Celebrate Canada’s 150th with a delicious Canadian whisky

By / Wine + Drinks / June 30th, 2017 / 17

Sure, that Canada is turning 150 is certainly a milestone worthy of celebration. But we should also celebrate the fact that Our Home and Native Land is quickly restoring it’s historic reputation as one of the world’s prime whisky destinations. Rye is again riding high! A quick bit of histor-rye (thanks to the good folks at Jesson + Company Communications Inc.).

Did you know?

  1. Canadian whisky is older than Canada and distilling began on our soil over 200 years ago.
  2. A symbol of Canadian pride, whisky was notoriously enjoyed by our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.
  3. Rye whisky has been the forte of Canadian distillers for more than a century and our distillers are creating a whole new generation of exciting brands.
  4. Canadian pride means toasting to Canadian products made with Canadian ingredients and Canadian resources, hence raise a glass of Canadian whisky.
  5. Crown Royal, created in 1939 to mark the first-ever visit to Canada by reigning monarch, King George VI, just celebrated its 78th anniversary.
  6. We can thank a Canadian farmer for the food on our table and the rye and corn distilled in our spirits.
  7. In 1890, Canada became the first nation to pass legislation requiring that whisky be aged.

High River Canadian Whisky

Those new to CanDram might want to start off with the ultra-approachable and new to the market High River Canadian Whisky. Blended by Drew Mayville, the Master Blender at Kentucky’s Buffalo Trace, it’s fresh and clean, with a honeyed, delicately spiced, slightly fruity aroma and a mid-weight, mildly spicy palate and subtle hints of caramel and some toasty/vanilla nuances.

Collingwood Canadian Whisky

Those wanting something a bit richer might consider a pair of whiskies that are each unique in their own way. Collingwood Canadian Whisky, distiller in picturesque Collingwood, Ontario, is finished with a soaking amongst toasted maple wood staves. The result is a whisky with a nose suggesting dark fruits, a hint of tobacco, and hard toffee. Round, supple, smooth and creamy, with black cherry and toasty vanilla notes.

Forty Creek John K. Hall Confederation Oak Reserve

The Forty Creek John K. Hall Confederation Oak Reserve also employs Canadian wood in the maturation process. These local oak trees were gauged to be over 150 years old – back to the time of Canada’s Confederation (hence, Confederation Oak). This is a fragrant and deliciously complex dram, with butterscotch, dried fruit, polished wood, and caramel aromas that seem to morph into additional nuances with time. Very supple, with butterscotch, vanilla and subtle, smoked wood component. The finish is long a gently peppery. Lovely stuff with packaging artwork courtesy of Calgary, Alberta, artist Sheila Schaetzle.

Lot 40

Finally, if you are looking for something slightly spicier, more assertive and, well, more “rye-forward,” look no further than Lot 40. Originally part of Corby’s Canadian Whisky Guild series, this entry was pretty much DOA when it first hit the shelves well over a decade ago (I might have been the only one buying it). It, and it’s brothers, slunk away ingloriously. Thankfully, the resurgence of interest in Canadian whisky saw the mash bills being pulled out of mothballs and all three returning to the shelves. The award-winning Lot 40 is a Classic Canadian Rye, with an assertive nose of rye bread, marmalade, cracked pepper, and a hint of mineral. Showing characteristic rye sharpness in the mouth giving an overall dry impression, it sports typical brittle rye flavours buttressed by fruity/ester components. Crisp, zesty and peppery as it slips away.

These are but a few of the outstanding whiskies Canada has to offer, and Canada turning 150 years old is as good an excuse as any to enjoy a Home and Native Dram or three.


Tod Stewart is the contributing editor at Quench. He's an award-winning Toronto-based wine/spirits/food/travel/lifestyle writer with over 35 years industry experience. He has contributed to newspapers, periodicals, and trade publications and has acted as a consultant to the hospitality industry. No matter what the subject matter, he aims to write an entertaining read. His book, 'Where The Spirits Moved Me' is now available on Amazon and Apple.

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