View Full Version : Century Reserve 21 Years Old
In my ongoing series on new or interesting Canadian whiskies, here is a note on this well-aged example of the latter I picked up in Toronto recently. Actually, I can't improve on a description by a wine taster reproduced on the brand site, www.centuryreserve.ca. (http://www.centuryreserve.ca.) In my words briefly I'd say this is toffee-like, sweetish and with a good malty-like body. It may start off (I assume) as a mostly high proof light-bodied cereal spirit but 21 years in cask gives it excellent flavour and body. As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I believe it is mostly the barrels doing the work. This is Canadian whisky at its best. On the site I mentioned, the others of the Century Reserve line-up (at least as domestically available) are mentioned including the 13 year old single cask I hadn't liked nearly as much as the 21 year old. I can see that additional aging would bring the 13 year old closer to the palate of the 21 year old. The younger of the two is a bit "spiky" in taste (possibly from rye in the low-proof component of the spirit, if there is one) and not nearly as well-knitted as its older brother. No doubt some people like the younger flavour (there is even an 8 year old) so there is something for everyone. These are excellent values since the younger ones (including the 13 year old) don't sell for more than 20-some dollars Canadian. The 21 year old is about 35 dollars Canadian, certainly a bargain.
On the website, it is stated that the new spirit is brought down to only 40% ABV for barreling. This sounds quite low to me and suggests that they do this to increase extract from the barrel. True, they are using more barrels (than if they entered at higher proofs) but they are using mainly (I would think) reused barrels which are much cheaper than new ones. I speculate that this low entry proof gives the extract type and degree they want from the barrel, and since the barrel is a large part of the character of Canadian whisky, they will want to be particularly careful with this stage of the process.
I tried a sample of this yesterday. Not impressed. A smooth whisky yes, but without many interesting flavours to justify the C$40 price tag IMHO.
I think this whiskey is pretty good but at the limits of its capability. I.e., the Canadian style, being blended and reliant mostly on high-proof, near neutral spirit (aged to be sure the number of years shown on the label), can't really (IMO) "deliver" that much more than Century 21 does. Of course many people like the taste and don't want a stronger one. For a Canadian taste, the new Danfield's Private Reserve Small Batch whisky is very good. It is about $24 (CAN) and offers a pretty full palate, do you know that one? Summerhill LCBO has it and probably Queen's Quay.
Yes, I've seen the Danfields bottling. Hopefully I can try it at the tasting tower, but it's not high on my priority list to try.
Your point about this whisky getting the most out of it's style is a good one. One the night in question, I had a few samples of scotch and Woodford Reserve so the Century Reserve 21 may have been lost in that line-up. However, I've had other Cdn whiskies that speak to me more than this expression. Now keep in mind, I wouldn't pay what the LCBO charges for the following whiskies, but I wouldn't say no to a dram:
- Crown Royal Special Reserve (C$52). The best Cdn whisky I've had. REALLY smooth with some subtle flavours you'd have to strain to catch. For that price tag though, I'd rather go for Scapa 14 (C$54) or Elmer T. Lee (C$42).
- Gibson's 18yr old (C$39). The best value for drinkable Cdn whisky IMHO. Not a complex whisky (Cdn whisky usually isn't) but has good solid flavours.
- Wizer's 18yr old (C$38). Not bad. A bit sweet and simple, however, water brings out the oak.
- Lot 40 (C$40). Not much of this one left (limited bottling). More pronounced flavours than Cdn whisky usually has. Wisps of orange flavours, although tough to tell if this is barrel influance or if the 9.09% non-whisky component was orange juice. This is probably the Cdn whisky I would be most likely to recommend, but its not something that speaks to me.
- Pike Creek (C$40). Port finished Cdn whisky, also limited production run. I really like this one. Flavours are obvious and pronounced, but not complex.
All prices are what the LCBO charges (Gov't monopoly).
Good notes, and I am in substantial agreement. The Tasting Tower (tasting station at the Summerhill LCBO in Toronto) has the Danfield's at the moment. I have not seen Bulleit in Toronto, can you indicate where you have seen this? I agree Crown Royal Special Reserve is good, I find Limited Edition good too, and even the regular CR. But they won't offer the full spectrum of flavours found in a straight whiskey, that's true. Wiser's Special Reserve, only about $24.00 is a good-tasting Canadian. In the end as you say the Canadian profile does not stress complexity. To the extent it exists it comes from the complex of woody tastes from the barrel, from prolonged aging.
Bulliet can be found at the Summerhill & Yonge store.
Never tried the Wizer's Special Reserve - only the 18yr old ($36 or so). Keep in mind that I'm always trying new whiskies, but can't find much to recommend with Cdn brands.
I agree the Canadian whiskies will always have a limited appeal to a fan of straight whiskey, but the Wiser's Special Edition does seem very good for its price. I was in Summerhill over the weekend and did not see Bulleit there, I'll pass by again soon.
I haven't seen this one recently. Either it was a limited shipment released by the summerhill store, or I had this one mixed up with Rebel Yell.
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