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Review: Pemberton Valley Organic Single Malt Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 29, 2017

The Pemberton Distillery is located in the heart of the Coast Mountains, an area known for its massive ice caps and pure glacial streams. The Master Distiller, Tyler Schramm, studied a Masters of Science in Brewing & Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. The distillery first broke onto the scene in August of 2009 with their Schramm Organic Vodka (reviewed here), an authentic sipping vodka produced  from whole organic potatoes (grown just 15 km from the distillery in the Pemberton Valley). This special Vodka is produced using an all natural fermentation process that does not use of chemicals, synthetic anti-foaming agents, or additives. In fact, the distillery boasts that they follow the same traditional methods used by single malt scotch distilleries. They distill in small batches using a hand-operated copper pot still, and the entire distillation is performed by Tyler Schramm, who is continuously testing and sampling the distillate for quality.

All that care and attention which the distillery displayed in producing their organic vodka has also been turned towards their production of Single Malt Whisky. According to the Pemberton Distillery website the spirit is:

” A true West Coast style single malt Whisky. Pot distilled in small batches from organic BC malted barley …”

I was sent a bottle from Cask No. 4 which was distilled in September of 2012, and bottled in April of 2017. The Whisky was matured in an ex bourbon cask and bottled at 44 % alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Pemberton Valley Organic Single Malt Whisky

“… My first impression was of warm buttermilk porridge with firm nutty smells of barley wafting upwards. There is a leather-like impression which reminds me of burlap, and hints of sweetness which seem like graham wafers dipped in cane syrup …”

Please enjoy my review of this outstanding Single Malt Whisky which includes a my recipe recommendation, Provenance.

Chimo!

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Posted in Canadian Whisky, Single Malt Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Roca Patrón Reposado Tequila

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 25, 2017

Roca Patrón Tequila is a pure 100% Agave Tequila made from agave grown in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. The agave is 6 to 7 years old when harvested, and the heart of the plant or the piña is all that is used. After harvest the piñas are chopped in half by hand and slowly steamed in masonry brick ovens for about 79 hours to soften them. The softened piñas are then shredded and placed into a traditional stone pit, where they are crushed by a large 2 ton stone milling wheel called a Tahona.

According to many Tequila producers, the manner in which juice is extracted from the piñas has a noticeable impact upon the flavour of the final distilled tequila. This was very evident when I tasted the Roca Patrón Tequila which has a noticeably softer earthy flavour than the regular Patrón Tequila distilled mainly from juice extracted by a roller mill.

Roca Patrón Reposado Tequila is distilled twice in copper pot stills , and then aged for 5 months in used American oak bourbon barrels. It is also one the best tasting Reposado tequila spirits I have encountered.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Roca Patrón Reposado Tequila

“… I discovered a lightly sweet, mildly punky agave aroma lifting from the glass. It has a fruity smell; but it did not carry the typical sharpness of citrus and white pepper which I usually find in highland tequila. Rather the citrus and pepper are blunted as the air above the glass also carried a subtle earthy quality which resembled aromas of baked zucchini and squash …”

Please enjoy my review which includes my recipe recommendation, Arctic Wolf’s Tequila Old Fashioned.

Chimo!

Posted in Reposado Tequila, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Mount Gay Eclipse Silver Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 21, 2017

It was in 1910 that the appearance of Haley’s Comet coincided with a total solar eclipse, and this event is said to have inspired Mount Gay to create their Eclipse branded rums. Mount Gay 1703 Eclipse Silver Rum is composed of rum distillate produced from both pot and column still distillation. Although this rum is clear, it has nevertheless been matured in charred white oak barrels, barrels which previously held American whiskey. The lightly aged rum is filtered clear and bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

Today (across ten US states and through parts of the Caribbean) another total eclipse of the sun may be witnessed by those lucky enough to be in its path. It seems an ideal day to revisit and update my previous review for the Mount Gay Eclipse Silver Rum.

