15 Canadian Whisky Brands To Enjoy Right Now
Maple syrup is probably the product that comes to everybody’s mind when they think about Canada, but that’s not the only thing they do good. Canadian whisky (without the usual “e”) is also among their best products.
Most famous for its amazing 100% rye whisky, Canada occupies a top spot among whisky producers worldwide, which puts Canadian whisky on the list of things to try if you ever get the chance.
But rye whisky isn’t the only type of whisky Canadians produce. They’ve got an incredible range of whiskies on the market, many of which follow a different manufacturing process than American whisky produced further south.
Besides the fact that every type of whisky produced in Canada must be aged for at least three years and it’s required to have at least 40% alcohol content in order to be considered a whisky, laws and regulations regarding distilling are a lot less strict than down south in the United States for example.
That allows Canadian producers to be more creative when it comes to grains, blends, barrels and casks, which is essentially a good thing and gives us, consumers, more varieties and more exotic tastes and flavors to enjoy.
Even more, Canadian whiskies are frequently ranked very high in international whisky competitions, and some of their best bottles aren’t even distributed outside of the country, so if you ever plan on visiting Canada, include a Canadian whisky tour as well while there.
But before you go, let’s find out what are Canada’s best whisky brands.
WhistlePig is a fantastic brand, one that produces straight rye whisky with ingredients sourced from Alberta, distilled and matured in Canada before being moved on to Vermont in the US, at the WhistlePig location there for further aging.
One of their best bottles, the WhistlePig Rye 10 Year Old, is a gold medal winner of the Wizards of Whisky Awards.
WhistlePig’s Rye 10 Year brings a nice and subtle kick of smoke and burnt orange and an oaky nose that comes from those 10 years of aging. It finishes with a nice and warm vanilla flavor, with notes of nutmeg that take over the initial heat this whisky leaves on the palate. The flavor profile is rich in spice, which makes it a good addition to cocktails.
14. Proof Whisky
The Proof Two Grains Whisky comes from the Ontario region, made from Canadian prairie rye and wheat, and distilled with spring water from the Canadian Rockies before being aged in charred oak barrels.
It’s a brand of whisky popular in clubs, mixed in various cocktails, and featuring flavors that are similar to Japanese whisky. The aroma brings citrus and honey on the nose, and a sip has the palate inundated with cinnamon, clove, and lemon, all of it leading to a fiery finish.
Its sweet and smoky flavors make it an ideal ingredient in cocktails, and its 42% ABV is sure to boost your energy during a night out.
13. Lock Stock & Barrel
Coming from the most renowned rye distiller on the planet, the Alberta Distillery in Calgary, Lock Stock & Barrel is a 100% Canadian rye whisky that’s bottled in the United States by the Cooper Spirits Company.
This whisky is produced by the same specialists that produce the Alberta Premium, so you can expect only good things to come out from their bottles. And that’s exactly what the Lock Stock & Barrel 16 year old is, an exceptional whisky you don’t get to see every day. It’s highly praised by whisky critics, and also won double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
A bottle of this might seem pricy at around $150 or more, but it’s totally worth it. This whisky comes with a deep and intriguing spicy and piercing background, but one that’s softened by notes of cocoa, caramel, and dried fruits. There’s vanilla, oak, and stone-fruit jam on the nose, and the palate is rich with toasted pecans, brown sugar, and hazelnut, plus more vanilla. The 53.5% ABV makes it that much more intense.
12. Shelter Point
Another very good Canadian whisky maker is Shelter Point, a small craft producer but a game changer in the industry, located on Vancouver Island, and offering the world some of the most inciting whiskies ever produced.
They only use the highest quality Canadian two-row barley for malting, and take a more traditional approach to whisky producing by allowing a slower fermentation process and double distilling. Maturation is done in woods with special flavor profiles that get passed down to the whisky, leading to some of the most unique bottles in the world.
Their Artisanal Single Malt Whisky is one such example, made with 100% malted barley, and offering subtle chocolate mint notes on the nose, with caramel, vanilla bean and sweet dry fruits.
The flavor continues with vanilla and grapefruit peel finish, an interesting combination that makes this whisky stand out. It’s aged in copper pots, which also gives it that oakiness that many whisky drinkers love.
11. Pops’ Famous Brand
Pops’ Famous Brand is a whisky distillery located in Austin, Texas, deep down in the United States, but what they do best is Blended Canadian Whisky.
Despite the fact that they’re located way south of the Canadian border, they carefully select their barrels from Quebec, Canada, and then blend them down in Austin.
This whisky is made from 14 year old Quebecois rye only, meticulously blended with limestone heavy Texas water and proofed to 42%, with no sugar, no glycerin, and no flavorings added. It’s just pure whisky, Canadian in nature.
