Highwood Ninety 20 Year Old (45% alc/vol)
Creamy sweet and very rich with peppermint, candy cane, hot white pepper, and fragrant baking spices. Cooked corn cobs buttress sour fruit and sweet spices. Huge, complex, and beautifully balanced. ★★★★★Several years ago, Highwood Distillers made a strategic decision to put a stronger focus on connoisseur whiskies. It’s a decision that has paid off in spades for whisky lovers.Century Reserve 21 year old had established Highwood as top-notch whisky makers. The more recent Century Reserve 15/25 (who else would put two age statements on a whisky) has continued the tradition for quality. When Highwood released a 25-year-old whisky to celebrate the centenary of the Calgary Stampede in 2012, they scored the hat-trick that secured their reputation for quality.This year, Highwood has added a new dimension: long-aged whisky released at a higher proof. Ninety, a rich fruity whisky is bottled at 45% alc/vol - 90˚ proof. There are two versions, a 5-year-old and this one - 20 years old. Both are spectacular.The year began with high expectations for the High River, Alberta distillery. Riding the wave of glowing reviews for their new whisky direction, 2013 was to be their year. It may still be, and it will be all the sweeter: Devastating floods in June put the distillery under water. All of their bottled whisky was lost in the week that workers were locked out of the distillery. When authorities finally allowed them back in it was clear the flood had been hellishly destructive. Fortunately, cinder block walls kept most of the flood waters out of the warehouse and none of the aged whisky was lost. However, all of the barrels had to be temporarily moved to allow a full assessment and cleanup of damages.A small amount is now on store shelves in Alberta and plans are on track for Ninety 20 Year Old to be released broadly across the fall and winter in the western provinces and Ontario. Nonetheless, the massive re-building required takes time, so be patient if this and other Highwood whiskies are temporarily out of stock or in short supply.Latest reports say that the barrels are all back in place and the heady fragrance of sleeping whisky has returned to the warehouse. Highwood is now working hard to keep up with orders for all its whiskies.Nose: Rich, full, and luxurious with long-matured spirit, dark fruit, sweet green apples, butterscotch, corn syrup, maple cream, corncobs, nutmeg, and cloves. Simply gorgeous.Palate: Creamy sweet and very rich with peppermint, candy cane, hot white pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and just bucket loads of Christmas baking spices. The slight earthy mustiness of cooked corn cobs provides counterpoint to sour fruit and sweet spices. This is big whisky with creamy milk chocolate that mellows crispy oak and slightly astringent tannins. Huge, complex, and beautifully balanced.Finish: Long, sweet, and spicy with lingering hints of corncobs.Empty Glass: Clean, dry wood.Very Highly Recommended ★★★★★$48.00Highwood 25 Year Old is reviewed here.Century Reserve Lot 15/25 is reviewed here.Century Reserve 21 Year Old is reviewed here.