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Archive for the ‘Whisk(e)y’ Category

Review: Sonoma County Rye Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 2, 2016

Sonoma Rye SAM_2393The Sonoma County Distilling Company is located in Sonoma County, California. The company was founded in 2010 with the intention to bring spirits to the market using a ‘Grain to Glass’ philosophy. The production is done in-house including mashing and fermentation of grains, direct-fire copper pot distillation, maturing the spirits in American oak barrels, as well as bottling and labeling.

Several of their whiskey spirits have hit Alberta store shelves including their Sonoma County Rye Whiskey. According to the information provided to me the whiskey is produced from a mash bill of 100 % Rye, the primary grain being Canadian unmalted rye (80%) with a smaller proportion being malted rye from the UK (20%).

The Sonoma County Rye Whiskey is bottled at varying alcohol proofs depending upon the blenders decision for that bottling. My sample bottle is showing me a full 98 proof on the label.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Sonoma County Rye Whiskey

“… The aroma is full of thick rye notes mingled with woody tones of fresh-cut planks. This is followed by both honeycomb and sweet caramel as well as some bittersweet treacle. There are also firm impressions of baking spices (allspice, vanilla nutmeg, and cinnamon) with a few of chocolate-like notes drifting alongside, and a growing push of damp cigar tobacco. I am impressed …”

Please enjoy the review, Chimo!

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Review: Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 18, 2016

Knappague12 YrKnappogue Castle Irish Whiskey is produced by Castle Brands who are an international owner of premium spirits brands which are sold primarily in North America, Europe, and Asia. The Irish whiskey brand pays homage to the historic Knappogue Castle in County Clare, Ireland which was originally built by Clan MacNamara in 1467.

Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey is a triple distilled Irish Whiskey (most probably produced at the Middleton Distillery) made from unpeated barley one batch at a time in copper pot stills. The spirit is aged in ex-bourbon barrels for at least 12 years.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Knappogue Castle 12 Year Old Irish Whiskey

“… The immediate nose is appealing with scents of budding willow trees alongside sandalwood and grain spice. There is also a beguiling malty sweetness. The spirit seems very mellow and approachable, and this suits my current mood as the winter snow is melting in the backyard and the warm sunshine of springtime is heading my way.”

Please enjoy my review of this wonderful Irish Whiskey.

Chimo!

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Review: Sonoma County 2nd Chance Wheat Whiskey

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 1, 2016

2nd chance wheat whiskeyThe Sonoma County Distilling Company is located in the in Sonoma County (California. The company was founded in 2010 with the intention to bring spirits to the market using a ‘Grain to Glass’ philosophy. The production is done in-house including the mashing and fermentation of grains, the direct-fired copper pot distillation, maturing the spirits in American oak barrels, as well as bottle labeling.

Several of their new whiskey spirits have hit Alberta store shelves including their new 2nd Chance Wheat Whiskey. According to the information sheets given to me the whiskey is produced from a mash bill of 80% Canadian Winter Wheat, and 20% Malted Rye from the United Kingdom.

Head distiller (and Owner), Adam Speigel, uses natural gas fire heated stills (two 250 gallon Copper Alembic Pot Onion Head Stills and one 125 gallon Copper Alembic Pot Onion Head Still) and no synthetic enzymes in his fermentation process to produce the whiskey distillate. The whiskey is aged in both 15 gallon and 30 gallon used American Oak barrels from Minnesota with a third degree char. (Each of these barrels was previously used to age rye whiskey.) Individual barrels in the blend are each aged a minimum of one year, with some of the barrels for the blend aged over two years.

Here is a link to my review:

Review: Sonoma County 2nd Chance Wheat Whiskey

“… The initial aroma has some mild butterscotch and toffee aromas with a creamy ‘porridge’ like scent reaching up from further in the glass. There are bits of dry fruit and orange peel drifting into the breezes, and as I let the glass sit, I notice very light rye and baking spices with vanilla, cinnamon and hints coarse yellow sugar …”

Please enjoy my latest whiskey review.

 

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Review: Catto’s Rare Old Scottish Blended

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 15, 2016

Catto'sJames Catto launched his Rare Old Scottish Highland Whisky in 1861. Today the brand is within the portfolio of Inver House Distillers.

According to the information provided to me and what I could glean from the James Catto’s Blended Scotch Whisky website, Catto’s Rare Old Scottish blended scotch whisky is Catto’s flagship whisky brand. It is produced from a blend of Inver House Distilleries’ (Old Pulteney, anCnoc, and Balblair)  Highland and Speyside unpeated Single Malts, and from Lowland grain whisky.

