Over the past few years Canadian whisky has been talked about a lot more than normal and it is picking up steam. To be honest I have been drinking whisky for a while now but only just casually up until the last three years and it had been almost exclusively Scotch, blends and single malts. I had it in my head that Canadian whisky wasn’t good and it wasn’t cool to drink. I started off slowly about 3 years ago into the realm of Canadian whisky with Forty Creek and it tweaked my interest and maybe turned on a dim light in the tunnel I had formed with my self induced vision of what good whisky is.
The next step in my Canadain whisky exploration was with Davin de Kergommeaux’s book Canadian Whisky – the Portable Expert. This is the best book out there when it comes to Canadian whisky producers and the rich history of who, what, where, and when of our whisky heritage. Davin is the top Canadian whisky expert in the world and is actually a really down to earth, great guy. I also got the chance to meet John Hall, owner and Master Blender at Forty Creek Distillery and attend one of his master classes and simply fell in love with the whisky and his philosophy on how great whisky is made. To date Forty Creek is the only distillery I have visited but I hope to get a few more in soon.
I have been following the Canadian whisky awards for the past three years and this along with talking to other Canadian whisky fans has helped me choose a few whiskies to add to my shelves. Since then I have added the following bottles, Lot 40, Alberta Premium Dark Horse, Canadian Club 100% rye, Still Waters, Collingwood 7 and 21, JP Wiser’s Hopped, Crown Royal Northern Harvest, Crown Royal Reserve and every bottle that Forty Creek has made since I have discovered it. I still have 12 bottles on my list of Canadian whiskies to find.
This month I picked up a couple magazines that I like to read from time to time and was really surprised with the Canadian content in these heavily Scotch and Bourbon favored publications. Look at the spread that Crown Royal has inside the front cover of the Whisky Advocate, that must have cost a few dollars.
In this issues, that is about the Whisky awards, Bourbon and Japan there is still 3 large full page ads and 3 articles about Canadian whisky. I also picked up the current issue of Whisky magazine and in that one there is the yearly list of the top Icons of whisky around the world in various categories. This year Canada can boast of two Canadians that won or got honorable mention and they are; Beth Havers of William Grant & Sons for the Scotch Whisky Brand ambassador of the year and Matt Jones who got honorable mention (2nd place) for two categories, World Whisky Brand Ambassador and American Whisky Brand Ambassador. I have had the pleasure of spending some quality time (eating and drinking) with both of these awesome people and look forward to spending more time with them in the future.
Well I guess what I am trying to say is that I am really starting to become a Canadian whisky fanatic because of all the great things happening in Canada right now. We have many great, small, I hate to use the word craft so artisan whisky makers popping up and some of them are doing amazing things, while some others not so great. I got a chance to try four Nova Scotia whiskies a few weeks ago and I must say that 1 was really good, Caldara Hurricane 5, one from Cape Breton was ok( never been a fan of their stuff), the novelty whisky Dirty Old Canadian Trailer Park boys whisky was fun and not all that bad and another was just not my cup of tea. I am excited to see what will become of northern NB’s Fils du Roy distillery’s whisky in a few years and others like Still Waters and whisky made in Yukon.
I almost got through this post without mentioning “He who shall not be mentioned”, Jim Murray. Whether I like him or not or disagree with his book’s choices, he did do Canadian whisky a solid, even if it was just to create enough controversy to sell his book.
P.S. Northern harvest Rye is a great whisky just no where near the best ever 😉