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Posts Tagged ‘Highwood Whisky’

#23 Canadian Whisky – Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 3, 2013

rum_howler_badge- 25WHISKYI consider the Highwood Distillery to be a rather unique whisky producer making a style of Canadian Whisky unlike anything else on the Canadian Whisky landscape. What is so original about the Highwood Whisky is the grain from which it is distilled. Highwood is the only distillery which uses local Canadian prairie wheat for the distillation base of all of their Highwood branded whisky. They do this because wheat alcohol, rather than barley or corn alcohol, has less heavy, non-digestible components which makes for an extremely easy drinking spirit. As well, rather than distilling their grain upon a large column still (as most Canadian Whisky is produced) they make all of their whisky upon a pot still one batch at a time.

HW_Rye_Whisky_shadowI have been a rather vocal proponent of their style of whisky ever since I first tasted it. Highwood Whisky is suave, mellow and full of delicious, delicate flavour nuances. What a pleasant surprise it was to find that my Rum Chums liked the distillery’s flagship whisky more than I did. The result of all of this love, is that Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky landed at the number 23 spot on my Canadian Whisky Countdown.

Here is a link to my recent September review:

#23 Canadian Whisky – Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky

“… The first thing I noticed about the Highwood Whisky as I sipped it was that it is a smooth, gentle, and mellow whisky which has the soft sensation in the mouth of a much older whisky. Honeycomb, ginger, wood spice, and a light dab of vanilla all support a wonderfully clean, dusty rye flavour. There is polish in evidence here, but a little rough and tumble too, as the wood spices liven the mouth-feel and take me back in time to when rye was the King of Canadian Spirits …”

For those who are value conscious, I should make the point that this whisky is probably the most affordable spirit in the entire countdown, a hidden gem in the foothills of the Rockies!

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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

Review: Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 3, 2013

HW_Rye_Whisky_shadowAs the Highwood Distillery readies itself to recommence production at their facilities in High River, Alberta in the aftermath of the June 20th, 2013 flash flood. I thought it would be an appropriate time to revisit their flagship spirit, Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky. The Highwood Distillery is the only locally (Albertan) owned distillery in Canada. It sits in the heart of the High River community, producing more than 300,000 cases of bottled spirits per year. Although the bulk of their production goes towards Vodka, Flavoured Vodka, and Premixes, they also produce a sizable (and growing) amount of Canadian Whisky each year.

I consider the Highwood Canadian Whisky to be a unique product unlike anything else on the Canadian whisky landscape (I also find it very tasty). What is so original about the Highwood Whisky is the grain from which it is distilled. Highwood uses local Canadian prairie wheat for the distillation base of all of their Highwood branded whisky. This is because wheat alcohol, rather than barley or corn alcohol, has less heavy non-digestible components. This makes for an extremely smooth easy to drink whisky. After sampling most of the Highwood Whisky range, I have come to the conclusion that they are making some of the smoothest whisky in the world.

Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky is produced from prairie rye and wheat grain in a batch style distillation (the grains are distilled and aged separately). The whisky is aged for at least five years in charred American white oak barrels (without the addition of additives), and when it is mature, it is blended to produce that distinctive Canadian ‘rye’ flavour profile consistent with our Canadian Whisky. The whisky is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

You may read my review by clicking on the following excerpt (link):

Review: Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky

“… The first thing I noticed about the Highwood Whisky as I sipped it was that it is a smooth, gentle, and mellow whisky which has the soft sensation in the mouth of a much older whisky. Honeycomb, ginger, wood spice, and a light dab of vanilla all support a wonderfully clean, dusty rye flavour. There is polish in evidence here …”

I included two classic Canadian Whisky cocktails at the end of the review, the Canadian Rye-Whisky Splash, and the Old Fashioned Cocktail.

 

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

Review: Centennial Spiced Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 6, 2013

centennial-spiced

Not that long ago, I had a discussion with a well-known Master Blender (from a major producer of whisky) about the rush of spiced and flavoured rums and whiskies which are entering the marketplace. I lamented the fact that most of these spirits were constructed using young inexpensive spirits as their base, rather than beginning with a spirit which already showed age and character. The master distiller gave me this ‘father knows best’ look and explained that this category was meant for the new spirits consumer as an entry-level product, and using a better spirit as the base would just be a waste of good whisky (or rum). I countered that I thought the spiced and flavoured category could be much more; but I also quickly changed the subject. (I could see that he thought I was nuts).

