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Posts Tagged ‘Vodka’

Review: Crystal Head Aurora Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 18, 2018

Crystal Head Vodka is a Vodka Brand created by Dan Aykroyd (Canadian Actor and Comedian) and John Alexander (Artist) in 2007. I first encountered the spirit in 2011 at Edmonton’s Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival where a pleasant woman at the Crystal Head Vodka booth went to great lengths explaining how this is a quadruple distilled premium Vodka, filtered with real diamond filters, produced using only the freshest water found in Newfoundland. She gave a great presentation, but I’ll be honest, she already had my full attention with the Crystal Skull decanter.

Crystal Head Aurora Vodka is the newest creation in the Crystal Head line-up. It is produced by Globefill Inc.. at the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation distillery in Newfoundland, Canada. The spirit is five times distilled in a traditional column still using English wheat from North Yorkshire, England.

Cocktail Suggestion: Hawking Radiation

After distillation and filtered using activated charcoal in a filtration which lasts 6 hours to remove any impurities. It is then filtered three more times through layers of Herkimer diamonds. A final micro filtration is performed, and then the is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume. Crystal Head Aurora has won numerous awards recently, including a Gold Medal at the prestigious 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Here is my Review for this new Aurora Vodka:

Review: Crystal Head Aurora Vodka

“… The aroma was clean with a little grain spice and a light scent of wheat flour in the air. When I took my first sip I was surprised at the firm grain-like spiciness which I encountered which was accompanied by an ever so light flavour of starch and a touch of both lemon citrus and mint. There was also a very light sweetness …”

Please enjoy my review which includes a nice cocktail suggestion, the Hawking Radiation.

Chimo!

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The 2018 Rum Howler Awards for Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 17, 2018

I have written before that I believe Vodka is the most maligned of the popular mainstream spirits. It is considered by many people to be a colourless, odourless, and tasteless spirit. In fact, many people believe the only utility Vodka possesses is that of a mixer.

This simply is not true. There are subtle aromas and flavours which can be appreciated when Vodka is sipped or when it is consumed as a shot. As well, when served with good food, a quality vodka has the ability to enhance the gastronomic experience by cleansing the palate between bites allowing you to taste each morsel more completely.

When I review Vodka on my website, I try very hard to convey my appreciation of these subtle nuances and the pleasure I derive when I encounter them.

Ketel One Vodka Martini

This year, I added a new Craft Distilling category to my Vodka Awards. This is in recognition of the efforts of the new Craft Micro Distilleries which have spread across the continent. These small distilleries are bringing about a change in the culture of consumers who are beginning to embrace the small batch spirits these distillers provide. Micro distilling is now more than a trend, it has become a permanent fixture in the landscape of spirits worldwide.

As is the case each year, all of my Rum Howler Awards are based upon my tastings and reviews of each vodka. I taste the spirit neat, and I may also mix a few cocktails with each spirit. All samples which I receive to review on my website are automatically considered for my awards for the year in which they are reviewed as well as the following year. I do my reviews, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit aside until the end of the year when I reassess for the purposes of determining my award winners. As indicated, I also include those samples which were provided in the previous year so as to have a larger field to judge. (I may also receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards.)

Here is a link to my 2018 Award Winners:

The 2018 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Vodka

Chimo!

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Last Mountain Sweet Tea Flavoured Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 12, 2017

A few of my readers have been asking lately why I have curtailed my review publications this summer. As well my publication schedule has become somewhat erratic. The delays and lack of publications were a result of a lengthy hospital stay for a family member which created a bit on an upheaval. I want to let everyone know that things should be getting back to normal very soon.

One of the spirit samples which became jammed up in my review queue is the Last Mountain Sweet Tea Flavoured Vodka from Saskatchewan’s first micro-distillery, in Lumsden, Saskatchewan, the Last Mountain Distillery.

Last Mountain Sweet Tea Flavoured Vodka is made using all natural ingredients including real tea freshly brewed for each batch. It is bottled at 35.2% alcohol by volume.

