Canadian Rockies

Review: American Rockies Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

Picture courtesy of the Fountana Beverage Corp..

Picture courtesy of the Fountana Beverage Corp..

ABV
44%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
N/A
Producer Wyoming (Kirby, Wyoming)

This is produced by the Fountana group, alongside their terrific Canadian Rockies whiskies. This is sourced from the mountains of Wyoming, so in all likelihood it is from the well-reputed Wyoming Distillery.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The nose has some sharp wood – almost with sharp pine-like notes. Orange peel, bean sprouts, cream of wheat, anise, corn grits, clove, dill, and prunes. Some nice candied notes too – Reisen and Toffifee. And with time, some berry notes. The palate is very well integrated, with a very nice thread of dried corn, light spice, mixed dried Italian herbs, and very pleasing vanilla and toffee. The balance between the fruit, grain, and oak is terrific. The finish is sweet, lightly oaky, lightly grainy. This is good! It’s quite a lighter style of bourbon, but it has some nice elegance to it.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). This is a really nice complex bourbon that isn’t too big. It’s a bit different, too, to its credit – with more herbal and unique fruit notes than in many bourbons.

Value: Average. It’s not a bad buy, but you could do better with different bourbons for $71.


Review: Canadian Rockies 21 Year Old Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Picture courtesy of the Fountana Beverage Corp..

Picture courtesy of the Fountana Beverage Corp..

ABV
46%
Aging
21 yrs; Ex-bourbon cask
Recipe
100% Corn
Producer Highwood (High River, Alberta)

This whisky is a product of the Fountana group, who have released the awesome series of Canadian Rockies (among other great releases, like the Infamous 22 Year Old Scotch Whisky). It was initially released just in BC, but it is now available in Ontario. This whisky, much like the other well aged corn whiskies out of Highwood, was sourced elsewhere as Highwood does not distill corn. The recipe is 100% corn, and it is released at 21 years old and a very nice 46%. It was a hugely popular at the Victoria whisky festival in 2016.


Review (2015; Blind)

  • Batch: 1

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Apple and wet, old oak with brilliant oiliness and age - with a daisy-like floral element too. Balanced on the palate with the oily richness characteristic of well-aged corn whiskies - nutty and spicy on the finish for brilliant effect as well. And, though so simple, a whisky like this reminds us all of why oak and vanilla fit so well together, and how sturdy a well-aged whisky can be. Well aged, smooth, balanced, yet supplying tannins for intrigue and effect. In the same mix with the best Japanese and Scottish grain whiskies.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very High. This batch is just so spectacular, mature, interesting, elegant - and only $70 in Alberta!


Review (2018)

  • Batch: 2 (new bottle)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Well this is nice…dense and oaky, with just amazing old corn whisky notes. It is so rich, one of a few I’d call truly decadent. Beeswax, light oak, vanilla, leather, blueberry, coconut, and an array of spices. There’s a slight white-wine like fruitiness to it, too – like a light and floral dry pinot grigio. It is awesome, but the tannins are a bit out of balance compared with some other Canadian Rockies that I’ve had which were more in balance. The finish is nice too, with a richness that builds as you continue to drink. This is one of the best regular bottlings of Canadian whisky you can buy.

I like this slightly less than the first release because of less balance from the tannins, but still excellent.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High. Awesome stuff, old, and a great price!


Review: Canadian Rockies 17 Year Old Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Fountana Beverage Corp.

Image courtesy of Fountana Beverage Corp.

ABV
50%
Aging
17 yrs
Recipe
N/A
Producer Highwood (High River, Alberta)

A cracking new release, sitting right in between the 10 and 21 years old - but this one is at 50%. Available in Alberta but sadly not in Ontario…


Review (2018)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

The nose has sharp, spicy oak (lots of clove), coconut, blueberry, beeswax, sugarcane (the actual smell, not „sweet”), white grape. Herbaceous and spicy too…nice. Great old age notes…it would be quite boring at half the age, I would expect. The palate continues – rich corn and nice spice notes. Very nice. The finish is slightly tannic and spicy, with light fruit – like grape and blueberry. If you have a full dram (which you should) the spiciness continues to build with a peppery hot spiciness. I love the battle between the simple distillate and the simple oak – both deep. Excellent.

