The Rum Howler Blog

(A Website for Spirited Reviews)

  • The Rum Howler Blog

  • Visit My Online Memorabilia Store

  • The Rum Howler Interview (Good Food Revolution)

    Click on the Image to see my interview on Good Food Revolution

  • Industry Interviews

    Interviews

    Click the Image for Great Interviews with the Movers of Industry

  • Cocktails and Recipes

    Click Image for Awesome Recipes

  • Follow Me on Twitter!

The 2017 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Whisky

rh-winner2017Last year I stated that I believed that Canadian Whisky had finally became relevant on the world stage again. I followed that up this past Christmas with a list of not the best 25 Canadian Whisky Brands, instead a list of 50 brands which are all currently available to the Canadian whiskey consumer. And I could have gone further as based upon my rough count, there are over 100 brands of Canadian Whisky currently in production and available within Canada. Canadian Whisky has indeed arrived.

mt-logan-old-fashioned-sam_2860

Old Fashioned Whisky Cocktail

Of course Canadians are not the only ones who are expanding the breadth of their whisky production. Many new Bourbon brands are appearing on the scene, as well as new straight and blended whiskeys all over the USA. Many of these new brands are being produced by the new wave of small distilleries which are appearing all over North America as a distilling revolution is underway.

Ten years ago I could count all of the whisky distilleries in Canada on the fingers of my hands. Now, if I use all of my fingers, and all of my toes, I am not even half way through the list, and the numbers of new Distilleries in the USA is much larger (and those numbers are growing as I write this). Time will tell where this is all leading; but at this point the major beneficiary is the whisky consumer who has more brands to choose from than ever before.

This expansion is of course not confined to North America. Many new distilleries are appearing in the United Kingdom, and throughout Europe. And it is probably true that in India, China, Japan, Australia, and in fact, everywhere that grain is grown, new distilleries are appearing. There is going to be an economic reckoning as at some point, the limit of consumption will be reached, and the world will be awash in excess whisky (and other spirits). I suspect that the economic fallout will catch many by surprise; hopefully those who are entering into this high stakes game (and those who are already there) have a solid game plan going forward.

And this brings me to my 2017 Rum Howler Whisky Awards. All of that great selection has brought us new award winners with whisky better than I have ever tasted before.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

cc chairman's select SAM_1332The 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky Value

and the Winner is:

Canadian Club Chairman’s Select – 100% Rye 

Runner-up Award to: Alberta Springs Canadian Whisky

Honourable Mention to: Hiram Walker Special Old

To determine the Best Whisky Value for my 2017 Rum Howler Awards. I first research the LCBO to see which of the whiskies I had received or reviewed in 2015, and 2016 which were available to me at a retail price of less than 30 bucks for a 750 ml bottle. (That may seem expensive to some of you but remember that we pay a lot of taxes in Canada on booze all of which add about $14.00 to the price of the typical bottle.) Then I checked my most recent review scores and determined which of those whisky spirits gave me the best bang for my buck.

This year’s winner was the Canadian Club Chairman’s Select – 100% Rye. It is of course produced exclusively from rye grain, distilled (and almost certainly aged) in Calgary by Alberta Distillers Ltd. (ADL). And they certainly know how to make great whisky in Calgary, my the Runner-up is also an ADL brand, Alberta Springs Canadian Whisky, a brand I have touted as one of the best whisky bargains in the entire world for quite a while now. Honourable Mention goes to Hiram Walker Special Old Rye Whisky produced by Corby Distilleries Ltd.. The value category was swept by three great whiskies from Canada.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

j-p-wisers-red-letter-sam_2661The 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Canadian Whisky

and the Winner is:

J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky (2015 Edition)

Runner-up Award to:  Mt. Logan 20 Year Old & Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky 

Honourable Mention to: J.P. Wiser’s 18 Years Old & Wiser’s Legacy

When selecting my award winners for the best Canadian Whiskies I went directly to my recently completed list of the Top 50 Canadian Whiskies. The clear winner this year was J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky (2015 Release). Just like the previous editions of the brand, the whisky was aged for at least 10 years in American bourbon barrels and then further mellowed by finishing in virgin white oak casks. Alberta’s only locally owned major distillery, Highwood Distillers is responsible for both of my Runner-up Awards, Ninety “Decades of Richness” and the Mt. Logan 20 Year Old. Each of these whiskies was aged for 20 years and each is a 100 % Corn Whisky. It was a great year for Highwood upon my website, and an even better year for Wiser’s which along with garnering the top award for Canadian Whisky, also captured two Honourable Mentions for their Wiser’s Legacy and J.P. Wiser’s 18 Years Old whiskies respectively.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Cameron Bridge 1984The 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Scotch Whisky

and the winner is:

Wilson & Morgan – Cameronbridge 1984 – 30 Year Old Single Grain 

Runner-Up Award to: Wilson & Morgan – Girvan 1979 – 35 Year Old Single Grain

Honourable Mention to: Glenmorangie Milsean

This year I encountered a pair of stunning aged grain whiskies from Wilson and Wilson, Cameronbridge 1984 – 30 Year Old Single Grain, and the Girvan 1979 – 35 Year Old Single Grain whiskies. When I spoke to Wilson and Wilson prior to obtaining the samples, I had casually mentioned that I often prefer grain whisky to Single Malt Scotch, especially if the whisky is well aged. This is because the fine oak spice which is drawn from an old barrel seems to match up so well with flavour profile of grain whisky. The two whiskies from Wilson and Wilson certainly prove my point as each is a wonderful example of just how good aged grain whisky can taste.

My Honourable Mention is Glenmorangie’s annual Private Edition Range Single Malt Whisky, Milsean. which was created from Glenmorangie Single Malt Whisky which was extra-matured in former wine casks that had been re-toasted to caramelize the wine in the oak fiber.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Elijah CraigThe 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best American Whiskey

and the winner is:

Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Straight Bourbon

Runner-Up Award: Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon (Very Old)

Honourable Mention to: George Dickel Rye Whisky

The 12 Year Old version of Elijah Craig Straight Bourbon is slowly disappearing from the marketplace. The whiskey is being replaced by a non age stated bourbon whisky, Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon. My understanding is that the new version will be blended from straight whiskies which have been aged 8 to 12 years. The change is being made because the Elijah Craig brand has become so popular that maintaining a 12-year-old age statements and keeping production up with the demand became two incongruent goals. Fortunately the 12 Year Old Version is still generally available in Canada.

The Runner-up (and it was a close race) is Jefferson’s Reserve Very Old Bourbon a whisky from Castle Brands produced by marrying a selection of only 8 to 12 barrels of aged bourbon. George Dickel Rye Whisky deserves Honourable Mention.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

And finally the Award that I am sure you have all been waiting for:

Cameron Bridge 1984The 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Whisky!

and the Winner is:

Wilson & Morgan – Cameronbridge 1984 – 30 Year Old Single Grain 

Runner-up Award to: J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky (2015 Edition) 

Honourable mention to: Wilson & Morgan – Girvan 1979 – 35 Year Old Single Grain

This year in deciding the 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Whisky I decided to re-taste all of the major contenders side by side. I spent a few of my days off making a series of Old Fashioned Cocktails with each Spirit. Then I re-tasted each of the spirits neat before making my final decisions.

The Best Whisky of 2017 (and the highest scoring whisky on my website to date) was the Cameronbridge 1984 – 30 Year Old Single Grain Whisky. The Runner-up Award was taken by J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky (2015 Edition) and the Honourable Mention was captured by another whisky from Wilson and Wilson, the Girvan 1979 -35 Year Old Grain Whisky. Grain Whisky dominated my rankings this year.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

rh-winner2017The Winners

The 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky Value: Canadian Club Chairman’s Select – 100% Rye

The 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Canadian Whisky: J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky (2015 Edition)

The 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Scotch Whisky: Wilson & Morgan – Cameronbridge 1984 – 30 Year Old Single Grain 

The 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best American Whiskey: Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Straight Bourbon

The 2017 Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Whisky: Wilson & Morgan – Cameronbridge 1984 – 30 Year Old Single Grain 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

rh-runner-up-2017The Runners-Up

The Rum Howler 2017 Runner-Up Award for Best Whisky Value: Alberta Springs Canadian Whisky

The 2017 Rum Howler Runner-Up Award for Best Canadian Whisky: Mt. Logan 20 Year Old & Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky 

The 2017 Rum Howler Runner-Up Award for Best Scotch Whisky: Wilson & Morgan – Girvan 1979 – 35 Year Old Single Grain

The 2017 Rum Howler Runner-Up Award for Best American Whiskey: Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon (Very Old)

The 2017 Rum Howler Runner-Up Award for Best Overall Whisky: J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky (2015 Edition) 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Honourable Mentions

rh-hm-2017The 2017 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Award for Best Whisky Value: Hiram Walker Special Old

The 2017 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Award for Best Canadian WhiskyJ.P. Wiser’s 18 Years Old & Wiser’s Legacy

The 2017 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Awards for Best Scotch Whisky: Glenmorangie Milsean

The 2017 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Awards for Best American Whiskey: George Dickel Rye Whisky

The 2017 Rum Howler Honourable Mention Awards for Best Overall Whisky: Wilson & Morgan – Girvan 1979 – 35 Year Old Single Grain

____________________________________________________________

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: