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2017 Rum Howler Awards For Tequila

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 2, 2017

rh-winner2017

Beginning in 2015, I made a concentrated effort to make the Agave Spirit a larger part of my website. I began with my Rum Howler 2015 Margarita Challenge and, as part of that effort, designed my version of the quintessential tequila cocktail just for the competition, the Alfred Cointreau Margarita Cocktail. That effort triggered a response from industry as Tequila producers began to take note of my website, and I was contacted to provide spirit reviews from many new producers.

Margarita

Margarita Cocktail

Alas the quirks of Canadian Customs and Excise scared more than a few of these companies away as getting me samples is not easy if you are not based in Canada. However, a steady trickle of samples began to cross my desk and my Tequila Review Page began to grow. That trickle continued into 2016, and not only did the quantity of tequila which I was able to taste increase, the quality of tequila which I was exposed to went off the charts. This new high quality of agave spirit is reflected in the 2017 Rum Howler Awards for Tequila.  (I did make one significant change this year bringing my awards forward one year such that my awards would be in the same calendar year as the awards from other publications and websites.)

As most of you know, when I conduct my deliberations for my annual Rum Howler Awards. I consider not only the spirits which I received as samples in the given year, I also include the samples from the previous year. This means that the body of spirits for my 2016 Rum Howler Awards for Tequila represent the best agave spirits I have tasted to this point.

Here is a link to my 2017 Rum Howler Awards for Tequila:

The 2017 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Tequila

 

 

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

Rum Howler 2016 #1 Mixing Rum: Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2016

2016rum_howler_badgeRum Nation has been delighting me over the past few years with their fresh approach to the spirit we enjoy as rum. Fabio Rossi, who owns and manages the company, purchases select rums from various distillers in the Caribbean and the Americas, and provides a rather unique assortment of rare limited edition rum bottlings to both the European, and the North American market. Up until recently, all of Fabio’s rums have been well aged wonders.

Rum Nation Pot Still Cocktail SAM_1458Last year, Fabio went in a different direction entirely with his Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still Rum. In the case of this spirit, the dimensions of time and location with respect to maturity are rendered irrelevant. Instead, the dimension Fabio chose to explore within this rum monster, was flavour! While other rum companies are experimenting with 3, 4, 5 and 6-year-old barrel aged rums which are then refined and filtered with charcoal to achieve their smooth color free state as ultra premium white rums, Rum Nation’s new Jamaican White Rum is instead produced entirely without age. And rather than giving us a smooth refined ultra premium white rum, Fabio’s new rum revels in its brutish, concentrated (bottled at 57 % alcohol) Jamaican pot still flavour, and is anything but smooth and refined.

This is a new direction for white rum, and it is frankly a direction which flies in the face of current regulation in my home country which decrees that even clear white rum must see the inside of an oak barrel for one year. With Rum Nation’s new Jamaican White rum, it is the Jamaican Pot Still which is placed under the microscope for better or for worse. The result is a bold new style of white rum which has traveled in a direction that I appreciated so much that I have named it the Best Cocktail Rum in the World!

Here is my review:

#1: Rum Nation Jamaica White Pot Still Rum

“… what do we do with a rum which has so much flavour to offer; but one which also promises to do so much damage if you try to take more than a mere sip? The rum is simply too intense to sip neat, yet too marvelously complex to refrain from indulging. What I settled upon was a compromise, I decided would mix the rum into a cocktail; but I would follow the path of the daiquiri, rather than of the Cuba Libre. I was well pleased with the results, although as you will see, I had to make sure I adjusted my cocktail ratios to account for the sheer volume of flavour the rum possesses …”

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Merry Christmas everyone, I hope you enjoyed the countdown! You may see the entire list here:

The Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Mixing Rums Countdown

 

Posted in Awards, Extras, Overproof Rum, Rum, Rum Reviews, White Rums | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Rum Howler 2016 Top Canadian Whisky: J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2016

rum-howler-top-50-2016Wiser’s Red Letter was re-introduced to Canadians in 2007 to pay homage to the 150th anniversary of John Philip Wiser’s distillery in Prescott, Ontario 1857 – 2007), as well as to the original Red Letter Whisky which Wiser’s produced in the late 1800s. In 2009, when I reviewed the inaugural 150th Adversary Edition (see review here), I was told by my contacts within Corby, that the spirit contained various blends of whisky which (although they ranged in age) were all ten years old or more.