Well maybe I am nuts; but recently, I actually received a sample of just the very kind of spiced whisky I had been talking about, Highwood Distillers - Centennial Spiced Canadian Whisky. Unlike most of the spiced and flavoured whiskies which have sprung up recently which use a very young whisky as the base for the spirit, Highwood’s Centennial Spiced Whisky uses a well aged 10-year-old whisky, (their own Centennial Rye Whisky) as the foundation for this spiced spirit.

And I am happy to report, that as I suspected, quality always shines through as my review attests, here is an excerpt:

“… Rather than a whisky buried by spice, we encounter flavours of vanilla, ginger, and cloves (and yes butterscotch too) which are lifted by the character of the well aged Centennial Whisky. Although the combination of spices does not appear to be complicated, there is a punch of ginger in the flavour profile that to me, taste’s absolutely brilliant …”

Here is a link to the full review which includes two cocktails, the Centennial Celebration, and Tall Ginger:

Review: Centennial Spiced Canadian Rye Whisky

Please enjoy this review of what I feel is a groundbreaking new spirit!

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

Review: True North Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 16, 2012

True North Rye Whisky is produced from western prairie wheat and grains. It is aged in charred American oak barrels for a minimum of three years (as per Canadian Law) before being blended and bottled at the Highwood facility in High River, Alberta. True North is what I refer to as an economy whisky. It is inexpensive compared to other whisky in its category, and is a whisky meant for tall drinks as well as other cocktails in bars and restaurants (or on your back deck).

Highwood Distillers is the only Canadian distillery which uses wheat as its primary distilled grain. I have noticed when tasting the wheat based spirits in their portfolio that this grain seems to lend a soft gentleness to the final spirit. They use Rye is in much smaller quantities, and this grain adds a flavourful spiciness. Corn may also be used, and when it is, the corn provides additional sweetness, and body to the spirit.

Earlier this summer, I was given a bottle of Highwood’s True North Whisky for the purpose of a review here on my website. Here is an excerpt from the resulting review:

“…. True North tastes pretty much like an old-fashioned rye whisky with a nice bite of rye spice complemented with notes of butterscotch and caramel. I can taste the spiciness of ginger with perhaps just a dash of cloves and cardamom, and a very light sweetness. The spiciness warms the mouth, but there is  just enough dusty dryness and flavours of ripened grain to appeal to me… “

You may read the full review here:

Review: True North Canadian Rye Whisky

I have also provided a nice cocktail with the review, the Rye-jito.

Please enjoy the review and cocktail.

Cheers!

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For those who are interested I have provided a detailed overview of Highwood’s distillation and whisky making process which you may find her:

The Highwood Distillery Tour

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Posted in Canadian Whisky, Cocktails & Recipes, Distillery Tour, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review of Potter’s Special Old Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 28, 2010

Potter’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 Old Rye Whisky is primarily a corn-based whisky which has been aged in charred American White Oak barrels for 4 – 5 years.  As per Canadian tradition, the whisky is labeled as a “Rye Whisky” because of the rye flavour profile which has been imparted by adding a percentage of aged rye grain whisky to the blend.  The bottle I am reviewing was given to me by Allan Owen, the Highwood Distillers Sales Rep in my area.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“…A clean spicy rye is out in front carried by light oak and the combination delivers a nice wonderful mouth-feel full of what I can only term as old-time traditional Canadian Whisky flavour. In fact this might just be the closest that I have come to recapturing the Canadian Whisky flavour that I remember from my younger days…”

You may read the full review here:

Review: Potters Special Old Rye Whisky

Please enjoy the review and the cocktail that follows.

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Cocktails & Recipes, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 30, 2010

The Highwood Distillery is the only locally (Albertan) owned distillery in the world. It sits in the heart of the High River community, producing more than 300,000 cases of bottled spirits per year. Although the bulk of their production goes towards Vodka, Flavoured Vodka, and Premixes, they also produce a sizable amount of Canadian Whisky each year. I guess you could say that I am partial to a success story that has occurred right in my own back yard, and I love to sample and review the spirits which Highwood Distillers produce.

