Century Reserve

Review: Century Reserve Rare Cask 30 Year Old Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Century Reserve 30.jpg
30 years
100% Corn
Producer Highwood (High River, Alberta)

Now here is a whisky for you - a 30 year old single cask, 100% corn whisky distilled in 1988 and bottled for BC liquor stores. There is growing traction now for old Canadian corn whiskies, which are full of complex subtlety - though not all love the style. Production wise, it’s similar to an old Scottish grain whisky (or Japanese). However, I find, for the style, the Canadians to be better - though they are limited - we’ve really only seen these from Highwood (Ninety 20, Century Reserve 17, 21, 35) and Hiram Walker (Canadian Club 40, Wiser’s 35 - though Wiser’s 35 has younger rye blended in).

Also, only $150…but only available in BC.

Review (2018)

  • Batch: Distilled 1988, Bottled 2018

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

Yes! What a rich, nice, easy nose. The age shows through incredibly – loads of light coconut, sunflower oil, beeswax – it is the best of old Canadian corn whisky. Very elegant. The best thing about the style is it seems to keep getting better with age and doesn’t usually over-oak…awesome!

It’s in the same class as whiskies like Canadian Rockies 21, it isn’t even worth writing additional notes to the above. If you want to see similar flavours, take a look at my review for that. It’s perhaps a bit richer, this stuff - awesome.

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

Value: Average. Terrific whisky, but $150 isn’t cheap. Nonetheless, it’s about average value for what I’d want to pay $150 for.

Review: Century Reserve Lot 15/25 Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

15-25 Yrs
100% Corn
Distiller Highwood (High River, Alberta)

Century Reserve comes from Highwood distillers in High River, Alberta, who have been on a bit of a roll with new premium whiskies hitting the market. This whisky, it would appear, is getting harder to find and may well not continue in production due to the older stocks of whisky in the blend resulting from a big purchase of Potter's stocks from Highwood.

The whisky is composed of a blend of whiskies from a range of 15 to 25 years old. The barrels from which it is blended originated from Highwood’s purchase of stocks from Potters, a whisky broker, and some of the older stocks likely originated from an even older (and now closed) Seagram’s distillery in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. This whisky, also, it is worth noting - is 100% corn. The "rye" usage here is denoting Canadian whisky, not rye grain.

Review (2013)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: A nice bit of sharp rye, dried berries, raising, and plums. There are lovely vanilla notes as well, which develop over time as the nose sits. There’s a touch of creaminess, too, almost like caramel pudding.  There’s a bit of oakin the background, but it is not that powerful, especially for a whisky which is a blend of 15 to 25 years old.

Taste: Rye flavour comes in prominently at first, alongside a decent dollop of corn – and it’s beautiful…the rye gradually transforms from the slightly spicy grain to become fruit-forward before a wave of spice and heat come to finish the taste, leaving the taste of sharp rye and black pepper. It’s reasonably sweet mid palate and the spices that come in at the end are those of cloves and a touch of nutmeg. There’s a bit of honey in the background of the palate as well, and it is a bit nutty.  The end of the taste is quite firm, which I quite like.

Finish: The grain develops into some fruit as you take it in, and it is, unfortunately, a touch bitter. It’s fairly strong though, and quite nice. there’s vanilla in the background of the finish as well. I can’t really decide what to do with the finish – I like it and want to rate it high, yet there are some discordant parts which I don’t want to rate too high. A slight bitterness develops after some time – if not for that, it would be fabulous.  Some bean sprouts come in after a bit…. The bitterness seems on the edge – I can’t decide whether I slightly like it or slightly dislike it. There’s some oak mixed into the bitterness as well, making it seem as though the bitterness is coming from the oak. Perhaps some of the older stocks in the blend contribute a bit too much bitterness…however, the finish is certainly interesting and develops in bold movements for over a minute (I timed it because I was so impressed) before settling into a uniform and solid finish.

I like so much about this whisky, but at times it feels a touch too bitter, a touch too out of balance with too much rye or too much dull fruit…

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High. This is a great whisky, and it’s at bottom shelf prices (~30$).

Review: Century Reserve 21 Year Old Canadian Whisky by Jason Hambrey

First of all, it should be said that this whisky is made from 100% Corn. Thus, it is not “rye” in the sense of the grain used at all, but rather “rye” as the other term for Canadian Whisky. This bottle is made by Highwood Distillers, in High River, Alberta – a relatively small Canadian distillery. The distillers at Highwood do not actually even distill corn, thus, this is bought as new make from another Canadian distillery after which point it is matured and bottled at Highwood Distillery. However, though they did not directly control the entire process, it is very much their concept and creation. It is quite different from Century Reserve Lot 15/25,  which can pack quite a punch, with more elegance and woodiness, yet one can still see why they are part of the same family.

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