Centennial Canadian Rye Whisky

My first Canadian Whisky review, eh!

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I make no bones about it… I love Scotch. But I’m a fan of the uisge beatha because they consistently deliver unique and complex flavours. When it comes right down to it, however, I don’t really just love Scotch, I love good whisky (and even whiskey)! And I’m fortunate to live in Alberta, where some of the finest Canadian whiskies are produced, pretty much in my back yard. Indeed, it’s high time that I start reviewing some of these fine drams as well!

I won’t get into the characteristics that make Canadian whisky different from Scotch and other world whiskies. That’s been done elsewhere, if you are inclined to research the topic, and it doesn’t really matter to me – I’m just looking for interesting, complex flavours that are delicious to drink. What is important to me is breaking down the misconception that Canadian whiskies can’t hold their own against other countries’ drams. Head to head, A quality Canadian does just fine, thank you very much! Okay, enough already, let’s get after it!

Centennial Canadian Rye Whisky is produced by Highwood Distillers in High River, Alberta. It is a 10 year old whisky crafted from a blend of winter wheat and rye. It is bottled at 40% abv and is available for about $26. (Another nice feature of many Canadian whiskies)

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To the Eye
This whisky displays as a delicate amber-gold in the glass; it has an inviting, honey-like appearance. A swirl of my Glencairn reveals slender legs that quickly slip down the sides of the glass.

In the Nose
Again delicate, with obvious honey aromas that match the colour of the spirit. Dusty rye is also at the forefront, with wisps of oak and a caramel note that seems to gradually build as the dram breathes. It’s hard to exercise patience, but it is a virtue… and more time in the glass reveals bright lemon, and something slightly vegetal… hay bales? I know this isn’t a common description of a whisky’s nose, but it’s sunshine in a glass!

On the Tongue
There’s a sweetness on the front that quickly makes way for a mouthful of clean and spicy rye. The rye lingers on the exit and is joined by some oak sawdust on the short, exit that is crisp and clean. The use of wheat in the mash bill is evident in the soft profile of this dram. I wouldn’t call Centennial Canadian Rye Whisky overly complex, but it’s certainly not a one-note taste either. It’s exceedingly smooth, nicely balanced and very good!

Final Thoughts
Sophisticated. That’s the word that continues to resonate for me. This is not a whisky that requires a long time to discern and appreciate but it certainly is not a mixer. It’s clean and light and approachable… a great example of the Canadian whisky style.

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Glendronach 12 Year Old

A birthday gift from a friend, I was rather excited to receive this bottle… a new whisky that I hadn’t previously tried!

I can’t claim to know much about the Glendronach whiskies but their website indicates that the distillery was founded in 1826, changed ownership several times before ceasing production in 1996, but was back in full production by 2002. This is a malt that I have seen in local liquor stores but, seeing as I didn’t purchase it for myself, I’m not completely sure of it’s price tag. The Glendronach 12 Year Old whisky is bottled at 43% abv.

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To the Eye
This whisky is quite striking, almost disarming, in it’s unusually rich colour. In the bottle, it has a unique deep brown appearance and in the glass, it still appears much darker in colour than most whiskies. A dram of Glendronach 12 is a deep gold with flashes of red that immediately have me expecting a heavy sherry influence.

In the Nose
Sherry, certainly… But also plums and sweet cherries. The tasting notes on the sleeve suggest ginger and vanilla, which I’m not sure I’m picking up. I do sense a zesty character, but it’s more like orange zest than ginger in my opinion. It’s a pleasant nose, but not all that complex.

On the Tongue
Aggressive oak and sherry dominate the fist sip. It’s quite smooth and further tastes reveal black pepper and some burnt sugar. Partway into the dram, that heavy oak has become rather bitter – not in a horrible way, but not in a great way, either. It’s a lot like a slightly bitter walnut. Again, not overly complex. The finish is short, although the dry, bitter oak tannins stick around a bit longer than I want them to.

Final Thoughts
I’ve had a few drams from this bottle now and I have to admit that it’s not really growing on me. In my mind, it has a similar character to a Glenrothes and I have a similar opinion of it – okay, but it’s not threatening my top 10 (or 20) anytime soon.