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Best Canadian Whiskey

Canadians are known for a multitude of things, from maple syrup to hockey. But apart from this, you may not know that the country is famous for its outstanding whisky production (in Canada it is spelled without the “e”). 

From 100 percent rye interpretations to budget-friendly blends, there is something for everyone. Canadian whiskey is differentiated by the fact that it must be aged for three years in Canada and contain at least 40% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Distillers can also experiment with different barrel types and recipes, as well as adding 9.09 percent of another spirit to the whisky (as long as it’s aged for two years in wood).

If you want to spice up your whiskey collection, then take a look at the best Canadian whiskeys (see also: Macallan 18 Review)you can buy right now.

The Best Canadian Whiskey

Forty Creek Confederation Oak

Forty Creek Confederation Oak
  • Region – Ontario
  • ABV – 40%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye, Barley, Corn

The Grimsby Distillery in Ontario has created a magnificent expression in the form of this whiskey. The Confederation Oak was created in 1867 to commemorate Canada’s Confederation.

According to the distillery, it’s a blended whiskey that’s aged for up to two years in new Canadian oak barrels, which have a tighter grain due to the cooler climate. Look for praline, honey, and dark fruits on the palate.

Lot 40 Rye Whisky

Lot 40 Rye Whisky
  • Region – Ontario
  • ABV – 43%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye, Carmel, Fig

Lot 40 Rye Whiskey is a rare find. In the 2000s, Canadian Rye Whisky was discontinued, but owing to popular demand from whiskey enthusiasts, it was revived.

This spirit features a clove and cinnamon fragrance, as well as a dry, peppery flavor that tastes like freshly baked bread or sour pickles largely due to the toasted rye utilized in the mix.

The whisky ends on a spicy note, bringing a roller-coaster of flavors to a finale and leaving you warm on the inside. This whiskey is perfect for those cold and snowy Canadian nights. 

Caribou Crossing Canadian Whiskey

Caribou Crossing Canadian Whiskey
  • Region – Canada
  • ABV –  40%
  • Base Ingredients– Rye, Maple 

Caribou Crossing, a Sazerac brand product, is pricier than other Canadian whiskies, but it is well worth it. Because it is a single barrel release, each bottle comes from a single barrel rather than a blend of several.

This means that each bottle will have a somewhat different flavor profile, but expect vanilla, honey, and spice flavors in general.

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve
  • Region – Ontario
  • ABV – 40%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye, Barley, Corn

Fortey Creek makes another appearance on this list, showing just how popular this brand of whiskey is not just in Canada but around the world. This is another top-shelf Canadian whisky, aged twice as long in a twin-barrel system (as the name implies).

This distilling method produces a spirit with a sweet butterscotch scent and flavors of creamy caramel and vanilla. The finish is dry and peppery, as it should be with any good Canadian whisky, and it burns the nose on the way down. You should make room in your liquor cupboard for this bottle.

Canadian Club 100% Rye Canadian Whisky 

Canadian Club 100% Rye Canadian Whisky 
  • Region – Ontario
  • ABV – 40%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye

In the United States, Canadian Club is well-known for its popular and moderately priced blended whisky. This 100% rye whisky, aged in a variety of casks, is a superb example of Canadian rye and can often be found for $20 or under per bottle. This makes it perfect for those on a budget who still want to enjoy some high-quality whiskey. This is not the most powerful rye whisky you will ever drink, but it is a bargain. The smells of caramel and oak are present in this spirit from Alberta Distillers.

Pike Creek Port Barrel Finish Canadian Whisky

Pike Creek Port Barrel Finish Canadian Whisky
  • Region – Ontario
  • ABV – 40%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye

Pike Creek is marketed as a spirit influenced by nature. This is due to their unique maturation method, which foregoes modern temperature control in favor of exposing their whisky to the changing seasons. This classic, long maturation procedure yields a wonderful whisky with aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, and nuts. On the scent, it has a rye and dried fruit aroma, and on the taste, it has a creamy vanilla flavor. All of this is topped off by a sweet, warming finish, making it one of Canada’s best whiskies for sweet tooths.

Shelter Point Single Malt

Shelter Point Single Malt
  • Region – Vancouver Island
  • ABV – 46%
  • Base Ingredients – Malted Barley

When it comes to Canadian whisky, single malt is not the first thing that comes to mind. But there are a few independent distilleries around Canada that specialize in this type of alcohol. Shelter Point, for example, is a small single malt whisky maker on Vancouver Island. 

Their single malt whiskey is distilled in copper pot stills from a 100 percent malted barley mash bill and aged for at least three years in American oak barrels. Aromas of tropical fruit, vanilla, and spice abound on the palate, appealing to fans of single malt scotch.

