COME BACK TO CANADA FOR WORLD WHISKY DAY
May 20th is World Whisky Day, and we want to spotlight the amazing whisky that is being made right here amongst the moose and hockey sticks. Canada is currently producing some of the most interesting, exciting and BEST whiskies in the world, and if you are a whisky lover who isn’t on-board, you’re missing out.
Canadian Whisky, eh? We have friends who are very serious about Scotch. Other friends who are nuts for Bourbon. When I talk about an amazing Canadian whisky I’ve tasted they look at me like I’m a five-year-old bragging about being a ninja. Sure, sure. Whisky has a history (albeit a dark history) in this land far before Canada was even an idea. Yet, with prohibition days long past, Canadian whisky hasn’t been generating the same buzz as whiskies from other regions. Canadian whisky doesn’t have the air of old-world sophistication that surrounds Scotch, or feverish hype that has taken over Bourbon. But, for those paying attention, over the last couple decades Canadian Whisky has been evolving, new artisanal brands are emerging, big brands are putting out limited craft products, and the stage is quietly being set for the hype machine to take hold. There is amazing liquid flowing out of Canada, from coast to coast. Perhaps it’s the patriotism, but while my friends are scrambling to get their allotment of Blanton’s, there are many Canadian whiskies I would happily reach for first.
The following are five Canadian whiskies we think you should try. This is, by no means, a complete list. It just happens to be what we currently have open and are thoroughly enjoying on this World Whisky Day.
From Vancouver Island, Shelter Point Distillery is producing some of the world’s most exciting whisky. For over a decade, Shelter Point has been crafting single malt expressions that stand shoulder to shoulder with the best Scotch. The distillery is perched on the coast of the Salish Sea, where the influence of the land and seascape gives their whisky a character that could never be replicated elsewhere. In fact, some of their expressions, such as Montfort, are produced, field to flask, from barley harvested from the land surrounding the distillery. Shelter Point experiments successfully with limited releases, which sell out quickly. One of our favourites is The Forbidden, a 100% wheat whisky that blows away the expectations of anyone we’ve shared it with.
A newer brand from Montreal that is an exciting addition to the Canadian whisky offerings. Cirka is also involved grain-to-bottle, sourcing corn and rye from within Quebec. We have been enjoying their latest whisky offerings, Whisky No3 and Whisky No4. Both fantastic, each with a dramatically different character from the other, showcasing the versatility and craftsmanship that Cirka brings to the game. No3. is a celebration of rye; 100% rye, 93% coming from rye grown in Yamachiche. The remaining 7% is German chocolate malted rye. No3 has a very unique character that may be challenging for some drinkers, but it keeps me reaching for the bottle. So unique and so good. No4 seems designed to delight everybody. 95% corn with a touch of rye, it’s a nice balance of delicate sweetness and spice, dried fruits and honey roasted nuts topped off with a peppery highlight.
We always keep a bottle of Lot No.40 100% Rye on hand. There’s nothing mind-blowing about it; it’s just good. Always enjoyable and dependable. Excellent in a cocktail, and lovely sipped neat. If somebody thinks they don’t like rye, this has the potential to change their mind. Although Lot No. 40 falls under the umbrella of beverage behemoth, Pernod Ricard, it retains a craft-spirits sensibility, while still being affordable and available. If you want to dive deep into the 100% rye rabbit-hole, check out their Dark Oak release, or their highly sought after Cask Strength (good luck getting your hands on a bottle, though).
Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye
Another massive brand that is putting out exciting, limited editions that will please the connoisseurs. Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye actually claimed the coveted World Whisky of the Year title in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2021. Yes, best whisky in the world! Whether you believe the hype or not, if you are an aficionado this is a whisky you must try. Though, with ABV in the mid-sixties, this is not a casual sipper. This is a big whisky that demands attention and rewards a discerning palate.
Great Plains Craft Spirits
Great Plains Craft Spirits is new brand with some old whisky. How does that work? It turns out Canada has hidden stocks of forgotten whisky, sitting in barrels in the back of a warehouse, or left over from defunct distilleries. The founders of Great Plains have made it their mission to seek out and rescue the best of these whisky stocks, which they then finish and blend to perfection. The result is small batches of rare and interesting Canadian whisky, which also happens to be delicious. We have been delighted with the 18 Year Brandy Finish. This whisky was sourced from stock originally distilled by Potter’s in Kelowna, and had been sitting in old bourbon barrels for 17+ years. Great plains finished it for a year in 22 brandy casks and bottled at cask strength. If you can find this, get it. And keep an eye on Great Plains for their other releases.