Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 9, 2016
Wilson and Morgan is an independent bottler of Scotch Whisky based in Italy. The company was founded in 1992 by Fabio Rossi who also founded Rum Nation. Wilson and Morgan specialize in high quality single grain and single malt whiskies which have been purchased by the barrel from selected Scottish distillers. The whisky barrels purchased range in age from 10 years to 30 years and are left to age (usually at the distillery where they were purchased) until they are ready to be bottled sometimes after they have been re-casked for finishing in port, rum or Marsala casks.
The Girvan distillery is located in the Lowland region of Scotland in South Ayrshire. The distillery (currently owned by William Grant & Sons) was founded in 1963 and features six column stills which produce grain whisky from a mix of 90 % wheat and 10 % barley.
The Girvan 1979 – 35 Year Old Single Grain Whisky was distilled in 1979 and bottled in 2015. This offering is bottled at cask strength (51.6% alcohol by volume), and is part of Wilson and Morgan’s Collector’s Edition which comprises of special bottlings all of which are currently aged 30 years or more.
Here is a link to my full review:
“… a combination of butterscotch and maple scents have melded themselves into the grain and wood spice bringing about a wonderful richness which almost makes my mouth water. Canned fruit (apricots and peaches) aromas are quite obvious in the breezes and cherry-like scents akin to red licorice are hinted at as well. Baking spices (vanilla and bits of cinnamon) and almond turning to marzipan round out the nose which is extremely inviting …”
Please enjoy my review of the well aged wheat based grain whisky.
Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: 35 Year Old, Cask #900009, Girvan Distillery, Scotch Whisky, Whisky, Whisky Review, Wilson and Morgan | Comments Off on Review: Girvan 1979 – 35 Year Old Single Grain Whisky (Cask #900009)
Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 30, 2016
Bulleit Small Batch 95 Rye Frontier Whiskey (bottled as Bulleit Frontier Rye Whisky in Canada) is bottled at 45% alcohol by volume and (according to the Bulleit website) the spirit is a straight whiskey produced from a heavy rye mashbill (95 % rye) which also contains a small amount of malted barley (5 %). The whiskey carries no age statement, however based upon my tastings I would estimate the age of the spirit to be in the range of 5 years old with some of the whiskey possibly older, and some of the whiskey possibly younger.
Here is a link to my full review:
“… Dusty dry grain and honeycomb are evident. There is a sense of fresh tobacco with some light baking spices (vanilla, ginger and cinnamon) and maple syrup. As the glass sits, woody oak smells build, some bittersweet chocolate drifts into the air and more rye grain and rye spice well up into the breezes …”
Please enjoy the review.
Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: 95 Rye Whiskey, Bulleit, Diageo, Review | 4 Comments »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 1, 2016
The 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:
“… 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.
Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: 2nd Chance Wheat Whiskey, American Whiskey, Sonoma County Distilling, Wheat Whiskey, Whiskey | Comments Off on Review: Sonoma County 2nd Chance Wheat Whiskey
Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 15, 2016
James 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:
“… 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!
Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Catto's, Rare Old Blended, Review, Scotch, Whisky | Comments Off on Review: Catto’s Rare Old Scottish Blended
Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 2, 2016
Evan 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:
“… 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.
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: Black Label, Bourbon, Evan Williams, Review, Whiskey | 2 Comments »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 23, 2016
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:
“… 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.
Posted in Scotch Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Highland Park, Review, Scotch, Single Malt, Whisky | Comments Off on Review: Highland Park 12 Years Old (2015)
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 17, 2016
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:
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies, Canadian Whisky, Whisky | Comments Off on Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2015
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 13, 2016
Forty 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:
“… 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.
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Flavoured Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Canadian Whisky, Flavoured Whisky, Forty Creek, Review, Spike, Spike Honey Spiced | Comments Off on Review: Forty Creek Spike Honey Spiced Whisky
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 3, 2016
Forty Creek Whisky 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:
“… 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.
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Canadian Whisky, Forty Creek, Review, Three Grain Harmony, Whisky | Comments Off on Review: Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2015
Three years ago, I encountered Canadian Rockies 21 Year Old Whisky as a random sample in the group of 45 such samples which I was assessing as part of my duties when I served on the jury for the 2012 Canadian Whisky Awards. Whenever I participate as a spirits judge I always make note of any of the samples which strike me as being particularly good, and the small sample bottle which contained the Canadian Rockies 21 Year Old Whisky was one which I had earmarked as a superior whisky. So, when the Awards Competition was complete, it was to my dismay that I learned this particular whisky (Random Sample number 7 by the way) was a brand destined not for Canada; but instead for Taiwan.
When I wrote a brief review for this whisky in 2013 (see here), I lamented that this great whisky was available only in Asia, and I hoped that the brand owner (and the folks at Highwood Distillery) might read the review, and figure out that maybe Canada deserved this Whisky too. Perhaps my idea was not so far-fetched, as earlier this fall I was contacted by the Fountana Group, and asked to review the Canadian Rockies 21 Year Old Batch 001, a new version of their whisky brand destined for Canadian retail shelves this Christmas Season.
I placed the sample bottle in with the others my friends and I were analyzing as part of the Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies. And it was fortunate that I did as the Canadian Rockies 21 Year Old was the unanimous choice among all judges as the Best Canadian Whisky of 2015! In addition it has also been placed on the short list of the Whiskies I am considering for The Rum Howler 2015 Whisky of the Year.
Here is a link to the Number 1 Canadian Whisky in my Rum Howler Countdown of the Best Whiskies of 2015:
“… I used the term ‘luscious’ when describing the nose, and that term deserves repeating here again when describing the flavour. I taste a perfect melding of firm butterscotch, oak spice and corn flavours. My palate is heated with little explosions of oak spice and orange peel, but then it is soothingly caressed by corn and butterscotch. Vanilla and baking spices romp through the garden of lush flavours with marzipan and marmalade chasing merrily behind. Underlying all of this are rich tobacco and leather flavours which serve to add even more depth and character to the glass …”
You may read about the Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown here:
The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies
Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: 2015 Top 25 Canadian Whiskies, 21 Year Old, Batch 001, Canadian Rockies Whisky, Canadian Whisky, Review, Rum howler, Whisky | 2 Comments »