Here is a link to my long overdue review:

Last Mountain Sweet Tea Flavoured Vodka

“… When I brought it to my nose I was pleasantly surprised to find tell-tale traces of honey in the air rather than sugar syrup. The all natural ingredients advertised thus may include fresh honey as well as freshly made tea …”

Please enjoy the review and stay tuned for more.

Chimo!

Posted in Flavoured Vodka, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Review: Smirnoff No. 21 (Red) Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 6, 2017

I reviewed Smirnoff No. 21 Red first in 2013, and then revisited the brand this year when I chose to compare four Vodkas in a small tasting competition (Smirnoff No. 21 Red, Reyka, Skyy and Last Mountain Distillery Hand Crafted Vodkas). I tasted the spirits in pairs, and when I determined which vodka from each pair was my preferred spirit, then I tasted the winners of each of the previous tasting sessions went head to head in a final taste-off.

Smirnoff No. 21 (Red) was the class of the tasting sessions winning both of its head to head tastings. This is the second time I have reviewed No. 21 and it is the second time it has surprised me by its overall quality.

Here is a link to the full Review:

Review: Smirnoff No. 21 (Red) Vodka

“… The spirit demonstrated scents of fine grain spice, and a sweep of citrus (lemon and lime) zest. When I took a sip, I found the flavour matched the scents in the breezes with  grain-like spiciness of grain and a very light somewhat earthy lemon/balsam flavour. I did not notice any metallic after taste nor any bitterness after I swallowed …”

Please enjoy my review of the surprising winner of my mini tasting competition. Chimo!

 

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Review: Skyy Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 9, 2017

Skyy Vodka was created by Maurice Kanbar who formed Skyy Spirits LLC. in 1992 to market the spirit. The Vodka is quadruple distilled from American grain, and is also apparently filtered three times though California limestone prior to bottling. In 1999, the Compari Group (headquartered in Milan, Italy) purchased the brand, and Skyy is now a product of the Campari America Division.

I sampled Skyy Vodka for the first time two years ago and decided to revisit the brand this year when I chose to compare four Vodkas in a small tasting competition(Smirnoff No. 21 Red, Reyka, Skyy and Last Mountain Distillery Hand Crafted Vodkas). I tasted the spirits in pairs, and when I determined which vodka from each pair was my preferred spirit, then I tasted the winners of each of the previous tasting sessions went head to head in a final taste-off.

Here is a link to my revised review of Skyy Vodka:

Review: Skyy Vodka

“… the spirit was very lightly sweet with a nice clean spiciness and a hint of menthol that seemed refreshing. There was also a hint of a very lightly bitter pithy (that white stuff on the back side of a citrus peel) flavour which carried into the aftertaste. Fortunately as the spirit warmed, that lightly bitter flavour did not increase …”

Please enjoy this revised review which indicates substantial improvement in the brand over the past two years. Chimo!

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Cocktail Hour: The Time Traveller

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 7, 2017

The Appleton Estate Signature Blend VX Rum can be a polarizing spirit. Persons new to the Appleton Rum flavour profile (which combines the funk of the Jamaican Pot Still with firm oak spice and orange peel flavours) often find the cane spirit a little daunting. However, it is equally true that once these same persons have grown accustomed to the robust flavour profile of Appleton Estate Rum, they just might be hooked for life. (Count myself in that category.)

Here is a mixed drink which attempts to bridge that gap for the cocktail enthusiast who is experimenting with the robust Appleton flagship rum for the first time. The libation is based upon the concept of the Vesper Cocktail and uses Skyy Vodka to temper the firm spicy Appleton flavour.

I decided to call my creation, the Time Traveller, as I feel that as you travel forward through time your desire for a stronger portion of Appleton Signature Blend VX Rum will grow. It would not be a quantum leap to suggest that the time will come the vodka portion will be eliminated replaced entirely by the Appleton Rum.

Time Traveller
a cocktail by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)

1 1/4 oz Appleton Signature Blend VX
3/4 oz Skyy Vodka
1/2 oz Bols Triple Sec
2/3 oz Lime Juice
1/3 oz Lemon Juice
1/3 oz Sugar Syrup (1:1 ratio)
Lime Slice

Add the ingredients into a metal cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a lime slice

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

Please note my reviews for Skyy Vodka and the the newly re-branded Appleton Signature Blend VX Rum will publish on Tuesday and Friday.

