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Archive for the ‘Irish Whskey’ Category

Review: Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 17, 2013

SAM_0669 Black Bush Irish CoffeeA second review for the Day of St. Pat:

The practice of making whisky at the Old Bushmills Distillery can be traced back to 1608 when King James I granted Sir Thomas Phillips (landowner and Governor of County of Antrim, Ireland) a royal license to distill ‘uisce beatha’, the gaelic for ‘water of life’. Although this grant serves as the first documented evidence of whisky being distilled at the site which would become Old Bushmills, it was not as yet called Bushmills. By 1743 however, a distillery by this name was (according to Victorian whiskey journalist Alfred Barnard) was “in the hands of smugglers”‘.  (However, it was not until 1784 that Hugh Anderson officially registered the Old Bushmills Distillery with the Pot Still as its trade mark.) Today, the Bushmills brand is owned by the Diageo conglomerate with all of the whiskey produced under the Bushmills name produced at the Old Bushmills Distillery in Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

The Bushmills Black Bush is composed of whiskey aged in Oloroso Sherry and American oak (bourbon) cask. All of this whiskey is aged for up to 7  years with 80 per cent of the blend being Premium Malt Whisky.

Please click on the following excerpt to read the review which contains two great St. Patrick’s Day cocktails, Fool’s Gold on the Rocks, and of course, Irish Coffee:

Review: Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey

“… The initial breezes above the glass are warm and inviting. I sense some soft caramel toffee rising into the air with some sweet malty aromas, hints of dry fruit (raisins and apricots), a nice lightly spicy oak presence, and some light impressions of cocoa … “

Please enjoy my second St. Patrick’s Day Review!

(Note: Sample for this review provided by the Diageo Marketing  team in Alberta.)

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Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Irish Whskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey

Review: Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 17, 2013

SAM_0654 KilbegganSt. Patrick’s Day has rolled around one more time. (Although with a temperature outside at minus seventeen degrees Centigrade and still 40 centimeters of snow still residing on my back lawn it seems more like January than March.) In many places throughout the world, this is a day to revel in the Irish heritage which we either share by birth, or we share by spirit (on St. Patrick’s Day at least). We wear green; we attend parades; and some of us even drink green beer in what has become more of a secular holiday which celebrates Irish culture, than a religious holiday which celebrates the Patron Saint after which the day was first named.

And celebrating Irish culture is not a bad thing; it was after all the Irish who first distilled “uisce beatha“, which translates from Irish into English as “the water of life“. I could go into a long and detailed etymology,  but suffice it to say that “uisce beatha” is probably very close to the original form of the word which would later become “whiskey”.  My blog is full of reviews of this wonderful spirit, but I must admit it is sorely lacking in content dedicated to the Irish variety.

Today, I will go a small way towards correcting this imbalance by reviewing a whiskey from the Emerald Isle which embodies the character and the class of spirits we call Irish Whiskey; a spirit which can trace its heritage back to 1757, and makes the claim that it is linked to the oldest distillery in Ireland, the Kilbeggan Distillery.

Please click on the following excerpt to read the full review:

Review: Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

“… The Kilbeggan is very pleasant in the glass with a nice warm mahogany colour and initial scents of vanilla, punky toffee, and light sandalwood. As I let the glass breathe, I notice some nice fruity notes (banana and orange peel in particular), a bit of pickle juice, some green grape, and a nice little dollop of almond …”

Of course I have include a nice cocktail for the Day of St. Pat, The Irish Mojito Swizzle.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

(Note: Sample for this review provided by the Alberta Beam Global team)

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Irish Whskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey

The Year in Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 8, 2012

This was a great year for the Rum Howler with respect to Whisky. I was able to help in a small way with the success of the 3nd Annual Edmonton Whisky Festival; I was selected to be on the North American Panel of Spirit Writers who judged the Canadian Whisky Awards; and I was able to almost double the number of Whisky reviews on my website this year. The result of all of this activity is that the year 2012 saw me taste and score more whisky than ever before. This means that my 2012 Rum Howler Awards for Whisky are better than ever.

