Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 29, 2014
Last, year Highwood Distillers was severely impacted by a massive flash flood which devastated Southern Alberta on June 20th, 2013. The folks working at the distillery had only minutes of warning before the flood hit, and the severity of the event was such that some distillery staff had to be rescued from the tops of their cars by helicopter. If you followed the news regarding the aftermath of the flood (see my story here) you will know that it took more than a few weeks for the company to bring itself back onto its feet. Fortunately for those of us who love Canadian whisky, the distillery picked up the pieces and literally came roaring back to life. In fact, this past Christmas when my tasting panel and I blind-tasted and judged over 45 of the best Canadian Whiskies, Highwood Distillers placed more bottlings in the top 25 than any other Canadian Distillery (see the Top 25 list here).
This should not be considered a recent success, as Highwood has for years now been producing some of the most unique (and under-appreciated) whisky in Canada. In fact, in 2010, they broke new ground, (and a few sales records too), when they introduced their premium clear cocktail whisky, White Owl Whisky (see review here). To say this product was s success is a vast understatement, as the only problem that surfaced with respect to the White Owl Whisky was that Highwood could not make it fast enough to satisfy the demand across Canada. In 2012, the distillery extended the White Owl brand with White Owl Spiced Whisky (see review here), and this year they extended the brand once more with their White Owl Ginger Lime Whisky. Like the previous spirits which have carried the White Owl brand, this is a cocktail whisky carrying at its heart, Highwood’s famous clear White Owl Whisky, but in this case, it is enhanced with zesty lime and ginger flavours.
You may read my full review of the White Owl Ginger and Lime Whisky here:
“… when you bring the glass to your nose you cannot mistake the mild butterscotch, sandalwood and rye notes which rise into the breezes telling you that the base of this flavoured spirit is a gentle rye whisky. As the glass breathes, spicy notes of ginger begin to increase in strength, and building with them is the unmistakable zesty, but retrained note of lime and citrus peel …”
This is a cocktail whisky, and so of course I had to try a few mixed drink recipes during the review process. At the conclusion of the review I decided to feature a recipe of my creation, Cucumber Delight.
Please enjoy the review and the cocktail recipe provided. :)
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Flavoured Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Canadian Whisky, Canadian Whisky Re, Cocktails, Cucumber Delight, Ginger and lime, Highwood Distillers, Rye Whisky, White Owl Whisky | Comments Off on Review: White Owl Ginger Lime Whisky
Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 15, 2013
Three years ago a new whisky was produced in Canada which was completely different from any other whisky I had seen. For one thing, the distillation mash for the whisky was based primarily upon wheat, not barley, corn, or rye. (This was 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.) However, it was the next feature of the whisky which I found most interesting and unusual. White owl is a clear, well-aged, ‘cocktail’ whiskey! In fact if the bottle did not say whisky on the front you would be forgiven for believing this was an Ultra-premium Vodka, until you opened the bottle, at which time you would realize that the spirit inside 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 well-aged Canadian Whisky!
I was lucky enough (sorry Portwood, I couldn’t resist) to receive a sample bottle directly from the distillery after touring the facility three years ago, and today, as the good folks at Highwood Distillers are hard at work cleaning up after the recent flash flood which affected their town and their distillery (read here), I thought it would be nice to revisit my review of three years ago. (My original review was, I believe the first published review for Highwood’s ground breaking cocktail whisky.)
Please click on the excerpt to read my revised review. (Actually only slightly edited to correct some grammatical errors in the original review. I concluded after a recent tasting that the character and quality of the whisky had not changed.)
“… 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 …”
Three years ago, I was so enthusiastic about this new whisky that my review included, not one or two, but rather five cocktail recipes which all tasted fantastic when made with White Owl Whisky.
(And for the record, I am still enthusiast about Highwood’s ‘cocktail whisky’, and I still feel very lucky to have been on of the very first persons to have received a sample bottle three years ago.)
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Cocktails & Recipes, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: Canadian Whisky, Clear Whisky, Cocktail Whisky, Cocktails, Highwood Distillers, Whisky Review, White Owl Whisky | Comments Off on Review: White Owl Canadian Whisky
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2011
The guys at Highwood Distillery are at it again. In 2010 they broke all the rules, (and a few sales records too) when they introduced their premium aged White Owl Whisky (a clear Canadian Whisky which is aged up to 10 years). To say this product was s success is a vast understatement, as the only problem that surfaced with respect to the White Owl Whisky was that Highwood could not make it fast enough to satisfy the demand across Canada.
As I said, they are at it again. Highwood has just introduced White Owl Spiced Whisky. While other distillers are producing young brown whisky and using the spice to smooth out the flavour. Highwood is taking the other road, using a well aged clear whisky, and then using the spice to add a little depth and polish to an already smooth spirit.
I was sent a sample bottle of this new whisky, and here is an excerpt from my review:
“…I really like what I am sensing on the nose, and during one of my tasting sessions when I had invited my friend Lucasz to join me I discovered I was not the only one who really liked it. We both sat in our chairs for a good ten minutes just enjoying the subtle soft aroma of the spiced whisky smiling and exchanging those knowing glances of anticipation as we both relished the scents above our glasses…”
Here is a link to the full review:
Posted in Canadian Whisky, Cocktails & Recipes, Flavoured Whisky, Whisk(e)y | Tagged: Canadian Whisky, Highwood, Spiced Whisky, Whisky, Whisky Review, White Owl Whisky | Comments Off on Introducing White Owl Spiced Whisky