Centennial Canadian Rye Whisky

My first Canadian Whisky review, eh!


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)


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.


2 thoughts on “Centennial Canadian Rye Whisky”

  1. It’s near-impossible to find even remotely decent quality Canadian whisky in Australia. Ergo my knowledge of variety is exceedingly limited. I’m keen to try some, though! Any that you’d recommend if I ever saw one (aside from this one, I’m assuming!)

  2. Hmmm, that’s an excellent question and a tough one to answer since I don’t know what might be available to you in Australia. Internationally, the most common Canadian whiskies tend to be high production mixers, in my opinion, but Gibsons Finest 12 Yr is an good whisky that is often readily available at duty free shops. Crown Royal Reserve, which is much better than the standard expression, may also be one you can find.

    Many people are surprised to learn that there plenty of fantastic Canadian whiskies aged 18 or more years but few of these seem to leave our country, leaving many whisky drinkers to generalize that Canadian whiskies are low quality. (I have two bottles of Alberta Premium 30 Yr Old that are awaiting a review!) Although the best of our spirits may not be available to you, I will continue to try and review more Canadian whiskies and if you find something available, feel free to message me and I’ll do my best to describe it for you. As well, please let me know of any Aussie drams that I might be able to locate!

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