Review: Mount Gay Eclipse Silver Rum

“… I found that the white rum displayed an inviting aroma to my nostrils above the glass. The scents and smells of light butterscotch were evident as was a firm presence of banana, a mild citrus zest, and a light minty aroma. As the glass decanted a vague grassy vegetal scent began to waft upwards as well. Allowing the glass to breathe resulted in a strengthening of this ‘grassiness’ which seemed to imply a more complex character than I may have originally anticipated …”

Please enjoy the Eclipse today whether it be the astronomical phenomena or the great rum from Mount Gay!

Chimo!

Posted in Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Rig Hand White Dog Corn Distillate (An Aging Simulation)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 19, 2017

Rig Hand White Dog Corn Distillate aged for 14 weeks in a small 1 liter cask.

The Rig Hand Craft Distillery (formerly Big Rig Distillery) opened their doors on October 17, 2015 and they already have an impressive line-up of spirits for sale at their boutique store within the facility. These spirits include their Premium Vodka and their selections of White Dog Distillate (not whisky for three years yet); and as well as their intriguing Sugar Beet Brum.

The distillery’s White Dog Malted Corn Distillate is produced from 100 % Alberta grown corn distilled upon the company’s main still (Mighty Morley). This is a versatile still consisting of a large wash still, two columns, and a condenser. The columns are different sizes, a short 4-plate column is used for stripping the spirit (reducing the water content), and a tall 16-plate column is used for Vodka production. The Corn Distillate is distilled twice through the through short 4-plate column to produce a more flavourful spirit than if the 16 plate column had been used. After distillation the spirit is either filtered and reduced to bottling proof (53.4 % alcohol by volume for my sample) to be sold as White Dog Corn Distillate, or it is placed in re-used oak casks to become whisky in three years.

For this review, I decided to aged the distillate for 14 weeks in a small 1 litre oak barrel in an attempt to simulate the maturation of a premium well-aged whisky. As you can see from the picture I snapped of the final product (placed in a new decanter), the hue of the whisky had reached deep copper .

I thought it would be interesting to share my simulation results as a ‘Whisky in Progress Review’.

You can read the results here:

Review: Rig Hand White Dog Corn Distillate (An Aging Simulation)

” … The harsh astringency of the new make distillate and its firm vegetal notes had been soothed by the time in the barrel, and firm woody notes, hints of chocolate and pungent baking spice were now the dominating aspects of the whisky …”

Please enjoy my review, Chimo!

Please bear in mind that this was only a simulation and all conclusions reached should be interpreted with caution.

Posted in Moonshine and New-make | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Summer Cocktail #5 – The Daiquiri

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 16, 2017

Simple Daiquiri

Today (in the USA) is National Rum Day, and I cannot think of a better way to toast the cane spirit than with the quintessential rum cocktail, the Daiquiri. Like that other quintessential rum cocktail, (the Cuba Libre’), the mixed drink appears to have originated in Cuba and was given its present name shortly after the Spanish-American War ended in 1898.

Let me share a recipe for the most basic form of the cocktail.

A Simple Daiquiri

1 1/2 oz. Light Rum
1/2 oz. Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1 tsp. Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
Ice
Slice of Lime for Garnish

Combine the first three ingredients into a metal shaker with ice.
Shake until the metal shaker chills.
Strain into a chilled  glass.
Garnish with the lime slice

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It is probably true that this classic cocktail was being served in Cuba and perhaps elsewhere in the Caribbean (in one form or another) for many years already; but the libation appears to have been given its popular name when an American mining engineer working in Cuba, named Jennings Cox ran out of gin while entertaining his friends. He switched over to the local rum, mixed it over ice with Lemon Juice and Sugar, and named his new-found drink, the Daiquiri. Incidentally, this was also the name of a beach nearby and an iron mine near Santiago de Cuba. (We don’t know whether it was the beach or the iron mine which served as the inspiration for the cocktail’s name.)

The new name for the drink caught on and was apparently brought over to America by US Navel OfficerRear Admiral Lucius W. Johnson, who enjoyed the libation while serving in Cuba in 1909. When back in America he introduced it to the bar in Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C.. The Daiquiri (once introduced to American bartenders) slowly spread across the USA and beyond.

