Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 31, 2015
I have come at last too what is regularly the most popular posting on my website, my annual Year in Rum – Rum Howler Awards which recognize those brands which have achieved excellence in the production of rum. For the second year in a row, sadly, I have eliminated the Regional Rum Awards as once again time simply has gotten the best of me, and tomorrow I must forge on into the year 2016 and leave 2015 behind.
This year, to determine my Rum Howler Award Winners I first checked my review scores in all of the categories of each rum I had sampled in the last two years and chose for each category the 5 top spirits based upon those review scores. Then I asked two friends of mine to rank each of the rums I had chosen within each of the categories. The only category in which cocktails were constructed to help assist in the rankings was for the white rums, and the cocktail constructed was a simple daiquiri. All other rum categories were judged neat.
I compared the rankings assigned by my two jurors for each spirit within each category with my review rankings and determined the Winner as well as the Runners-up and the Honourable Mentions for each category. The results turned out to be very consistent with my review scores although there are a few exceptions. No system is perfect, but I believe my friends and I did a thorough job with good results.
It is time for me to bring forward my 2015 Rum Howler Awards Winners. These are the spirits which have risen to the top and provided us with our greatest enjoyment.
Here is a link to my Year in Rum Awards Page:
Please remember, that the aim of my website is not to help you drink more spirits, it is to help you drink better spirits! (Wishing everyone a safe and enjoyable New Years.)
Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: 2015 Rum Howler Awards, Review, Rum, Rum Awards | Comments Off on The Year In Rum – (The 2015 Rum Howler Awards)
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2012
People always ask me, (when they find out about my website), what my favourite rum is. I usually hedge my bets and say something about how it depends upon my mood or what time of year it is. And for the most part, that is a truthful answer. Some spirits seem to taste better in the winter when it is cold, and some seem to find their sweet spot in the summer it is warm and the barbeque is grilling some hot dogs. But if I am really honest, I must admit that there are a few rums which seem to always find my sweet spot regardless of mood or time of the year. The Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial is one of those great rums which never disappoints me. It never disappointed any of my Judging Panel either!
So without any further hoopla, allow me to introduce the 2012 Rum Howler Rum of the Year, judged by my Panel of Judges to be the Best in the World!
“… When I took my first sip of this rum, my immediate reaction what to exclaim, “Oh, that is lovely!” and subsequent sips and samplings have done nothing to dissuade me from this initial reaction. The main flavours of caramel/molasses, oak spice and baking spices seem to be perfectly melded together. Hints of raisin, figs, tobacco and chocolate seem to provide just the right accent to make this a suave mouth watering rum …”
The rum has it all, great depth of flavour, wonderful consistency from nose to mouth to finish, and wonderful balance between all of its elements. I simply love it, and my Judges did too!
Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: Dark Rum, Peruvian Rum, Ron Millonario, Rum, Rum Awards, Rum Review, Top 30 Rum | 1 Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 23, 2012
The Diplomatico Exclusiva Reserva has been on of my most favourite rums ever since I first tasted it four years ago. According to the Distilleries Unitas S.A. (DUSA) website, the rum they produce is distilled from “honeys derived from sugar cane” and fermented molasses. All of the stills and distillation kettles are made from copper. The website also makes it clear that flavouring and aromatic agents are used in the production of their rum, as this statement on the website attests:
“Only high purity distilled alcohols and rich aromas and flavours are used to manufacture rums…”
My feeling when completing a review is that the spirit should be judged on its own merits, rather than prejudged by my own misconceptions about how it should be produced. My Judging Panel agreed, as we declared Diplomatico Exclusiva Reserva the number 2 rum in the entire world:
“… The smells and aromas coming from the glass are so rich and luxurious that I can hardly keep it from my mouth. I detect a good dose of caramel with nice hints of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and walnuts. The rum displays a nice soft oil on the sides of the glass when I tilt and twirl it indicating that the rum should have long finish as well …”
This is definitely a favourite of mine for sipping and for mixing, and still three years after my original review, still one of the best rums I have tasted.
Posted in Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: Dark Rum, Diplomatico, Rum, Rum Awards, Rum Review, Top 30 Rum, Venezuelan Rum | Comments Off on Top 30 Rums Countdown # 2 – Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 22, 2012
The Demerara Distillers Ltd. Master Blender is credited with the creation of El Dorado 21-Year-Old Rum which uses a blend of rums selected from their world-famous stills: their ancient Enmore (wooden Coffey still) and Versailles (single wooden pot still); and the metal Albion (Savalle still). All of the rums in the blend have been aged in oak for a minimum of 21 years, making this one of the oldest production rums in the world. This 21 Year old Rum is part of a family of luxury cask aged rums which also includes a 12-Year-Old Rum, a 15-Year-Old rum and a 25-Year-Old Rum, all of which have previously set their mark upon my countdown of the 30 best rums in the world. In my opinion (and in the opinion of all but one of my judges) this 21 Year Old Special Reserve Rum is the absolute best rum that Demerara Distillers produces. It is also number 3 in my list, of the best rums in the world:
“… The immediate nose is full of baking spices, orange peel, vanilla, and dry fruits. There are absolutely no medicinal notes or harsh scents associated with the aroma. As the rum decants, I begin to sense glimmers of almonds and hazelnuts weaving through the tapestry of smells, and I sense a building oakiness which is bringing more spice to the fore. The fully decanted glass is steeped with brown sugars and toffee and even features a vague impressions of anisette and apricot brandy …”
Nosing the glass is delightful!
Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: Dark Rum, El Dorado Rum, Guyanese Rum, Rum, Rum Awards, Rum Review, Top 30 Rum | Comments Off on Top 30 Rums Countdown # 3 – El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve Rum
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 21, 2012
Earlier in my countdown when I introduced Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solero), I spoke of Ron Zacapa’s ‘House above the Clouds’ and the aging process known as Sistema Solera. It turns out that Ron Zacapa produces not just one outstanding luxury sipping rum, but two. The Ron Zacapa XO (25 Year Solero) is blended from solera aged stocks which range in age from 6 years to 25 years. This rum, like its slightly younger sibling, is aged in a mixture of solera aging barrels which include American Whisky casks, and Sherry and Pedro Ximenez wine barrels. However, the difference is in the finish, which is where, for the Ron Zacapa Xo (25 Year Solera), cognac casks are introduced into the aging regimen.
It is probably just a matter of preference, but for the record, every Judge (including myself), on my Judging Panel, showed a slight preference for the Cognac finished Ron Zacapa XO which arrives in the number 4 spot in the Rum Howler Top 30 Countdown of the Best Rums in the World.
# 4 – Zacapa XO (25 Year Solero) Rum
“… Scents of mild toffee and spice combined with a rich oak and vanilla aroma rise from the glass to the delight of my nostrils. There seems to be a light orange citrus weaving through the aroma. The spices I can identify by smell are vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg with just a hint of cloves. The toffee smells of deep dark brown sugar with the firm imprint of real dairy butter. The aroma has nice nutty accents tempering the oak and holding its harsher tannins at bay …”
A rum full of complexity with almost perfect balance and smoothness. A delicious, sweet rum that had my taste buds absolutely reeling with delight.
Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: Dark Rum, Guatemalan Rum, Rum, Rum Awards, Rum Review, Top 30 Rum, Zacapa Rum | Comments Off on Top 30 Rums Countdown # 4 – Zacapa XO (25 Year Solero) Rum
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 19, 2012
The rums of Ron Zacapa are made from virgin sugar cane honey which is harvested and processed in southern Guatemala. The cane honey is fermented, distilled and then brought to maturation at the ‘House above the Clouds’ through the aging process known as Sistema Solera. The Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solero) is blended from these solera aged stocks which range in age from 6 years to 23 years. The aging barrels used are a mixture of American Whisky casks, and Sherry and Pedro Ximenez wine barrels.
The combination of solera aging and the variety of reused barrels creates a highly complex rum with a rich aroma and flavour which my Judging Panel and I have ranked as the number 6 rum in my Rum Howler 2012 list of the Best Rums in the World:
# 6 – Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solero)
“… The initial aroma which rises from the glass is full of brown sugar, molasses and baking spices. Some lighter notes of orange peel and marmalade work their way upwards with a mixture of toasted walnut, and dried fruit (raisins, dates and a touch of prunes). The rum grows in the glass with the baking spices (nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and deep dark rich brown sugar) in particular gaining strength and vigor in the breezes above the glass …”
About the only flaw this rum has is that it is so hard to find in my locale!
Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: Dark Rum, Guatemalan Rum, Rum, Rum Awards, Rum Review, Top 30 Rum, Zacapa Rum | Comments Off on Top 30 Rums Countdown # 6 – Ron Zacapa Centenario (23 Solero)
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2012
The Panamonte Reserva XXV is a new well aged Panamanian rum from PANAMONTE BRANDS. This is a molasses based rum produced from sugar cane grown and distilled in Las Cabras de Pese. Handcrafted by Master Blender, Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez Perez, this rum is very special, as every drop of the Panamonte Reserva XXV rum has been aged for a minimum of 25 years in used bourbon casks.
In case you are not familiar with Don Pancho, I should mention that he has built up quite an impressive track record of late, helping to bring to the market two of my more favoured rums, Panama Red 108 and Zafra Master Reserve.
This well aged rum has a robust, complex flavour which is full of character. The oak is strong and present at all times, yet the wood does not devour the rum; instead, it is an integral part the flavour having merged with the other flavour impressions rather than dominating them. My Judging Panel agrees and the Panamonte Reserva was declared the 7th best rum on my countdown list:
# 7 – Panamonte Reserva XXV (25 Year Old Rum)
“… Thick droopy legs run down the sides of that glass after I give it a quick tilt and twirl, and the initial aroma from the glass is steeped in sweet molasses and tainted with oak spice. Dark brown sugars, orange peel, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves all drift upwards from the glass reminding me of the sticky cinnamon buns that my mother used to bake on special occasions … “
The rum tempts me with sweetness, beguiles me with softness, and then warms me with oak spice!
