If you’re a whiskey drinker and the finer offerings from our friendly neighbor to the north have eluded you until now, it’s time to change that. While a common misconception is that all Canadian whiskies are blended (and, yes, many good ones up there are blends) they don’t all fall under that category.
So what makes a Canadian whisky, aside from the fact that it can only be produced in Canada? Geography aside, Canadian whisky must be made from a mashed and distilled cereal grain, aged in wood for a minimum of three years, and be no less than 80 proof (or 40 percent ABV). That’s basically it. There are no over-the-top rules when it comes to Canada.
“Canadian whisky allows for greater creativity and diversity of expressions than any other whisky appellations,” says Andres Faustinelli, master blender at Bearface Whisky. “Beyond ensuring the whisky is aged for at least three years in wood, there are no real restrictions or boundaries. It’s a playbook for innovation.”
Regarding the blends
Now back to the blends. Over the years, a number of fairly low-proof, very young, sometimes additive-filled whiskies produced in Canada have been enough to give any country’s whisky a bad rep—but several high-quality, award-winning, flavorful whiskies up here are now taking center stage.
“For decades, the flexibility of Canadian whisky has been downplayed by the larger players to reduce cost and cut corners in terms of quality,” notes Faustinelli. “But it you want to experience new possibilities in whisky—like new types of casks, new approaches to aging, or crazy ingredients, Canadian whisky is the way to go.”
Here are 10 great bottles to try—all of which give Canadian whisky the fine reputation it deserves.
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