Canadian Whisky 2020 | Manitoba Liquor Mart

Canadian Whisky 2020

Canada’s distilleries have long built their reputations on producing whisky that is light, smooth tasting and eminently mixable, a style so popular that for many years dating back to Prohibition much of what they bottled was sold south of the border to a thirsty American market.  

But times are changing. While Canada continues to turn out – in large volumes – the whiskies that made it famous, recently we have begun to see a wealth of new brands (and imaginative expressions of old ones) begin to inundate the Canadian whisky category.

This shift is being fueled by the growing number of whisky enthusiasts who are seeking ever more complex and unique flavours in their whisky, plus the entry of many new craft distilleries from coast to coast.

The result is a true renaissance for Canada’s whisky industry, one which is rapidly changing the perception of what Canadian whisky is. Truly, there has never been a better time to support Canada’s distilleries by drinking local.

 

Promoted Canadian Whiskies

Crown Royal
WHITE OWL WHISKY
CROWN ROYAL DELUXE WHISKY
CROWN ROYAL DELUXE
CROWN ROYAL VANILLA
CROWN ROYAL VANILLA
JP WISER'S MANHATTAN
JP WISER'S MANHATTAN
FORTY CREEK BARREL SELECT
FORTY CREEK BARREL SELECT

 

WISER'S WHEAT FIELD GOLD
WISER'S WHEAT FIELD GOLD
LOT NO 40 SINGLE COPPER POT
LOT NO 40
BEARFACE 7YO TRIPLE OAK WH
BEARFACE 7YO TRIPLE OAK
CC DOCK 57 BLACKBERRY
CC DOCK 57 BLACKBERRY
CC 100% RYE WHISKY
CC 100% RYE WHISKY

 

 

Understanding Canadian Whisky in Three Sips 

Sip #1: Playing by the Rules

 

Every whisky producing nation has its laws governing what whisky is and how it can be made. the production of whisky in Canada are a bit less stringent. For Canadian distillers the regulations are as follows:

Canadian whisky must:

  1. Be mashed, distilled and aged in Canada
  2. Be produced from one or more cereal grains including corn, rye, barley and wheat,
  3. Be aged in a wood vessel of not more than 700 liters for at least three years,
  4. Contain not less than 40% alcohol and
  5.  “Possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky.”

Canadian law also permits distillers to add colour and flavour (see Sip #3) to their whiskies. This added to fact that Canada imposes no requirements for the amounts of grains that can be used (as with American whiskey), or the type of wood that must be used for aging (both Scotch and Bourbon do), provides Canadian distillers with significant latitude for creativity and exploration, a largely unheralded advantage that should be celebrated more.

 

 

Sip #2: The Canadian Art of Blending  

 

To achieve the smooth, elegant style Canadian whisky has become known for, most distillers create their whiskies by blending a base whisky with one or more flavouring whiskies, each of which is distilled separately. Base whiskies are typically (but not exclusively) produced from a corn mash, while flavouring whiskies can be made from rye, barley, wheat or corn. The blending of the whiskies can then occur before or after aging, according to the distiller’s preference. This approach to blending gives Canadian distillers a tremendous amount of flexibility in finetuning their products.

 

 

Sip #3: The 9.09% Loophole

 

Canadian whisky sometimes receives unfair criticism because of the so-called “9.09% Rule,” which allows distillers to add up to 9.09% of imported spirits and/or wine as a flavouring agent, as long as the additive has spent a minimum of two years in wood.

This rule exists primarily for distillers exporting large volume whiskies to the American market where the addition of a “splash” of American whisky affords significant tax breaks for the distiller. However, when versions of the same products are sold within Canada, or exported to other markets, this provision is rarely employed.

Ultimately, the 9.09% rule provides Canadian distillers with an extra level of creativity when developing their blends, which some distilleries are taking advantage of to great effect. One example of this is Alberta Premium’s Dark Horse which contains American Bourbon and a dollop of sherry to create its unique taste.

 

Fun Fact: Why your rye may be (mostly) corn.

In Canada today the term rye is used almost interchangeably with the word whisky. This custom dates back to the early years of Canadian distilling when most whiskies were made solely from wheat, which produces a fairly soft, smooth tasting spirit. But when German and Dutch immigrants seeking more flavour began adding a small amount of rye flour to their mashes, people took notice and started calling this new style of whisky “rye.”

Eventually these “rye” whiskies became so popular that most Canadian distillers started blending in some amount of the grain into their products, and it became common to call all Canadian whiskies ryes, regardless of what grains were used in making the product.

 

 




Who Made My Whisky?

Apart from the many craft distilleries popping up across Canada, the majority of Canadian whisky is produced at just a handful distilleries. But don’t take this to mean that different brands from the same plant contain the same whisky; distillers have an almost infinite number of variables to play with – including grain mix, cask char levels, barrel placement in the warehouse and the ages of the whiskies blended – to give each brand its own unique flavour profile. Here is a brief primer of what brands are made at some of these larger distilleries.
 
High River Alberta
Brands: Centennial, Century, Ninety, White Owl, Potter's
 
Lethbridge, Alberta
Brands: Black Velvet, Danfield's, Schenley's Golden Wedding, OFC
 
Calgary, Alberta
Brands: Alberta Premium, Alberta Springs, Windsor Canadian, Tangle Ridge, Canadian Club Chairman's Select
 
Gimli, Manitoba
Brands: Crown Royal (also produce whiskies used in Seagram's VO and Canadian 83)
 
Windsor, Ontario
Brands: Lot 40, Pike Creek, Gooderham and Worts, Hiram Walker's Special Old, Corby's Royal Reserve, J.P. Wiser's 
 
Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec
Brands: Canadian Mist, Seagram VO, Collingwood