Chimo!

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Review: Last Mountain Hand Crafted Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 2, 2017

Last Mountain Hand Crafted Vodka is produced one batch at a time under the care and supervision of Saskatchewan distillers, Colin and Meredith Schmidt. The spirit is triple distilled and filtered three times through stone carbon before it is brought to 40% alcohol by volume and bottled.

I reviewed the Last Mountain Hand Crafted Vodka first in 2012, and then revisited the brand this year when I chose to compare four Vodkas in a small tasting competition (Smirnoff No. 21 Red, Reyka Small Batch, Skyy and Last Mountain Distillery Hand Crafted Vodkas). I tasted the spirits in pairs, and when I determined which vodka from each pair was my preferred spirit, then I tasted the winners of each of the previous tasting sessions went head to head in a final taste-off.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Last Mountain Hand Crafted Vodka

“… When I sipped the spirit, it had a clean mouth-feel. I noticed a mild rye-like spiciness across the palate, a light creamy of wheat flavour (porridge) and a cleansing lemon lime bite. However I could not discern any appreciable burn or discomfort even as the vodka warmed to room temperature …”

Please enjoy this review of Last Mountain Hand crafted Vodka 5 years removed from my original review.

Chimo!

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Review: Reyka Small Batch Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 18, 2017

Reyka Small Batch Vodka is produced at Iceland’s first distillery (the Reyka Distillery) located 74km outside of Reykjavik in Borgarnes, Iceland. At the Reyka distillery they collect water from a spring that runs through a lava field. The water is naturally filtered by the lava rock and with that clean water they distill their spirit in one of the few Carter-Head Stills in the world. Each distillation takes about 6 hours and yields 255 preciously small cases. The final vodka contains only natural flavors and extracts. The final spirit is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

I sampled Reyka Small Batch Vodka for the first time when I chose to compare four Vodkas in a small tasting competition (Smirnoff No. 21 Red, Reyka, Skyy and Last Mountain Distillery Hand Crafted Vodkas) earlier this year. My review of Reyka Vodka is based upon the tasting notes from that Tasting Competition.

Here is a link to the full review:

Review: Reyka Small Batch Vodka

“… As the spirit warmed the flavours came more into focus reminding me of lightly sweet lemon and lime balsam and white fruit pith. Grain spice and a few hints of mint completed the flavour profile …”

Please enjoy my review which includes a wonderful gimlet style cocktail, the Vodka Darby.

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Review: Provincial Spiced Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on April 2, 2017

recliner-sam_2933Radouga 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 here). 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), as well as the Provincial Spiced and Provincial Vodkas.

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 all four spirits over the holidays, and I have decided to share my thoughts here on my website.

Here is a link to the review for Provincial Spiced Vodka.

Review: Provincial Spiced Vodka

“… The main flavours are a mixture of darkened caramel and some lightly bitter wood spice. I add an ice-cube and quickly decide that this was also a mistake as the light sweetness of the spirit is quelled allowing the bitterness within the wood spices free rein. There are perhaps a few toasted coconut flavours and some light almond-like flavours developing in my consciousness …”

 

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Review: Grays Peak Vodka

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 20, 2017

vodka-darby-sam_3017Grays Peak Vodka is an American spirit produced in Minnesota apparently for the Prestige Wine Group. According to their website information, the spirit is distilled five times from corn using water that undergoes a proprietary reverse osmosis process to any trace minerals and trace elements. The resulting spirit is then filtered through charcoal for added smoothness and bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

The spirit is part of the Preferred Selection at the Western Canadian Liquor Depot chain of stores.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Grays Peak Vodka 

“… When I brought my full shot glass to my nose, I noticed very little in the breezes at first. However as the spirit warmed I began to sense a light hint of vanilla beside some grain spice with perhaps a touch of mint (or menthol) in the breezes as well …”

Please enjoy my review which includes a nice cocktail recommendation, the Vodka Darby.

Chimo!

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