Wild Cinnamon Whisky Liqueur
Review: Wild Cinnamon Whisky Liqueur 83/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted August 5, 2012
Highwood Distillers is a Canadian spirits manufacturer in the town of High River, Alberta, which is situated 40 minutes south of Calgary, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Recently, I visited this distillery, and watched first hand as they turned the local prairie grains into whisky, vodka. and gin. They make their spirits one batch at a time in a family style atmosphere which could not help but make me a fan.
Recently I received a sample of their Wild Cinnamon Whisky Liqueur. The spirit represents a fusion of Canadian Whisky and aromatic cinnamon. No artificial flavours or additives (except caramel for colour) have been used in the production of this whisky liqueur which is bottled at 36 % alcohol by volume.
In the Bottle 4/5
I like the bottle pictured to the left which houses the Wild Cinnamon Whisky Liqueur. It has substance, and the short squat look is appealing to me. The label, is decent, but the brown/bronze lettering is hard to read against the black background (I had a devil of a time reading the proof statement). It could also have a little more ‘pop’, and that is the reason why I included the advertising graphic I found on the Highwood website in the introduction to this review. That graphic has ‘pop’.
Imagine if you can, that brown lettering turned to a brighter shade of gold, and those flames from the advertising graphic wrapped around the bottle from one side of the label to the other. That would give this bottle ‘pop’.
In the Glass 8.5/10
This whisky liqueur is all about cinnamon! When I pour the liquid from the bottle into my glass and bring it to my nose, what I smell first and foremost is cinnamon. In fact the aroma is very reminiscent of those little red cinnamon heart candies which are all the rage on Valentines Day. Under this obvious cinnamon scent are some indications of whisky, but these whisky accents are only that, accents upon a strong cinnamon presence.
As the glass sits and breathes the whisky places more of a mark upon the nose as the aroma over the glass becomes less sweet and begins to resemble those old wooden cinnamon toothpicks, I used to chew on when I was a kid.
In the Mouth 50/60
The first sip brings those little red cinnamon heart candies right back into my consciousness. (This whisky liqueur is earning its ‘wild’ name as my palate and the back of my throat are filled with cinnamon heat.) There is a nice sweetness to the spirit, and when I inspect the back of the bottle I see that the ingredients list includes invert sugar along with whisky, water, natural flavour, and caramel colour. This added sugar is acceptable in a liqueur, and I suspect that the overall flavour wouldn’t work without the sweet added to the heat. What I am wondering at this point, is what am I supposed to do with the Wild Cinnamon Whisky Liqueur? Sipping the liqueur is pleasurable, but the cinnamon builds up fast, and I suspect that it will soon overwhelm me.
I decided to try a little in a shot glass, and took a nice swig ‘shot style’. The cinnamon heat cranked my tonsils, but the aftertaste left in my mouth was actually quite appealing. Then, I decided to mix some cola with my sample glass and I tried a fifty-fifty mixture. The result was very nice, and next I added an ice-cube as well. I found the result enjoyable to sip as it featured a more subdued heat, and the caramel from the cola works particularly well with the cinnamon. Mixing with ginger-ale worked surprising well too (see recipe below).
When I reflect on the Wild Cinnamon whisky I realize that it probably has plenty of mixing options. At Christmas time I think I will try some in my eggnog. And punch style recipes seem an obvious direction to go as well. I think I will have fun exploring the options.
In the Throat 12/15
The finish, as one would suspect, is fully heated by the cinnamon. The sweetness from the invert sugar helps to subdue this heat, but only a little. The red cinnamon candy aftertaste is delicious; but if you sip, please sip judiciously.
The Afterburn 8.5/10
The whisky liqueur lives up to its name providing strong wild cinnamon heat across the palate and past the tonsils. I found this spirit was nice to sip, although only in small doses. It works as a shot style whisky, although again only in small gulps. Where the liqueur really finds its place though is in cocktails. That strong cinnamon flavour works surprisingly well in a variety of bar drinks. Down below is just one recipe which I found quite delicious.
You may read some of my other reviews of Liqueurs and Flavoured Spirits (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
The Buzz Saw
1 1/2 ounce Wild Cinnamon Whisky Liqueur
1 drop Angostura Bitters
Slice of orange
Muddle the orange slice in the bottom of old-fashioned glass
Add the ice, a drop of Angostura Bitters and the Wild Cinnamon Whisky
Fill with ginger ale
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)