All of my whisky awards are based upon side by side tastings of the various spirits which are in competition for each particular award. Just as it is with my other Rum Howler Awards, all of the samples which I receive for review in a given year are automatically considered for the awards. I do my review, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit for the end of the year judging. I also receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards.

And so without further ado, it is time for me to reveal the recipients of my 2012 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Whisky. These Awards are for the best Whisky Spirits I encountered in the year 2012, here is the link:

The 2012 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Whisky

Posted in American Whiskey, Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Irish Whskey, Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Writers Tears Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 9, 2012

Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey is traditionally made from a mash comprised of both malted and unmalted barley which is distilled in a pot still. This style of whiskey was apparently produced as a reaction to British taxes on malted whiskey which were introduced in 1802. To reduce the taxable amount on their whisky, Irish distillers began to add more unmalted barley into the distillation. The result was what we have come to know as Irish Pure Pot Still Whisky.

Writers Tears Pot Still Irish Whisky contains both Single Malt Whiskey and the aforementioned Pure Pot Still Whiskey in its construction. As is the tradition in Ireland, the whiskey is triple distilled and matured in American Oak (bourbon) barrels. I was sent a bottle of the Writers Tears to review here on my website and asked to coordinate the publication of the review to coincide roughly with the reintroduction of the whiskey to the Ontario market (on October 14) after an absence of about one year from the store shelves.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“… The initial aroma from the glass has a bit of a bourbon flair complemented by honeyed butterscotch, punky Halloween toffee, oak spices, and obvious taints of vanilla and almond. There is a bit of citrus orange peel in the air and an underlying herbal element which to me has a resemblance to freshly cut lowland hay, willow thickets, and those lush ferns that grow near wetlands… “

You may read my full review here:

Review: Writers Tears Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Please enjoy the review!

Posted in Irish Whskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

For Father’s Day – Avoiding my 10 Whisky Regrets

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 15, 2012

Yesterday I shared a few of my rum experiences which were, let me say, less than enjoyable. The list was meant to help you avoid similar pitfalls in your search for a suitable rum to buy Dad for Father’s Day. Today, I think it is only fair, that I also list a few of the whisky decisions I have regretted as well. The list I came up with, isn’t really a list of horrible whiskies that left me gasping (although a couple are). It is more of a list of whiskies which in some way tainted my enjoyment such that I kind of wished I had never succumbed to their charm in the bottle.

They made me run to them, and then they made me run from them, kind of like that Gloria Jones song covered by Soft Cell:
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These are my regrets, and I publish this list in hopes that I can help you avoid a regret or two this Father’s Day. (Just for the fun of it, I think I will count them down in reverse order starting with a few minor regrets, working my way to my biggest whisky regret.)

My 10 Whisky Regrets

Happy Father’s Day Everyone!

Posted in American Whiskey, Canadian Whisky, Howls, Irish Whskey, Japanese Whisky, Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on For Father’s Day – Avoiding my 10 Whisky Regrets

Review: Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 17, 2012

March 17 has rolled around again, and March 17 is the day of St. Patrick.

Just as I did one year ago, I have chosen an Irish Whiskey to review such that in a very small way I celebrate in the culture of the Emerald Isle. Celebrating Irish culture is a good thing; it was after all the Irish who first distilled ‘uisce beatha’, which translates from Old Irish into English as ‘the water of life’. I could go into a long and detailed etymology; but suffice it to say that ‘uisce beatha’ is probably very close to the original form of the word which would later become ‘whiskey’.

