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Century Reserve Rare Cask Series – Beer Barrel Whisky

Review: Century Reserve Rare Cask Series Beer Barrel (84.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published December 10, 2020

I recently received a bottle of Century Reserve Rare Cask Series Beer Barrel aged whisky. Bottle number 1205 to be exact. So I reached out to Highwood Distillers (who produce the Century Reserve brand) to find out a little bit about this new whisky.

Apparently, the folks at Highwood Distillery began a collaboration with Wild Rose Brewery some time ago bringing them freshly dumped charred American White Oak barrels that had previously aged 100% corn Whisky. The Brewery produced a stout ale, and then aged it in those barrels for 3 months making a product called Tenor Stout (which sold out very quickly).

Highwood then brought the barrels back to their distillery and filled them with 100% wheat Whisky and followed it along for 12 months (the point where they felt it had reached its flavoured potential). This Whisky was then brought to bottling proof, filtered and bottled at 42 % alcohol by volume. Including the time spent in Beer Barrels, the finished whisky is about 5 Year Old.

In the Bottle 4.5/5

Rare Cask Series whiskies from Century Reserve are bottled in the stylish long necked tall bottle shown to the left. The rectangular bottle has a heavy base and a wood topped cork closure.

The front label tells us the Bottle number, the total number of bottles produces and the barrel number which this whisky was drawn from. It also speaks of the Albertan Partnership between Wild Rose Brewery and Highwood Distillers which is expanded upon on the back label.

This is a nice presentation which intrigued me as soon as I saw it.

In The Glass 8.5/10

Colour: Golden Straw

Legs: Mid-sized droplets at the crest form slender ambling legs

Nose: Dusty grain, fine oak spices, ginger and sandalwood. Vanilla, almond and light butterscotch. A whisper of malt/stout. A light smattering of additional baking spices with cinnamon and nutmeg. More dusty grain spices.

I like the nose, especially the fact that the stout enhancement seems to be subtle. The underlying whisky shines.

In The Mouth 50.5/60

The mouthfeel is soft and pleasant as the whisky brings a combination of vanilla, light butterscotch and fine spice across the palate. The stout enhancement is more noticeably now. It does not overtake the whisky, rather it acts as it should as an additional complimentary flavour element, not as the star attraction. The star attraction is the wheat whisky with its fine wood spices and light but nuanced flavour.

There is some heat which prevents me from sipping neat, but with an ice cube the whisky tastes just fine. My impulse though is to serve it in an Old Fashioned where the addition of bitters and a touch of sweetness brings the serving to a new level (see recipe below).

In the Throat 12.5/15

The Century Reserve Rare Cask Series Beer Barrel Whisky shows us a little heat in the finish. Fine wood and grain spices swat at the tonsils with light vanilla and butterscotch proving some relief. It is in the finish that the evidence of stout beer is most notable.

The Afterburn

I suspect that there will be many readers who will appreciate the Century Reserve Rare Cask Series Beer Barrel Whisky. The stout enhancement is handled extremely well giving the whisky lover a ribbon of beer flavour while keeping the wheat whisky the main attraction. The only factor keeping the score down somewhat is the relative youth of the dram which shows though while we sip especially in the finish. Add ice and enjoy, or try my recommended cocktail below.

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


Suggested Serving

Old Fashioned Whisky

1 3/4 oz Century Reserve Rare Cask Series Beer Barrel
1/2 tsp Sugar syrup
3 Drops Bittercube Jamaican #1 Bitters (sub Angostura Bitters)
Orange Peel Zest

Build in a Rocks Glass
Stir to mix and allow the flavours to mingle

Please enjoy slowly and responsibly!

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!


As always you may interpret the scores I provide 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 more 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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