Today (as shown in the recipe above) Lime Juice has supplanted Lemon Juice as the main citrus component, although many variations exist with substitutions (or additions) of other citrus and fruit juices and even flavoured liqueurs.

My own 11 A.M. Daiquiri

Last year (while sampling and reviewing Captain Morgan White Rum), I constructed this variation which I call the 11 A.M. Daiquiri.

11 A.M. Daiquiri

2 1/2 oz Captain Morgan White Rum
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Orange Juice
3/8 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1)
Ice
Lemon Slice

Add the ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Pour into a crushed ice-filled hurricane glass
Garnish with orange and cherry.

Enjoy Responsibly!

If you are interested in more of my cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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Note: My Review for Captain Morgan White Rum  Can be found here:

Review: Captain Morgan White Rum

“… The initial nose surprised me too as there was an ever so light mustiness rising the from the glass, as well as very apparent aromas of a mild caramel, green banana, peppery zest and light sandalwood spices …”

Enjoy National Rum Day, Chimo!

 

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Rum, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Aviation Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 14, 2017

Aviation North

Aviation Gin is produced by House Spirits in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon). According to the company website, Aviation was the result of a collaboration between House Spirits and American Bartender, Ryan Magarian, and many consider this spirit to be the gin which launched the American Gin style.

For those unfamiliar with what is termed American Gin, it is a style which tempers the flavour of the juniper berry (and citrus to some extent) in favour of bringing forward a more floral style of gin. That is not to say that juniper is absent among the botanicals which help to infuse their flavour into the spirit, it is just that the juniper is held in check to allow the other botanicals, (in this case: cardamom, lavender, sarsaparilla, coriander, anise and orange peel) more expression.

Here is a link to my latest Gin Review:

Review: Aviation Gin

“… The piny aroma is not as forceful as a typical London Dry Gin, as juniper lies beside rather than ahead of the coriander and cardamom with lavender pushing through quite clearly as well. There are hints of lemon, licorice (anise) and mint and if you wait for it, orange peel climbs out of the glass to join in the menagerie of scents and smells …”

Please enjoy the review which includes my cocktail suggestion, Aviation North.

Chimo!

Posted in Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Last Mountain Sweet Tea Flavoured Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 12, 2017

A few of my readers have been asking lately why I have curtailed my review publications this summer. As well my publication schedule has become somewhat erratic. The delays and lack of publications were a result of a lengthy hospital stay for a family member which created a bit on an upheaval. I want to let everyone know that things should be getting back to normal very soon.

One of the spirit samples which became jammed up in my review queue is the Last Mountain Sweet Tea Flavoured Vodka from Saskatchewan’s first micro-distillery, in Lumsden, Saskatchewan, the Last Mountain Distillery.

Last Mountain Sweet Tea Flavoured Vodka is made using all natural ingredients including real tea freshly brewed for each batch. It is bottled at 35.2% alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to my long overdue review:

Last Mountain Sweet Tea Flavoured Vodka

“… When I brought it to my nose I was pleasantly surprised to find tell-tale traces of honey in the air rather than sugar syrup. The all natural ingredients advertised thus may include fresh honey as well as freshly made tea …”

Please enjoy the review and stay tuned for more.

Chimo!

Posted in Flavoured Vodka, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Last Straw Distillery – Black Strap Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 4, 2017

The Last Straw Distillery is Ontario’s smallest production micro-distillery located at 40 Pippin Rd. in Vaughan, Ontario (a wee bit north of Toronto) just off Highway 400 and around the corner from Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre. Several months ago I was contacted by Mike Hook (one of the Distillery owners) and was told about the impending release of their new Blackstrap Rum. Mike asked me if I would be interested in receiving a bottle, and when I answered in the positive it was not too long before I was sent Bottle Number 90 from Cask One.

