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 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 November 8, 2016
The concept for Our/Vodka was born in Stockholm in 2010. Founder and CEO, Åsa Caap, who was the former Innovations Director for The Absolut Company, in collaboration with four entrepreneurs from the Swedish agency Great Works developed the idea of local partnerships in which feature a vodka partly distilled, blended and hand bottled in micro-distilleries in different cities. All of the local partners share the same secret recipe, but ingredients are sourced as locally as possible to give each particular vodka its own unique character. According to the Our/Vodka website:
Our/Vodka was treated as a black ops project under the umbrella of Pernod Ricard before the first micro-distillery opened up in Berlin in 2013 together with two local partners. The pilot in Berlin was a success and a new brand was born.
Our/Vodka now has similar micro-distilleries up and running in Detroit, Seattle, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, Miami and New York (in addition to the original micro-distillery in Berlin) as of the end of 2016.
Here is my Review:
“… When I was tasting Our/Detroit Vodka for the first time, I chilled the spirit in my freezer for several hours and then served the vodka cold in a small shot glass. Having been placed in my deep freeze for a few hours, Our/Detroit spirit was thickened and lightly creamy. At this cold temperature the vodka was very clean with very little aroma or taste. There was a light grainy spiciness and hints of lemon zest, but that was all …”
Please enjoy my review which includes a nice suggested cocktail, the Peppermint Gimlet.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Our/Detroit, Our/Vodka, Review, Vodka | Comments Off on Review: Our/Detroit Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 30, 2016
Extra Zytnia is a Polish rye grain Vodka produced from 100% rye grain neutral spirit. The brand is considered ‘Retro’ in Poland hearkening back to the vodka spirit as it was produced a generation ago. Zytnia is in fact one of the oldest pure vodka brands in Poland and has been produced continuously from the same recipe for over 70 years. One of the most popular brands in Poland during the 1980s, the vodka brand saw its sales slump at the turn of the century; however, a new marketing campaign which is empasizing the spirit’s roots as a traditional ‘old school’ vodka has reinvigorated the brand, and it is now making a solid comeback in its domestic market.
Zytnia Extra Vodka was recently introduced into Ontario (through the LCBO) available in the retro clear bottle shown to the left, bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.
Here is a link to my full review:
“… Extra Zytnia was creamy and displayed a clean nose which featured a light grainy spiciness with hints of citrus zest. When I took a sip the vodka matched up well with the nose as the spirit was smooth and clean with a light spiciness …”
Please enjoy my review of this very nice rye grain vodka.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Extra Zytnia, Review, Rye Grain, Vodka | Comments Off on Review: Extra Zytnia Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 23, 2016
Norvegia is a Norwegian Vodka produced from organic potatoes (the Trondelag varietal if you are interested). The spirit is five times distilled and brought to bottling proof with water sourced from the Folgefonna Glacier which was formed about 6000 years ago. The water from this glacier was bound to ice before airborne industrial pollutants were prevalent in the atmosphere, and as such the water from this glacier is so pure that it does not require chemical purification.
This new potato spirit was recently introduced into Ontario (through the LCBO) and is available in the slender blue bottle shown to the left, bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.
Here is a link to my review:
“… Novegia Vodka is very clean. I could smell a light potato starch aroma, mild hints of lemon balm and wisps of white pepper when I brought the shot glass I was using to my nose. The texture was creamy, and when I took a sip the flavour matched up well with the breezes above the glass …”
Please enjoy my review of this outstanding Potato Vodka.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Norvegia, Norway, Potato, Review, Vodka | Comments Off on Review: Norvegia Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 8, 2016
Gin and Tonic
The weather has been warm recently, and I found myself wanting to make a nice cold Gin and Tonic. On this particular day I was feeling adventurous and wanted to try an experiment that I had been mulling for some time. I wanted a Gin and Tonic; but I wanted to challenge myself by mixing the serving with a gin which I had previously deemed as being unsuitable for that particular libation. That gin was Tanqueray Rangpur.
Tanqueray Ranpur is a relatively new spirit in the Taqueray family. When I reviewed it last year, I stated that I thought the spirit possessed more than just a passing resemblance to the new “American Style” of gin. This was because within the spirit, the juniper is held in check and other botanicals (in this case strong citrus flavours) are allowed greater expression. Frankly this ‘American Style’ is not a direction I prefer; I like my gin to have a firm juniper presence reveling in the flavour of the berry which gives the spirit its name, especially if I am making a Gin and Tonic. In the case of the Rangpur Gin, I felt that a strong flavour of lime zest would spoil my G & T cocktail. (Lime zest is derived from the lime peel not the lime juice.)
I grabbed my bottle of Rangpur Gin from the shelf, and then (feeling a little like James Bond) I grabbed a vodka bottle as well, in this case Iceberg Vodka. My aim was to use the vodka in the serving to dampen the firm flavour of lime zest while at the same time keeping the alcohol strength of the mixed drink the same as it was before. In essence I was ‘vespering‘ my Gin and Tonic (see post on the Vesper Cocktail here).
Gin and Tonic Vesper
After a few tries, I developed a recipe I was quite happy with.Although the resulting Gin and Tonic Vesper was not nearly as juniper forward as would be the case in my usual gin and tonic cocktail, the final serving was nevertheless, refreshing, and the lime zest push from the Rangpur Gin was held in check.
Gin and Tonic Vesper
1 1/3 oz Tanqueray Rangpur Gin
2/3 oz Iceberg Vodka
1/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/8 oz Sugar Syrup
Add the first four ingredients into a rocks glass
Stir and add ice
Fill with Q-Tonic
Garnish with cucumber
Note: 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!
If you are interested, you may read my reviews for Tanqueray Ranpur Gin and Iceberg Vodka by clicking the links below:
Enjoy my vespered cocktail and my reviews, Chimo!
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: Cocktail, Gin, Gin and Tonic, Iceberg Vodka, Review, Tanqueray Rangpur, Vesoer, Vodka | 1 Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 3, 2016
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 Distillery’s flagship Vodka Shadow In the Lake Vodka which pays homage to the legendary beast Ogopogo. The spirit is produced from 100 % wheat grain grown in the South Peace area of British Columbia which is ground on site at the distillery. It is produced one batch at a time using the distillery’s 3000 litre mash tun and 600 litre hybrid pot still which has one 4 plate column and one 16 plate column attached.
Here is a link to my newest Vodka Review:
“… The Shadow in the Lake Vodka was slightly thickened at that cold temperature, and when I brought my shot glass to my nose I noticed the spirit a light vegetal aroma creeping out of the glass. There was also a very light grainy spiciness and a pleasant mint-like scent rising into the breezes …”
Please enjoy my review and the accompanying cocktail suggestion, the Cosmopolitan.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Legend Distilling, Ogopogo, Review, Shadow In The Lake Vodka, Vodka | Comments Off on Review: Shadow in the Lake Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 2, 2016
Eau Claire Distillery opened as Alberta’s first craft distillery in the summer of 2014. The facility is located 35 minutes southwest of downtown Calgary in the picturesque Hamlet of Turner Valley. The name ‘Eau Claire’ has historical significance in Alberta, meaning ‘clear water’, and is representative of the clear water from the nearby Rocky Mountains that is used as the water source of the distillery.
The folks at Eau Claire pride themselves in sourcing locally farmed ingredients, including grains and potatoes from neighbouring farms. Each ingredient is secured from suppliers who are known and respected in Alberta’s agriculture profession. In addition to the direct from the farm suppliers, Eau Claire has a special connection to the land through its own, unique stable of plough horses. Horse farmed grain is a part of the Eau Claire story and culture. It was founder David Farran’s weekend pursuit of traditional horse farming that led him to establish Eau Claire in the first place. A number of the distillery’s products will be made with ‘horse farmed grain’ using agricultural methods dating back to the settlement of Alberta.
Eau Claire’s Three Point Vodka was launched in June 2014 and was the first spirit to be commercially distributed by the distillery.
Here is a link to my latest Vodka Review:
“… The Three Point Vodka was slightly thickened at that cold temperature, and when I brought my shot glass to my nose I was very surprised by the firm aroma which had climbed into the breezes. My guests at the tasting noticed it too and we spent considerable time debating what we had encountered …”
Please enjoy my newest Vodka Review which includes a nice cocktail suggestion, the Vodka Daiquiri.
