Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 18, 2017
I first encountered Beer Barrel Bourbon (from Michigan’s New Holland Brewing company) when one of my buddies brought a bottle to one of my tastings and left it with me to review. The spirit is rather unique, a bourbon which is first aged in new American Oak for several years, then finished for 90 days in second use Dragon’s Milk Beer barrels. Dragon’s Milk is New Holland Brewing’s own stout beer which was in fact aged in a used Bourbon barrels.
Here is a link to my full review:
“… The initial breezes throw up light astringent notes of a young corn whisky (fine oak spices, corn, orange peel, almond and vanilla) as well as a few malty beer-like scents. The combination is strange to me, although at this point, it is hard to say whether this is a ‘good’ strange or ‘not so good’ strange …”
Please enjoy my review of this new bourbon from New Holland Brewing.
Posted in American Whiskey, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Beer Barrel, Bourbon, New Holland, Review, Whiskey | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 16, 2017
Radouga Distilleries is a small distillery which began operations in Blaine Lake Saskatchewan (near Saskatoon) on November 20th 2014. Recently I met one of their sales reps (D’arcy Nemanishin) at the November Edmonton Food and Wine Show. We chatted briefly and after the show D’arcy arranged for me to receive a few sample of their line-up which included their Apple and the Blueberry Pie Liqueurs (reviewed here and here) as well as their Provincial and Provincial Spiced Vodkas. I sampled (and my wife sampled) all four spirits over the holidays, and I have decided to share my thoughts here on my website. This is the review for the Provincial Vodka.
As part of the review process, I held a Vodka tasting for my friends (the Rum Chums) where we sampled three other new vodkas (Norvegia, Tryst, and Foothills) in a tasting flight with the Provincial Vodka. I served the spirits chilled where we sipped them each neat, swallowed shots, and sampled each with a variety of foods. We finished the tasting with a cocktail made from each spirit.
Here are my thought on the Provincial Vodka from the Radouga Distillers:
“… The first sip was quite smooth. I noticed a nice grain-like spiciness and a little stronger lemon flavour that the nose would have implied. As the spirit warmed the intensity of the grain spice increased …
Please enjoy my review which includes two nice cocktail suggestions, the Provincial Greyhound, and the Provincial Gimlet!
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Distilleries, Provincial, Radouga, Review, Rum howler, Vodka | Leave a Comment »
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 11, 2017
I am a little late with this posting as bad luck (and the bad weather we have been having up north) is playing havoc with my publication schedule. My desktop computer (which I do most of my writing on) crashed after a major software update, and because my truck is in the shop (radiator leak) I can’t get my computer fixed. So I have been working with my old laptop trying to finish my Rum Howler Award Postings.
The 2017 Rum Howler Awards for Whisky should be particularly interesting to everyone as they feature a link to a previously unpublished review for Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Bourbon Whisky, and they also highlight the best scoring (and best tasting) whisky I have encountered (a stunning 30 Year Old Grain Whisky) to this point.
Elijah Craig Old Fashioned
The major whisky trend of 2017 will be the continuation of the micro-distilling revolution. Ten years ago I could count all of the whisky distilleries in Canada on the fingers of my two 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.
Here is a link to my 2017 Rum Howler Award Winners for excellence in the production of Whisky:
Posted in Awards, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Bourbon, Review, Rum Howler Awards, Whiskey, Whisky | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 7, 2017
Radouga Distilleries is a small distillery which began operations in Blaine Lake Saskatchewan (near Saskatoon) on November 20th 2014. Recently I met one of their sales reps (D’arcy Nemanishin) at the November Edmonton Food and Wine Show. We chatted briefly and I sampled the distillery’s 7-time distilled Provincial Vodka (review to follow). After the show D’arcy arranged for me to receive a few samples of their line-up of Paul’s Pies Liqueurs (Paul Riben is the Owner/CEO of the distillery).
