Whisky Wednesday Column: Howitzer Canadian Whisky

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Today’s Whisky Wednesday video looks at Howitzer Whisky, a small company based in Calgary.

The name of this whisky pays a double tribute to Canada through its military and hockey its most famous sport.

Howitzer was a field artillery gun used in the First World War, between a canon and a mortar. It is similar to those modern varients you see in the video. Howitzer is also the name given to a hard slapshot. So with the Howitzer name, you get a double nod to Canada.

The rules for Canadian whisky are pretty lax—the main ones being it must age in small wood casks for three years and be bottled at a minimum of 40% alcohol by volume.

Howitzer is that and a little more. Although the manufacturer does not identify the mash bill, age or maturation, a little research shows that it is aged five years and finished in ex-bourbon barrels.

The first thing you note on this is the colour. It leans towards the darker end of the colour chart and is almost certainly this colour with additives. Canadian whisky laws allow for caramel colouring. This colouring gives the whisky a more mature look.

After an initial scent of alcohol, this whisky hits you with that sweet smell – caramel and vanilla. I’ve learned the mash bill on this whisky is mostly corn, which makes this reminiscent of American bourbons, which have to be 51% corn-based but are often significantly higher than that. The smell gives this a bourbon feel.

Taste – again, you get that bourbon sweetness to it—vanilla, caramel and just a touch of a peppery burn to it.

Given that this bottle was $26, Canadian, about $20 US – it’s smoother than I expected. Being matured five years as opposed to the required three would contribute to that smoothness.

The finish on this one is long – the warmth stays with you, but the flavour does not.

I’ve had several Canadian whiskies at this price point that were not as good as Howitzer, and I’ve had several at a higher price point that were not nearly as good.

When I factor in the price point and the product’s quality, I’d have to give Howitzer a 7 out of 10.

This is the first in a series of three Whisky Wednesday columns devoted to Canadian whiskies that can be bought in and around Morinville. Next up is Signal Hill.

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