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Collingwood 21-Year-Old Rye

Review: Collingwood 21 Year Old Canadian Whisky   (92.5/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on October 21, 2015

Collingwood Canadian Whisky is produced at the Canadian Mist Distillery in Collingwood Ontario. This is of course the Distillery which produces its namesake brand, Canadian Mist, which is one of the best-selling Canadian Whiskies in North America. The Collingwood Whisky brand is a more premium spirit than Canadian Mist and it is positioned a little higher on the rungs of the whisky ladder so to speak. However, it would be wrong to think of Collingwood as a more mature or refined Canadian Mist. It is produced from its own recipe and finished in a manner which gives the spirit a unique twist. Once the whisky is mature and has been blended, it is left in stainless marrying vats where its flavour is enhanced with staves of maple which have also been added to those vats. This process is unique as far as Canadian Whisky goes, and it brings a new flavour component into the landscape of Canadian Whisky.

The Collingwood 21 Year Old is a 100% malted rye whisky which was apparently aged in a combination of new and used barrels. Just as with the regular Collingwood Whisky, after the spirit was fully mature, the whisky was placed in a stainless steel marrying vat for a period of time with staves of maple wood.

Collingwood 21In the Bottle  4/5

As you can see from the picture to the left, the Collingwood Whisky arrives in a flask-style whisky bottle. Although I liked this look for the younger Collingwood whisky, I have to admit the flask-like bottle has for myself, lost its charm when used to house the more premium 21-year-old whisky. The flask style bottle is bulky and does not fit easily upon my whisky shelf. It is also awkward to pour without spilling. Although the look is original, the functionality of the design is lacking.

In the Glass 9.5/10

When I do pour the 21-year-old spirit into my Glencairn, I see that it has a nice rich amber colour which is well on its way to copper. When I give my glass a slow tilt and twirl, I see that the crest which formed is well-defined and it begins to drop medium-sized leglets which amble slowly down the inside of the glass.

The breezes above the glass bring me rich notes of oak and cedar with bits of sweet honeycomb and maple. There is evidence in the air of the new oak barrels which were used to age at least some of the whisky as the breezes have an oaky freshness which I have come to associate with spirits aged in new oak. I also recognize sour dough rye bread, caramelized bread crust, hints of milk chocolate and some dusty rye grain in the air. I imagine I could spend my entire time just nosing the whisky, and I would still be completely satisfied.

In The Mouth 55.5/60

The whisky is simply luscious leading out with flavours of oak and cedar mingling with pure malted rye. There are peppery wood spices, impressions of sourdough bread, sweet maple and butterscotch, and pungent tobacco. All of these aspects of the whisky’s flavour are melded together deliciously. The rich flavour includes some zesty orange peel and canned fruit (apricots) with a sweep of vanilla and hints of baking spice (cinnamon and nutmeg).

Adding an ice-cube brings out more of the bitter rye and bittersweet cocoa flavours within the whisky; my preference though would be to leave the ice out of the glass. Adding a touch of ginger-ale however results in a very tasting sipping cocktail. I wouldn’t add much, just a small splash with a couple of ounces of the 21-Year Old Rye.

In the Throat 14/15

The exit is bold with robust oak swooshing through the throat complimented nicely with lingering rye and maple. Yumm!

The Afterburn 9.5/10

According to my friend, Davin de Kergommeaux (see here) only 50 barrels of the Collingwood 21 Year Old Canadian Whisky were produced. The whisky was a bit of an experiment, and no new stocks are available for future bottlings. If you happen to be able to find a bottle my recommendation is for you to grab it. You will not be disappointed.

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


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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