Paul Riben distills all of Radouga Distilleries products using grain that Paul grows himself. The operation is a true field to glass operation. I sampled (and my wife sampled) both the Apple and Blueberry Liqueurs over the holidays, and today I am sharing links to each review:
Here is the link to the Apple Pie Liqueur:
“… I made the mistake of giving the glass to my wife to sniff. She expressed her delight at the scent of ‘Apple Pie in a Glass’ and I was forced to pour myself another as she did not give hers back to me …”
and here I the link to the review for the Blueberry Pie Liqueur:
“… The immediate aroma from the glass of Paul’s Pie Blueberry Pie liqueur is perhaps more reminiscent of blueberry juice than blueberry pie (with perhaps a touch of wine/cider in the background). There is some sweetness arising from the glass which complements the blueberry …”
Stay tuned for more reviews of the spirits from Radouga Distilleries, specifically their Provincial Vodka and their Provincial Spiced Vodka, which will be published in the coming weeks.
Posted in Liqueur, Liqueur Review | Tagged: Apple Pie, Blueberry Pie, Liqueuer, Paul's Pies, Radouga Distilleries, Review | Leave a Comment »
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 5, 2017
Legend Distilling is a small craft distillery in the heart of B.C. Okanagan Wine Country. Owner’s Dawn and Doug Lennie moved to Naramata 11 years ago and witnessed the progression of the wine business happening all around them. They were already running their own businesses, but had a dream of working together to build a new company they could share. Whiskey was always been a passion of Doug’s and he had also been watching what was going on with craft distilling in the US. Both Dawn and he decided that spirits would be a great business to bring to the community as a compliment to all the great wines available around them. For Dawn and Doug, offering something new in the area was key. This included their unique location along the Naramata Bench, as other distilleries were being located in more industrial areas.
The orange liqueur produced by Legend Distilling arrives with a bit of a twist in its flavour profile. As well as being orange flavoured the spirit also carries the flavour of the locally foraged wild Sumac berries.
Here is a link to my review of this outstanding Orange Liqueur:
“… While the orange/tangerine quality is firm and appealing, there is also a lightly bitter/acidic undercurrent which balances the sweetness beautifully allowing me to sip the liqueur without ice to great enjoyment. There is also a light earthy quality reminiscent of angelica root which seems to elevate the spirit …”
I hope you enjoy the review, tomorrow I will return to my 2017 Rum Howler Awards.
Posted in Liqueur, Orange Liqueur | Tagged: Liqueur, Manitou, Orange, Review, Sumac | 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 3, 2017
This year I plan to sprinkle a few liqueur reviews in between my Rum Howler Award postings, and I will start with a new Orange Liqueur my wife bought for me this past Christmas. I had asked her to pick up a bottle of Bols Triple Sec which is one of my favoured Orange Curacao mixers, but instead she brought home Cheshire Triple Sec. As I was expecting Bols, I decided to do a little comparing between the two when I wrote the review.
Cheshire Triple Sec is an American spirit produced in Minnesota apparently for the Prestige Wine Group. I could find very little information regarding the spirit. What I do know I gleaned from the back label of the bottle. According to the ingredients list the orange liqueur is produced from alcohol, water, sugar and flavour. it is bottled at 15 % alcohol by volume, and is part of the Preferred Selection at the Western Canadian Liquor Depot chain of stores.
Here is my link to the full review:
“… in the interest of a good review I decided to make two Margarita cocktails side by side. One with Cheshire Triple Sec, and one with the last of my Bols Triple Sec. I used a clean Blanco Tequila which I quite like called Avion, and fresh lime juice for both cocktails. Avion is a really good tequila for clean Margaritas and it was no surprise to me that both cocktails tasted good. However there was a decided difference between the two …”
I hope you enjoy the comparative review, tomorrow I will return to my 2017 Rum Howler Awards.
Posted in Liqueur, Orange Liqueur | Tagged: Cheshire, Orange Liqueur, Review, Triple Sec | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2016
Wiser’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.
In 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:
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.
* 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: 2016 Rum Howler Canadian Whisky Countdown, Best, Canadian Whisky, Countdown, J.P. Wiser's, Red Letter Whisky, Review, Top 50 Canadain Whisky | 4 Comments »