j-p-wisers-red-letter-sam_2661In 2013 Corby, once again in a tribute to their founder J.P Wiser, released Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky 2013 Release. The whisky was re-branded J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky in 2015, and just like the previous editions of the brand, the spirit is comprised of whiskies aged for at least 10 years in American bourbon barrels which are then further mellowed by finishing in virgin white oak casks. Of course it is still bottle at 45 % alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to what I believe is the Best Whisky currently made in Canada, and incidentally, one of the very best in the World:

#1: J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter

The 2015 version of the Red Letter Whisky seems to hearken back to the original 2007 version as the whisky pushes a bevy of spicy goodness across the palate giving the taste buds a treat and the tonsils a wallop as it goes down. Lush corn and bittersweet rye meld with the oak spices allowing flavours of rich chocolate, maple and vanilla to ride along with the oak spice and alcohol heat. This is lovely stuff.

Thank you all for following my Countdown all the way to the Number 1 Canadian Whisky.

Chimo!

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* You may find my complete 2016 Top 50 Canadian Whisky Countdown list here:

The Rum Howler – Top 50 Canadian Whiskies of 2016

 

 

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Mixing Rum Countdown #2: Panama Red 108

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 23, 2016

2016rum_howler_badgePanama Red 108 is a Panamanian rum brought to you by PANAMONTE BRANDS. The rum is handcrafted by the creator of Zafra Master Reserve, Master Blender, Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez. It is produced from the sugar cane that grew in Las Cabras de Pese, the same region where the Distillery is located.

Panama Red 108Although the rum is stated as overproof, Don Pancho has assured me that the rum will feel much smoother in the mouth than a typical overproof rum. It has as its base, a 3 year molasses based rum which is aged in used Bourbon casks at the distillery warehouse in Pese.

Don Pancho was certainly accurate in his assessment, and his wonderful rum is the Number 2 spirit in my 2016 Rum Howler Top 50 Mixing Rum Countdown. Here is my original review:

#2: Panama Red 108

“…  After just a few sips, the rum has heated the mouth with orange peel spiciness, and then I began to notice the baking spices building. The longer I allowed the glass to decant, the richer and more complex the flavour became as the baking spices continued to build in the glass to the benefit of my palate …”

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Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I will be revealing my choice for the Number 1 Cocktail Rum in the entire world, stay tuned!

And you can follow the rankings by bookmarking this page:

The Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Mixing Rums Countdown

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Top 50 Canadian Whisky Countdown #2: Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 23, 2016

rum-howler-top-50-2016In November of 2005, Highwood Distillers finalized the purchase of Potters Distilleries (founded by Ernie Potter in 1958). Part of this acquisition, was the purchase of all of the remaining barrel aged stocks of whisky in the Potters facility. The whisky brands which Potters Distilleries had established (Century and Potters) were added to Highwood’s portfolio of spirits where they have not only been maintained but also expanded upon. Part of that expansion was the 2013 addition of the ‘Ninety’ branded whiskies to the Century Distillers line-up.

sam_2646Highwood Distillers chose the brand name ‘Ninety’ for their new corn grain whiskies because these whiskies are bottled at 90 proof (or 45 % alcohol by volume) rather than the usual 80 proof (40 % alcohol by volume). The higher bottling strength means that the final whisky will retain a character closer to the original cask strength whiskies from which they were blended. In the case of the Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky, the bulk of blend almost certainly has been drawn from Highwood’s treasured reserves of remaining Potters whisky stocks which are rumoured to contain barrels of whisky as old as 33 years.