The subject of my St. Patrick’s Day review, Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, has a history which is traced back to 1829 when the Tullamore Distillery was founded in Tullamore, County Offaly by Michael Molloy. However, it was in 1887, after the death of Michael Molloy, that the Daly family who ran the distillery turned the daily operations over to a man named Daniel E Williams. Mr. Williams is given much of the credit for the expansion and development of the distillery and of course the whisky which bears his initials D-E-W. The Distillery’s original slogan, “Give every man his Dew” is still in use today.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“…As I let the glass decant the oak scents wafted into the breezes scenting the air with balsam, sandalwood and ginger. Glimpses of malty sweetness rise from the glass as does a light nuttiness that reminds me of roasted walnuts. The overall effect is light and refreshing, especially as the balsam note gains a little momentum…”

You may read the full review here:

Review: Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey

And just to top things off I have constructed a nice cocktail to help you celebrate the Day of St. Pat, The Emerald Cooler.

Please enjoy the review and my St. Patrick’s Day Cocktail!

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Irish Whskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey

Revisiting: Bushmills 16yr Old Single Malt

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 21, 2012

The practice of making whisky at the Old Bushmills Distillery can be traced back to 1608 when King James I granted Sir Thomas Phillips a royal licence to distill ‘uisce beatha’, the gaelic for ‘water of life’. This grant serves as the first documented evidence of the distillation of whiskey at the site although at that time it was not yet called Bushmills. The first known reference to the Old Bushmills Distillery was in 1743 when, according to Victorian whiskey journalist Alfred Barnard, the site was “in the hands of smugglers”‘. Now over 400 years later, the Bushmills brand is owned by Diageo, however all of the whiskey produced under the Bushmills name is still produced at the Old Bushmills Distillery in Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

The Bushmills 16 Yr Old Single Malt is composed of whiskey distilled three times. A portion of the whiskey is aged in American oak (bourbon) casks and a portion is aged in Spanish oak (Oloroso sherry) casks. All of this whiskey is aged for 16 or more years. The final whiskey is blended prior to finishing in old oak Port wine pipes. With such a variety of oak used in the aging and finishing in there is the potential for great complexity.

I revisited the Bushmills 16 year Old Single Malt recently, and when I looked over my original review, I was quite pleased that my impressions were very consistent over two years later. I decided to take a little time to fix some typos and to clarify some points in the review. As well I added a new introduction. Here is a link to my revised review of this Bushmills whiskey which was originally published in November of 2009:

Review: Bushmills 16yr Old Single Malt

Please enjoy the review!

Posted in Irish Whskey, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Revisiting: Bushmills 16yr Old Single Malt

Review: Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Irish Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 17, 2011

Today is the day of St. Patrick, and in many places throughout the world, this is a day to revel in the Irish heritage which we either share by birth, or (on St. Patrick’s Day at least) we share by spirit. We wear green; we attend parades; and some of us even drink green beer in what has become more of a secular holiday which celebrates Irish culture, than a religious holiday which celebrates the Patron Saint after which the day was first named.

And celebrating Irish culture is not a bad thing; it was after all the Irish who first distilled “uisce beatha“, which translates from Irish into English as “the water of life“. I could go into a long and detailed etymology,  but suffice it to say that “uisce beatha” is probably very close to the original form of the word which would later become “whiskey”.  My blog is full of reviews of this wonderful spirit, but I must admit it is sorely lacking in content dedicated to the Irish variety.

Today, I will go a small way towards correcting this imbalance by reviewing a whiskey from the Emerald Isle which embodies the character and the class of spirits we call Irish Whiskey. And, one which bears a rather obscure link to St. Patrick’s Day.

Like St. Patrick, who was born (in 385 A.D.) of Scottish parentage, but found his calling (and fame) in Ireland, so to John Jameson was also born a Scotsman (in 1740 A.D.), and he also found his calling (and established his fame) in Ireland with the company that bears his name, Jameson Irish Whiskey.

And so in honour of the celebration of the Day of St. Patrick, I chose to review one of the most premium Irish Whiskeys which is available in my locale, the Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Irish Whiskey.