Pendleton Canadian Whisky

Pendleton Canadian Whisky
  • Region – Oregon
  • ABV – 40%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye, Barley

Pendleton brings together the best of both worlds: Canadian whisky and American ingenuity. Each bottle is prepared with a blend of ultra-premium Canadian whiskies and proofed with pure glacier-fed spring water from Oregon’s highest peak, Mt. Hood. This is one of the less expensive options available, and it is smooth and easy to drink.

JP Wiser’s 18 Year Blended Canadian Whisky

JP Wiser's 18 Year Blended Canadian Whisky
  • Region – Canada
  • ABV – 80%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye

This whisky is known for its flavor depth, which comes from the usage of bourbon barrels in the aging process. It is also known for its incredibly long aging process, with the whiskey sitting in barrels for 18 years. This adds to the well-balanced and smooth flavor of the whiskey, while also giving it the characteristic aroma of smoke, rye, and earth. 

This whisky also has the added benefit of being very cost-effective given how much time and effort is put into the manufacturing process. If you are looking for a whiskey to drink during a celebration, then this might be the one for you.

Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye

Alberta Premium Rye Whisky
  • Region – Alberta
  • ABV –  65.1%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye 

The Alberta Premium Cash Strength Rye, which won first place in the Jim Murray Whisky Bible in 2020, has done a lot to promote Canadian whisky around the world. With an ABV of 65.1, it will certainly warm the stomach on the cold Canadian evenings. If you like cask-strength whiskies, Alberta Premium has created not just one of the best Canadian, but also one of the best in the world. 

If you want to have this whiskey on hand to drink at a celebration or event, then you should make sure to order it early. Due to its popularity, this whiskey is frequently out of stock as the distillery struggles to keep up with the demand for this sell-out product. 

Pike Creek 10 Year Old Rum Barrel Finished

Pike Creek 10 Year Old Rum Barrel Finished Canadian Whisky
  • Region – Ontario
  • ABV– 42%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye

Pike Creek makes another appearance on this list thanks to its many high-quality whiskey products. Pike Creek’s rye whisky gets some interesting barrel finishes from Corby Distilleries after it’s been aged for a while. One of the best products is this 10-year-old blended whiskey matured in rum barrels. This additional maturation adds flavors of banana and brown sugar to the combination of caramel, cinnamon, and dried fruit scents.

Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel

 Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel Canadian Whisky
  • Region – Ontario
  • ABV – 51.5%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye

In 1939, a Canadian entrepreneur created a blend of 50 whiskies and presented it to the King and Queen of England in a magnificent purple bag with gold stitching. This whiskey maintains the same degree of quality and integrity as when it was first presented to English royalty. This mix is made with 50 different whiskies.

With a hefty dose of maple syrup, Crown Royal Hand Select Barrel is the spirit version of the Canadian flag. On the taste, there are sweet syrup flavors with hints of fruit, as well as in the aroma of the whisky. Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel has the smoothest finish of any whisky on our list, with a long and lasting aftertaste that encompasses all of the flavors mentioned above.

Lock, Stock & Barrel 16 Year Rye

Lock Stock & Barrel 16 Year Rye Whiskey
  • Region – USA
  • ABV – 53.5%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye

This 100% Canadian rye whisky is sourced and bottled by Cooper Spirits Company in the United States. Even if a bottle costs $150 or more, the whisky is well worth the money. A deeply peppery background is eased by flavors of caramel, cocoa, and dried fruits. This flavor is the result of being aged for 16 years in an American oak barrel. This can be consumed on its own or in a premium cocktail.

Proof Two Grain Whisky

  • Region – Ontario
  • ABV – 42%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye 

Proof Two Grain Whisky is a spirit you may have tried on a night out, though if you did it was almost certainly diluted by post-mix. It has a nose of citrus and honey, and its flavors are akin to Japanese whisky.

It is highly popular in the party scene. It has a spicy finish with lemon, cinnamon, and clove flavors that will keep you going late into the night.

Because of its similarities to Japanese whiskies, Proof Two Grain Whisky is a great place to start if you want to experience international whiskies.

Gooderham & Worts Four Grain Whisky

Gooderham & Worts Canadian Whisky
  • Region – Ontario/Toronto
  • ABV– 44.4%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye, Barley, Corn, Wheat

The original Toronto distillery, Gooderham & Worts, was founded in 1832, and Gooderham & Worts Four Grain whisky is a tribute to them. James Worts and his brother-in-law, William Gooderham, became successful millers after arriving in Canada from the United Kingdom.

Later, as the amount of wheat produced in Upper Canada rose, a distillery was built. Distillation was a good way to keep spoilable grain fresh and get rid of grain middlings from the milling process.

After receiving a patent for a “Riley still,” Gooderham & Worts would dramatically revolutionize distilling in Canada by twice distilling whisky over two columns, generating a softer whisky than what was available at the time.

By the late 1800s, the Gooderham & Worts distillery in Toronto was the world’s largest. Doctor Don Livermore directed the launch of a new Gooderham & Worts Four Grain whisky as a tribute to the original 1832 formula.

