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Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky

Review: Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky  94/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on June 28, 2012

Over 100 years ago an entrepreneurial cowboy named Guy Weadlick visited Calgary, Alberta and envisioned a tribute show to the pioneers of the west complete with a Cowboy Championship Contest. He arranged $100,000.00 in financing from the “Big 4″ (George Lane, Archie Mcclean, Patrick Burns, and A.E. Cross) who were influential Calgary area ranchers and businessmen. In September 1912, Guy Weadlick’s vision, the first Calgary Stampede, came to life for six glorious days. An estimated 80,000 people attended the first Stampede Parade, which was an astonishing number considering Calgary’s population at the time was only three-quarters that figure at 60,000. The major events at this “Cowboy Championship” offered each winner first prize cash of $1000, as well as a Saddle and a Gold Buckle!

For over 100 years now the Calgary Stampede has brought people from all over the world together to experience the region’s unique western heritage and culture. Highwood Distillers, Alberta’s only privately owned distillery, has joined in and is celebrating the Centennial of the Calgary Stampede by producing an exclusive Limited Edition Ultra-Premium 25 Year Old Commemorative Canadian Rye Whisky.

The Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) Whisky is a single bond offering produced entirely from corn distillate and aged for 25 years in charred American white oak. It is blended entirely with naturally sourced Rocky Mountain spring water, and has a limited production of only 6000 bottles. In order to maintain good contact with the oak during the lengthy aging process, this bond was re-gauged or re-barreled twice during its aging life. New barrels were not introduced when Highwood distiller’s made the liquid consolidation. Instead they chose to maintain the aging process in the original barrels into which the spirit began its maturation.

In the Bottle 5/5

The presentation of the Stampede 25 Year Old Whisky has most of the qualities I look for when I score this section of the review.  The commemorative whisky arrives in a handsome heavy-set 8-sided bottle which is adorned with an eye-catching medal label, It is also topped with a high quality wooden capped synthetic cork. The bottle is unique, and it commands a certain presence on my whisky shelf. The bottle even holds true to the bartender’s creed. It is easy to store, easy to hold, and easy to pour.

My only niggles would be that I prefer to see tasting notes upon the more expensive spirits to help the consumer in the store decide whether or not to purchase the whisky. Secondly I prefer a nice display box for the whisky. However, this whisky, aged 25 full years is priced so far below comparatively aged whiskies in my market, that I will easily forgive these niggles.

In the Glass 9.5/10

The whisky displays itself as a brilliant amber colour with apparent flashes of gold when it is held up to the light. The initial nose is rich with smells of oak and cedar. Butterscotch notes rise into the air accompanied by strong scents of honeycomb and cereal. As the glass sits, the oak spices continue to grow above the glass. I also receive impressions of melted vanilla ice cream, some appealing notes of marmalade and marzipan, and some strong notes of corn whisky rising into the merry little breezes. This is very appealing.

In the Mouth 56.5/60

This is a complex full-bodied whisky bursting with character complete with a suave, “luscious” flavour. The entry is an explosion of oak spices accompanied by rich butterscotch and honey. I taste fresh corn on the cob and honeycomb which in a small way reminds me of a sweet dank Kentucky Bourbon.

As you let the glass breathe, the flavours (and the aroma) become deeper and richer. There are some almond flavours that over time develop towards marzipan, and there is some orange peel that begins to taste like marmalade as the glass sits and the flavours meld. Some pungent baking spices (cinnamon, vanilla and ginger) and flavours of melted vanilla ice-cream appear as if by magic. The whisky reminds me very much of Highwood’s Century Reserve 21 Year Old Whisky which I reviewed two years ago. But this whisky is a richer, fuller, more complex version of that whisky.

It is, as I said earlier, luscious!

In the Throat 13.5/15

The whisky finishes with an explosion of spice and echoes of vanilla, butterscotch and honey. It has a long lingering finish which leaves the mouth heated, but also leaves me wanting another glass.

The Afterburn 9.5/10

The Calgary Stampede Whisky was a strong contender for my Rumhowler Whisky of the Year, this fall of 2012 when I announced my awards. It has all of the hallmarks of a great whisky with rich flavour that bursts from the glass. It also has wonderful complexity and balance, and it has a spicy kick that tastes just marvelous.

In the advertising sell sheets which I was given, Highwood proclaims this as their best whisky ever. They are not exaggerating!

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Because a 25 Year Old Canadian Whisky is special, my friend Davin de Kergommeaux of Canadian Whisky and I agreed to review this spirit on the same day. As part of my review I have provided a link to Davin’s opinion as well.

Here is a link to Davin’s Review:

Canadian Whisky (Davin de Kergommeaux) on Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky


I am always asked what my numbers actually mean. In order to provide clarification, you may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)


5 Responses to “Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky”

  1. Wayne Rothermel said

    Its still out their. Picked up a bottle on boxing day then went out today and grabbed three more. Very good whiskey. Coop liquor on 130th in Calgary had two bottles left at sixty five dollars a bottle. Enjoyed the countdown. I thought Canada would have more in the high ninety rank though. Just started my learning on rye and this has been a good start. Usually drink crown reserve and recently switched to workers small batch. Ill keep the stampede for me and a few select friends. Cheers.

    • I wouldn’t worry too much about the scores. Whenever one has more than one judge, the average scores of the group are always lowered at the high end and increased at the low end due to averaging. Canadian Whisky (at least on my website) scores as well or better than scotch and bourbon.

  2. CBrown said

    Season’s greetings ! A great choice and a fitting end to your top 25 Whiskys. I’ve really enjoyed this and good to see things so well mixed up with a whisky that is technically no longer available but still a recent offering as the winner. (I was sure it would either be the 90 or the “Stampede vying for top spot.)

    I’ve come away with many of my personal favourites being vindicated here and a couple of new ones to try out. Hope this is an annual event. Thanks again Chip.

  3. Piers said

    Great review, you and Davin both! I’ll be picking up some after work today 🙂

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