You’ve heard that Canadian whisky is light, and that may be true of the bargain basement bottlings. However, here are six robust Canadians, most of them new releases that break the mould. Spend just a little more money and you get a whole lot more whisky.
Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel
This single barrel, high proof Crown Royal is bottled one barrel at a time for individual US retailers. Distilled in a genuine Coffey still and matured in new white oak barrels, Hand Selected Barrel is one of a kind. While some bottles stray into bourbon territory, others taste just like classic American rye. Watch for baking spices, pepper, vanilla, dark fruits, fragrant flowers and luscious butterscotch.
Alberta Premium Dark Batch
Take 12-year-old pot distilled whisky and 6-year-old column distilled whisky, both made from 100 percent rye grain and matured in brand new and once-used bourbon barrels. That’s already a recipe for massive flavor. Now add 8 percent Old Grandad bourbon and 1 percent Oloroso sherry. The result? An extraordinary symphony of rye with a silky mouth feel and delicate fruitiness. Caramels, vanillas, sweet pickles, garden herbs, flowers, ginger and orange pith round it out.
Stalk and Barrel Rye
Stalk and Barrell
Despite the whisky world’s obsession with age, some young all-rye whiskies are sensational. Stalk and Barrel is best known for its single malt whisky but the range now includes single barrel all-ryes as well. These 3-year-old ryes are bottled both at 92 proof and at cask strength for those wanting more punch. Look for brilliant high notes, grain dust, fruits and flowers and an audaciously youthful wallop of spicy rye.
Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve
Before selling to Campari, Forty Creek created a special whisky with the classic Canadian profile raised by a factor of 2. It was so well received that it joined the Forty Creek line-up permanently. Fully mature blended whisky is re-barrelled in new bourbon barrels creating a smooth, butter-slathered texture. Silky soft caramel cream with vanilla and piquant spices finishes in cleansing citrus pith.
Anyone who thinks small distillers have the franchise on innovation has not met Dr. Don Livermore. He makes hundreds of experimental whiskies each year in North America’s largest whisky distillery, then bottles only the best. Chocolate malt and Bravo hops bring complex malty, fruity and floral flavors to the Wiser’s house style, without that hoppy bitterness. Add searing spices, ripe orchard fruits and a long juicy finish and it’s the very definition of well-crafted whisky.
WhistlePig 10 year old
WhistlePig’s back labels used to say “Imported from Canada.” Then a government inspector decided that when the whisky was re-barreled in Vermont it became an ingredient, and thus a product of Vermont. He has since changed his mind and the Canada statement has proudly returned. This huge 100 percent rye whisky bursts with gorgeous dusky fruits, tart gooseberries in creamy vanilla toffee, rye spices, chilli peppers, and hints of milk chocolate.
Davin de Kergommeaux is the author of the award-winning book Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert.You’ve heard that Canadian whisky is light, and that may be true of the bargain basement bottlings. However, here are 6 robust Canadians, most of them new releases that break the mould. Spend just a little more money and you get a whole lot more whisky.