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Danfield’s Private Reserve (Aged 10 Years)

Review: Danfield’s Private Reserve Canadian Whisky (Aged 10 Years)    80/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on August 26, 2012 (Re-scored September 2016)

Danfield’s Private Reserve Canadian Whisky is produced in the small City of Lethbridge in my home Province of Alberta. It is produced for Williams & Churchill by Schenley Distilleries Inc. at the Black Velvet Distillery, (also referred to locally as the Palliser Distillery). According to the information on the product label, this whisky is a result of blending carefully selected small batch whiskies. The Private Reserve is apparently “diamond filtered” to add further polish to the whisky.

Danfield’s Private Reserve is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 4/5

Danfield’s Private Reserve Whisky is sold in a somewhat squat but long-necked whisky bottle. It has nice professional labeling, and the entire ‘look’ is clean, but not overstated. The closure is a plastic screw cap which pleases me, as I have come to despise the metallic pressed on caps which are on so many spirits these days.

As noted above, the label makes a claim that the product is ‘diamond filtered’, but I admit I ran into a bit of a dead-end trying to decipher what exactly this means. I suspect that the only reason the product is diamond filtered is so that it can be written on the label. (No, I am not trying to be funny, I just think that this is a gimmick, and I would love someone from the company to reach out to me to explain what diamond filtering is, and what it is supposed to accomplish.)

In the Glass  8/10

The whisky presents a straw colour in the glass which is just starting to turn to copper. When I tilt my glass and give it a slow even twirl, I see a very light oily sheen upon the inside of my glencairn glass, which gives up long slender legs which quickly disappear.

The initial nose is full of rye spices, cardamom and ginger in particular, with a few scattered scents of cloves. Some light hints of butterscotch reach the breezes (although this whisky displays less sweetness than most Canadian Whiskies I have nosed). Some sandalwood and sawdust rise up as well as some light hints of effervescent fruitiness. I like the overall aroma, although I wish it were perhaps a tad more assertive.

In the Mouth 48.5/60

The whisky has a firm flavour of freshly harvested dusty rye. Spices in the form of rye spice, tobacco and citrus zest are apparent as are the more bitter elements of rye which taste something like citrus pith and bitter tree sap. The bitterness appears in moderation and actually fits in with the rye flavour very well. The firm rye flavour gives the whisky some nice fruitiness, but what is missing is some honey or caramel sweetness to temper the rye and the light citrus pith I taste. The result is a whisky which I find somewhat dry. Despite the lovely rye flavour, I am also finding Danfield’s 10-year-old a little thin and one-dimensional.

All bitterness disappears with the introduction of ginger-ale or cola. However, the lovely rye flavour and the alcohol push of the whisky do a bit of a disappearing act as well. This makes the whisky a bit of a dangerous mixer, as one can easily make a couple tall rye and ginger-ale drinks disappear just as quickly as that rye flavour disappeared.

In the Throat 11.5/15

The whisky has a pure rye finish with spicy ginger and cardamom building in the back of the throat and lingering flavours of bitter citrus pith trailing. It is my feeling however, that things seem a tad harsh when sipping the Danfield’s neat. A touch of sweetness would do wonders for the score.

The Afterburn  8/10

I thought perhaps it was just me. Here we have a Canadian rye whisky which has all the features I love in whisky. A firm rye flavour profile with all that spice and dusty dry grain, yet this whisky falls flat when I sip it. But, it is not just me. When I featured the Danfield’s 10 Year Old at that Canadian Whisky tasting, my seven guests all had comments which were very similar to my initial thoughts on the spirit. No one disliked the Danfield’s (except the Vodka guy who dislikes almost everything that is not Vodka); however, no one was really enthralled by the whisky either. It just seems to fall flat despite the obvious full rye flavour. I think everyone at my summer tasting found the Danfield’s as one-dimensional as I did. When I re-tasted the whisky in 2016, I found the scores had crept up just a little, however my overall feelings towards the Danfields Special Reserve had not really changed.

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


Suggested Recipe

Emerald Cooler

1 1/2 oz Danfield’s 10 Year Old  Canadian Whisky
3/4 oz Bols Blue Curacao
3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Orange Juice
3/8 oz Sugar Syrup
Ginger Ale

Fill a tall glass with Ice
Add the Whisky, the Blue Curacao, the Lemon Juice and the Simple Sugar into an ice filled glass
Complete with Ginger-ale
Garnish with Lemon

Please enjoy my cocktails  responsibly, the aim of my blog is to help your drink better spirits not to help you drink more spirits.


I am sometimes 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)

4 Responses to “Danfield’s Private Reserve (Aged 10 Years)”

  1. Dan said

    Hi Chip,
    As I was preparing to write this comment, I noticed your Aug 26, 2012, reply to an earlier comment which noted that you hadn’t tried the 21 yr Limited Reserve for a while. Is there any chance that you’ll revisit it for a review? I picked up a bottle this summer to have on hand for guests who are not Scotch drinkers…the intention was to mix it, as that is what I’ve always done with rye, but I tried a glass on its own and was blown away by the complexity of the nose and the flavour. It made me totally re-think Canadian whisky.

    Since then I’ve been spending some time reading over your other Canadian whisky reviews and those on Davin’s site, and recently picked up a bottle of the Centennial 10 yr Limited Release based on your review (haven’t cracked it open yet, but the LCBO was running low, so I thought I’d grab one).
    Keep up with the great reviews!

    • Hi Dan

      Interesting and eclectic website you have there.

      There is always a chance I will do a review of Danfield’s 21 in the near future; but if I am honest, I would have to tell you that the odds are slim at this point. I have so much inventory to review with more coming in all the time, and is my policy is to review industry samples on a first in – first out basis. Danfield’s isn’t even on the radar.

      I hope you like the Centennial 10 though. I was just sent bottles of the new Centennial Spiced Whisky, and the Centennial Honey Whisky from Highwood. I will be reviewing those soon!


  2. Mike said

    Hey Chip,

    Nice to see this whisky getting some attention, even if it didn’t grab you. Personally I like this one quite a bit and I like the 21 year old even more.

    • Thanks Mike

      I was really surprised that the Danfield’s did not appeal to me. As I said in the review, it has all the hallmarks of Canadian Rye Whisky which usually grab me in all the right ways. I haven’t tried the 21 in quite some time but I do remember the flavour was much more robust than I found in the 10.


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