Coyote Ugly Canadian Whisky
Review: Coyote Ugly Canadian Whisky 88.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on March 08, 2012
Re-scored as part of my 2016 Top 50 Canadian Whisky Countdown (November 2016)
On January 27, 1993, Wall Street intern, Liliana Lovell opened the first Coyote Ugly Saloon in New York City. If you watched the Jerry Bruckheimer movie Coyote Ugly (released in 2000), then you know all about this place where the waitresses, called ‘Coyote Girls’, serve the drinks, dance and sing, and even (apparently) down shots of whisky with the customers.
According to the movie, at the Coyote Ugly Saloon, things are kept pretty simple. The drinks are served straight up with no frills (unless you call things like girls dancing on the bar a frill). They don’t use soda for mix; they don’t even add a drop or two of water. In fact, if you ask for water, rather than receiving a little for your whisky, you are more likely to get doused with the stuff to a chorus of customers chanting, “Hell No … H2O!”
It was a flick that was panned by critics, but loved by the public becoming a box office hit during the late summer and early fall of 2000. The movie must have been good for business because in 2001, another Coyote Ugly Saloon opened up in Las Vegas followed by other locations across the USA, and even as far away as Russia.
With all this success, it is apparent that the Coyote Ugly brand had reached what I will call, ‘celebrity status’. The term ‘Coyote Ugly’ has in fact become firmly entrenched into the public consciousness. When that happens, the resulting cache of the brand is well worth capitalizing on. Which is why Celebrity Cellars International founder, Jeff Harder, teamed up with the founder of the Coyote Ugly Saloon, Liliana Lovell. They have decided that it is time to get Ugly (Coyote Ugly that is) with the launch of the new Coyote Ugly Canadian Whisky!
I received a sample bottle of this whisky from PURE Global Imports who asked me to provide a review here on my website to serve as a preview for the world-wide launch of the new Coyote Ugly Canadian Whisky on March 12, 2012. Four yers later, I am revisiting this review as part of my 2016 Top 50 Canadian Whisky Countdown, with an aim to see if the whisky has changed, and to re-score it if it has.
In the Bottle 5/5
I like the Coyote Ugly Whisky bottle. It has plenty of ‘pop’ and looks great on my bar shelf. The barbed wire graphic on the closure, and the Coyote Ugly logo on the front give us a good indication that this whisky is going to be just a little different from its more traditional Canadian Whisky siblings. I think the label graphics serve to give notice that this whisky ain’t for mixing in any dainty little cocktails, or for sipping in a Glencairn glass by the fire-place. This whisky is meant for the shot glass. In fact, on the back of the bottle, this sentiment is reflected firmly as we are told:
“Coyote Ugly Whisky was created to remind us that we call the shots.”
Since I am calling my own shot, I will start my first pour of the whisky with my large ‘double’ shot glass!
In the ‘Shot Glass’ 8.5/10
I filled that double shot glass three-quarters full with whisky and brought to my nose for a good sniff.
I know what you are thinking, based upon what I said about the movie, I doubt if anyone in the Coyote Ugly Saloon would actually take the time to give the whisky a good snoot. Nevertheless, I decided that in the interests of a proper review at least a cursory investigation of the whisky in my shot glass was necessary. And, I am glad I took the time…
The whisky smells of rich butterscotch and caramel. Light rye scents waft into the breezes with dabs of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. A light footprint of vanilla and almond compliment the delicate baking spices leaving impressions of marzipan in the air above the glass.
There is also a mellow corn whisky aroma rising into the breezes. This is surprising as the whisky, made by Highwood Distillers in Southern Alberta, is composed of winter wheat and rye with nary a mention of corn upon the back label. However, the whisky is a blend of three, four and five-year old stocks which have obviously been aged in American oak where the corn from the previous distillate is still within the fiber of the oak to place its mark upon the whisky.
In the Mouth 53/60
Continuing to calling my own shots, I downed that first ‘double shot’ of whisky in one gulp. My tonsils felt a nice spicy swat as the whisky went down, and a delightful slow creeping burn rose through my esophagus back up to my throat.
This is good!
There are not a lot of whiskies that I can down ‘double-shot style’ without gasping; but the Coyote Ugly Canadian Whisky is definitely one of them. This speaks of an unexpected smoothness which I would not have thought possible from a whisky which would carry an age statement of only three years. Then again, the use of a wheat based whisky blended with rye is normal practice for Highwood Distillers. The wheat in the blend gives the whisky a mellow smoothness which seems to me to be unmatched by other grains.
I wanted to be able to give some nice tasting notes, and so I thought briefly about adding a touch of water to open up the whisky. Then of course I remembered….
Hell No… H2O!
This whisky is meant to be drank straight with no compromise to the tonsils and throat, and so that is exactly how I am going to sample it. When I do sip the whisky, neat without water, the mouth-feel is clean with a fruit filled rye leading out onto the palate. The flavour is mellowed by caramel/butterscotch, vanilla, and light impressions of bourbon. I will not call the whisky complex, but it is nice and smooth so that sipping it is a real treat.
In my view the Coyote Ugly Whisky is a winner!
In the Throat 13.5/15
The next time I have friends over, I’ll pour them a shot of their favorite Whisky, and I’ll take a shot of this. I know who will be sucking air and trying to catch their breath after a shot; and you guessed it, it won’t be me. Coyote Ugly is clean and smooth all the way down. Don’t get me wrong, the tonsils do get swatted a bit, and the palate does gets heated by rye spice; but the lingering flavours of butterscotch and vanilla are simply wonderful.
The Afterburn 9/10
I want to complement Jeff Harder, and Liliana Lovell for having the good sense to go with Highwood Distillers on this project. It would have been easy to get one of the big boys to make their whisky. However, I have commented in the past about how Highwood just might be one of the best kept secrets in the Whisky World….Coyote Ugly Canadian Whisky is just another reason I think I am right.
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
As usual, 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)