Highwood 25 Year Old Calgary Stampede Whisky

August 10, 2013


Please note that due devastation caused by major flooding some Highwood whiskies are in short supply and liquor stores may temporarily be out of stock,

Vanilla ice cream with butterscotch pudding and real maple syrup. Fresh, sweet red cedar and weathered wood, dried cloves, sweet grapefruit juice. Pure luxury in a glass. ★★★★★

They’re cowboys, they know their whisky,” former Highwood manager, Glen Hopkins quipped, when asked why the tiny Highwood distillery in High River, Alberta turns out such wonderful Canadian whiskies. Perhaps recognizing how Highwood’s independent nature reflects the spirit of the best cowboy folklore, The Calgary Stampede has teamed up with the distillery this year to mark the rodeo’s 100th anniversary.

When cowboy, Guy Weadick rode into Calgary just over 100 years ago, he had no idea how large his legend would one day become. A century later, the citizens of this bustling western Canadian city still remember Weadick by presenting an annual award bearing his name to the rodeo competitor who best embodies what the cowboy stands for – someone who typifies the spirit of the Calgary Stampede.

Not only is The Stampede Canada’s best-known rodeo, it is also the world’s richest. The first stampede, held over six days in September 1912, drew a crowd of 80,000 people when Calgary’s population was just 60,000. For the next 100 years the Calgary Stampede brought people from all over the world together to experience Canada’s unique western heritage and values. That first rodeo was Weadick’s doing.

Today as it approaches one million people, Calgary still hosts Weadick’s rodeo. Billed as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,” this year the Calgary Stampede will run from July 6 to 15. And to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the Stampede, in cooperation with Alberta’s Highwood Distillers, is releasing a 6,000-bottle, limited edition, ultra-premium, commemorative whisky. The liquid in the bottle? A 25-year-old version of Highwood’s highly acclaimed Century Reserve whisky.

Highwood 25 year old is on store shelves now in Alberta, and given current sales it will be gone before the Stampede wraps up. The whisky itself was drawn from a special batch in the Century Distilling family. This is a single bond (batch) whisky produced from corn and aged in charred American white oak.

As the whisky sat slowly maturing in those white oak barrels, the angels visited regularly to claim their share. And as they did so, the volume of whisky in the barrels began to decline. Twice the bond was re-gauged. (Re-gauging is the consolidation of maturing whisky into fewer barrels, so individual barrels remain full. This increases interactions with the wood and decreases oxidation, keeping the whisky soft and clean.)

However, rather than introducing new barrels, the crew at Highwood chose to maintain the aging process in the best of the original barrels in which the spirit began its maturation. Thus the whisky remains pristine. The only adjustment was to bring it down to bottling strength using Rocky Mountain spring water. Was it worth waiting 25 years to bottle this whisky? You bet it was.

Nose: The rich luxury of hand made French vanilla ice cream is accented by hints of fresh red cedar. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition made all the more inviting by a brawny richness that melts into the softest stove-top butterscotch pudding.

Palate: A creamy first taste of butterscotch is just barely spiced with dried cloves. These soon disappear into hot white pepper and crispy cedar wood. The creamy mouth feel lingers even as hot mint gives way to sweeter and hotter whisky spices. A hint of ripe pink grapefruit juice soon takes over the palate then just as quickly disappears into dry silvered wood – barn boards or cedar fence posts – before the whole fades out on sweetish citrus notes.

Finish: Medium-long to long, the finish is both spicy and creamy with soft pleasant woody notes that eventually fade to sweet citrus juice then nothing. Some spiciness throughout.

Empty Glass: Very expressive with butterscotch, mild sweet wood, cloves, and real maple syrup.

Highwood 25 year old is limited to Alberta where it sells for about $52.00.

Very Highly Recommended ★★★★★


Highwood Ninety 20 year old is reviewed here.

Here is what Chip Dykstra – The Rum Howler – thinks of Highwood 25 Year Old.

Century Reserve 21 Year Old is reviewed here.

Century Reserve Lot 15/25 is reviewed here.

Highwood Distillers 25 year old Canadian Whisky for Calgary Stampede 2012


49 Responses to “Highwood 25 Year Old Calgary Stampede Whisky”

  1. Marc:

    will no doubt never see it in Ontario?