According to Mike Hook, the team at Last Straw Distillery come to the craft of distilling from a variety of different backgrounds, and surprisingly none have had prior experience in the beverage or alcohol business. They are self-taught, and developed their recipes in house, through research, and trial and error, without the use of outside consultants. They have just landed their Dark Side of the Moonshine in a few LCBO stores in Ontario, and expect to have a new-make Blackstrap spirit (the unaged version of the rum) on store shelves this month as well.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Last Straw Blackstrap Rum (Cask One)

The rum has an enticing nose. I notice scents and smells which I have found to be typical in micro-distilled rums: scents of mushy banana and ripe plantain and some resin-like esters which remind me of camphor. Alongside those aromas are the telltale smells of blackstrap molasses with hint of dark licorice and treacle. Rounded out the nose are hints of orange zest, bits of cinnamon, and nutmeg. This is a very good beginning!

Please enjoy my review of this exciting new rum made in Canada, Chimo!

Posted in Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Summer Cocktails #4: The Margarita (Part 2)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 29, 2017

Jerry Thomas 1887 Bartenders Guide

Part 1 of my Margarita Series postulated that the origins of the Margarita Cocktail should be traced to a mixed drink called the Tequila Daisy which is mentioned in 1936 in the Syracuse Herald. I argued the Tequila Daisy was almost certainly based upon an earlier Brandy based libation called the Brandy Daisy (1876, Jerry Thomas, Bartenders Guide (Second Edition)). The Tequila Daisy became to be known in Spanish Communities as the Margarita because the Spanish word for the daisy flower is the Spanish word, Margarita. To bolster my argument I pointed out that in 1953, the first known published recipe for the Margarita (in Esquire Magazine) appears to be a variation of the Jerry Thomas recipe with the French Brandy (and the spot of rum) replaced by Mexican Tequila.

Although the earliest known printed recipe for the Margarita appeared in 1953, there was an earlier known printed reference to the mixed drink which appeared in 1945 ad campaigns run by Jose Cuervo (Source: Anthony Dias Blue, The Complete Book of Spirits). The slogan of the advertisement,

“Margarita: It’s more than a girl’s name.”

implies that by 1945 the bar drink was so popular that at least one major Tequila producer sought to make that particular mixed drink synonymous with their brand.

Today, the Margarita contains the same basic ingredients as found in the early Esquire Magazine recipe:

1 ounce tequila, Dash of Triple Sec, Juice of 1/2 Lime or Lemon
Pour over crushed ice and stir, Serve in a Salt Rimmed Glass

However the present construction appears to have a better balance of flavour between the sour and the sweet:

2 parts Tequila, 1 part Lemon or Lime Juice, 1 part Orange Liqueur
Shake with Ice, Strain and serve in a Salt Rimmed Glass

Interestingly, this construction is almost identical to W.J. Tarling’s 1937 recipe for the Picador (found in W.J. Tarling’s, 1937 Cafe Royal Cocktail Book). It appears that Tarling’s Picador was created independent of the Margarita, although it should be noted though that the Tarling recipe never called for a Salt Rimmed glass which most bartenders consider to be an essential component of the modern cocktail.

Although the Picador vanished (until it was rediscovered by cocktail researchers), its form was adopted by the next generation of bartenders who apparently preferred to serve their patrons a better, more balanced Margarita. Although I would argue that the Tequila Daisy was the true genesis of the modern Margarita, I also tip my hat to W.J. Tarling for giving us the path to its present form. As indicated in Part 1, The Margarita is perhaps the most popular Cocktail in North America (if not the entire World.)

Although most cocktail books favour the use of lime juice for this libation, I sometimes use both lemon and lime when making Margarita Cocktails with Reposado Tequila spirits like Casamigos:

The Margarita

2 oz Casamigos Reposado Tequila
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Bols Triple Sec
Ice
Lime slice

Add the ingredients to a metal cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a salt rimmed Margarita Glass
Garnish with a slice of Lime
(Note: salt on outside of glass only)

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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has been in the news recently as the brand was recently acquired by Diageo Spirits in a deal which was rumored (italics because the key work is rumored) to be potentially (note again the italics) worth up to $1,000,000,000.00 (yep that Billion is in italics again). I thought the recent acquisition was a good excuse to revisit my reviews for the Casamigos brands.

