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Posts Tagged ‘Top 100 Spirits’

#1 Alberta Premium 25 Year Old Canadian Rye (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2015

Alberta Premium 25 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky was produced by Alberta Distillers Limited (ADL) (currently owned by Beam/Suntory). in 2006. The whisky went relatively unnoticed by everyone until Jim Murray (who publishes his famous yearly Whisky Bible) proclaimed that it was pretty darn good. (He named it Canada’s Best whisky in 2008) Despite the accolades the spirit received from whisky pundits (after Jim noticed it), in my home Province of Alberta consumers kept disregarding the whisky, and it never really brought the distillery (ADL) the notoriety it deserved locally (that came later with the release of the Alberta Premium 30 Year Old) five years later.

And I suppose that I have been a major beneficiary of the Alberta Premium 25 Year Old Whisky’s low profile. You see, when I travel through small towns in rural Alberta, I still occasionally find a few bottles here and there. (For a modest $29.95 no less.) When I find a dusty bottle hiding out in a bottom shelf of a rural retail store I feel it is my duty to pick it up so that I can give it a more deserving pedestal upon my whisky shelf.

Alberta Premium 25 Year Old SAM_1728To the right is my most recent acquisition, and when I re-tasted it alongside all of my favourites this past summer I found that this modestly priced spirit sat alone on top of my rankings. The Alberta Premium 25 Year Old is a spirit which brings all the goodness of Canadian Rye to the fore, yet despite its bold and spicy flavour, it is also deeply complex spirit which carries layer after layer of nuanced subtlety for the whisky connoisseur to enjoy.

The Alberta Premium 25 Year Old Whisky is the best spirit I have tasted to this point in my spirits journey.

#1 – Alberta Premium 25 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky

” … I love a paradox, and here we have a beauty. Rye is spicy, and grabs your taste-buds and won’t let go. Here we all that rye flavour; but, instead of burning your mouth with spice, this sits gently and smoothly on the palate. In fact this is one of the smoothest whiskies I have ever tasted. Earthy, spicy rye flavour first, second and third, and only the lightest hint of toffee sits in the mouth. This is rye whisky as it is meant to be …”

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Note: I chose not to re-score my original review written six years ago, although if I had, I may very well have awarded my first 98.

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

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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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#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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#5 Signatory Dufftown 1984 – Aged 26 years (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 20, 2015

Signatory Vintage was founded in 1988. It is family owned and managed, and the company proudly identifies itself as one of the few truly independent bottlers of whisky in Scotland. By calling themselves ‘truly independent’, Signatory is making a distinction between the independent companies who bottle their own products, and the independent companies whose products are bottled under contract.

Dufftown 1984 SAM_1875Dufftown is the largest distillery in Scotland belonging to Diageo. The whisky from this distillery is primarily intended for blending. Bell’s, Islander, Dewar’s White Label, and of course Johnnie Walker all require Dufftown Whisky as part of their construction.

The Signatory Dufftown 1984 is a single malt whisky matured in a single refill Sherry Cask (no. 79). 311 bottles were produced, and in April 2011, I reviewed bottle number 61. Fortunately for myself, I had also purchased bottle number 62, and when I was sampling the various spirits for this countdown, I decided that this particular spirit was the best Scotch Whisky I had ever tasted.

Here is the review for the #5 Spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#5 – Signatory Dufftown 1984 (Aged 26 years)

“… I smell a delightful alpine forest rising from the glass as the whisky is poured. Punky woody notes take shape with spongy moss, willow thicket, and floral notes abounding. Rich vanilla scents follow accented by a wonderful backdrop of honeycomb and oak. Caramel builds in the glass coexisting very nicely with a developing marzipan. Even though this whisky stems from a well aged barrel and arrives at a full 55 % alcohol strength, the whisky smells rich but not astringent. This has quickly become one of my favourite whiskies to nose …”

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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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#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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#7 Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2015

Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon is part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Bourbon Collection. This collection is composed of Booker’s, and the previously reviewed Baker’s, Knob Creek,and Basil Hayden’s. The whiskey collection is considered by Jim Beam Distillers to be a selection of ‘ultra-premium’ bourbon whiskeys created to establish a high-end category for bourbon, and thus to appeal to the serious whiskey aficionado. The Booker’s Bourbon was named for Booker Noe, who in 1992 began to produce the Booker’s whiskey bottled “straight-from-the-barrel, uncut and unfiltered”.

Booker's SAM_1112Interestingly, Booker’s Bourbon does not carry a consistent age statement from batch to batch as barrels are chosen for character and flavour rather than for being a specific age. For that reason the age of a particular bottle can vary between 6 to 8 years old. Because the whiskey is bottled straight from the barrel the bottling strength can also vary (according to the website) between 59.5 % to 64.55 % per batch.

Here is the review for the #7a Spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#7a – Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon

“… I was treated to even more richness as indications of dry fruit revealed themselves above the glass along with hints of treacle and pan roasted walnuts. There were also delightful aromas of leather chairs and rich pipe tobacco meandering into the breezes with undertones of smoky charcoal and dabbles of licorice mixed in. What I sense only a little of, is any undo astringency from the whopping 64.55 % alcohol within the glass. Maybe I have a bottle from a particularly outstanding batch; but air above my glass represents a masterpiece of whiskey goodness …”

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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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#9 Wiser’s Very Old 18 Year (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 16, 2015

Wiser's 18 SAM_1885

In the early 2000s, Wiser’s 18 Years Old Canadian Whisky carried the moniker ‘Very Old, and it was usually my whisky of choice when I wanted a special treat. By the time my website had opened, the spirit had been re-branded as Wiser’s 18 Year Old Limited Edition as such I never reviewed the whisky from the ‘Very Old’ bottle. However, in my collection of rare spirits, I still have a few that I purchased from that time before I began to write reviews. When I began my tasting deliberations for this countdown, I decided to sample one of these older bottles (purchased in 2006) next to some of my current favourites. It turns out, that in 2006 when the spirit was called still Wiser’s Very Old , it was quite spectacular (at least the 2006 version was).

Here is the review for that particular bottle of whisky which arrives as the #9 Spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#9 – Wiser’s Very Old (18 Years Old)

“… as I waited for a moment, the nose coalesced into a deep dark rich baking spice aroma with dark brown sugars,  rich toffee, vanilla, and wisps of cinnamon.  It is a wonderfully rich aroma.  Behind the rich baking spices is a rich oak sap imparting a sturdy backdrop of oak wood and tannin.  This is the type of whisky aroma which makes my mouth water in anticipation of what is coming next …”

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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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#10 Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial Rum (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 15, 2015

Although Ron Millonario, is headquartered in Italy (owned by Rossi and Rossi S.R.I.), the rums of Ron Millonario are distilled and aged in Northern Peru. The company website does not give us the exact location of the distillery which produces the Millonario rums although it does speak of a mid-sized Northern Peruvian distillery with three old Scottish column stills and a slow distillation process which is used to produce their rum from sugar cane molasses.

Ron Millonario XO SAM_1404Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial Rum is the premier rum produced by this Italian Company, and it has been one of my most favoured rums ever since I first tasted it.

Here is a link to my review of the #10 Spirit in my Rum Howler 2015 Top 100 Spirits Countdown:

#10 – Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial Rum

“… 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. There is plenty of sweetness, but this sweetness is tempered by the more pungent flavours such that the rum never seems to be too sweet, it just seems delicious …”

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

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