  2. Davin:

    Unfortunately, I think not. There were only 6,000 bottles and it is selling briskly in Alberta.

  3. Chris Brown:

    Sounds like my idea of a fine after dinner sipper. Ticks all the boxes for what I’m looking for when I want just a touch of sweetness (much like Confederation Oak) but with complexity and intensity.

    I’ve got the Alberta family on it as we speak. Thanks Davin.

    • Davin:

      Hi Chris,
      Yes I really enjoyed it. It may be the best Highwood whisky yet. Good luck in finding a bottle.

  4. Frank:

    Contact an Albertan friend or relative. Some folks figure this will be sold out before the Stampede even begins Friday, July 6th.

    • Davin:

      Yes, I think they underestimated demand. The idea was for it to be a commemorative bottle to be opened at some future big occasion. But once word got out about how good it was people started buying more to drink.

  5. Chris Brown:

    Oh dear, the first bottle ended up leaking when being transported by a friend (unopened of course)from Calgary to Edmonton. My good sense says to exchange it for (hopefully) another if they are still available.

    I have another one waiting in Edmonton that I’ll inspect when I arrive next week for a visit. Hopefully this was a one-off and not a problem with the whole limited run as although I’m not in the habit of storing my whisky on it’s side it can’t be helped when flying.

    • Davin:

      It probably got banged. Mine arrived with no problem after spending a good amount of time on it side.

  6. Ricardo:

    Is this whiskey sold out ? perhaps I was lucky picking up a few cases – I expect it to be one of the most collectible
    whiskeys in quite some time – I am a non-drinker but the 100 year old commemoration and the splendid labelling and bottle made this an attractive collectors piece for me –

    bet it’s sold out in days

    • Davin:

      It’s a shame you’re not a whisky drinker. It’s really a fantastic whisky. I don’t know if it has sold out yet, but they expected it would be gone by the end of the Stampede.

  7. Ricardo:

    It sounds to me like they may have bottled a lot more than 6000 units – I keep hearing of stores restocking with it – are you able to find out what the actual status
    on supply is ? Cheers

    • Davin:

      Hi Ricardo, Last I heard, just a couple of weeks ago there was a bit left, but not a whole lot. You said you are not a whisky drinker so if you are buying this as an investment, be careful. Canadian whisky does not go up in value very much even after a few decades.

      • Chris Brown:

        Speculating on Canadian whisky? Hmmm. That’s of course the problem when these specials are released at a relatively affordable price.
        Comparable U.S. whiskys would have sold for a lot more and kept the non-drinking speculators to a minimum. Thankfully ours don’t appreciate that much, keeping it mainly between those who just want to enjoy a great bottle.

        I usually buy 3 or 4 bottles of a special release (sub $100) depending on my budget. The majority is for personal consumption (as I hate to be miserly with a really great bottle knowing there won’t be anymore after that).
        I always try to have an extra or two for trading as I’m more interested in acquiring a great bottle from another region than making a few bucks (the exception might be my bottle of A.E.Hirsch 20 yr!).
        I just need to work out a system for contacts for when I travel (especially in the U.S.) so that I can get great Canadian stuff over there as gifts in exchange for something cool but that’s as far as my speculation goes.

        As of July 11 there is stock pretty well anywhere that would carry specialty bottles like this. My local, near Edmonton, had 3 bottles on hand and a look in their system said they could easily order more, so as usual the hype pipeline may be at work. It’s all good fun in any case.

        • Trev:

          Hi Chris,

          I’m assuming you meant A.H. Hirsch 20? any chance you still have this bottle available for sale or trade?

    • Merle:

      Hi Ricardo. I’m a bit of a collector myself, and I enjoy a frequent dram. I have two comments for you. First, my friend, by not drinking whisky you’re breaking the cardinal rule of whisky investment. The whisky industry is on a high right now, almost too much so. The bubble won’t burst, but under the wrong conditions it could deflate considerably (unlikely, but possible). IF that were to happen, you’d be completely boned, whereas I would have the option of sipping away a big bunch of ridiculously good whisky. My advice, try to grow to appreciate the drink if you’re going to collect the bottle. Trust me, it makes it a much more enjoyable hobby.

