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Posts Tagged ‘Highwood Distillers’

Rum Howler 2014 #7 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve (Lot 1525)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014I have been inside the Highwood Distillery’s aging warehouse, and have seen up close the barrels of whisky stacked four levels high, row upon row. The wonderful aroma of the ‘angels share’ permeates the facility, and it offered me a gentle intoxication if only I were to stay a little longer. Perhaps, one day I will return and stay just a little longer; but, for now I am content to carry the memory of that heady aroma in my mind.

Somewhere in that barrel aging warehouse is a darkened corner where all of the oak barrels are all stamped “Lot 1525“. This  corner contains the oldest whisky in the entire facility, with the age of the whisky inside the barrels ranging  from 15 to 25 or more years. (It has been hinted to me that some of these barrels contain whisky that is up to 33 years old!) These whisky barrels were originally part of the consignment of whisky acquired when Highwood purchased the Potters Distillery in 2005. As such, these are barrels of whisky produced from the corn-based distillate in Kelowna, British Colombia.

Century Reserve 1525 SAM_1403These barrels made the journey to the Highwood facility in 2005 (from the Potter’s facility in Kelowna BC), and have been sitting in that darkened corner waiting to be tapped and bottled. When the time is right, Highwood’s Master Blender carefully chooses the right barrels, and then carefully blends the wonderful elixir within to create Lot 1525 Century Reserve Custom Blend Canadian Rye Whisky.

The spirit represents a gem of a whisky from those folks in High River, and this whisky is ranked Number 7 in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is a link to the review I posted on August 28, 2010:

#7 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve (Lot 1525)

“… A beautiful amber hue seems to accent a lovely honey and caramel aroma rising from the glass. Wonderful mellow rye notes accompany the honey and the caramel and a light bourbon vanilla seems to drift above the glass in the breezes.  The impact of nosing the glass is a well received feeling of luxury, and elegance which is divine …”

My review for the Century Reserve (Lot 1525) has remained unchanged for over four years despite several tasting session over this time when I chose to revisit the brand. Whereas I seem to notice subtle changes in other spirits over time, this particular whisky seems to maintain consistency from batch to batch and from year to year. In 2010 it was a great whisky, and now in 2014 it remains so.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler 2014 #11 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve 21 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 14, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014In November of 2005, Highwood Distilleries Ltd. finalized the purchase of Potters Distilleries (founded by Ernie Potter in 1958). Part of this acquisition, was the purchase of all of the remaining barrel aged stocks of whisky in the Potters facility. These barrels of whisky were transferred from the Potters warehouse facilities in Kelowna, B.C. to the newly constructed warehouse facility in High River, Alberta, where they were allowed to continue to age at the foot of the Rocky Mountains on the western edge of the Canadian Prairies. The whisky brands which Potters had established (Century and Potters) were added to the Highwood portfolio.

Century_Reserve_21_Yr_-_shadowCentury Reserve 21 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky, is a premium a 21-year-old single grain corn whisky. Those old Potter’s stocks from which this whisky is drawn (produced, I believe from a single bond) have been slowly aging with the result that the age of this whisky has been increasing each year even though the label still says 21 Year Old.

I am a big fan of Highwood Distillers and their great whiskies, their Century Reserve 21 Year Old checks in as the 11th best Canadian Whisky of 2014!

#11 Canadian Whisky – Century Reserve 21 Year Old

“… The breezes above the glass are luscious. Indications of roasted corn-0n-the-cob, rich oak spices, toffee, butterscotch, and tobacco all rise up to greet my nose. As the whisky breathes, those scents and smells above the glass become even richer with oak sap, stronger tobacco accents, marmalade and hints of vanilla pudding marrying themselves into the overall aroma …”

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Rum Howler #21 Canadian Whisky – Potters Special Old Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 4, 2014

rum_howler_badge-2014Potter’s Special Old Rye Whisky was originally produced by Potter’s Distilleries (founded by Ernie Potter in 1958). When Highwood Distillers finalized the purchase of Potter’s Distilleries in 2005, they brought all of the aging whisky stocks from the Potter’s warehouse facilities in Kelowna, British Colombia to their new warehouse facility in High River, Alberta and continued to let them age at their site in the foothills just east of the Rocky Mountains. From these aging whisky stocks Highwood has kept the Potter’s Whisky brands alive, incorporating them into their portfolio of whisky products.

