Can we all stop talking trash about Canadian whisky now?
70% of Canadian whisky is shipped to the United States for sale. About 90% of the “good stuff” produced in Canada never leaves Canada. So what then? Seems we Americans are left with the short end of the stick, eh?
We hold a grudge against Canada for some reason. Too many 7&7s were served in the 80’s and too many of our fathers (or grandfathers) drank Canadian Club in the 60’s, I guess (I’m talking to you, Don Draper!). The fact is that a lot of Americans don’t even know that they love a Canadian whiskey! Texas is the largest market for Crown Royal. (I actually have a Texas Ranger in my family that refuses to drink anything except Crown and Coke. I don’t have the heart to tell him…) Crown Royal is distilled in Gimli, on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It was named by Samuel Bronfman, the founder of Seagrams, in 1939 as a tribute to the visit of reigning monarch, King George VI (and his wife, Queen Elizabeth) to Canada. Crown Royal has 2 million barrels aging in 46 warehouses over 5 acres of land. You better believe that there are gems in there! A new release (available only in the Lone Star State!) is the Crown Royal Barrel Select. It is bottled at cask strength and uses a mash of 64% corn, 31.5% rye, and 4.5% malted barley. The spirit is aged in new oak. Sound like something familiar that you might like?
Even whiskey geeks that swoon over Jefferson’s Reserve Rye or Whistle Pig 10 year old Straight Rye don’t know they are distilled in Alberta, Canada. If your rye whiskey is 100% rye, there’s your clue…
An exceptional whiskey brand that is often overlooked at the liquor store is Forty Creek. John Hall, the pioneer Canadian whisky maker behind the brand, started as a wine maker in the Niagara wine industry. He ferments and distills each whisky (rye, barley and corn whiskys) separately in a copper pot still and ages them separately in 40 gallon barrels of differing toast and char levels for 6-10 years. He then marries them together using his 40 some years of experience to create incredible blends. Some of these “meritages” are then aged in sherry casks for an additional 6 months. Interesting stuff…There have been many different releases of Forty Creek and all of them are worth a visit.
Just ask Davin de Kergommeaux, founder of the Canadian Whisky Awards. There is much more to Canadian whisky than American whiskey drinkers know! Check out “Canadian Whisky-The Portable Expert” (for sale at Amazon.com). Try Gibson’s 18 year old, Wiser’s 18 year old, or Alberta’s Rye Whiskey Dark Batch…or hell, just go across the border to our northern neighbor and get your hands on the stuff they are keeping to themselves. Because let’s be honest, if you had a whiskey that you knew was amazing, you’d want to keep it to yourself too!!