      Second, Davin is an excellent authority on Canadian whisky, and in this case he may be more correct than we realize. As an investor, you know that an open bottle is worthless (it still contains liquid gold, but monetarily it’s worth nothing). Take a close look at the seal on this bottle. There IS no seal. It looks like it’s really just a cork with red tape over the top. The tape is such that it could easily be removed and then put back on. I suspect that anything that easy to make look new again after opening won’t appreciate a heck of a lot (for fear of fraud). It’s a very nifty bottle and will look great on your shelf, but I wouldn’t bank on getting a great return for it.

      The seal really is terrible. I’ve got two bottles, and like Chris above, one of them looks like it leaked and the tape is loose. Plus, I almost accidently popped the top on my replacement when the tape stuck to the bag as I pulled it out. I guess that’s the one I’ll be drinking first.

  8. Ricardo:

    Davin, Chris and Merle thanks for your comments –

    I purchased my supply of this whiskey still in three cases ( boxed ) so I am probably not going to suffer the seal-break that seems to be happening – yes I agree that as a collector that I should as well be a sipper, but I can tell you that if I was still drinking, we would all be suffering a shortage ! I thought this was an important year for the stampede, and as far as I can see there hasn’t been a commemorative bottle made in any prior year – to me the bottle is very well conceived, and I think the CS 100 logo may add value or bring some notariety or conversation to the drink being served anytime. I also inventoried a few cases of the Calgary Beer that is around for the time being, although I understand that stuff is available all year long in Saskatchewan. Maybe there will be a special function somewhere in Calgary and they will want the Stampede 100 year served.

    The Stampede this year is very important to me – It is a huge symbol of volunteerism, history, committment, western values and heritage, and community spirit – Did you see the closing fireworks ? WOW !! I think it was a great year for the Stampede and I think a great year as well for the commemorative whiskey – perhaps when all you hounds dry out your whiskey supply I may hear from ya –

    Cheers !

  9. Yello to Mello:

    Looks like this will be one I wont have an opportunity to try but enjoyed reading about. I have a friend going to Calgary at the end of the month so perhaps a slim chance for a mule.

  10. Chris Brown:

    Hi Ricardo
    Yeah, I think the general feeling of the whisky aficionado is that buying, whether it’s in small or large quantities, is good when it’s for personal consumption and friendly exchanges but when there is hoarding or acquisition for pure profit it kind of leaves a bad taste as limited quantity whiskies quickly sell out long before the real fans (who often don’t have a large budget) are able to get their hands on a bottle.

    Since you have good reasons for not drinking and don’t frequent whisky clubs etc. the number of venues to sell your collection are very limited and of course not legal in Canada. Sadly, outlets like Ebay in the U.S. don’t have a great track record for profitably selling our stuff.

    Yello to Mello:
    I’ve just returned from Edmonton and there was no shortage of Stampede whisky in venues that carry specialty whiskies. Even the airport liquor store had a full shelf when I left today (July 17). So don’t despair!

    The bottle I had friends pick up a week or so ago that leaked was exchanged back in Calgary for another without problem a few days ago and the bottle I flew back with today arrived in pristine condition.

  11. Should have a bottle in the next two weeks, seems a very interesting bottle. Should be part of the Canadian Whisky Awards this year ! ;-)

  12. Garry:

    So far, quite a few places still have this Stampede 25 year old on the shelf. I wasn’t completely impressed, but it will be on my shelf, for a sip on every future Stampede. I completely agree on the seal though. Be carefull if you are buying it sight unseen. I have carefully peeled back the seal to keep it unbroken on my bottle. It wasn’t that difficult. If you are having it shipped by a friend, have them put Saran wrap over the top and tape it up well. I lost half a bottle of Ortigoza Tequila (only available in Mexico, cheap and delicious) by not having this done, as I forgot how badly the cork stayed in the bottle.

  13. Nathan:

    Just found a few (purchased two) bottles in a liquor store in the Edmonton International Airport…was home for a visit and chanced upon them. I haven’t seen them anywhere in Kingston, where I am living now; it’s nice to have a little reminder of the West on my shelf…and in my glass.

  14. CBrown:

    Finally had a cool enough evening that allowed me to crack open a bottle and it is delicious! Smooth, rich and a nice bit of spice. Well worth the hunt and happy to have a couple in reserve.