Potter's Special OldPotter’s Special Old Rye Whisky is primarily a corn-based whisky which has been aged in charred American White Oak barrels for 4 – 5 years.

You may read my newly revised review by clicking the link below:

Review: Potter’s Special Old Rye Whisky

“… The rye is front and center on the nose with light vanilla following and hints of corn fields waving in the background. Fine wood spices and orange peel build in the air as the glass breathes and some light grassy tobacco scents gather as well. This smells like a good old-fashioned Canadian Whisky and in fact it reminds me of the style whisky I drank 25 years ago. … “

Potter’s Special Old is a really nice traditional Canadian Rye Whisky. Whether you want to enjoy it in a traditional rye cocktail, or if you want to slowly sip on a nice tonsil licking whisky, this one fits the bill. I have been impressed and delighted by what I have found.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 12, 2014

Ninety_25_Year_Old_-_shadow_2013_06In November of 2005, Highwood Distillers finalized the purchase of Potters Distilleries (founded by Ernie Potter in 1958). Part of this acquisition, was the purchase of all of the remaining barrel aged stocks of whisky in the Potters facility. These barrels of whisky were transferred from the Potters warehouse facilities in Kelowna, B.C. to the newly constructed warehouse facility in High River, Alberta, where they were allowed to continue to age at the foot of the Rocky Mountains on the western edge of the Canadian Prairies. The whisky brands which Potters Distilleries had established (Century and Potters) were added to Highwood’s portfolio of spirits where they have not only been maintained but also expanded upon. Part of that expansion was the 2013 addition of the ‘Ninety’ branded whiskies to the Century Distillers line-up. Like the other whiskies in the Century portfolio, the Ninety branded spirits are corn-based rather than wheat-based blends. (Highwood Distillers uses the Highwood brand for all of its wheat based whiskies.)

Highwood chose the brand name ‘Ninety’ because these new whiskies are bottled at 90 proof (or 45 % alcohol by volume) rather than the usual 80 proof (40 % alcohol by volume). The higher bottling strength means that the final whisky will retain a character closer to the original cask strength whiskies from which they were blended. In the case of the Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky, the bulk of blend almost certainly has been drawn from Highwood’s treasured reserves of remaining Potters whisky stocks which are rumoured to contain barrels of whisky as old as 33 years.

The subject of this review, is the Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky. Although I have previously reviewed this Canadian Whisky based upon a pre-flood sample, I recently received a post-flood sample of the whisky, and decided to revisit the review.

You may read the results of my efforts by clicking the following link to read the full review:

Review: Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Whisky

“… The different aspects of the aroma (the wood and rye spiciness and the corn and butterscotch sweetness) are melded together beautifully creating a very enticing aroma in the air above the glass. As I enjoy those breezes, I also notice impressions of creamy vanilla pudding, hints of almond turning to sweeter marzipan, zesty orange peel turning to sticky marmalade, and lightly sweetened cereal grain (which actually reminds me of Post Honeycomb cereal) …”

Please enjoy my review revisitation. The Ninety “Decades of Richness 20 Year Old Canadian Whisky is one of the best spirits I have had the pleasure to taste this year!

 

 

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Review: Ninety (Premium cask Aged) 5 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 26, 2014

Ninety_5_Year_Old_Just before the disruptions caused by flooding during the summer of 2013 in Southern Alberta, Highwood Distillers released a limited quantity of their new “Ninety” branded whiskies under their Century Distillers banner. The news of these whisky releases was unfortunately drowned out (quite literally) by the waters that engulfed Southern Alberta. If you followed the news regarding the aftermath of the flood (see story here) you will know that it took more than a few weeks for the company to bring itself back onto its feet. In fact, all of the bottled inventory in Highwood’s warehouse had to be destroyed due to potential contamination from the water that penetrated the distillery.

