Guide to Canadian Whisky

Bottles of Canadian whisky

There are certain countries that are renowned for their whisky. Scotland and Ireland are massive players in the whisky game, with America providing some incredible Bourbon and rye whiskies, and Japan becoming an increasingly popular source of the malt beverage. While you may not often hear a lot about Canadian whisky in comparison to some of these bigger whisky-producing areas, there are still some incredible bottles available. We take a look at what Canada has to offer the whisky world.

What is Canadian Whisky Like?

The first thing to note is the spelling. While Canada’s American neighbours like to call the drink ‘whiskey’ with an ‘e’, Canadian whisky manufacturers have chosen to follow the Scottish in their naming traditions, spelling it without an ‘e’.

Canadian whisky takes inspiration from both the classic Scotch and the whiskies produced in the US. For example, like Scottish whiskies, Canadian whisky can be matured in used barrels, but it can also make use of a variety of grains, like American whiskies. This allows Canadian whisky to offer a huge range of flavour; whether created from blended grains or imparted from the barrels used.

© Jörgens.mi / CC BY-SA 3.0

Canadian Blended Whisky

Most Canadian whisky is blended and will use a range of different grains, such as barley, rye, wheat and corn. Typically, each grain will be fermented, distilled and matured separately and the combined at bottling. As such, Canadian whisky manufacturers are able to have a lot of flexibility in creating whisky flavours, developing the flavour profile at the blending stage.

For many blended Canadian whiskies, two types of spirit will be used; base whisky and flavouring whisky. The base whisky will be high strength, but be light in flavour, making it the perfect ‘base’ for blending. The flavouring whisky will be quite the opposite; distilled to a lower strength, but offering stronger flavours. These two types are then combined to create a balanced and flavourful sip with character and complexity.

Most Canadian whiskies will be produced in a single distillery, which will make both the single malt and the grain whisky. Canadian distilleries will typically release a wider range of products than Scottish whisky producers, simply due to the fact that they are working with a larger variety of grains! Canadian whiskies will all need to be aged for a minimum of three years.

Canadian Rye Whisky

Rye is commonly added to Canadian and American whiskies to add a hint of spice. Rye is a fairly standard addition to Canadian whiskies, and as such, are often referred to as ‘rye whiskies’ regardless of how much rye is in the mix! In fact, Canadian whiskies can even be called ‘Rye Whisky’ even if it doesn’t actually contain rye! Originally produced as a flavouring whisky, the popularity of rye in Canada has even led to the creation of a number of 100 percent rye whiskies.

Popular Canadian Whisky Brands

There are a variety of different whisky producers and distilleries in Canada, but some of the most popular include Crown Royal, Canadian Club, Forty Creek, Pendleton, Gibson’s and Lot 40. Canadian whisky is the most imported spirit into the United States, and of this, Crown Royal is the most popular. Canadian Club is also a world-renowned whisky brand and is also the only distillery in North America to have been granted a royal warrant, with the beverage receiving warrants from Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V, George VI and Elizabeth II. Canadian Club is also renowned for its exciting marketing campaigns which involved hunting for cases of whisky bottles hidden around the world in adventurous locations; some are still out there!

Have you ever tried a Canadian whisky? Whether you prefer Scotch, Bourbon or Japanese whisky in the UK, we’ve got something for everyone here at Havana House. Check out our range of whisky and other alcoholic beverages to find the one for you!

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