Century Reserve 21-year-old Canadian Rye Whisky is made by Alberta’s Highwood Distilleries, maker of the equally horrible White Owl, and the absolutely wonderful Centennial whiskies.
Canadian whisky, known around the world as rye whisky, doesn’t have to have a bit of rye in it to be called rye whisky. Not a lot of people know that, including Canadians who quietly line up to buy their government-imposed quota of the stuff.
Century Reserve is an example of this – a 100% corn whisky that calls itself a rye whisky. But it’s under $40 for a jug, and I have to confess it is smooth. That is about all it has going for it. Sweet, old booze that has little complexity and no rye.
About This No Rye Business
You make a rye whisky with no rye, and no one in this country gives two shits in a twin hula hoop about it. But you try to pass off a plate of poutine in this country with shredded mozzarella instead of cheese curds, and they’ll start hockey fights in the drive-thru lane at Tim Hortons over it.
But calling our whisky rye dates back to when it had rye in it. Some of it still does. some of it like Alberta Premium Dark Horse is even made with 100% rye and a small amount of bourbon and sherry added to it.
Back in the early days, farmers used their leftover wheat to make whisky. The rye was added to kick up the flavour. People liked it, bought it, and Canadians started calling the stuff rye. We still call it rye and boast about it, puffing our chests like a bull moose in heat. The diabolical trickery of those polite, poutine-eating Canadians.