An unfortunate victim of all this disruption was those “Ninety” branded whiskies which all but disappeared from liquor store shelves as Highwood had to temporarily abandon production of this new brand in order to focus on re-establishing their other major brands across Canada. The good news is that the Ninety branded whiskies have been relaunched as both the Ninety 5 Year Old and the Ninety 20 Year Old have made a re-appearance in Alberta and British Columbia, and their first appearance in Ontario.

Canadian Caribou

Canadian Caribou

The subject of this review, is the Ninety (Premium cask Aged) 5 Year Old Whisky, which is produced from corn-based distillate which has been matured for 5 years in charred oak barrels and bottled at 90 proof or 45 % alcohol by volume.

Although I have previously reviewed the Ninety 5 Year Old Whisky based upon a pre-flood sample, this week I revisited a post-flood sample of the whisky. You may read the results of my efforts by clicking the following link to read the full review:

Review: Ninety 5 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky

“… The initial breezes above glass reveal scents of freshly sanded oak, spicy rye, fresh cornstalks, and delicate touches of honey, butterscotch, vanilla and a light dab of corn syrup …”

For your entertainment, I have added one of my original recipes for you to try at the conclusion of my review, the Canadian Caribou.

Please enjoy both the new review and the suggested recipe!

 

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Gin and Tonic Challenge – Sahara Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 26, 2014

Sahara and Tonic SAM_1258Highwood Distillers, who provided my recent sample of Sahara Dry Gin, is a Canadian distillery situated in the town of High River, Alberta, which lies just about 40 minutes due south of Calgary, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The distillery was originally established as the Sunnyvale Distillery in 1974, however it was renamed ‘Highwood Distillers’ in 1984 linking the Distillery geographically to the nearby Highwood River and the scenic foothills in which the Town of High River is situated.

Sahara Dry Gin is produced in the London Dry style from Canadian prairie wheat and naturally sourced Rocky Mountain water. Juniper, Citrus of Lemon, and other botanicals are all added during the final distillation. The gin is as described, very dry; so dry in fact, that the folks at Highwood Distillers named it Sahara.

When I reviewed this local gin I was quite taken in by its lightly bitter, softly dry nature, and I was very enthusiastic about the cocktails which I constructed which included a Lime Fizz, a Lime Gimlet, and of course a Gin and Tonic. During this challenge (about half way through it actually), when I made my G&T cocktail with the Sahara Gin, I was taken in all over again. It was so good that I made the decision to delay its published score such that I could sample it head to head against the other G&T cocktails which populated my leader board, and use it as the yard stick by which I would judge the other Gin and Tonics by. A few of the G&T cocktails which I made came close, but none measured up to the wonderful G&T made with the Sahara Dry Gin.

I think, and I am only guessing here, that it is the wheat base for the gin is what makes everything work so well. Although the Sahara Gin is very dry, it has a softness and a mellow quality which I have noticed before in spirits distilled from wheat. It is this softness combined with the dryness that is making me like the gin so much. In fact in my review, I concluded that this is a paradigm shifting gin which softly rocked my cocktail world!

All of the results from my head to head sampling is completed, and the Best Gin for Gin and Tonic Cocktails is Highwood’s Sahara Dry Gin with an outstanding G&T Score of 91.5/100.

All of my Scores for the Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge can be found here:

Rum Howler 2014 Gin and Tonic Challenge

As well you may read my newly published review of Sahara Dry Gin here:

Review: Sahara Dry Gin

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Posted in Awards, Extras, Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Review: Sahara Dry Gin

Posted by Arctic Wolf on July 20, 2014

SAM_1211 Sahara GinHighwood Distillers is a Canadian distillery located just east of the Canadian Rockies in the town of High River, Alberta. I have visited the distillery and watched first hand as they turned the local wheat into whisky, vodka. and gin. Their Sahara Dry Gin is produced in the London Dry style from locally produced wheat and naturally sourced Rocky Mountain water. I am not privy to the exact recipe of this gin, but according to their own website, juniper, citrus of lemon, and other botanicals are all added during the final distillation. This is s very dry gin. So dry in fact, that the folks at Highwood named it Sahara.