Here is a link to the number 2 ranked whisky in my 2016 Rum Howler Canadian Whisky Countdown:

#2: Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

“… The different aspects of the aroma (the wood and rye spiciness and the corn and butterscotch sweetness) are melded together beautifully creating a very enticing aroma in the air above the glass. As I enjoy those breezes, I also notice impressions of creamy vanilla pudding, hints of almond turning to sweeter marzipan, zesty orange peel turning to sticky marmalade, and lightly sweetened cereal grain …”

Stay tuned as the countdown continues tomorrow with the Number 1 Canadian Whisky.

Chimo!

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* You may follow my 2016 Canadian Whisky Countdown by bookmarking this link:

The Rum Howler – Top 50 Canadian Whiskies of 2016

 

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

2016 Top 50 Mixing Rum Countdown #3: Stiggins’ Fancy Plantation Pineapple Rum

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 22, 2016

2016rum_howler_badgePineapple Rum was quite a popular delicacy in the 19th century. In fact, in Charles Dickens first serial novel The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (published in 19 monthly magazine instalments, from March 1836 to October 1837), Pineapple Rum is the preferred tipple of the fictitious Reverend Stiggins, who while publicly preaching temperance, secretly enjoys his pineapple rum, usually mixed with hot tea.

Fancy Autumn Pineapple SAM_2737Alexander Gabriel (President and Owner, of Cognac Ferrand) in collaboration with Dave Wondrich (cocktail guru and author of Imbibe) researched the original recipes of Pineapple Rum, and then set about to re-create this lost libation.

The collaboration was an unmitigated success and their Stiggins’ Fancy Plantation Pineapple Rum has roared up my list to grab the honour of being the 3rd best Mixing Rum in my 2016 Countdown.

Here is a link to my recent review:

#3: Stiggins’ Fancy Plantation Pineapple Rum

“… Alexandre Gabriel and Dave Wondrich created this spirit with and eye towards cocktails, and so I thought I would try my hand at mixing one. With the pineapple accent so obvious within the rum, I decided that pairing that flavour with lime make the most sense. I added a bit of Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, a dash of bitters and a touch of sugar syrup and shook it over ice. The result was wonderful …”

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Stay tuned for more mixing rum revelations as I will be adding to this list each day until Christmas Eve.

And you can follow the rankings by bookmarking this page:

The Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Mixing Rums Countdown

 

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Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Canadian Whisky Countdown #3: Mt. Logan 20 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 22, 2016

rum-howler-top-50-2016I began hearing about Mt. Logan Whisky just this past summer as a few of my regular readers sent me requests for a review. When I researched the brand, I discovered it was a ‘destination’ brand exclusive to Liquor Depot and Wine & Beyond (Liquor Stores N.A. Inc.) stores in Western Canada. Apparently, Ryan Engen, Director of Spirits, Liquor Stores N.A. Inc., worked closely with Highwood Distillers to produce a new Canadian WHisky range for their family of Liquor Stores.

mt-logan-old-fashioned-sam_2860According to the label on the back of the bottle, Mt. Logan 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky is produced in a batch style distillation with the spirit was matured in charred American white oak. According to Ryan, the spirit is a 100 % corn whisky blend making this a true Single Grain Whisky.

Here is a link to the 3rd Best Canadian Whisky in the World, the Mt. Logan 20 Year Old Whisky.

#3: Mt. Logan 20 Year Old

“… The initial breezes above that glass are rich with vanilla, dusty dry oak spice, butterscotch and canned creamed corn. The strength and purity of the corn scent surprises and delights me. As the whisky breathes, the fine oak spices gain momentum. Orange peel begins to turn to marmalade as the butterscotch melds into the spice; dark tobacco wells up; and a firm sense of marzipan begins to unravel into the breezes …”

Stay tuned as the countdown continues tomorrow with the Number 2 Canadian Whisky.

Chimo!

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* You may follow my 2016 Canadian Whisky Countdown by bookmarking this link:

The Rum Howler – Top 50 Canadian Whiskies of 2016

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Canadian Whisky Countdown #3: Mt. Logan 20 Year Old

Rum Howler Top 50 Rums of 2016

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 21, 2016

On My DeckFor the first time in 5 years, I did not publish a daily countdown for the Best Rums of the Year. I did however compile a list, and this is my reveal of the Rum Howler Top 50 Rums of 2016.

