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Posts Tagged ‘Rum’

The Year In Rum – (The 2015 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 31, 2015

RH-winner2015I 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:

The 2015 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Rum

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.)

 

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The Rum Howler’s #1 Rum of 2015 – El Dorado 21 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2015

El Dorado 21 SAM_1893I have noticed that the El Dorado 21 Year Old (like most well aged spirits) is subject to some amount of batch variation each year. As a 21 Year Old rum which blended from various marques from various stills, this is not to be unexpected. However, I have also noticed that despite these variations in taste profile, my appreciation for this particular rum is always very high, and every year when I do my rum rankings it is right near the top. This year it reached the pinnacle, and I have named it, The Rum Howler 2015 Rum of the Year!

As a bit of background information, the DDL 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, the Enmore (wooden Coffey still), the Versailles (single wooden pot still), and the 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.

Here is a link to the Rum Howler 2015 Rum of the Year:

El Dorado Special Reserve 21-Year Old Rum

“… my first impression is that I am sampling a yummy oak and toffee extract filled with rich brown sugar. The oak is at the center of the flavour, yet the tannins do not inhibit the other flavours in the rum from forming and delighting me.  Raisins, prunes, and dates give the rum an almost smoky quality while the impressions of nutty elements adds softness to the mouth-feel. Cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar create a wonderful baking spice flavour which weaves throughout, and the rum is an absolute marvel of complexity and balance …”

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You may read about and follow the Top 25 Rum Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Rums

 

 

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#2 Flor De Cana Centenario 21 (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 23, 2015

The Flor De Cana Centenario 21 Commemorative Edition was produced as a special edition bottling near the turn of the century. The number 21 refers not to the age of the blend (which is 15 years), rather it is a nod to the 21st Century and the prestige which the Flor de Cana Rum Company had began to earn as a world-class producer of rum.

Flor De Cana 21 SAM_1891When the FDC 21 Rum was introduced at the turn of the century it created quite a splash winning accolades not only for the rum inside the bottle, but also for the stunning porcelain decanter which it was sold in. Unfortunately, this spectacular rum is no longer widely available, and full sealed bottles have become collectors items within the rum world with current (2015) pricing that ranges from $100.00 to $250.00 per bottle depending upon your locale.

If you can find one of these rare bottles within a price range which you can justify, then I suggest that you pick it up. This is (in my opinion) the best rum that Flor de Cana has ever produced, and it is a rum spirit that easily sits beside the best spirits ever produced by anyone, anywhere in the world.

Here is a link to the review of the best rum I have ever tasted, and the #2 Spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#2 – Flor De Cana Centenario 21 Commemorative Edition

“… The initial nose brings forward a dominant triumvirate of oak sap, semisweet butterscotch, and spicy tobacco aromas. It is really quite nice especially how neither the sweetness of the butterscotch, nor the sharpness of the oak sap, nor the spiciness of the tobacco takes control of the breezes above the glass. Rather, each partner in this dance acts in concert with the others resulting in a melding of scents which smells quite delicious …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

 

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The Rum Howler’s #2 Rum of 2015 – Ron Millonario XO Reserva

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 22, 2015

Ron Millonario XO SAM_1404For those who do not know, Fabio Rossi who is the mastermind behind Rum Nation, is also the founder of Ron Millonario. When I asked Fabio why the Ron Millonario Brand was not part of Rum Nation, he explained to me that when he was developing the Ron Millonario Rums (working in conjunction with a small to mid-sized distillery in  Northern Peru) he felt the quality of the rum was such that Ron Millonario should be set apart from the Rum Nation Brand and take its own place as a premier sipping rum brand.

I find it very hard to disagree with Fabio’s assessment, as whenever I taste the Ron Millonario rums, or serve them at tasting functions, they are always crowd favourites. My friends hold these rums in high esteem as well, so high in fact that we have chosen Ron Millonario XO Reserva as the #2 Rum in my Top 25 Rums of 2015 Countdown.