Corn, wheat, barley, and rye are the four grains that make it up. Before being blended, pot and column distilled wheat, barley, and rye, and double column distilled corn are all distilled and aged separately. 100% local grain from Ontario,

Canada, aged in a combination of new virgin oak barrels and vintage Bourbon barrels. Distilled using the Gooderham & Worts method, which dates back to 1832.

WhistlePig Rye 10 Year

WhistlePig Rye 10 Year
  • Region – Vermont
  • ABV – 50%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye

WhistlePig Rye 10 Year is a 100 percent rye whiskey that has been aged in a unique double-barrel method for at least ten years.

After three years of aging, the warm oak bourbon barrel flavors give way to hints of vanilla, caramel, dried orange peel, cinnamon, allspice, and clove.

This whiskey has a terrific, robust body, which younger bottles lack. It’s thick and mouth-coating, with caramel and vanilla flavors in the mid-palate to balance out the rye spiciness. Later on, dark chocolate and peppermint notes develop.

The finish is nearly silky, with vanilla, citrus, and caramel notes that linger on the tongue until dark chocolate touches appear. By volume, there is 50% alcohol in each bottle. 

Masterson’s 10 Year Old Straight Rye

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Masterson's 10 Year Straight Rye Whiskey
  • Region – Alberta
  • ABV – 45%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye

Masterson’s 10 Year Old Straight Rye is a bold spirit for individuals who desire a drink with a lot of flavors. The rye’s spicy crusade hits your lips with the first sip, and as you drink, it continues its burning crusade down your throat. The end, on the other hand, has a bitter, sour aftertaste of coffee and dark chocolate. We wouldn’t judge you if you had to dilute this whisky with a few ice cubes.

Gibson’s Finest Rare Aged 18-Year-Old

Gibson's Finest Rare 18 Year
  • Region – Ontario
  • ABV – 40%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye, Barley

Another 18-year-old aged whisky on our list is Gibson’s Finest Rare Aged 18-Year-Old, which has a barley and rye-dominant blend. The spirit will not give you the same burning sensation as a Masterson’s whisky because of the barley and rye blend, but it still packs a punch on the palate.

This is a drink for those who prefer a Canadian rye whisky without the sometimes harsh spice and heat, with a woody scent, cinnamon, and maple flavors, and a smoky, peppery finish.

Alberta Rye Dark Batch

Alberta Prem Rye Dark Batch
  • Region – Alberta
  • ABV – 45%
  • Base Ingredients – Rye

The Alberta Rye Dark Batch is a premium Canadian whisky from one of the country’s most respected distilleries. The whisky has a flavor comparable to Lot No. 40’s Rye, which was previously on our list, but this time with a sense of ripe fruit on the nose.

The aftertaste is spicy and sweet, which may seem contradictory, but it’s more of a two-hit combo than a mixture.

What Makes Canadian Whisky Unique?

Apart from the spelling of whisky/whiskey, the balance of components used by Canadian distillers separates Canadian whisky from other whiskies across the world.

Canadian whisky became famous after two daring local distillers revolutionized the game by adding higher volumes of tasty rye to their blends, giving in a stronger, spicier taste.

Many Canadian whiskies now include so much rye that the terms “Canadian whisky” and “Canadian rye” mean the same thing. 

Canadian whisky is made from a combination of wheat, corn, and barley, though you may not find each one of these grains in every Canadian whisky. As you may have noticed from this list, Canadians are fans of Ryeonly whiskeys.  

Each of these components is mashed, fermented, distilled, and aged independently to maximize its potential. These components are ready to be blended together, served, or matured a little longer when their flavors have reached their peak.

Distillers can modify the intensity/presence of each component at this final stage of the whisky-making process, producing a wide range of unique and delightful flavor compositions.

Whiskey Keywords

You would have noticed while reading this list that we have used words like ‘palate’, ‘nose’, and ‘finish’ throughout. These are common terms used to critique and evaluate not only whiskey but other alcoholic drinks as well. Here is what each of these terms means:

  • Palate – The first taste of a whisky is referred to as the “palate.” This flavor comes from the ingredients used, but it may also be traced back to the barrels in which the whisky was aged, as well as other characteristics of the distillation and production process.
  • Nose – The aroma of a whisky is described by the term “nose”. The scents most commonly associated with whiskey are hits of wheat, grains, and nuts, as well as sweet or burning undertones.
  • Finish – The aftertaste of a whisky is referred to as the finish. While most people drink a chaser with their whisky, high-end spirits connoisseurs will try to savor the heat and/or flavors on their own.

Takeaway

With so many premium Canadian Whiskeys on the market, choosing the overall best one is near impossible. Of course, people will have their favorites, but with so many options to choose from, you’re almost guaranteed to find one you like, even if you are not usually a big whiskey drinker. 

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