Undoubtedly, we understand and appreciate our native spirit, bourbon. However, taking a brief look at Canadian Whisky is an exciting exercise mainly because I will reveal the most unusual Canadian Whisky ever made. More about that in a little while.
What is the definition of Canadian Whisky?
Canadian Whisky is a very open category compared to many of the world’s whiskeys. Canadian Whiskey can add artificial flavor and color. It must be produced in Canada and can only be distilled up to 190, 30 points higher than bourbon regulations. It must be aged in Canada in wooden barrels for at least three years. By comparison, there is no age requirement for bourbon. Please note: Canadian whisky is often aged in used barrels contrasting against the used of new charred oak for every bourbon.
Many Canadian Whisky’s are blended. Blending Whisky in Canada is both an art and a science. Each whisky variation is typically distilled separately and blended to taste by a master blender or distiller. Canadian blenders feel this gives them tremendous freedom to create unique and individual flavor profiles.
Canadian Whisky Influence in America
During American Prohibition, there were multiple sources of spirits for the illegal sale of intoxicating liquors in the United States. Whiskey was produced in Mexico and smuggled over the southern border to find their way to thirsty Americans. However, a great quantity of Whisky moved across our northern border with Canada. The drinking public in Chicago, New York, St. Louis, or just about any big city enjoyed strong American Whiskey, which had a bold flavor and lingering finish. As existing whiskey stocks began to shrink, Canadian Whisky found its way to the United States. It was lighter and, in many cases, softer because of blending.
Canadian whisky myths
Many people tell me Canadian Whisky can only be made with rye grain. That statement is false; Canadian distillers will use multiple grains, including corn, rye, and malted barley. Again, many are distilled separately and blended upon bottling. The amount of any one grain can vary widely in Canadian brands. Some people think prohibition made the Canadian distilling industry, but the U.S. Civil War shut down many American distilleries, and ambitious business people began distilling in Canada to take advantage of the opportunity.
It is the most unusual Whisky ever?
I have had the opportunity to sample some of the world’s great Whiskey—bourbon mostly, with Irish, Canadian, Japanese, and even the occasional sip of scotch. I have tasted Whiskey finished with wine, honey, tea, tree sap, beer, and even second barrels. But it took a Canadian Whisky to be the most unusual flavor profile I have ever experienced. Bearface Whisky Wilderness Edition is one unique and surprising drink. Find out what we thought of this Whisky finished with mushrooms HERE. That is not a typo. I meant to say mushrooms.