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Signal Hill Canadian Whisky

Review: Signal Hill Canadian Whisky  79/100
a review by Chip Dykstra
Posted May 16, 2023

Signal Hill is a Canadian landmark which overlooks St. John’s, the capital city of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is so named as it was upon on this historic site that the first reported transatlantic telecommunications signals were received. Signal Hill is also the home of the historic Cabot Tower. Construction of this Canadian monument began in 1898 as the tower was built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland, as well as to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

Signal Hill is also the name of a relatively new Canadian Whisky partially owned by Canadian actor Dan Aykroyd, the Blues Brother who also owns a stake in Crystal Head Vodka.

The Canadian Whisky blend is produced from two grains, corn and barley. The corn is double distilled on a column still producing a light, smooth spirit. The barley is pot distilled to create a more flavourful, heavier whisky. After blending, the whisky uses a non-chill filtration process preserving the heavier flavour molecules and oils from the distillation with the aim of a fuller mouthfeel and smoother finish.

To mature the spirit, it is aged in three types of wood,  new ‘white’ oak casks for notes of vanilla, caramel and toffee; first-run Bourbon casks for flavours of dried raisins and plums, and reused Canadian Whisky Casks to draw out the characteristics of the grains.

The whisky has no age statement, however by Canadian law the spirit must be minimally aged in oak casks for at least three years to be sold in Canada as Canadian Whisky.

In the Bottle 4/5

I guess I got a little carried away with my tastings and didn’t realize that I had not snapped a picture of this bottle until about a third of the contents had vanished. Hopefully this doesn’t bother anyone too much. Signal Hill arrives in the nice tall oval bottle shown to the left. The bottle is quite nice with its unusual slender oval shape, long neck and heavy base. The front label is minimalist giving us only a minimal amount of information and leaving out an age statement. The back of the bottle gives us a little history about Signal Hill for which the Whisky is named.

In the Glass 8/10

The Whisky has a nice amber colour, and the nose is both spicy and fruity. The spiciness comes in the form of fine oak and is accented by light baking spices (ginger, cinnamon and cloves). The fruitiness hints at rye grain (whether present or not), orange peel, green apple and raisins. Vanilla, almond and butterscotch, round out my initial impressions of the breezes above the glass.

As I let the glass breathe I notice hints of sour fruit, a light dabble of corn, some bits of leather and more fine oak spice winding into the air. I also sense some alcohol astringency and hints of solvent giving me a sense that perhaps the age statement was left off the whisky so as not to highlight its youthfulness.

In the Mouth 47.5/60

The flavour is that of a typical Canadian Whisky with fine oak and grain spices at the front followed by a sort of sour, lightly fermented fruitiness. Orange peel, vanilla and almond add a little complexity and the overall effect is a whisky that is flavourful, but a little rough around the edges as well. This whisky is non-chill filtered with the intent of providing more of the flavour, but some of that extra flavour seems to be outside the rails so to speak. (Perhaps for a young spirit, chill-filtration has some advantages.)

Caramel, hints of nicotine, leather and raisins can all be found in the flavour profile as well as almonds and ample vanilla. However that rough quality continues to dampen my enthusiasm. During each tasting session I had with the Signal Hill, I came to the same conclusion. I needed to add ice, and then some ginger-ale. With those additions the whisky is just fine. Fortunately I am a Whisky and ginger-a;e enthusiast so I did not complain.

In the Throat   11.5/15

Sweet and sour fruit and fine wood spices are followed by a punky caramel in the exit. The spicy heat and hints of alcohol astringency make the finish a little rough and tumble. I guess in that way, this is a bit of an old fashioned Canadian Whisky.

The Afterburn 8/10

Signal Hill is, for my taste anyway, is a mixing whisky. It is best served with ice and ginger-ale rather than in an Old-Fashioned Cocktail.

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


Recommended Serving

Canadian Whisky and Ginger-ale 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


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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