Posted in Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: Eau Claire Distillery, Review, Three Point Vodka, Vodka | Comments Off on Review: Three Point Vodka
Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 8, 2016
This genesis of this recipe can be traced all the way back to 1933 when Arthur Tarling created a simple gin recipe which won a cocktail competition in jolly old England (Source: 1937 Café Royal Cocktail Book, Coronation Edition). The recipe he created, the Red Lion, mixed equal parts gin, orange liqueur, and a combination of lemon and orange juice. In most recipes I have seen, a dollop of grenadine is used as the sweetener which gives the cocktail a pale red hue. Tarling’s recipe has stood the test of time, and it can usually be found in the gin section of most good cocktail books.
Last year, I tweaked the Red Lion Cocktail, changing the ratios slightly and swapping the grenadine for simple syrup. Of course the cocktail lost its pale red colour and the name no longer suited the cocktail. Thus I renamed my tweaked version, The March Lion and published the recipe as part of a gin review at the beginning of March when the real March Lion (the constellation Leo) was beginning to dominate the southeastern sky each evening. (This spring if you are star-gazing, take note of the very bright star just under the March Lion. That bright star is the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, and this spring and summer the gas giant travels with the Lion across the sky.)
This spring I bring you another “Lion” recipe using that same combination of gin, orange liqueur, lemon juice and orange juice. However, this year I wanted to rein in the flavour of the gin without taming the cocktail. In the manner of James Bond, I swapped a portion of the gin for vodka thus retaining the alcohol punch, but bringing the firm gin flavour down a notch. My new construction deserved it own name, and after giving things a little thought, I decided upon the Paper Lion.
(If you are wondering about the James Bond reference, take a little time and research the Vesper Cocktail. In a manner of speaking, I have “Vespered” the Lion.)
The Paper Lion
1 oz Death’s Door Gin
1 oz Death’s Door Vodka
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/4 oz Sugar Syrup
Lemon slice for garnish
Add the first six Ingredients into a cocktail Shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with an orange slice
And of course enjoy responsibly!
If you are interested in more of my cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!
Please note: My gin reviews continue tomorrow with Death’s Door Gin.
Posted in Cocktails & Recipes | Tagged: Cocktail, Death's Door, Gin, Paper Lion, Vodka | Comments Off on Cocktail Hour: The Paper Lion
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 29, 2015
There seems to be a divide among vodka producers. While most producers, particularly in North America and Western Europe continue to value purity above all else, a small but growing movement (which started in Eastern Europe) of allowing the vodka spirit to express a certain level of flavour is gaining momentum. I have always maintained that there are subtle aromas and flavours which can be appreciated when Vodka is sipped or when it is consumed as a shot, and it seems that some of the producers within Eastern Europe have adherents to this philosophy as well. Hopefully this movement will continue to grow.
When I review Vodka on my website, I try very hard to convey my appreciation of those subtle nuances of flavour and pleasure which the spirit can provide.
As for those Vodka Reviews, they continue to be among the most popular upon my website. And I must admit that reviewing vodka the way I do is certainly fun. The process and methodology I utilize where my friends are invited to participate as we sample and share both cocktails and food pairings with the Vodka spirit allows me to incorporate not only my views of taste and quality, but also my friends observations.
As is the case each year, all of my Rum Howler Awards are based upon side by side tastings within each category of spirit. I taste the spirit neat, and I may also mix a few cocktails with each spirit. All spirit samples which I receive to review on my website are automatically considered for my awards. I do my review, and then I set aside the remainder of the spirit for the end of the year judging. I also include those samples which were provided in the previous year so as to have a larger field to judge, and I may receive additional industry samples specifically for these awards.
Here is a link to my Vodka Awards Page:
Posted in Awards, Extras, Vodka, Vodka Reviews | Tagged: 2015 Rum Howler Awards, Vodka, Vodka Awards, Vodka Review | Comments Off on The Year In Vodka – (The 2015 Rum Howler Awards)