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Hundred Volt Canadian Whisky

Review: Hundred Volt Canadian Whisky   (83/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra
Published April 25, 2018

The Highwood Distillery is the only large locally (Albertan) owned distillery in Canada. It sits in the heart of the High River community, producing more than 300,000 cases of bottled spirits per year. Although the bulk of their production goes towards Vodka, Flavoured Vodka, and Premixes, they also produce a sizable (and growing) amount of Canadian Whisky each year. I consider the whisky produced at their distillery to be a unique product unlike anything else on the Canadian whisky landscape (I also find it very tasty). What is so original about the Highwood Whisky is the batch process they employ (see here).

Highwood’s  Hundred Volt Whisky is produced from prairie grains (corn and rye) in separate distillations (the grains are distilled and aged separately). The different styles of whisky are aged 3 to 5 years in charred American white oak barrels (without the addition of additives).  These matured whiskies are blended to produce a distinctive Canadian ‘rye’ flavour profile.

The Hundred Volt Whisky is bottled at 50 % alcohol by volume, (One Hundred Proof).

In the Bottle 3.5/5

The Hundred Volt bottle is shown to the left. It is a standard medium tall long-necked whisky bottle. These bottles are manufactured in large quantities for the alcohol industry designed to be easy to fill on bottling lines (because of their standard size), easy to packages and ship, easy for the consumer to store on his/her whisky shelf, and easy to open and pour.

Unfrotunately, the bottle and the label are not very attractive. They appear to be designed to appeal to the economy conscious individual rather than the quality conscious individual. Although appearance is not necessarily any indication of quality, we all have that same unconscious sense within us that when we see a product packaged beautifully, and we are more likely to believe in the quality of the product when we are making our purchase decision.

In the Glass 8.5/10

When the Hundred Volt Whisky is poured into my glencairn, the spirit shows me a light golden colour. When I tilt and twirl my glass, I see a thin liquid sheen on the inside, the crest of which drops slender legs back down the inside of the glass.

The nose is just a touch astringent as the high alcohol proof shows itself in the breezes. A nice combination of soft butterscotch, vanilla and almond scents reveal themselves along with some fine oak spices which gives the whisky a dusty dry appealing quality. Light accents of orange peel, ginger and cigarette tobacco can be found within the oak spice. These are accompanied by indication of both corn cereal and rye grain. As the glass breathes, I seem to catch some unexpected notes of licorice and mint as well as hints of milk chocolate.

All in all, I am quite happy. The whisky shows me some of its over-proof brashness; but it also shows me some unexpected complexity.

In the Mouth 50.5/60

The delivery begins with a light butterscotch accented by mint and licorice. Melded within are firm flavours of sweetened corn cereal (think Corn Pops cereal) and oak spice. Baking spice in the form of vanilla and ginger come forward, as does a nice lightly bitter flavour of rye grain. These flavours are assertive as the high bottling proof has not only ratcheted up the alcohol strength it has also concentrating the whisky.

I found the whisky just a little uncomfortable sipping neat; but over ice the Hundred Volt is pleasant oozing milk chocolate flavours alongside the baking spice and corn. Having said that, the spirit is practically screaming at me to be mixed with a little ginger-ale. I suspect I will be enjoying this combination more than once on my back deck this summer.

In the Throat 12.5/15

Hundred Volt Whisky lives up to its name as it gives my tonsils a jolt on the way down. A rush of corn and oak spice follow. Fortunately, some soothing flavours of licorice and mint follow as well. However; it is with ice that true happiness is found, especially enjoying those lingering chocolate flavours ….

The Afterburn 8.5/10

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I sampled the Hundred Volt Whisky from Highwood Distillers. This is not a particularly expensive whisky, nor has it been aged for a long time. Yet, I found I quite enjoyed it, especially with a splash of ginger ale. Although the higher than normal bottling strength makes the spirit a bit of a challenge to sip neat; the resulting concentrated flavour makes it ideal over ice or as a mixer with ginger ale.

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


Suggested Recipe:

Canadian Whisky Splash

2 oz Hundred Volt Canadian 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!


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.)

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