Here is a link to my Review:

Review: Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Irish Whiskey

And in the interests of celebrating Irish culture, here are two additional links to my other Irish Whiskey reviews which were previously published on my blog:

Posted in Irish Whskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Review: Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Irish Whiskey

The Rum Howler Awards – The Whisky Wrap-up

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 23, 2010

And today I reach the last of my Rum Howler Awards Postings presenting the ‘grand prize’ awards for best whiskies I have tasted over the past year.  As with the rum, I wanted to be completely fair about things so I brought in some help and had the final tasting sessions done by panel rather than by myself alone.

All final tastings were done in a blind format. The panel members were not even tasting the same spirits at the same time. The whiskies were ranked  by each panel member, and then the rankings were compared to choose the best spirit for each category.

Unlike the Rum awards which were based upon age and price, the whisky awards were based solely on price.  I allowed for a bit of leeway ($10.00) when it came to imported whiskies as I understand the costs of shipping into my locale from other parts of the world.

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky under $40.00:
(A price point below $40.00 in my market (Alberta) was required.)

Alberta Premium Rye 25Yr Old

Honourable mention to Wiser’s Small Batch, The Black Grouse, and Gibson’s Finest 12 YR.

The decision to make the determining factor, price rather than age, was based upon the sheer volume of whiskies with no age statement in my market. However once that decision was made, it was a foregone conclusion that Alberta Premium 25 Yr Old Limited Edition would waltz away with the first award. In the under $40.00 price range there just isn’t a better whisky in the world. The good news for the competitors is that this whisky has pretty much sold out and will not be in the competition next year.  The bad news for the competitors is that Alberta Premium 30 Year Old is apparently on its way.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky under $80.00:
(A price point below $80.00 in my market (Alberta) was required.)

Highland Park 12

Honourable mention to Johnnie Walker Black LabelAlberta Premium Rye 25Yr Old and Wiser’s 18 Years Old.

The Highland Park 12 Year Old Whisky is my go to whisky when I want a nice aromatic peated whisky in the middle of the cold spells in winter. I was immensely satisfied when the panel verified my thoughts that this is a world-class spirit.  The Johnny Walker Black, The Alberta Premium 25, and the Wiser’s 18 Year Old were all very strong competitors in what was the closest race for an award in this series.  If you began your whisky collection with these four spirits, you would do yourself no wrong.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky (Any Price)

Bruichladdich Black Art

Honourable Mention to Wiser’s 18 Years Old, Highland Park 12, and Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey (15YR).

Four panel members each chose a different whisky in the blind tastings. But when all the scores were analyzed the Black Art from Bruichladdich was deemed to be the most popular. I found it interesting that the Irish whiskey from Cooley’s scored so well. It seems that every time this bottle is opened it gains new converts. I also found it interesting that the Wiser’s 18 and the Highland Park 12 scored much higher than many more expensive offerings.

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And there we have the final “Grand Prize” Rum Howler Awards for Whiskies! Here is a summary of today’s Awards:

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky under $40.00, Alberta Premium Rye 25Yr Old

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky under $80.00, Highland Park 12

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky (Any Price), Bruichladdich Black Art

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All of my 2010 Whisky Awards can be found on this summary page:

The Rum Howler Awards for Whisky Excellence!

Posted in American Whiskey, Canadian Whisky, Howls, Indian Whisky, Irish Whskey, Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on The Rum Howler Awards – The Whisky Wrap-up

The Rum Howler Awards – Part 3

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 21, 2010

Yesterday it was Rum, and now today it will be Whisky.  And just as I did yesterday, today I will be assigning my the Regional Rum Howler Awards for Whisky Excellence.  And just like yesterday, I need to apologize before I begin by admitting, that my experience with certain regions of the World is lacking and a truly representative award just isn’t possible where I lack experience. But again, I shall do my best to award only the most worthy.

All of these awards are based upon side by side tasting sessions held over a period of several weeks. I actually began about two months ago slowly tasting different whiskies (and the rum too) bringing only the very best forward for the final tastings which took place over the last two weeks.

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Canadian Whisky:

Wiser’s 18 Years Old

Honourable mention to Alberta Premium Rye 25Yr Old, and Forty Creek Portwood Reserve.