Posted in Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: Dark Rum, Panama Rum, Panamonte Brands, Rum, Rum Awards, Rum Review, Top 30 Rum | Comments Off on Top 30 Rums Countdown # 7 – Panamonte Reserva XXV (25 Year Old Rum)
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 17, 2012
The Plantation Guatemala Gran Anejo is a Guatemalan rum produced from sugar cane syrup (rather than molasses) on a short column still. The rum is aged for a minimum of four years in bourbon casks in Guatemala after which it is transported from Guatemala to France by Cognac Ferrand to be placed in used Cognac casks for a finishing time of five months. The rum was bottled at 42 % alcohol by volume as part of Cognac Ferrand’s growing line-up of Plantation Rum.
The Plantation Guatemala Gran Anejo is proof positive that column distilled rum does not necessarily have to be aged for 8, 10 or 12 years to reach full flavour and complexity. Although the rum in this blend was stated to me as being aged for four years, I (and my Judging Panel) tasted a complexity and balance of flavour which is normally associated with much older rums. The proof is in the bottle:
# 8 – Plantation Guatemala Gran Anejo Rum
” … The initial nose is of rich molasses accented by dark tobacco and cocoa. A certain fruitiness rises into the air with scents of raisins and dates accompanied by the more pungent aroma of prunes. The chocolate aroma seems to grow in the glass more quickly than I was expecting, and I am really loving the effect it is having on my senses …”
Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: Dark Rum, Guatamalan Rum, Plantation Rum, Rum, Rum Awards, Rum Review, Top 30 Rum | Comments Off on Top 30 Rums Countdown # 8 – Plantation Guatemala Gran Anejo Rum
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 16, 2012
In 1749, in the Nassau Valley of Jamaica, the Appleton Estate Sugar Factory was founded. The Nassau Valley is a fertile, interior valley with a special mild micro-climate which is ideally suited to the growth of sugarcane. A water source which wells from a limestone rock formation provides an exceptionally soft pure water which used for the production of Appleton Rums. The Appleton Estate Rum is crafted from pot stills in small batches. After blending and aging the rums are ready for bottling. Unlike most rums produced in the Caribbean, Jamaican law forbids the use of an age statement unless the entire contents of the bottle are aged at least as long as the stated age.
The Appleton Estate Master Blender’s Legacy was produced to recognize three generations of Appleton Estate Master Blenders, Joy Spence, the current Master Blender, Owen Tulloch, the previous Master Blender, and David Morrison the current protégé of Joy Spence. All three Master Blenders have set their mark on this fantastic rum which, on my countdown list of the Best Rums in the World, checks in at Number 9:
“… The flavour carries the tart spiciness of orange peel and lemon which are laid behind a backdrop of clean pure oak. Sweet flavours of baked fruit (apples and pears), brown sugar and honey are melded into this spiciness. I have read other reviews where the rum is said to have a smoky quality. I understand this perception, but to me I taste a presence tobacco mixed with pungent spices (nutmeg and allspice) …”
Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: Appleton Rum, Dark Rum, Jamaican Rum, Rum, Rum Awards, Rum Review, Top 30 Rum | Comments Off on Top 30 Rums Countdown # 9 – Appleton Estate Master Blender’s Legacy
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 10, 2012
I was first introduced to the Dictador Rums when I convinced the local distributor to drop in on one of the monthly gatherings of my Rum Club. Two bottles of the new Dictador Rum (The 12-year-old and the 20-year-old) were brought to the club for us to taste and provide feedback. Later I also sampled the Dictador rums in Miami, at the Rum Festival. Both times I remember being taken in by the Dictador style and the rich vibrant rum inside the bottles. So far I have tasted and reviewed only three of the Dictador bottlings, the Perpetual XO, the 20 Year Old, and of course the Dictador 12 Year Old. It speaks to the quality of manufacture that all three have landed in my Top 30 Rum Countdown:
“… A yummy marzipan which reminds me of toasted almonds smothered in roasted marshmallows is nestled nicely under the oak and spice. A touch of coffee, a hint of ripe cherry, and more charred flavours (perhaps some toasted coconut) seem to arrive at the end with a sherry-like smokiness which also brings nuances of dry fruit and cocoa to the fore…”
The Dictador 12 Year Old Rum is a solera aged rum with the oldest rum in the bottle being at least 12 years of age. It is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume in a stylish black 700 ml bottle.
Posted in Awards, Dark Rums, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: Colombian Rum, Dark Rum, Dictador, Rum, Rum Awards, Rum Review, Top 30 Rum | 2 Comments »