I consider the Highwood Canadian Whisky to be a unique product unlike anything else on the whisky landscape (I also find it very tasty). What is so original about the Highwood Whisky is the grain from which it is distilled. Highwood uses local Canadian prairie wheat for the distillation base of all of their Highwood branded whisky. This is because wheat alcohol, rather than barley or corn alcohol, has less heavy non-digestible components. This makes for an extremely smooth easy to drink whisky. After sampling most of the Highwood Whisky range, I have come to the conclusion that they are making some of the smoothest whisky in the world.

At the recent Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival, I reconnected with Allan Owen, the Highwood sales Rep in my area. We had a nice chat, and he offered to drop a few more samples of whisky for me to review. The first of these samples was the Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky.

This is a Canadian whisky made from wheat grain which has been aged for at least five years in charred American white oak barrels. It is blended with an aged rye grain whisky to produce that distinctive Canadian ‘rye’ flavour profile.  Here is an excerpt from my review:

“…The first thing I noticed about the Highwood Whisky as I sipped it was that it is a smooth, gentle, and mellow whisky which has the soft sensation in the mouth of a much older whisky. Honeycomb, ginger, wood spice, and a light dab of vanilla all support a wonderfully clean, dusty rye flavour….”

You may read the full review by clicking this link:

Review: Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky

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

Review: Century Reserve (Lot 1525) Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 28, 2010

Somewhere in the Highwood Distillery 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 years. (It has been hinted to me that some of these barrels contain whisky that is perhaps even older!)  These whisky barrels were originally part of the consignment of whisky acquired when Highwood purchased the Potter’s Distillery in 2005.  As such, these are barrels of whisky produced from a corn-based distillation by the old Potters Distillery, in Kelowna British Colombia. The barrels made the journey to the Highwood facility in 2005 and have been sitting in the darkened corner waiting for the right moment to be tapped and bottled.  From this darkened corner, the Master Blender has carefully chosen just the right barrels, and then just as carefully blended the wonderful elixir within to create a blend of whisky which contains the distillery’s most prized aged whisky, the Lot1525 Century Reserve Custom Blend Canadian Rye Whisky.

I was inside the Highwood warehouse this past February, and I captured a few pictures of the aging barrels stacked four levels high standing row upon row. I remember the wonderful aroma of the ‘angels share’ permeating the facility, offering me a gentle intoxication if only I were to stay a little longer. Wisely, I headed to the door before I was subdued completely. 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.

Here is an excerpt from my review of the Review: Century Reserve (Lot 1525) Canadian Rye Whisky:

“…Smooth, clean and luxurious right through to the finish.  The faintest touches of honey and bourbon vanilla trail down the throat followed by the gentle burn of rye and oak spice.  This is one of the most luxurious, mellow finishes in all of Canadian whisky…”

You may read the full review here:

Review: Century Reserve (Lot 1525) Canadian Rye Whisky

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

Whisky Review: (Highwood Distillers) White Owl Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 4, 2010

There is a new whisky in Canada, and  it is completely different from any other whisky I have seen. The distillation mash for the whisky is based on wheat, not barley or corn, which is 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. It is the next feature of the whisky which I found most interesting and unusual. This is a clear aged  whiskey! In fact if the bottle did not say whisky on the front you might think you were buying Vodka…until you opened the bottle, at which time you would realize that the spirit in the bottle 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 Canadian Whisky! In fact Highwood makes the claim that this may be the first clear well aged whisky ever produced.

White Owl Whisky is the creation of Master Blender Glen Hopkins.  The whisky produced in High River is from locally supplied wheat which Hopkins claims “is the best source” for whisky in the entire world.  So without further ado, let me introduce Highwood’s  White Owl Whisky.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“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.  It is all very mellow and very good…”

You may read the full review here:

Review: (Highwood Distillers) White Owl Canadian Whisky

Of course I have provided a few nice cocktails which follow the review.

