's clearly Canadian

WOW this summer with Highwood Distillers White Owl Whisky

Canada is renowned for producing the highest quality rye whisky in the world. The grainy aroma and taste and amber colour are hallmarks at the best tasting and beverage rooms. White Owl Whisky (WOW), like the snowy owl on the bottle, flies in the face of tradition. It's as clear as vodka. Only the colour has been removed, leaving all the other elements of whisky still there. Your eyes and tastebuds may have a little difficulty reconciling this at first, for this is truly a unique experience.

"WOW is innovative and a new flavour profile for a traditional category with traditional consumers. Clear product allows for more recipes with mixed drinks where colour is a factor," says Barry Wilde, President of Highwood Distillers in High River, a charming town 30 minutes south of Calgary Alberta, Canada, on the Highwood River at the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.

Though Barry does not know former Canadian prime minister and resident of High River, Joe Clark, he does know about leadership in the spirits industry as Highwood's president and COO since 1997, producing over 50 brands and 150 products, including what they believe to be the only clear whisky in the world. "The response to WOW has been tremendous. It is in the Premium segment of whiskies and has been our greatest success and product launch in 13 years," says Barry from the corporate office in Calgary, the city where he also lives and is my hometown.

I can see that WOW will become a favourite with mixologists as old standbys that use white rum or vodka can be reinvented and rebranded using WOW.

My favourite is a twist on the screwdriver, Tiger Juice-a little sharper and more sour with lemon juice added. It is a very refreshing summer drink, perfect for BBQs or watching fireworks during July's festivities. WOW is as light tasting as it is clear, with a bouquet of vanilla, anise, light oak and rye on the nose. The wheat based mash gives it the body and the colour is filtered out through a carbon filtration system. The bottle of frosted glass enhances the experience of clarity and the synthetic cork seals the quality in. It is definitely a mixing whisky so have fun creating your own specialty cocktails.

If looking for a whisky to drink neat or on the rocks, Highwood's Centennial 10-year old whisky is the ticket for a much richer whisky yet still light on the palate compared to Scotch or Irish whisky. No after burn, just a nice clean finish and a lingering satisfaction. I recommending sampling both WOW and Centennial this summer and entertaining your visitors with Canadian rye whisky. If you have not yet added Canadian rye whisky to your favourite mixing spirits, then time to take the plunge with WOW, it's clearly the best. WOW is available in all provinces except the Maritimes. They hope to have complete distribution in all markets and into the U.S. by year's end.

For more information about purchasing and products visit

Apple Martini
  • 1 oz. White Owl Rye,
  • 1 oz. sour apple schnapps
  • Splash of lime
Shake over ice and garnish with an apple slice.
Pineapple Martini
  • 1 1/2 oz. White Owl Rye
  • 1 oz. Pineapple Juice
  • 3/4 oz. Vermouth
Shake over ice and garnish with a pineapple slice.
  • 2 oz. White Owl Rye
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth,
  • 2 - 3 dashes Bitters
Shake over ice and garnish with a cherry.
Western Caesar
  • 1 1/2 oz. White Owl Rye
  • 3 dashes Tabasco
  • 6 dashes Worcestershire
  • 4 oz. Caesar Cocktail mix
Garnish with a lime wedge.

Well dear readers, I raise my glass to you for the final time this month. It has been a slice (of lime), but I am placing my crystal whisky tumbler and martini glass back on the shelf of the crystal cabinet marked 'for domestic use only.' A victim of my own success, I am incredibly busy, with lots of new projects on the go. Publisher Dan Hutchinson is awfully nice in saying he doesn't want me to go. Thanks Dan, you produce the best online spirits and cocktails 'zine in the world and I am not surprised at our record readership in the last several months-almost 300,000 last month alone. I have appreciated raising the bar with you and all the fantastic people I have met in industry:

  • Ann Tuennerman of Tales of the Cocktail and everyone at Tales--don't forget to go to New Orleans July 21-25,
  • Allison Evanow of Square One Vodka, over 400,000 readers for the December iss,
  • Gringo Gary at Partida Tequila, and the gang,
  • Tyler Schramm and Lorien Chilton of Schramm Vodka, thank you for my signature cocktail, Simply Saskatoon, it is perfect-Happy Wedding Bells!
  • Jack Teeling of Cooley's Irish Whiskey, Jack, you are generous in 'spirit' ,
  • Diane Svehlak and Cindy McClure of Dress the Drink, you do everything to the nines, and all fabulous,
  • Adele Nilsson of Xante, I hope it is finally warm in Stockholm,
  • Peter Hunt of Victoria Gin--More Happy Wedding Bells!
  • Deena Montillo of Montillo's Syrup, a great tasting product for mixos Deena.
  • Mixologists Bridget Albert, of Southern, thank you for your inspiration for using farm fresh ingredients.
  • David Wolowidnyk, of West in Vancouver, love your Beet-nyk cocktail.
  • Lauren Mote of Vancouver's Refinery, thank you for your Freestyle for my Olympics column and more.
  • Shawn Soole of Clive's Lounge Chateau Victoria, thanks for the great Xante and Montillo cocktails and for showing us Victoria's cocktail culture.
  • DTD's Kevin, you went the extra mile for the Dress The Drink column
  • Toronto's Mike Astins of the Fairmont Royal York Library Bar-really super Xante cocktails, I know your customers will love them as additions to this summer's menu.

You have all been great to work and play with. You rose to the challenges I presented you with and gave the column a broader dimension with your amazing concoctions done specially for Raising the Bar readers. This party is so much fun, why am I going? Last call folks. You never know when I might raise my glass again for a special feature for special occasions. Slainje! and Remember, Drink Less and Enjoy More.

Pamela Irving

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