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Rangeland Rye Whisky

Review: Rangeland Rye Whisky  79/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published on February 01, 2017

Rangeland Rye Whisky is produced from western prairie wheat and grains. It is aged in charred American oak barrels for a minimum of three years (as per Canadian Law) before being blended and bottled at the Highwood facility in High River, Alberta.

Rangeland is what I refer to as an economy whisky. It is inexpensive compared to other whiskies in its category, and is a whisky meant for tall drinks as well as other cocktails in bars and restaurants (or on your back deck).

Highwood Distillers is the only major Canadian distillery which uses wheat as its primary distilled grain. I have noticed when tasting the wheat based spirits in their portfolio that this grain seems to lend a soft gentleness to the final spirit. They use Rye is in smaller quantities, and this grain adds a flavourful spiciness. Corn may also be used, and when it is, the corn provides additional sweetness, and body to the spirit. The grains are distilled in a small batch production cycle. I was fortunate enough to be given a tour of the Highwood Distillery several years ago. If you would like a detailed overview of this whisky making process you may find my write-up here, The Highwood Distillery Tour.

rangeland-sam_2966In The Bottle 4/5

Rangeland is a relatively new whisky brand from Highwood which is currently bottled as an exclusive ‘Liquor Depot’ brand. As an economy brand, it is housed in an inexpensive plastic (PET) bottle. When I researched the whisky I discovered that a contest of sorts had been held to help with the label design. The contest (held on the 99designs website) attracted 7 designs submitted by 4 freelance designers.  The label shown to the left was the winning submission. (I liked the 2nd place design better which was a colour version of the same label)

For an economy whisky, the overall presentation is fine; I would though, have preferred a glass bottle.

In the Glass 8/10

When I poured the Rangeland Rye Whisky for the first time, I was relatively pleased by the nose which the whisky presents. Some butterscotch mingles with rye spice and sandalwood with some light impressions of orange peel mainly and grassy tobacco. There is a touch of astrigency rising into the air as well as a few indication of almond. As the glass breathes, the rye seem to gain momentum in the form of dusty grain with light indications of vanilla and fruit as well. The whisky is not overly complex, but it is surprisingly pleasant.

In the Glass 47.5/60

I ran across this whisky when a friend brought a bottle over and told me that he had a new Canadian Whisky that he wanted me to try blind. I agreed (it was a free trial after all) and my impressions were formed without knowledge of what I was tasting. I discovered that this new whisky had a very traditional taste profile with an old-fashioned dry Canadian Whisky flavour complete with that soft bitterness that accompanies the rye grain. It also carries dusty grain and light tobacco flavours alongside a mild butterscotch and vanilla.

The Spirit is not overly complex, and it seems to beg to be mixed with a dollop of ice and a splash of ginger-ale.

In the Throat 11.5/15

The exit seemed smooth at first, but as I sipped I began to notice a bit of burn creeping in warming the back of my throat and my palate. There is not much sweetness to counter the heat, and so an ice-cube is required. Better yet, add that splash of ginger-ale too.

The Afterburn 8/10

Rangeland is a nice whisky. It is of, course a mixer; but it is a pleasant mixer which does not need to be drowned by soda, rather it does well mixed at a ratio of 50 % whisky to 50 % ginger ale. As my friend left the bottle with me, I was able to experiment and discovered it was an extremely good choice of whisky for one of my own designed cocktails, the Canadian Caribou (see recipe below).

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


Suggested Recipe

Canadian CaribouCanadian Caribou

1 1/2 oz Rangeland Rye Whisky
1/2 oz Yukon Jack
Splash of Ginger Ale

Fill an Old-fashioned glass with Ice
Add the whisky and Yukon Jack
Complete with a splash of Ginger Ale
Garnish with a lemon Slice

Enjoy Responsibly!

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.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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