After the last Sample Sips Grain Showdown I became particularly interested in other 100% grain whiskies that are out there and discovered there’s actually a decent selection although very few are locally available. Thankfully the whisky community is a very sharing one!
Thinking about it, there are very few interest or hobby groups where it’s necessary to truly have interactions with other human beings. “Back in the day” if you wanted to hear a certain song or watch a certain movie you could copy it from a friend’s cassette or CD (depending on your age) or borrow comics or books creating a social experience. Even going to the local video rental store could turn into a fun conversation with staff, unless they weren’t supposed to work that day.
Then when you returned the borrowed item there’d always be that follow up conversation. Whereas now all this is readily available to download on the internet.Whisky, however, is one of those hobbies that can’t yet be downloaded.
Once you find that awesome liquor store with knowledgeable staff you find yourself going in just for the conversations. The online whisky community, or #whiskyfabric, is always willing to help with knowledge and sharing samples. My recent questioning of grain whiskies got me this fine sample of Century 21 Reserve, and I sent back some samples as well. We already have a few whisky exchanges in place for our upcoming trip to Emerald City Comic Con as well!
Century Reserve 21 is made by Highwood Distillers in Alberta and is a 100% corn whisky. Unfortunately not many are aware that it is a corn whisky as the label calls it a Canadian Rye Whisky. In Canada, the terms “Rye Whisky” and “Canadian Whisky” are interchangeable and there is no regulation on the amount of rye used to make a whisky. This comes from a tradition of making wheat whisky with a small amount of rye added to it creating a uniquely flavoured spirit which Canadians simply called rye. Wheat was later replaced with corn as it has a better yield. Although having less rules than Scotland with regard to whisky production and labeling can be a good thing, in instances like this it can be detrimental and confusing to the consumer.
This is a great teaching whisky, especially if you have a sample of a younger 100% corn whisky to compare to. The Century Reserve, having been aged 21 years in oak barrels, will give you a sense of the flavours that oak imparts to a whisky.
Nose: Frosted flakes, vanilla pudding
Taste: Very smooth mouth feel and viscous but overall it’s a one note whisky, having a similar taste from start to finish with little evolution. There are flavours of citrus pith with a pinch of cayenne. Also reminds me of sucking on a whole cinnamon stick after it has simmered in a pot of jam for an hour. The pleasant mild spice notes could easily be mistaken as belonging to a light rye whisky but this flavour is all coming from the oak barrels in which it was aged or the corn itself.
Overall it’s a pleasant sipping whisky but feels more like an endearing recurring background character than the star of the show, like Superman’s Jimmy Olsen or fucking Gary from Rat Queens.