  15. Wayne:

    I just bought my 4th bottle, so still some available in a few spots in Calgary. Take heed to the comments about the cork though, I had the first bottle I bought have the seal fail and lost some of hte whisky. Oh, well, guess I’ll just have to enjoy that one :-)

  16. Paul:

    Just got off the phone with my best friend in Edmonton . He’s found a few 26ers and is gonna send me one here on the rock . I will be looking forward to savorying this one over the holiday season.

  17. Scott:

    Hi Guys,

    I am staring at this bottle at a silent auction. Is $85 a good price for this or can it be found elsewhere for cheaper? Thanks!

    • Davin:

      If you are in Alberta this seems a bit high to me while there are still bottles on the shelves in liquor stores. The suggested retail price is $52.

  18. Paul:

    Vanila, carmel candy. those square chewy ones.suttle heat that leaves a sweet smooth palet. was well worth having my friend track it down and ship to newfoundland..
    thanks Davin

  19. Chris Conner:

    Just purchased a bottle at Vine Arts in Calgary. Not as short of supply as suggested in this article.

    Fantastic Whisky.

  20. paddockjudge:

    $110 is a lot of money to pony up for a bottle of this 45% offering. I’m inclined to do a head-to-head with Alberta Springs.

    • paddockjudge:

      mia culpa, my intention was to post at Masterson’s Straight Rye review.

  21. Whisky Throttle:

    I just bought a bottle in Edmonton and there were several still on the shelf, so not maybe not that hard to find although it is the 1st time I have ever seen it before today. And I agree the cork and seal seem very weak!

  22. Jeff:

    Just found a bottle in St. Albert. He had listed at $69. I got him down to $64. He price matches. Also carries Four Roses single barrel. Hard to find bourbon.

  23. Doug:

    Kensington wine market in Calgary just got another case in last week. I grabbed 3 bottles. Looking forward to trying it!

  24. [...] on http://www.canadianwhisky.org Partager:PlusWordPress:J’aime [...]

  25. CBrown:

    Thoughts go out to all the residents of High River and the staff at Highwood after the disastrous flooding over the last week.
    From pictures that family has sent of the general area it does not look like anyone is unscathed and hopefully a local employer like Highwood is able to get back into production relatively soon -if they indeed were flooded out as well.

  26. chanman:

    Corn whisky in new oak barrels. Doesn’t that make this more of a bourbon than a Canadian whisky?

    • Davin:

      You’d have to taste it. It’s not like bourbon.

  27. [...] Highwood 25 Year Old is reviewed here. [...]

  28. Richard Yaremko:

    Davin: Past through Calgary last week and found the Highwood Stampede 25 Year old available in 2 out of the 3 stores I stopped at looking for their new 20 year old. Price was about $68. Didn’t find the 20 year old so bought another bottle of the Stampede 25 year old to enjoy. Cheers, Richard.

  29. Just tried this last night and was Blown away by how good this whisky is.

    by far one of the best CA whiskies I’ve had to date.

    superb stuff Davin.

  30. Joel Carry:


    I am sitting here enjoying my first glass of this fine spirit.I have had multiple bottles for some time but not gotten around to trying it ( i know that is not what whisky is for it is to be consumed and savored not left in my dark storage )
    I am always impressed with reviews such as yours ( and others ) of the nose , palate and finish descriptions of Canadian whisky.
    I can smell and taste most of what you describe but could never find the words to describe such treats to the senses.

    Cheers Joel

  31. Nathan:

    I just found what I believe to be the last six bottles on the shelf… And I took them all. Does that make me selfish or lucky…… Or both :)

  32. Neil M:

    There aare currently 3 bottles for sale at Crowfoot Liquor in Strathmore Alberta for around 44.00 per bottle.

  33. Claire Moffat:

    What is a bottle of the 100th year CS whiskey worth today? Please answer asap. thanks C

    • Davin:

      It has not gone up in value. Between $50 and $65.

  34. Hi Daniel! We are glad you found the Calgary Stampede information hpulfel! We also hope you keep us in mind if you decide Calgary moving is in your future! We live in a beautiful area and we are always happy to hear from people who feel the same way we do about Alberta. We hope you have fun at the Stampede this summer, we know you will! Contact us anytime about your Alberta moving plans, we will be glad to give you the information you need about !

  35. ricardo:

    Davin where do you find it ? thanks

    • Davin:

      I think is is sold out now.

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