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Centennial 10 Year Old Canadian Whisky

Review: Centennial 10 year Old Canadian Whisky    90/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on December 8, 2009

Centennial is a 10 Year Old Whisky produced by Alberta’s own Highwood Distillers. Rather than using corn to as the base grain for this whisky, Highwood uses soft Canadian winter wheat. This gives the Centennial a smooth and soft flavour profile unlike any other Canadian whisky I have encountered. In fact, using grains grown exclusively on the Canadian prairies, distilling the grain in their home Province of Alberta, and aging the spirit in the severe Western Canadian climate for a minimum of ten years, makes  Centennial is a Whisky unlike any other in the world.

In the Bottle 4/5

The Centennial comes in an elegant tall slender bottle. A neat little booklet is roped around the slender neck. This little booklet tells the story of the whisky’s distillation and blending. To crown the presentation the sleek bottle is capped by a straight sided high density cork. The only drawback is that the bottle is too tall for my liquor cabinet. A very minor quibble.

In the Glass 9/10

The whisky is pale brown with amber tones which seems to accent a honeyed caramel aroma that rises from the glass. The liquid displays very little oiliness in the glass, and the rye notes are somewhat mellowed compared to a normal Canadian Rye. The use, by Highwood’s Master Blender, of wheat instead of the usual corn in the blend provides a more mellow and polished nose than a straight rye would have.

In the Mouth 54/60

A clean crisp rye which fairly oozes honey and spice. This is polished and subdued, with the hard rye buffed and smoothed. The spices are light and enjoyable, and I find the balance to be superb. A purist of Canadian rye may complain that the rye flavour sits too far backward in the taste profile, but I disagree. The entire presentation is smooth and mellow. No awkward heavy notes spoil the parade, and the character of this whisky remains true regardless of previous taste experiences on my palate.

In the Throat 14/15

Smooth and clean right through to the finish. The faintest touch of bourbon appears on exit, and the experience is well worth enjoying again.

The Afterburn 9/10

Highwood Distillers are truly one of the best kept secrets of the whisky world. The entire experience of this rye is completely enjoyable. The only possible flaw would be that I would consider the spirit to be a mood whisky. The mood is mellow and smooth almost to the point of suave. It is possible that the consumer may occasionally want a little harder kick in the throat when he chooses rye to drink. But for a more sublime rye experience, this is one of the best.

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


Suggested Cocktail:

Whisky SplashHere is a cocktail which works well with any good Canadian Rye Whisky.

Canadian Whisky Splash

2 oz Canadian Rye 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

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)


13 Responses to “Centennial 10 Year Old Canadian Whisky”

  1. Paul said

    Just tried this recently. I agree – a welcome addition to the Canadian whisky scene. I agree completely with you on the issue of presentation: so many Canadian whiskies are packaged rather indifferently. Ours is a huge country with huge potential for creativity and product development. I do wish we’d see more of a single-malt mentality take hold in our industry – not price-wise, but individuality-, personality-, and flavour-interest-wise. The presentation of this rye is perfect: elegant bottle and classy cork stopper. The whisky also has personality, which is important. As someone who does not enjoy mixed drinks, I like to be able to try a whisky and see character in it.

  2. Ramon Duarte Vargas said

    This is my comment of this special and smooth 10 years whisky I taste of all time. I thank Canadian for make such a good whisky.I do live in Chile Santiago and my brother live in Toronto so every time when someone comes to Chile brings me this delicious whisky.OHHH Canada always.

  3. And try it, Centennial, or Alberta Springs Premium, as a Manhattan…. my favourite rye cocktail. 2 oz Rye, 1/2 oz sweet vermouth (red), a dash of bitters, all in a shaker with a couple cubes of ice. Shake well. Strain into, I prefer a martini glass, and dress with a maraschino cherry in the bottom, and I also like just a dash of the maraschino juice…. and enjoy. A dandy working class male cocktail, in my view. Which some ladies might also enjoy, no doubt. And who doesn’t like a cherry in the bottom? 🙂

  4. David said

    I bought his thinking it would be above the norm. I find it not so. However, when mixed with a little squeezed lemon and a pinch of sugar with ice it is a very pleasant tote.

    • It is a pity you did not find the Centennial lived up to your expectations. As you can see from the previous comments, your experience was kind of off the norm so to speak. However I am glad that you liked it when mixed as a Whisky Sour. Hopefully this makes up for your initial disappointment.

      Cheers and have a great day!!

  5. Vera said

    My first experience with centennial rye has been the most satisfying whisky that I ever tasted, it is so smooth, I just love it. I think that distillery should put more effort in advertising and promoting of that suberb whisky, especially in Toronto, where many LCBO stores do not carry it. We are proud of our Canadian products, thank you.

    • Thanks Vera

      I quite agree that Highwood’s Centennial is a wonderfully smooth whisky. And I have in the past chastised them for the lack of attention they pay to the details of product presentation and advertising. The trouble is that they really are just a small company who do not have the financial resources of the the bigger spirits conglomerates like Diageo, Corby, and Beam Global (owners of Crown Royal, Wiser’s, and Canadian Club respectively).

  6. Jerry Munro said

    Like Scott, I’ve been a scotch drinker mostly, but the price of single malts puts it in the occassional and “special occassion” category for me. My favourite scotch blend is Grant’s.

    Which has led me of late to sample some of the better Canadian whiskies. Of which, thus far, I have been most impressed with the taste, smoothness, nose and polish of this Centennial bottle of Rye/Wheat blend I bought a week ago. A very nice sipping whiskey that stands well on its own… 1 1/2 oz to an ice cube. I like it better than Jack Daniel’s, and at least as good as Grant’s, in my view.

    I intend, on the strength of this sampling, to try other “sipping” Canadian whiskies, but will certainly return to another of Centennial. Of that you can be sure.

    Jerry Munro
    Revelstoke, BC

    • As I have said in the past, Highwood is one of the whisky world’s best kept secrets. I am glad both you and Scott seem to agree. As for Grant’s, I have recently tried their Sherry Cask Blend and found it to be very nice.

    • Garry Rennie said

      Is there a person of Scottish descent who does not enjoy a wee sip of Scotch ?

      Garry Rennie
      Kelowna BC

      • Jerry Munro said

        Welll, afterall, scotch whiskey is the “uisge beatha” or “water of life” as it was called in ancient times. 🙂 Though my wife, cynic if fine woman that she be, scoffs at that description.

        Two possible origins for whiskey coming to be distilled in Scotland. “It is generally accepted that whisky has been distilled in Scotland for hundreds of years, and different theories as to its origins have been suggested. Some state that is was brought into Scotland by missionaries from Ireland; others point out that, as the Arabs were among the first to learn distillation techniques , thus knights returning from Crusades could have brought the knowledge back with them.”

        Which I thought was interesting, considering the times in the Middle East especially. 🙂

        Jerry Munro
        Revelstoke, BC

  7. Scott said

    My favorite Rye… I’m a scotch man, but with the prices of scotch in Canada, i cant afford to be drinking those on a regular basis… This sits nicely in my liquor cabinet as my “everyday” whisky

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