Every year when I publish my annual list I receive emails wondering why certain rums were left off. It always boils down to the same two answers.

  1. That particular Rum just wasn’t up to the standard of the rest of the spirits on the list.
  2. That particular spirit was not made available for me to taste and access in time for inclusion.

On the first score, I make no apologies for my rankings. Just because some other publication or a particular marketing campaign says that such and such a rum is the Elixir of the Gods, that doesn’t make it so. I trust my tasting sessions. I do not trust marketing hype.

If you are wondering how your favourite rum fared this year, Here is my Rum Howler List of the Top 50 Rums of 2016:

Rum Howler Top 50 Rums of 2016

Just in time for Christmas giving!

Chimo!

 

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Mixing Rums Countdown #4: Noxx & Dunn Florida Rum 2-4-5

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 21, 2016

2016rum_howler_badgeTwo years ago when Campari purchased J Wray & Nephew, they terminated the Appleton Estate Rum sales team in here in Canada. Then early last year they also terminated the long-term contract of Michael Delevante, aka the Rum Doctor. This meant that after 50 years of service as Rum Master and Rum Blender for Appleton Estate Rum, the Rum Doctor was able to team up with some of his old collaborators, and together they are bringing to the market an aged Florida Rum.

Noxx And Dunn 245 SAM_2590The Noxx and Dunn 2-4-5 Rum they created is made from a blend of 100%  Florida sugar cane molasses pot and column distilled spirit. These rums were aged for 2, 4 and 5 years in the sub tropics (in Florida of course) in once used bourbon barrels. Importantly, no flavouring and no colour were added. The colour and flavour of the rum in the bottle is completely natural and derived from the ageing process.

Here is a link to the Number 4 Mixing Rum in my 2016 Mixing Rum Countdown:

#4: Noxx & Dunn Florida Rum 2-4-5

“… The rum is a natural for a rum and cola bar drink. I would go heavy on the rum and light on the cola to give the libation a delicious kick of oaky rum flavour. But I sense more versatility than that and a Rum Old Fashioned is certainly not out of the question. This Noxx and Dunn Rum even has the strength and character to stand up to a sweetened liqueur …”

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Stay tuned for more mixing rum revelations as I will be adding to this list each day until Christmas Eve.

And you can follow the rankings by bookmarking this page:

The Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Mixing Rums Countdown

 

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Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Canadian Whisky Countdown #4: J.P. Wiser’s 18 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 21, 2016

rum-howler-top-50-2016In the past, Wiser’s 18 Year Old advertised itself as a Limited Release bottling totaling only 3500 bottles for each batch produced. Last year I noticed that the whisky had undergone a subtle brand change as well, and it is now listed as J.P. Wiser’s 18 Year Old Canadian Whisky. As part of the brand re-identification the bottle no longer contains any information on the label with respect to the batch size.

j-p-wisers-18-sam_2902Whether any real substantive change in the whisky inside the bottle has occurred is unknown to me; but since we know that we can expect the whisky to change from batch to batch at a minimum, I usually look at this brand each year and write a new review if I notice any substantive change. (It turns out, there was very little change from last year to this year.)

Here is a link to the Number 5 Canadian Whisky in my Rum Howler Countdown of the World’s Best!

#4: J.P. Wiser’s 18 Year Old Canadian Whisky

“… The initial breezes are full of fine oak spices with hints of butterscotch and clean grain. As the glass breathes the spiciness within the breezes above the glass continues unabated. Meandering within the spice are rich smells of butterscotch and maple with a few hints of sharp orange peel and dusty grain. Some baking spices begin to form after about five minutes with vanilla and  brown sugar spice, bits of cinnamon white pepper and cloves …”

Stay tuned as the countdown continues tomorrow with the Number 3 Canadian Whisky.

Chimo!

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* You may follow my 2016 Canadian Whisky Countdown by bookmarking this link:

The Rum Howler – Top 50 Canadian Whiskies of 2016

 

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Canadian Whisky Countdown #4: J.P. Wiser’s 18 Year Old

 
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