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Centennial Limited Edition Canadian Whisky (NAS)

Review: Centennial Limited Edition Canadian Whisky    86/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on June 12, 2015

Centennial Limited Edition Canadian Whisky is produced by Alberta’s own Highwood Distillers. It has quietly replaced Highwood’s former Centennial 10 Year Old Canadian Whisky (see review here) as the flagship brand of their Centennial Lineup. The Centennial brand is unique in Canada as rather than using corn as the base grain for this whisky, Centennial uses soft Canadian winter wheat and rye  This gives the Centennial brand a smooth and soft flavour profile which I have found is unlike any other Canadian whisky. In fact, using grains grown exclusively on the Canadian prairies, distilling the grain in their home Province of Alberta, and aging the spirit in the severe Western Canadian climate makes  Centennial is a Whisky unlike any other in the world.

Centennial Limited Edition features no age statement which makes it different from the Centennial 10 Year Old Whisky which used to carry the flag for the brand. When I asked the folks at the distillery I was told that the Centennial brand had reached a point of popularity such that Highwood could no longer meet the demand for their 10 Year Old whisky across the country. This meant that the distiller was faced with two choices. They could either raise the price to temper demand (and annoy their loyal customers), or they could create a new flagship Centennial Whisky (the Limited Edition) which they could produce in sufficient quantity to meet the new demand across Canada. They chose the second course, although they are hoping this new blend is met with the same enthusiasm as the previous blend.

I recently received a sample bottle of the new Limited Edition Centennial Whisky such that I could provide a review here on my website.

Centennial LE SAM_1626In the Bottle 4/5

The Centennial arrives in the same slender elegant bottle as before. This bottle is standard for the Centennial brand. The label has been changed to reflect the absence of an age statement, but other than that it is also the same as before. To crown the presentation the sleek bottle is capped by a straight sided high density cork. I have owned more than a few bottles from the Centennial brand, and some have sat on my whisky shelf for up to 3 years before I had a chance to open them. I have never had an issue with the corkage. The only drawback is that the bottle is too tall for my liquor cabinet. A very minor quibble.

In the Glass 8.5/10

The whisky displays itself as a light golden straw coloured spirit which has not yet turned the corner towards copper. A tilt and swirl of my glass revealed a thin sheen of whisky the crest of which slowly released small droplets which disappeared before they finished their journey back down to the bottom of the glencairn.

When I brought the glass to my nose I noticed some dusty dry rye scents in the breezes. Sure enough, when I examined the back of my sample bottle it is indicated that along with the wheat grain, Highwood also uses rye grain to produce their whisky. It is hard to be positive, but it is my belief that this rye grain is more noticeable in the Limited Edition than it was in the previous 10-year-old iteration of the whisky (and that is something I am quite happy about). There are some light honeyed butterscotch scents mingling with the dusty rye and harvest smells of chaff and windrows of straw.

I let the glass sit for a while, and noticed that the rye grain was joined by wood spices and these spicy accents seem to grow in the breezes. I also notice a light almost bitter astringency in the air which seems to be related to the building rye spice. As the glass continues to decant, some dry grassy tobacco comes to the fore and a light fruitiness is evolving from the rye which is also filling the air with light scents of ginger. A few baking spices evolve, and to this point in my review I am quite happy with the new Limited Edition Centennial.

In The Mouth 52/60

When I took my first sip, I was struck by the crisp lightly bitter, lightly spicy rye and the fine wood spices that led out in front. There is a nice sweetness of honey and butterscotch that falls in behind, and the balance between the crisp spicy bitter rye and the honey sweet butterscotch is just about right. There are light flavours of dry grass and perhaps a few hints of musty burlap (I know that burlap is an odd flavour descriptor, but it is as close as I can come to what I am tasting). The fine oak spices bring forward some orange peel and vanilla as well as hints of dry grassy tobacco.

The mustiness of burlap and the light sweetness of honey and butterscotch do not build up, rather it is the crisp bitter rye flavours which remained at center stage.

In the Throat 13/15

The finish is crisp and dry featuring the lightly spicy and lightly bitter flavour of real rye grain. Hints of dry grass and tobacco compliment the rye and a few touches of honey and butterscotch sweeten the exit. There is a nice spiciness that coats the palate and a gentle warmth that creeps up from the stomach up to the throat. The whisky is not as smooth as its 10 Year Old predecessor; but it does satisfy, nonetheless.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

The Centennial Limited Edition is a very nice rye forward whisky. It dries the mouth and throat and then it tickles the tonsils on the way down. It may not be as smooth as its predecessor, the 10 Year Old Centennial; but it does carry a more robust flavour which I happen to have enjoyed.

I should also make the point that the crisp lightly bitter rye flavour I have described in the whisky makes the Centennial Limited Edition  a wonderful mixer, especially when combined with our favourite Canadian whisky sidekick, ginger ale (see below)!

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


Suggested Recipe:

Whisky Splash SAM_1629Canadian Whisky Splash

2 oz Canadian Rye Whisky
2 or 3 Large Ice-cubes
Splash of Ginger-ale
Slice of Lime

Add the Ice-cubes to a rocks glass
Pour the Whisky over the ice
Add a splash of Ginger Ale
Garnish with a lime slice

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!


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)


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