Initially I began with six contenders for this Award, but it quickly became a three-way contest. There were times when each of the two Honourable mentions seemed like they would be chosen, but in the end I realized that when I was not doing the side by side tastings, I was inclined to want a glass of the Wiser’s 18, more than the other contenders. As this seemed to be the only hard evidence I had to base my decision on, I granted the slimmest of victories on that basis.

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The Rum Howler Award for the Best Scotch Whisky:

Bruichladdich Black Art

Honourable mention to Highland Park 12, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Tullibardine Single Cask Edition 1987  Hogshead Cask #632, and  Mostowie 1979 28 Yr from Cask No.s 12771 & 12772

If I thought judging the Canadian Whiskies was tough, that was nothing compared to judging the Scotch Whiskies.  So many varieties of peated scotch, nonpeated scotch, blended scotch, and Single Malt Scotch. And then there are the regional variations.  I decided to keep it simple, one category, one award.  I chose the best blends from Diageo, I chose the best Single Malts from Bruichladdich and Highland Distillers, and I went into my private stash of rare whiskies from private Bottlers like Dewars Rattay and Signatory which I have not even reviewed yet, but which I had already tasted and enjoyed over the course of the past year.  Eliminating whiskies slowly over time was difficult, but in the end one whisky seemed to stand taller in the glass than the others, The Bruichladdich Black Art!

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The Rum Howler Award For Best American Whiskey:

Evan Williams Single Barrel

Honourable mention to High West Whiskey – Rendezvous, and Knob Creek 9.

I was tempted to lump the American Whiskey category into a Whiskies of the World category with all of the other whiskeys besides Canadian and Scottish Whisky.  But after thinking it over I decided that it just wouldn’t be fair. American Whiskey as a category is certainly larger than Canadian Whisky in terms of styles and brands, and although I have not reviewed a lot of American Whisky on my blog, I certainly have tried a lot of varieties over the past year at tasting events and festivals. The ones I liked I purchased and have sipped occasionally. Buffalo Trace, Jim Beam, High West, Knob Creek, and Eagle Rare all were sipped and sampled in a taste off. The clear winner in my opinion was the Evan Williams Single Barrel.

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The Rum Howler Award For Best Irish Whiskey:

Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey (15YR)

I regret that I have no honourable mentions for the Irish Whiskey Category. The fault is mine and not the Whiskey’s. I have only sampled five Irish Whiskey’s in the past year and my ability to speak on behalf of the Whiskey of the Emerald Isle is severely impaired. But in giving the Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey a Rumhowler Award, I have no qualms. This whisky is simply a marvel, and you do yourself a grave injustice if you do not attempt to taste it.

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The Rum howler Award for Best Emerging Nation Whisky:

Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky

Honourable mention Suntory Yamazaki 12

I actually have sampled a fair number of whiskies over the past year from the emerging whisky nations, single malts from Australia, Wales, Japan and India. And I have sampled some excellent grain whiskies or blends from Japan. Amrut Distillery has gained fame as of late for their excellent attention to detail and their most excellent whisky. I wish I had the time to sample their Amrut Fusion which is widely regarded as one of the World’s best.  But I guess I have one to look forward to for nest year!

*Note:  To call India and Japan emerging whisky nations does a serious injustice to these nations. It is far more correct to say that it is our recognition of the quality of their whisky that has emerged.

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And there you have it, the next five Rum Howler Awards!

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Canadian Whisky, Wiser’s 18 Years Old

The Rum Howler Award for the Best Scotch Whisky, Bruichladdich Black Art

The Rum Howler Award For Best American Whiskey, Evan Williams Single Barrel

The Rum Howler Award For Best Irish Whiskey, Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey (15YR)

The Rum howler Award for Best Emerging Nation Whisky, Amrut Indian Single Malt Whisky

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Tomorrow will be the final awards where I reveal the best of the best!

Posted in American Whiskey, Canadian Whisky, Howls, Indian Whisky, Irish Whskey, Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Rum Howler Awards – Part 3

 
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