The whisky was presented to me as a low-cost ‘bar rail’ brand, although the Ontario Agent for the brand (Woodman Wines and Spirits) was also quick to point out that Jim Murray had given the whisky an astonishing score of 92 points of his 2015 ‘Whisky Bible‘ publication. The blend is reputed to have a very high malt content which might be part of the reason it appealed to Jim so much.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Catto’s Rare Old Scottish Blended

“… The initial nose rising into the breezes above the glass has a firm aroma of malt and honey which is accented by a hint of peat (or perhaps sherry smoke), some fine grain spices, and a light herbaceous note reminiscent of heather and mint. Bits of orange peel add another dimension of spice, and some green grapes and cherry-like impressions …”

Please enjoy the review!

 

 

 

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Review: Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 2, 2016

Evan Williams SAM_1709Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon is a whiskey brand produced and bottled in Kentucky by Heaven Hill. This company refers to its entry-level whiskey as a ‘black label brand’, and as such it is meant to be the flag bearer of the Evan Williams line-up. The whiskey has no age statement, however the Evan Williams website tells us that it is aged longer than required by law. (Straight whiskeys must by law be aged for 2 years in new oak barrels; however, if they do not have an age statement they must be aged for 4 years. )

Here is a link to my review of the Evan Williams Black label Bourbon:

Review: Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon

“… The initial aroma is nice with scents of corn-syrup and maple mingling with oak and wood sap. There are also pungent spicy tobacco aromas, a gentle hay-like grassiness, a few indications of raisins, bits of orange peel, and a mild influences of canned apricots in the breezes. A light banana-like aroma is hinted at …”

Please Enjoy my review.

Chimo!

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If you are interested, here is a link to another of my whiskey reviews of the Evan Williams brand:

Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Highland Park 12 Years Old (2015)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 23, 2016

Highland Park 12

The 12 Year Old Highland Park Whisky is the core expression of Highland Park Distillery, that is to say, it is their flagship brand. Highland Park prides itself in not making any compromises when making whisky. The twelve-year expression is bottled at 43 % alcohol by volume, and is the youngest in Highland Park’s impressive lineup.

I reviewed this particular expression of Highland Park Single Malt Whisky back in 2009, and for several years it was one of my all time favourites. Recently, I received a newer bottling. I decided to put the whisky once again through the paces of my review system to see how this bottling (2015) compared to the great 2009 bottling.

Here is a link to my latest Single Malt Whisky Review:

Review: Highland Park 12 Years Old (2015)

“… The whisky has had more time to breathe, and when I examine the breezes above the glass I sense more of the familiar aromatics of Orkney peat. There are light heather and lavender smells as well as smells of willow trees sitting atop a boggy peat. A very light butterscotch and honey sweetness is present as well, and this helps to make the Orkney peat more approachable …”

Please enjoy my review.

Chimo!

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Highland Park 12 Years Old (2015)

Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2015

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 17, 2016

Canada's Best of 2015

Canada’s Best of 2015

Canadian Whisky continues to go through a resurgence as whisky aficionados all over the world are becoming re-acquainted with the great Canadian Spirit. We saw the beginnings about 10 years ago when the two largest Canadian Distillers, Wiser’s and Crown Royal released new Ultra Premium Whiskies (Wiser’s Red Letter & Crown Royal XR Waterloo). These new whiskies which were each priced above $125.00 and established a new high water mark for Canadian Whisky at least as far as price was concerned. Admittedly, the market was rather tepid towards these new offerings as the local Canadian consumer was much more comfortable with their Canadian whisky priced in the low twenties, and even the flag bearer of premium whisky at the time (Wiser’s 18 Year Old) was still to be found in the mid forties and low fifties.

As time went one other super premium Canadian whiskies began to appear. Alberta Premium’s ridiculously low-priced 25 Year Old Whisky was introduced in 2007 (only $30 a bottle) followed by a more moderately priced 30-year-old offering five years later ($60.00 per bottle). Canadian Club joined the parade bringing forward their own Ultra Premium 30 Year Old offering and then making their 20-year-old whisky a permanent part of their whisky family. During all of this Highwood Distillers was quietly producing a premium 21-year-old 100 % corn whisky as well as their LOT 1525 which was a blending of premium whiskies aged 15 to 25 years.

