Words by: Simon Difford
Canadian whisky (spelt without an 'e') has for decades been the best-selling whiskey in the USA and tends to be light bodied in style.
In 1875, government regulation specified that Canadian whisky must be made from cereal grains in Canada, using continuous distillation. The rules also state that Canadian whisky must be aged a minimum of three years and a maximum of 18 years in charred oak barrels.
It is produced from a wide range of grains: corn is by far the most profuse, while rye contributes most flavour.
John Molson, though better known for brewing, is credited with first introducing whisky to Canada in 1799. His lead was followed by Scottish emigrants who found their new home had plentiful and cheap grain. Whisky production started at Kingston, on Lake Ontario, and spread as farming developed. However, barley was not common, so they reduced the amount of barley and added corn, wheat and rye instead. Canada's first legal distillery was founded in 1832.
Blending is the key to Canadian whisky. It is produced from a wide range of grains: corn is by far the most important, while rye contributes most flavour. As a rule, the more spice you smell in a Canadian whisky, the more rye is in its blend. The mash bill (or grain mix) is dependent on the particular brand a whisky will ultimately form part of (these mash bills are closely kept commercial secrets). The length of distillation and type of continuous still used also varies according to a particular brand's style requirements. Similarly, the type of barrel used for ageing varies greatly - from new charred casks to those formerly used for ageing bourbon, sherry, port, rum or whisky.
Canadian whisky is usually aged, blended and then aged for a further period after blending. While in other countries whiskies are often left to 'marry' for a period in casks after blending, it is rare for the main maturation period to take place after blending. The myriad options available in terms of basic ingredients, ageing period, casks and timing of blending, give Canadian whisky a unique style.
This 100% rye, straight rye whiskey was launched in October 2013 as a limited edition. Lock Stock & Barrel is double distilled in copper pot stills by Canada’s Alberta Distilleries Ltd and then aged 13 years in American oak barrels.
Pendleton is bottled in Hood River USA by Hood River Distillers using whiskey distilled and aged in Canada by undisclosed distillers. It is reduced from cask to bottling strength using “glacier-fed spring water” from Oregon's Mt. Hood. Caramel, muscovado sugar, vanilla fudge and tobacco with lemon zest, cinnamon and ginger spice.
Distilled in copper pot stills and aged in ex-sherry casks and medium and heavily charred American white oak barrels. Various casks are chosen at their peak and blended to produce Forty Creek Barrel Select.
This “Fine de Luxe” Canadian whisky blend was created in 1939 for a state tour by King George VI, and ceremoniously presented to him when he travelled across Canada aboard a special train. The bottle is designed to resemble a crown and the label illustrates a crown sat on a blue cushion. Buttery nubuck leather, luxury vanilla ice-cream, stewed fruit, cedarwood and caramel with prune, overripe banana, maple syrup and grilled sweet corn.
Seagram's VO was first blended in 1913 by Joseph E. Seagram at his Waterloo, Ontario distillery to celebrate his son's wedding. What exactly Joseph Seagram meant the 'VO' to stand for has been lost to time but 'very own' and 'very old' are the most popular theories. Grainy nose with spicy woody aromas somewhat reminiscent of cigarette ashtray (in a good way). Rum-like fruitiness with overripe pineapple and banana aromas.
The leading international brand of Canadian whisky has been produced in Ontario State since 1858. The component whiskies, which have high levels of rye and barley malt, are blended before going into charred white oak barrels where they are aged for six years. Subdued and grainy with barley sugar, red apple, light spice, vanilla and a faint aroma akin to the inside of a soft plastic box (in an apealing way).
Showing results per page