Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 13, 2017
This past year was a busy time for the Rum Howler as I not only wrote and published many new reviews, I also spent a great deal of time re-examining many of the rum spirits which I had previously reviewed. This work was done with the aim of providing my readers with specific lists they could use to help them choose the appropriate rum for their particular needs.
During the past year I examined and ranked all of the Spiced Rums I owned. I also built cocktails all year round to determine a ranking of the 50 Best Mixing Rums (a few internet trolls are unhappy with that term; so if you like, you can call them the ‘Best Young Cocktail Rums‘) I have tasted as well. Finally, I also combed through my reviews and determined what I believe are the 50 Best Rums of 2016.(Admittedly there is overlap in these three lists.)
Rum Old Fashioned
All this work done throughout the year meant that for this year’s Rum Howler Awards, I had the luxury of having already compiled the necessary lists which recognized the best rums in various categories:
To determine my Rum Howler Award Winners, I merely had to examine these lists, determine which of the rums on each list had been tasted at some point in the past two years, and then select the best spirit for each of my categories.
It is time for me to bring forward my 2017 Rum Howler Awards Winners. These are the spirits which have risen to the top and provided me with my greatest enjoyment.
Here is a link to my 2017 Award winners for the excellence in the production of Rum:
Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: 2017, Review, Rum, Rum Howler Awards | 3 Comments »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 6, 2017
2016 was a tremendous year for that spirit which we call Gin (at least as far as my website reviews are concerned). Not only did I add many new gin reviews to my website during that year, I also revisited many of my old favourites with new reviews and new cocktails. The impact of all this writing catapulted my website onto the front page of many internet search engines including google where (as of the time I am writing this) The Rum Howler Blog is the number 3 listed independent spirits review website listed when the search term ‘Gin Reviews‘ is searched.
1878 Gin Cocktail
In 2016 I also spent a great deal of time exploring gin cocktails, researching new recipes as well as refining some of my older constructions as my appreciation for the juniper spirit has continued to increase.
The result of all of this effort has been that I was able to examine and taste 20 different gins at one point or during the last year. When those 20 are added to those juniper spirits I examined during 2015, the result was that I had a field of over 30 Gins to choose from for this years awards.
The best have been brought forward to receive 2017 Rum Howler Awards.
Here is a link to my Awards Page:
I hope everyone is enjoying the awards to this point. Stay tuned for the Whisky and Rum Awards which will publish early next week!
Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: 2017, Gin, Review, Rum Howler Awards | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 4, 2017
Last year, I pointed out that there seems to be a divide among vodka producers between those who value purity of spirit above all else, and those producers who allow their vodka spirit to express a certain level of flavour. I am firmly in the camp of those who enjoy the subtle aromas and flavours which can be appreciated when Vodka is sipped or when it is consumed in a cocktail. However, this past year I began to notice that some vodka makers are taking this philosophy too far.
This new phenomena appears to be part of the craft spirit movement. Using their small micro-stills the micro-producers are embracing a great deal of more flavour within their vodka spirit than I would ever have suspected. As one micro-distiller explained to me,
“Vodka doesn’t have to be a colourless odourless spirit meant only to be hid in a cocktail or tall soda drink.It can and should be enjoyed on its own, for its own sake.”
That sentiment sounds right to a point; however after tasting this particular producer’s vodka I wondered if perhaps he was merely justifying the outcome of a distilling process that (for economic reasons) did not fully rectify the spirit. The heavy congeners within the spirit certainly gave it flavour; however the flavour achieved was fusel with strong vegetal components the combination of which did not fit my paradigm of excellent vodka.
To that end, my call to all producers (new distillers and old) is that when they distill this spirit which we call vodka, the aim should be to eliminate fusel flavours and heavy congeners. That is not to say that vodka should be refined to the point of being a tasteless spirit. But the flavours that are left within should be light subtle flavours which enhance rather than dominate the vodka experience (and the cocktail experience). This may be a more expensive road to tread; but it is a road that will lead to repeat sales (and perhaps even a Rum Howler Award).
You can find out who won this years Rum Howler Awards for Vodka by following this link:
Posted in Awards, Extras, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: 2017, Review, Rum Howler Awards, Vodka | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 2, 2017
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.
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:
Posted in Awards, Extras, Tequila, Tequila Review | Tagged: 2017, Rum Howler Awards, Tequila | Leave a Comment »