Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 24, 2016
When it comes to Canadian Whisky, price is not a good determinant of quality. The next five entrants in the Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Canadian Whisky Countdown, features two of the lowest priced whiskies in Canada, Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky, and Potter’s Special Old. Both of these whiskies score in the mid eighties, despite their economy price.
Another interesting entrant on my top 50 list is Century Distillers (Highwood) White Owl Whisky, an aged whisky which has been filtered clear to provide a smooth crisp mixing spirit for the cocktail revolution. White Owl’s high standing on the list is a testament to how successful this spirit has been at fulfilling its destiny. Sazerac’s Rich and Rare Reserve, and Collingwood Handcrafted Whisky are not as well-known to Canadian consumers, but each are well deserving of their respective standing on the list.
“… I smell corn, butterscotch and a sweet sticky marmalade when I bring my nose to the glass. As that glass breathes, scents of oak and cedar rise as well and some spicy rye and citrus zest. There is a little vanilla and almond in the breezes too, and a nice touch of maple seems to weave in and out. The whisky has a gentle complexity that is pleasant and engaging …”
“… Butterscotch and honey, rye and wood spices, and a light dab of vanilla all meld together and with a simple ice-cube added the whisky is delicious. There is polish in evidence here, but a little rough and tumble too, as the wood spices liven the mouth-feel and take me back in time to when rye was the King of Canadian Spirits. Touches of almond and orange marmalade complete the flavour profile …”
“… As I take the first sip, the first impression I have is of a softly sweet vanilla and honey flavour accented by grain spice and light butterscotch. The astringency I noted on the nose has not manifested itself across the palate. I taste similar whispers of oak flavour and rye flavours which beguiled me six years ago. Although the whisky is very vodka-like, it does have a light whisky character.
“… The spirit begins its traverse through the mouth with initial flavours of butterscotch toffee and sour fermented fruit. There is a nice spicy rye flavour rolling through which is chased across the palate by flavours of corn and dark spicy tobacco. Some fresh oak and cedar (more oak than cedar) appears carried forward with a dabble of sweetish honeycomb ..”
“… A clean spicy rye is out in front carried by light oak and the combination delivers a wonderful mouth-feel full of what I can only term as old-time traditional Canadian Whisky flavour. In fact this might just be the closest that I have come to recapturing the Canadian Whisky flavour that I remember from my younger days. The rye livens the mouth with a light spice, and a nice soft punch of vanilla with a light accent of corn completes this nicely …”
Please enjoy my Countdown of the Best Canadian Whiskies of 2016. Stay Tuned for numbers 35 through 31, Chimo!
* You may follow my Canadian Whisky Countdown by bookmarking this link:
The Rum Howler – Top 50 Canadian Whiskies of 2016
Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: 2016 Rum Howler Top 50, Canadian Whisky, Canadian Whisky Countdown, Collingwood, Highwood Whisky, Potter's Special Old, Reserve, Rich & Rare, Rum howler, Rye, Sazerac, White Owl Whisky | Comments Off on The Rum Howler 2016 Top 50 Canadian Whisky Countdown (#40 – #36)
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