As well as beginning to produce premium aged whiskies, Canadian distillers also started to innovate. Forty Creek was leading this innovation as John Hall began distilling and aging whisky from three separate grains blending them and then using unique casks to finish the job. In the US, more experimentation with our national spirit was underway as companies like 35 Maple Street in Sonoma California began to play with our straight Canadian Rye. Not to be outdone, Wiser’s and Crown Royal joined in each experimenting with new styles of oak barrels and new rye forward whiskies bringing more diversity to the spirit we call Canadian. In the midst of all of this, a distilling revolution began as micro distillers began popping up across the country each of them bringing a new twist to Canadian Whisky.

This all brings us to the present, 2015. Canadian Whisky is in demand in Canada (and all over the world) like never before. The spirit is now a more varied and diverse than it ever was. Speaking in ‘whisky terms’, it is a great time to be a Canadian!

Just follow this link to see the full list:

The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2015

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Review: Forty Creek Spike Honey Spiced Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 13, 2016

FC SpikeForty Creek Spike Honey Spiced Whisky is produced by the Forty Creek Distillery (now owned by Campari). Former owner of the distillery and brand, John Hall is the Whisky Maker (as he likes to refer to himself) at Forty Creek, and this spirit was produced under his direction.

According to the label on the bottle the ingredients are, Canadian Whisky (presumable John Hall’s flagship whisky Forty Creek Barrel Select), sugar, and natural flavors (presumable honey and spices). It is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Forty Creek Spike Honey Spiced Whisky

“… The spirit caries a deep golden colour with reddish hues visible in the glass. The breezes are mild, and along with the notes of honey are additional notes of butterscotch, vanilla, banana, ginger and cinnamon …”

Please enjoy my review which concludes with a nice tall back deck drink, the Spiced Mammy.

Chimo!

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Flavoured Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on Review: Forty Creek Spike Honey Spiced Whisky

Review: Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 3, 2016

Forty Creek WhiskyFC Three grain Harmony has for the last number of years produced a special limited release whisky and allowed the public to participate in the release by offering to let you choose your own numbered bottle. As well you can have your bottle signed by their own Master Distiller and Whisky Maker, John Hall, when you arrive to pick up your pre-ordered bottles. These special release whiskies are built upon the foundation of the company’s flagship whisky, Forty Creek Barrel Select, and are basically versions of this whisky which have undergone some special aging or finishing technique which would bring a new character to the Forty creek Whisky.

Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony was the 2015 release made available last fall in Ontario and in other select Canadian Markets.

Here is a link to my review:

Review: Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony

“… The initial nose is rich with rich butterscotch and toffee and moderately spicy oak and tree sap.  As the glass sits two notes capture my attention, one which appeals to me strongly, a rich spicy rye note full of ginger and fresh grain, and one note which seems discordant, a sour dank fruit-filled note of fermented apricot and sour mash …”

Please enjoy my first review of 2016.

Chimo!

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

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 30, 2015

RH-winner2015The major story (at least as near as I can determine) with respect to whisky in 2015 is the continued resurgence of Canadian Whisky upon the world scene. I can remember a time only a few short years ago when it seemed like only Davin De Kergommeax (CanadianWhisky.Org) and myself were willing to place the Canadian spirit on par with American Bourbon and Single Malt Scotch Whisky. As both Davin and I wrote our reviews and commentaries it often felt as though we were each subject to more than a few strange looks from other whisky critics who panned the Canadian Spirit as merely a cheap blend.

And this might be the year that future whisky historians decide that Canadian Whisky finally became relevant again. And no, it was not because of Davin or myself (although we may have each played a small (very small) part). It was because in 2015 the most recognized and influential whisky critic in the world (Jim Murray) placed one of our nation’s spirits on top of the whisky world. That whisky, Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, was named by Jim Murray in his 2016 Whisky Bible, the World Whisky of the Year!

That is not to say that the whisky produced elsewhere is not improving as well. Whisky Advocate named a Swedish spirit, Spirit of Hven Sankt Claus, their World Whisky of the Year, and throughout the world the popularity of US Bourbon continues to rise as does the whisky produced in Japan. Of course Scottish Single Malts are as popular as ever; but the pedestal they once enjoyed upon the top of whisky world has turned more into a broad plateau with many other whisky styles from many other countries also sharing the view from on top.

And this brings me to my Whisky Awards. Let’s face it, Jim Murray may well have his opinion, and the Whisky Advocate writer’s may have theirs; but the opinion which counts for the most upon this website … is mine. And that opinion is shared every year when I publish my own Rum Howler Awards.

Here is a link to my Awards Page for the Best Whiskies produced in 2015:

The 2015 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Whisky

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on The Year In Whisky – (The 2015 Rum Howler Awards)

 
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