Lime Crusta with Sahara Dry Gin

Lime Crusta with Sahara Dry Gin

Sahara Dry Gin recently received a bit of a make-over and is now sold in a stubby new bottle which is shown to the left. I was recently provided a sample bottle in the new configuration by the folks at Highwood for the purpose of a revisiting my previous review here on my website. As this gin was likely produced after the distillery was retrofitted with new equipment after the flooding of 2013.

I thought revisiting my review was timely.

Here is a link to my full review:

Review: Sahara Dry Gin

“… The nose has a laid back quality of juniper and lighter accents of lemon and grapefruit. There is a bit of an alpine scent mingled with the juniper and perhaps some scents of willow thicket, meadow grass, and spring flowers. Everything is all rather mellow; but it is also rather enjoyable …”

I included two nice cocktails at the conclusion of the review, a very nice ‘cooler’ style cocktail to enjoy with the Sahara, the Jumping Buffalo Cooler, and my brand new cocktail, the Lime Crusta!

Please enjoy my review and my suggested cocktails, Cheers!

Posted in Gin, Gin Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: White Owl Ginger Lime Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 29, 2014

SAM_1187 Last, year Highwood Distillers was severely impacted by a massive flash flood which devastated Southern Alberta on June 20th, 2013. The folks working at the distillery had only minutes of warning before the flood hit, and the severity of the event was such that some distillery staff had to be rescued from the tops of their cars by helicopter. If you followed the news regarding the aftermath of the flood (see my story here) you will know that it took more than a few weeks for the company to bring itself back onto its feet. Fortunately for those of us who love Canadian whisky, the distillery picked up the pieces and literally came roaring back to life. In fact, this past Christmas when my tasting panel and I blind-tasted and judged over 45 of the best Canadian Whiskies, Highwood Distillers placed more bottlings in the top 25 than any other Canadian Distillery (see the Top 25 list here).

This should not be considered a recent success, as Highwood has for years now been producing some of the most unique (and under-appreciated) whisky in Canada. In fact, in 2010, they broke new ground, (and a few sales records too), when they introduced their premium clear cocktail whisky, White Owl Whisky (see review here). To say this product was s success is a vast understatement, as the only problem that surfaced with respect to the White Owl Whisky was that Highwood could not make it fast enough to satisfy the demand across Canada. In 2012, the distillery extended the White Owl brand with White Owl Spiced Whisky (see review here), and this year they extended the brand once more with their White Owl Ginger Lime Whisky. Like the previous spirits which have carried the White Owl brand, this is a cocktail whisky carrying at its heart, Highwood’s famous clear White Owl Whisky, but in this case, it is enhanced with zesty lime and ginger flavours.

Cucumber delight SAM_1140

Cucumber Delight

You may read my full review of the White Owl Ginger and Lime Whisky here:

Review: White Owl Ginger Lime Whisky

“… when you bring the glass to your nose you cannot mistake the mild butterscotch, sandalwood and rye notes which rise into the breezes telling you that the base of this flavoured spirit is a gentle rye whisky. As the glass breathes, spicy notes of ginger begin to increase in strength, and building with them is the unmistakable zesty, but retrained note of lime and citrus peel …”

This is a cocktail whisky, and so of course I had to try a few mixed drink recipes during the review process. At the conclusion of the review I decided to feature a recipe of my creation, Cucumber Delight.

Please enjoy the review and the cocktail recipe provided.  :)

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Flavoured Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

#1 Canadian Whisky – Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 25, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYEighteen months ago, Highwood Distillers, (Alberta’s only privately owned distillery) released a single bond offering (Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky) which was produced entirely from corn distillate which had been aged for a full 25 years in charred American white oak barrels. The release of this whisky commemorated the Centennial of Calgary’s world-famous rodeo (The Calgary Stampede), and it was bottled as a Limited Edition, Ultra-Premium, 25 Year Old Commemorative Canadian Whisky. This single grain offering was blended entirely with naturally sourced Rocky Mountain spring water, and was limited to a production run of only 6000 bottles.

