blend have been aged in oak for a minimum of 21 years, making this one of the oldest production rums in the world.

Here is a link to the Rum Howler 2015 Rum of the Year:

El Dorado Special Reserve 21-Year Old Rum

“… my first impression is that I am sampling a yummy oak and toffee extract filled with rich brown sugar. The oak is at the center of the flavour, yet the tannins do not inhibit the other flavours in the rum from forming and delighting me.  Raisins, prunes, and dates give the rum an almost smoky quality while the impressions of nutty elements adds softness to the mouth-feel. Cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar create a wonderful baking spice flavour which weaves throughout, and the rum is an absolute marvel of complexity and balance …”


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

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Rums



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