Three years ago a new whisky was produced in Canada which was completely different from any other whisky I had seen. For one thing, the distillation mash for the whisky was based primarily upon wheat, not barley, corn, or rye. (This was not as surprising as you may think, as the distillers of White Owl Whisky are Highwood Distillers, based in High River, Alberta. They have, after all, been distilling their very wonderful Centennial Whisky with a wheat based mash for many years.) However, it was the next feature of the whisky which I found most interesting and unusual. White owl is a clear, well-aged, ‘cocktail’ whiskey! In fact if the bottle did not say whisky on the front you would be forgiven for believing this was an Ultra-premium Vodka, until you opened the bottle, at which time you would realize that the spirit inside is unmistakably whisky!
The whisky achieves its clear form by the means of carbon filtration. Highwood crafts and blends an aged whisky, and then runs it through a filtration process to remove all colour and smooth out the taste profile. This is a first for me, and I believe a first for well-aged Canadian Whisky!
I was lucky enough (sorry Portwood, I couldn’t resist) to receive a sample bottle directly from the distillery after touring the facility three years ago, and today, as the good folks at Highwood Distillers are hard at work cleaning up after the recent flash flood which affected their town and their distillery (read here), I thought it would be nice to revisit my review of three years ago. (My original review was, I believe the first published review for Highwood’s ground breaking cocktail whisky.)
Please click on the excerpt to read my revised review. (Actually only slightly edited to correct some grammatical errors in the original review. I concluded after a recent tasting that the character and quality of the whisky had not changed.)
“… As I take the first sip, the first impression I have is of a soft whisky flavour accented by a hint of licorice. The oak flavours are mild and there is no harsh tannin or unbridled spice. Yet in the background, if you let it develop, that true Canadian rye whisky spice and flavour present themselves. Butterscotch rises and falls as does the hint of licorice and even a touch of cereal grain …”
Three years ago, I was so enthusiastic about this new whisky that my review included, not one or two, but rather five cocktail recipes which all tasted fantastic when made with White Owl Whisky.
(And for the record, I am still enthusiast about Highwood’s ‘cocktail whisky’, and I still feel very lucky to have been on of the very first persons to have received a sample bottle three years ago.)