Stampede WhiskyIn order to maintain good contact with the oak during the lengthy aging process, this bond was re-gauged or re-barreled twice during its maturing life. New barrels were not introduced when Highwood distiller’s made the liquid consolidation. Instead they chose to maintain the aging process in the original barrels into which the spirit began its maturation.

The result was a very special whisky, one which my judges without exception scored extremely well. In fact, this particular whisky was ranked number 1 by three out of the four judges (and the dissenting judge had it ranked number 3). This means that the Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky not only wound up as the Number 1 Canadian Whisky in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown, it actually separated itself from the rest of the field by a noticeable margin. Here is a link to my original review of the 25 Year old Commemorative Stampede Whisky which I published in July 2012, judged by my tasting panel to be the Best Canadian Whisky currently available in the world.

#1 Canadian Whisky – Calgary Stampede (Commemorative) 25 Year Old Whisky

“… The initial nose is rich with smells of oak and cedar. Butterscotch notes rise into the air accompanied by strong scents of honeycomb and cereal. As the glass sits, the oak spices continue to grow above the glass. I also receive impressions of melted vanilla ice cream, some appealing notes of marmalade and marzipan, and some strong notes of corn whisky rising into the merry little breezes …”

This Stampede Whisky finishes with an explosion of spice and echoes of vanilla, butterscotch and honey. It has a long lingering finish which leaves the mouth heated, but also leaves me wanting another glass!

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

#3 Canadian Whisky – Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 23, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYIn November of 2005, Highwood Distilleries Ltd. finalized the purchase of Potters Distilleries (founded by Ernie Potter in 1958). Part of this acquisition, was the purchase of all of the remaining barrel aged stocks of whisky in the Potters facility. These barrels of whisky were transferred from the Potters warehouse facilities in Kelowna, B.C. to the newly constructed warehouse facility in High River, Alberta, where they were allowed to continue to age at the foot of the Rocky Mountains on the western edge of the Canadian Prairies. The whisky brands which Potters Distilleries had established (Century and Potters) were added to Highwood’s portfolio of spirits where they have not only been maintained but also expanded upon. Part of that expansion was the recent addition of the ‘Ninety’ branded whiskies to the Century Distillers line-up. Like the other whiskies in the Century portfolio, the Ninety branded spirits are corn-based rather than wheat-based blends. (The Distillery uses the Highwood banner for all of its wheat based whiskies.)

Ninety_25_Year_Old_-_shadow_2013_06Highwood chose the brand name ‘Ninety’ because these new whiskies are bottled at 90 proof (or 45 % alcohol by volume) rather than the usual 80 proof (40 % alcohol by volume). The higher bottling strength means that the final whisky will retain a character closer to the original cask strength whiskies from which they were blended. In the case of the Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky, the bulk of blend almost certainly has been drawn from Highwood’s treasured reserves of remaining Potters whisky stocks which are rumoured to contain barrels of whisky as old as 33 years.

Here is a link to my new review of the Number 3 spirit in my Top 25 Canadian Whisky Countdown:

#3 Canadian Whisky – Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old

“… As I enjoy the breezes above the glass, I notice impressions of creamy vanilla pudding, hints of almond, some sticky marmalade, and a light sweetened grain-like component which actually reminds me of Post Honeycomb cereal. The longer you let the glass sit, the more firm and unified the aroma becomes, until after fifteen minutes or so it resembles a luscious butterscotch-oak-syrup that begs to be sipped …”

The Ninety “Decades of Richness” Canadian Rye Whisky has quickly become one of my very favourite whiskies, and for my palate, it is on par with the best Bourbons, and the best Single Malt Scotches I have tasted to this point in my whisky explorations. I wrote four years ago that Highwood Distillers was one of the best kept secrets in the whisky world, I suspect that is about to change.

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler 2013 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies

Posted in Awards, Canadian Whisky, Extras, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

 
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