Here is a link to my revised review for the Casamigos Tequila Reposado Spirit:

Review: Casamigos Reposado Tequila

” … The initial entry is a little soft and buttery with a stronger impression of caramel sweetness than the nose implied. Milk chocolate and a little bit of sea salt seem to ooze from the caramel making this a very interesting tequila to sip …

Chimo!

 

 

 

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Reposado Tequila, Tequila | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Summer Cocktail #4: The Margarita (Part 1)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 24, 2017

The Margarita based upon the 1953 Esquire Magazine formulation.

The Margarita Cocktail is perhaps the most popular cocktail in the entire world. Unfortunately for cocktail historians, the origin of this famous mixed drink is clouded as researchers and drinks companies have offered conflicting stories as to where and when the original Margarita was served. I’ll try to unravel some of the mystery in this two-part posting. This posting (Part 1) posits that perhaps a libation called the Tequila Daisy was the genesis of the Margarita.

This argument is bolstered as one of the earliest mention of a Margarita style bar drink is the Tequila Daisy from articles in the Syracuse Herald in 1936 (Source: Imbibe). The Spanish word for the daisy flower is Margarita, and it is easy to see how the Tequila Daisy Cocktail could have quickly became known in Mexico (or Spanish-speaking communities in the Southern USA) as the Margarita. Although the Syracuse Herald failed to provide a recipe for the Tequila Daisy, we can make a good guess as to the its construction by noting that the popular cocktail upon which the Tequila Daisy was based was the Brandy Daisy.

The original recipe for the Brandy Daisy (1876, Jerry Thomas, The Bartenders Guide (Second Edition)) is:

3 or 4 dashes gum syrup, 2 or 3 dashes of Curaçao liqueur, juice of half a small lemon, small wine-glass of brandy, and 2 dashes of Jamaica rum
Fill glass one-third full of shaved ice, Shake and strain and fill up with Seltzer water

If we swap out the Brandy and Rum in Jerry Thomas’s Daisy recipe for tequila, his recipe now bears a strong resemblance to the earliest known published Margarita Recipe (found in Esquire Magazine’s December 1953 issue):

1 ounce tequila, Dash of Triple Sec, Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
Pour over crushed ice and stir, Serve in a Salt Rimmed Glass

Although this line of reasoning provides a clear path for how the Tequila Daisy became the Margarita, it does not address the question of the actual person (bartender) who gave the Margarita Cocktail its current form. I’ll tackle that  issue later this week in Part 2 of this Summer Cocktail Posting.

In the meantime, here is a modern variation of the Margarita I developed using Casamigos Blanco Tequila and California grown Cara Cara Oranges:

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Cara Cara Oranges are a navel variety orange grown in California’s San Joaquin Valley. They have a bright orange peel with just a touch of a pinkish hue, and their interior flesh is distinctively pinkish similar to a pink grapefruit. The flavour of this orange is unique representing a sort of hybrid mixture of tangerine and traditional navel orange flavour with an unusual (but delightful) sweetness which is ideally suited for cocktails.

Carra Carra Margarita SAM_1544Cara Cara Margarita

2 oz Casamigos Blanco Tequila
1 1/2 oz Fresh Squeezed Cara Cara Orange Juice
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orange Curacao
1/4 oz Simple Syrup (1:1)
Ice
Cara Cara Orange Peel

Add the first five ingredients into a metal shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a chilled martini glass
Garnish with a small peel of Cara Cara Orange
Enjoy!

If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

________________________________________________________

Casamigos Tequila has been in the news recently as the brand was recently acquired by Diageo Spirits in a deal which was rumored (italics because the key work is rumored) to be potentially (note again the italics) worth up to $1,000,000,000.00 (yep those are italics again). I thought the recent acquisition was a good excuse to revisit my reviews for the Casamigos brands and I shall begin with the Blanco.

Here is a link to my revised Review:

Review: Casamigos Blanco Tequila

I noticed both grapefruit and lime zest weaving in and out the air within the mild white pepper and highland spice, and I also noticed a subtle smokey tone wrapped up within the fruity agave aroma.

Chimo!

 

 

Posted in Blanco Tequila, Cocktails & Recipes, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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