Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year Old Canadian Whisky
Review: Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year Old Canadian Whisky 90.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on August 26, 2013
Danfield’s Canadian Whisky is produced in the small City of Lethbridge in my home Province of Alberta. It is produced for Williams & Churchill by Schenley Distilleries Inc. at the Black Velvet Distillery, (also referred to locally as the Palliser Distillery). Williams and Churchill are not distillers themselves, rather they appear to be a third-party company which owns the Danfield’s Brand. They are also very difficult to contact, and therefore the only information I have about the Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year Old Canadian Whisky comes from the little booklet which is strung around the neck of the bottle. According to this booklet, the 21 Year Old is a small batch whisky produced from rye, corn and malted barley. It is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume and prior to bottling, the whisky is apparently “diamond filtered” to add further polish to the whisky.
Being a bit of a collector of Canadian Whisky, I have had a couple of bottles of the Danfield’s Limited Edition in my possession for about three years now. I finally broke down and opened one such that I could provide a review here on my website.
In the Bottle 4/5
Danfield’s Limited Edition Whisky is sold in a somewhat squat, long-necked whisky bottle shown to the left. It has professional labeling, and the look is clean, but not overstated. The closure is a plastic screw cap which pleases me, as I have come to despise those metallic pressed on caps which are on so many spirits these days. (I would have preferred a nice cork.)
As noted above, the little booklet around the neck makes a claim that the product is ‘diamond filtered’. I admit, I ran into a bit of a dead-end trying to decipher what exactly this means. I suspect that the only reason the product is diamond filtered is so that the words “diamond filtered” can be written on the label. (No, I am not trying to be funny, I just think that this is a gimmick, and I would love someone from the company to reach out to me to explain what diamond filtering is, and why it would be important to the look and character of the whisky.)
In the Glass 9/10
The Danfield’s Limited Edition displays itself as a rich looking amber/orange coloured spirit which (when I tilt and twirl my glass) leaves a medium thick oily sheen on the inside. The crest at the top reluctantly gives up slow-moving legs which are of about medium thickness. As I watch the legs develop, the initial nose is full of butterscotch, fresh oak and cedar, and some lovely clean rye spices which appeal to me very much.
As the glass sits the scents and smells from the glass deepen. Added to the fray are scents of spicy tobacco, and sweet corn lifting up into the breezes. The rye continues to pour out with the scent becoming earthier as it changes from a clean dry rye to a thick fruit-filled rye over the course of the nosing. Hints of marzipan and orange peel come forward as does a nice underlying nuttiness which reminds me of the wild hazelnuts which grown around the lakes in west-central Alberta.
The nose is very complex, and seems to reveal more and more layers the longer the glass sits. Initially I thought this was a rye first whisky, but over time the sweet dank corn has caught up to the rye, and even the barley (I am sure that is where the nuttiness is coming from) makes a firm imprint in the breezes. The result is a well balanced Canadian nose seemly offering the full gauntlet of Canadian Whisky to enjoy.
In the Mouth 54.5/60
I allowed the whisky in my glencairn to breathe a full 20 minutes before I took my first sip and was greeted with a rich flavour full of Canadian Whisky goodness. Things begin with rich toffee and caramel flavours which carry spicy tobacco and rye spice in their wake. Soon woody oak and cedar flavours kick in giving the whisky a peppery tartness with wood sap, black pepper, ginger and citrus (both orange and lemon) peel all adding to the spicy goodness. Some darker fruits, and a bit of dry apricot is noticeable, as is a hazelnut-like nuttiness which seems to add both the buttery texture and flavour of crushed filberts as well as a light bitterness underneath the whisky. Light bourbon and dank corn flavours slowly grow but they never catch up to the full force of the fruit filled rye which dominates the whisky more upon the palate than it did upon the nose.
The overall flavour is a wonderful balance of woody spices, semi-sweet butterscotch and caramel, and lightly bitter fruit-filled rye. (And I never even mentioned the building marzipan and light chocolate hiding underneath.) This is an excellent Whisky!
In the Throat 13.5/15
The finish is lightly heated by wood spices and a citrus zest. Tobacco and toffee linger just a little while replaced at the end of the flavour experience by the pithy bitterness of fruit-filled rye. Each swallow is a delight.
The Afterburn 9.5/10
The Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 year Old Canadian Whisky is a classic Canadian Whisky in every sense of the word. Although it is a rye forward whisky, the flavour elements of dank corn and nutty barley also ripple through the whisky providing the full grain spectrum of Canadian Whisky Flavour. A true sipping whisky, although classic cocktails such as the Old Fashioned or the Manhattan would definitely be enriched with this choice of Whisky.
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
The Iced Ruby Manhattan
2 oz Canadian Whisky
1/2 oz Ruby Port
1/8 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/4 – 1/2 oz sugar syrup
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Twist of Orange Peel
Add the first five ingredients with cracked ice in a Metal Shaker.
Shake quickly to chill
Strain the mixed ingredients over the ice
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink
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)