Here is a link to my review of this fabulous rum:

Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial Rum

“… 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 …”

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You may read about and follow the Top 25 Rum Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Rums

 

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#3 El Dorado Special Reserve 21-Year Old Rum (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 22, 2015

The Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) 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, the Enmore (wooden Coffey still), the Versailles (single wooden pot still), and the 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.

El Dorado 21 SAM_1893According to the DDL website…

El Dorado rums are blended selections of different ‘vintages’ or batches of rums from different stills – aged in oak barrels. Importantly, the age statement specifically indicates the youngest rum in the blend, even though the oldest may be many years older …”

Here is the review for the #3 Spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#3 – El Dorado Special Reserve 21-Year Old Rum

“… 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 …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

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The Rum Howler Top 25 Rums of 2015 – #’s 5, 4 & 3

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 20, 2015

Diplomatico 2000We have now entered into the top 5 rankings for my 2015 Rum Howler Top 25 Rums of 2015, and up until now I have ranked each rum in my countdown based upon the score it received during my summer tasting sessions which I conducted as part of the determinations for the Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits. I decided to add another layer to my countdown at this point, and add in two more jurors to help me determine the rankings for the top 5. I gathered two friends, the same two who helped me determine the Rum Howler Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2015, and together we tasted the Top 5 Rum spirits of 2015 side by side. Using an amalgam of the three scores I assigned my final top 5 rankings.

Last year’s Rum Howler – Rum of the Year, Dictador Insolent lands at the number 5 spot while Don Pancho’s masterpiece from Panama, the Panamonte Reserva VVX grabs number 4. Entering into my countdown for the very first time is a limited edition rum created by DUSA Master Blender, Tito Cordero. I had thought that Diplomatico’s Exclusiva was the pinnacle of DUSA’s rum mastery, howerver this new Single Vintage Rum from Venezuela showed that the company is capable of even higher heights of rum glory.

Here are the next three fantastic cane spirits in my listing of the Best 25 Rums of 2015:

05)  Dictador XO Insolent Rum
04)  Panamonte Reserva XXV – 25 Year Old Rum 
03)  Diplomatico Single VTG 2000 Rum

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You may read about and follow the Top 25 Rum Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Rums

 

 

 

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#6 – Dictador XO Insolent (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 19, 2015

Dictator’s solera aging system is a cascading process where younger rums are aged in oak casks and then blended with older rums. The aged rum are arranged in different flights with the oldest distilled rum on the lowest levels of the Solera. The younger rums are placed on the upper levels with the very youngest rums at the top. As the rum is pulled from the lowest barrels for bottling, the barrels are not fully emptied, and those barrels (about half full) are then topped up with rum from the levels just above. This marrying of old and new softens the fiery younger rum and provides the final blended rum with a refined smoothness and flavor not found in ordinary rums.

Dictador Insolent

Dictador Insolent

For the Dictador XO Insolent in particular, the aging barrels used are pre-used oak barrels which have a significant percentage of oak obtained from Jerez Spain, as well as pre-used Port Wine Barrels. Near the end of the aging process, the barrels earmarked for the XO Insolent Rum are emptied (and the rum stored of course), and these barrels are subjected to an open flame process which caramelizes the rum soaked oak fibres on the interior of the barrel. These barrels are then refilled with the same rum allowing the spirit to draw the sweet caramelized flavours from the interior of the oak barrel.

Here is a link to the #6 Spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#6 – Dictador XO Insolent

“… simply luscious with sweet toffee smells rising from the glass tainted with impressions of butterscotch, vanilla, corn syrup, creme de brulee, maple syrup and peanut brittle. There is a backbone of firm oak sap and spice melded wonderfully into these sweeter butterscotch like aromas with delectable baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) and hints of milk chocolate lying underneath …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

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#7b Diplomatico Single VTG 2000 Rum (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2015

The Diplomatico Single VTG 2000 was produced from a blend of rums which were all distilled in the year 2000. This limited edition rum was created by DUSA Master Blender, Tito Cordero and follows on from his first limited edition rum, the VTG 1997, which (unfortunately for the rest of us) was only released in Venezuela. The distillate from the year 2000 was chosen to be featured in a Single Vintage bottling because of the tremendous sugar cane harvest which was produced that year. Apparently a series of climactic factors in Venezuela combined to produce exceptional growing conditions which led to the bountiful cane harvest. The Limited Edition Single VTG 2000 Rum is a celebration of that exceptional year.