50% packs quite a punch, and I’m frankly surprised – I’ve had cask strength Highwoods which have clocked at over 80% ABV which were shockingly un-punchy. It’s not too much, but it’s big, and I’m thrilled. It’s similar, not as complex, as the magnificent 21 year old – but it packs a bigger punch and still carries a ton of old age complexity. This one, I’d drink faster than the 21 year old. And very chew-able.

I’m thrilled. This fits so nicely into the lineup – similar, but a different take, with the 50% showcasing another side of the spirit. Well done.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. A very nice bottle, par for the course at $70.


Review: Canadian Rockies 35 Year Old Cask Strength Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of the Fountana Group.

Image courtesy of the Fountana Group.

ABV
79.3%
Aging
35 yrs; Ex-bourbon cask
Recipe
100% Corn
Producer Highwood (High River, Alberta)

Here we have a very notable whisky - the oldest bottling of Canadian whisky with an age statement since the pre-prohibition bottling of a 37 year old Seagrams, at my best guess. It is another 100% corn whisky sourced from Highwood distillery by the Fountana Group, primarily for Taiwan, though they have released some of the terrific 21 Year Old in Canada (and I have seen a few bottles of this 35, too). It is from a single cask, divided between 211 bottles - 181 at 50% ABV and 30 at the whopping cask strength of 79.1% (yes, you heard it right). The dryness in Alberta means that more water than alcohol evaporates from the cask, resulting in a slowly increasing alcohol level, giving us a whisky that makes the George T. Stagg's and other hazmat whiskies of the world seem diminutive.

I kindly received the last of a 3 oz sample bottle that has travelled over 5,350 km, initially in Davin De Kergommeaux's possession before being passed on to Blair Phillips and now its story ended with me. There was only about half an ounce left, but it still left its mark!

Word has it that there is a 40 coming...


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Distilled December 12, 1980 (79.3%)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date 2015

At this strength, it isn’t even very spirity. Incredibly creamy, woody, dry, and rich on the nose – butterscotch, corn husks, tobacco, dried dill, and light spicy and earthy notes. Wood dominates at lower ABV strengths, but at full strength it is more into balance with succulent, creamy sweet caramel and vanilla. The palate is silky smooth, with stewed peaches, creamed corn, oak, dried apricot, toffee, light cacao, and of course wood. The finish is full, creamy, and spicy – one of the longest rambling and developing finishes I have ever encountered, playing in texture and feel for minutes after a small sip – first sweet and creamy, then spice is added, then drying, them creamy again, then sweet and dry – not always in the same order. Perhaps the creamiest finish i have experienced, and one of the most notable. This is delicious!

I never thought one of the silkiest whiskies i have tried would be bottled at nearly 80%. At this strength, you can’t take a big sip – a few mls are enough to do wonders. This is one of the most elegant and notable whiskies I have ever tasted. The only knack against it is that it could have more complexity, but this is so subtle and fragile I also wouldn’t want to change anything. A wow whisky.

But don’t take it from me – check out Davin’s review here and Blair’s review here.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very Low. Unique, yes - very. But $850? That may be a nice bottle, but not a value one.


Review: Canadian Rockies 10 Year Old Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
10 yrs
Recipe
N/A
Producer Highwood (High River, Alberta)

This whisky is another whisky produced by the Canadian Rockies company, which also boasts a terrific 21 Year Old. This is the younger brother.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Sweet caramel, apple, lots of apple seed, coconut, maple, freshly made polenta, and even a bit of worn leather. This, without a question, has the characteristics revealing that it is on its way towards becoming one of the great long aged Canadian corn whiskies like Highwood Ninety 20 or Canadian Rockies 21. The palate is easy, sweet, and quite vibrant in its corn character – a bit of nutmeg and clove on the finish too, with light bitterness. The finish has sweet fresh corn on the cob, vanilla, fresh parmesan, and light clove and a touch of cinnamon. Since my reference is the older aged corn whiskies, I can’t help but comparing them – this is more reminiscent of fresh sweet corn, and brighter fruit – the older stuff has more dried fruit, leather, and of course oak. But this has a nice character, and it is remarkably easy to drink. It would do fine as an everyday whisky.

Value: N/A (Taiwan only). But a decent whisky, and given the prices of other Canadian Rockies products, I expect it’s decent.