Whisky Review: (Highwood Distillers) White Owl Whisky
Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 4, 2010
There is a new whisky in Canada, and it is completely different from any other whisky I have seen. The distillation mash for the whisky is based on wheat, not barley or corn, which is not as surprising as you may think, as the distillers of White Owl Whisky are Highwood Distillers, based in High River, Alberta. They have, after all, been distilling their very wonderful Centennial Whisky with a wheat based mash for many years. It is the next feature of the whisky which I found most interesting and unusual. This is a clear aged whiskey! In fact if the bottle did not say whisky on the front you might think you were buying Vodka…until you opened the bottle, at which time you would realize that the spirit in the bottle is unmistakably whisky! The whisky achieves its clear form by the means of carbon filtration. Highwood crafts and blends an aged whisky, and then runs it through a filtration process to remove all colour and smooth out the taste profile. This is a first for me, and I believe a first for Canadian Whisky! In fact Highwood makes the claim that this may be the first clear well aged whisky ever produced.
White Owl Whisky is the creation of Master Blender Glen Hopkins. The whisky produced in High River is from locally supplied wheat which Hopkins claims “is the best source” for whisky in the entire world. So without further ado, let me introduce Highwood’s White Owl Whisky.
Here is an excerpt from my review:
“As I take the first sip, the first impression I have is of a soft whisky flavour accented by a hint of licorice. The oak flavours are mild and there is no harsh tannin or unbridled spice. Yet in the background, if you let it develop, that true Canadian rye whisky spice and flavour present themselves. Butterscotch rises and falls as does the hint of licorice and even a touch of cereal grain. It is all very mellow and very good…”
You may read the full review here:
Of course I have provided a few nice cocktails which follow the review.
Highwood Distillers of High River, Alberta was created as Sunnyvale Distillers in 1974. During the first 35 years, the company saw moderate but steady growth. A new management team was put in place in 1997, and in 2005 that the company asserted itself as a dominant player in the Canadian whisky industry with the acquisition of the Potters brand (Andres Wines). With this new growth came the need for physical expansion of the facility, new equipment for packaging and a new warehouse directly across the street from the Distillery. I had the opportunity to tour this new facility on February 17, 2010, and you can find my write up on this tour here:
Highwood is now a major player in the Canadian Whisky category. They are the only independent, Alberta owned, distillery in the world. Boasting aged whisky stocks of up to 30 years, the company is poised to continue its success story into the future.
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