Spanish Diplomat SAM_1677The bulk of the distillate for this particular rum was apparently produced upon copper pot stills, with a smaller portion of the distillate produced upon copper kettle stills. The spirit spent the first 10 years of its aging life in American ex-bourbon barrels, after which it was finished for another 2 years in Sherry casks (Pedro Ximénez). The final rum was bottled in 2012.

Here is a link to the review of the #7b spirit on my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown of the best spirits I have ever tasted.

#7b – Diplomatico Single VTG 2000 Rum

“… The initial scents are aromatic and fruity. There is a beguiling butterscotch sweetness underneath a triumvirate of oak spice, dark sherried fruit (raisins and dates) and luscious baking spices (vanilla, brown sugars, nutmeg, and cinnamon). Orange peel and almond scents entwine themselves into the aromatic breezes melding into the oak and butterscotch giving me impressions both of marmalade and marzipan …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

Note: I admitted earlier in the countdown that I had to place two spirits in the #25 spot because I had inadvertently failed to re-taste one extremely good spirit, and this necessitated a correction and addition of one extra spirit upon my list. 

I have to confess that another minor error occurred which requires an addition. When I constructed my list, I made a counting error and halfway through the countdown I realized that I had one too many spirits upon the list. Because I felt the number 7 ranking in my Countdown caused me the most anguish, I decided to fix my error and score two spirits (a tie) at number 7.

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#8 Panamonte Reserva XXV – 25 Year Old Rum (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 17, 2015

The Panamonte Reserva XXV is a 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. 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. It was handcrafted by Master Blender, Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez Perez.

Panamonte RESERVA XXVI had a small hand in bringing this particular rum to Alberta, as I introduced the 25 Year Old to a local liquor importer, the Libor Group. It only took one taste to convince them that this rum despite its high price was a something very special.

Here is the review for the #8 Spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#8 – Panamonte Reserva XXV – 25 Year Old Rum

“… the impact of the oak gains momentum and stains all of the scents with its presence. The orange peel moves to marmalade; the brown sugars move to dark rich toffee; and the pungent spices move to smells of deep dark tobacco. I also begin to smell baked apples and dry fruit (raisins and dates) as if the rum has a sherry influence (I am told it does not), and although I wonder why I did not notice it before, the scent of roasted walnuts has grown in the glass giving the overall aroma even more depth and character …”

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You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

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The Rum Howler Top 25 Rums of 2015 – #’s 10 thru 6

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 16, 2015

Appleton 12 YO CanisterWe have entered into the top 10 of my rankings of the Best Rums of 2015, and an intimidating 23-year-old masterpiece from Rum Nation (their Demerara 23 Year Old) leads us into the top 10. My favourite expression from Appleton Estate (the 12 Year Old) grabs the number 9 spot with a wonderfully complex 9 Year Old Agricole rum from Reimonenq (the only agricole Rhum to make my list) making it to number 8. Diplomatico’s sweet and succulent Reserva Exclusiva is always one of my favourites and one of the World’s most sought after rum’s the Zacapa XO (25 Year Solero) just misses the top 5.

Any of these rums would make a wonderful Christmas Gift for any rum aficionado.

Here are the next five wonderful cane spirits in my listing of the Best 25 Rums of 2015:

10)  Rum Nation Demerara 23 Year Old
09)  Appleton Estate Extra Old 12 Year
08)  Reimonenq Vieux 9 Year Old Rhum (Distilled 1999)
07)  Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva
06)  Zacapa XO (25 Year Solero) Rum 

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You may read about and follow the Top 25 Rum Countdown here:

The Rum Howler 2015 Top 25 Rums

Posted in Awards, Extras, Rum, Rum Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Rum Howler Top 25 Rums of 2015 – #’s 10 thru 6

 
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