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Highwood Distillers of High River, Alberta was created as Sunnyvale Distillers in 1974.  During the first 35 years, the company saw moderate but steady growth.  A new management team was put in place in 1997, and in 2005 that the company asserted itself as a dominant player in the Canadian whisky industry with the acquisition of the Potters brand (Andres Wines).   With this new growth came the need for physical expansion of the facility, new equipment for packaging and a new warehouse directly across the street from the Distillery.  I had the opportunity to tour this new facility on February 17, 2010, and you can find my write up on this tour here:

The Highwood Distillery Tour

Highwood is now a major player in the Canadian Whisky category.  They are the only independent, Alberta owned, distillery in the world.  Boasting aged whisky stocks of up to 30 years, the company is poised to continue its success story into the future.

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Cocktails & Recipes, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | 23 Comments »

Howling Highlight: Highwood Distillers

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 26, 2010

Last week I took a little holiday from my regular routine and traveled 250 miles south to visit one of the last independent distillers of whisky in Canada. The trip took me 40 miles south of Calgary Alberta, to the town of High River, nestled beside the Rocky Mountains on the western edge of the prairies.

High River is a great little town full of bustle and western charm. I couldn’t resist the urge to spend a little time just driving through the town, visiting a few of the local businesses and taking in the atmosphere of the place and the people. What I found was a town of friendly people with a solid blue collar work ethic. They all seemed to bustling around doing something important. But in spite of this apparent busyness, they were more than happy to help me out with directions to the local sights and even willing to share a story or two about the local history.

Highwood Distillery is the only Albertan owned distillery in the world. It sits in the heart of the High River community, producing 300,000 cases of bottled spirits per year.

If you are interested in learning how Hiaghwood produces their whiskies, rums and vodkas, please click on the link provide for a full report on this uniquely Albertan Distliiery;

The Highwood Distillery Tour

I want to thank the staff at Highwood Distillers for taking the time to provide me with such a nice day at their facilities.   Look for future articles where I will review the samples of White Owl Whisky and Momento Rum which they provided me at the tours conclusion.

Posted in Distillery Tour, Howls | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off

Whisky Review: Centennial 10Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 8, 2009

Fifty Reviews and Going Strong

My Goodness.  It is been barely 7 weeks and I am publishing my Fiftieth Review.  Of course, this doesn’t mean I have consumed 50 bottles of Rum and Whisky in seven weeks, nor does it mean I have sampled 50 different bottles.  You see, when I opened this site I already had a variety of reviews complete and published elsewhere.  About twenty on the Ministry of Rum, three or four on Rum Connection, and about three whisky reviews on Refined Vices.  As well I had written about ten whisky reviews which had never been published, as well as one tequila review, and four or five rum reviews.  So the table was set seven weeks ago with almost forty reviews complete before I began my trip into the blogosphere.

I should also note, that long before I ever wrote my first full review; I was putting my thoughts onto paper, and keeping a catalog of my scores for various whiskies, (and some rums) in my handy dandy notebook.  I started doing this shortly after I bought my first copy of Jim Murray’s 2007 Whiskey Bible.  In fact I consider my writing  to be largely influenced by Jim Murray and his writing.  He is without a doubt, the best of the best when it comes to writing about whisky and probably spirits in general.

I still have all of those notes,  which I refer to constantly, as I write new reviews, so in a way it has been relatively easy to reach my fiftieth review milestone.

So why did I choose a relatively obscure Canadian Rye whisky to review for the big Five Zero.  Simple, it was next in line.  You see I try not to play favourites; I try not to display any bias when I write a review.  Choosing a particular distillery, or a particular spirit and claim it worthy of this milestone might just be the wrong way to present information that is meant to be impartial.

Not that Centennial 10Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky is in any way an inferior spirit. It happens to be very very good.  A true Canadian Rye whisky, but one with with a very interesting twist.  Centennial Rye Whisky, rather than having corn in the mash bill with the rye, uses Canadian soft Winter Wheat with the rye grain in the mash bill.  This gives the Centennial a smooth and soft flavour profile unlike any rye whisky I have encountered.  Using grains grown exclusively on the Canadian prairies, distilling the grain in my home Province of Alberta, and aging the spirit in the severe Western Canadian climate for a minimum of ten years, means  Centennial is a Rye Whisky unlike any other in the world.  Not bad for an obscure Canadian rye whisky, made in a relatively unknown Canadian distillery, Highwood Distillers.

Although I suspect the rest of the world will catch on…

But enough of my babble…

Here is my fiftieth review:

Review: Centennial 10 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky

Posted in Canadian Whisky, Cocktails & Recipes, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

 
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