It’s a well balanced spirit thanks to the cereal and sweet vanilla notes, and comes with a subtle spiciness to it. It’s simply delicious when served neat, but also does wonders in a cocktail, like the Manhattan or Old Fashioned.
10. Alberta Premium
Alberta Premium is a 100% rye grain whisky produced by Alberta Distillers Limited, and their 30 year old is one of the best whiskies in the world, deeply cherished by connoisseurs and enthusiasts alike.
The Alberta Premium 30 Year Old is the oldest Canadian rye whisky, and one of the most enjoyed, which says something about its quality. And it’s not even that expensive, at $50 a bottle.
For something stronger, at 65.1% alcohol content, there’s nothing better than the Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye, one of the world leading whiskies, and born in Canada from carefully selected ingredients.
9. Gooderham & Worts
Coming from Ontario, Gooderham & Worts is Canada’s most historic distillery, founded back in 1831 by James Wort and William Gooderham. It was first a milling company, but soon expanded to brewing and distilling spirits.
Towards the end of the 1800s it became the largest whisky producer not only in Canada, but in the whole world. Their whiskies are primarily blends of barley, corn, wheat, and rye.
One of their best bottles is the 49 Wellington, made from both unmalted rye and rye malt, barley malt, corn, wheat, and red fife wheat, left to mature in red oak barrels for at least three years. The result is a 49% ABV whisky, with spice, honey, and white pepper notes on the palate, all nicely balanced by the old oak, and with a little bit a sweetness at the end.
8. Canadian Club
The first distillery of what would become the Canadian Club later on, was opened in 1858 in Walkerville, Ontario by Hiram Walker, a grain merchant. He had chosen that location for its grain quality.
Soon enough, locals, and then Canadians from all over the country started liking his whisky, and it wasn’t long until Walker’s whisky spilled out over the border, to the US, becoming a cherished drink in gentleman’s clubs of the period.
After its popularity increased, it became known as Club Whisky, but when the U.S. Government required all Canadian distilleries to put the country of origin on their label, Club Whisky simply became Canadian Club. During Prohibition, Canadian Club became the most smuggled whisky in the US.
Today, Canadian Club continues to a favorite of whisky drinkers all over the world, and their 100% Rye is one of the best. It’s also on the affordable side at only $20 a bottle, which makes it even more appealing. In the US, a longtime favorite, it’s often preferred in the Rye Dry Ginger Manhattan.
7. Pike Creek
Pike Creek is made by Corby Distilleries, a company founded a long time ago, back in 1859, by Englishman Henry Corby, who had emigrated to Belleville, Ontario, Canada.
Initially he was supplying bread and other grains, and eventually he started distilling his excess grains into whisky, which led to opening Corby Distilleries.
Pike Creek is a traditional Canadian whisky that was first released in 2012. It’s double distilled through small copper stills, matured in first use bourbon barrels, and then aged for at least seven to eight years.
Their 10 Year Old is aged for ten years in rum barrels, and comes with a flavor profile that boasts of dried fruits, mango, banana, and a sweetness given by the caramel and brown sugar.
6. Pendleton Whisky
Another Canadian whisky brand that’s very popular in the United States is Pendleton Whisky, distilled in Canada using only the finest ingredients and aged by Hood River Distilleries in Hood River, Oregon, after adding Oregon’s glacier-fed spring water.
It’s got a rich floral and fruity flavor that makes it a wonderful choice for cocktails like the Manhattan, or sparkling champagne.
5. JP Wiser’s
Coming from Ontario, JP Wiser’s is among Canada’s best whiskies, praised by whisky connoisseurs and favored by bartenders all over the United States. JP Wiser’s whisky is especially good as an after dinner drink with its mature and smooth taste.
If you ever set your mind on JP Wiser’s, go for their 15 Year Old Canadian, which is an amazing blend of grain whiskies and Canadian rye spice, with an interesting flavor profile containing fruity notes like apple and pear, plus toffee, vanilla, and spice.
4. Crown Royal
Another extremely popular Canadian whisky brand is Crown Royal. Their Crown Royal Deluxe is a blend of more than 50 different whiskies aged in oak and cedar barrels, with a smooth and deliciously sweet taste, a perfect addition to plenty of cocktails.
It’s not for nothing that it’s called the standard of excellence for Canadian whisky.
Easy to drink both straight and mixed in cocktails, it has a rich nose with fruit and vanilla hints, and the taste is smooth and creamy with notes of oak and sweet vanilla, all leading to a long and lingering finish.
3. Caribou Crossing
Based in Quebec and part of Sazerac, Caribou Crossing is easily one of the best Canadian whisky brands. They’ve got the world’s first Canadian single barrel whisky, with a bottle of Single Barrel costing anywhere between $40 to $100, depending on where you find it.
Unlike many other whiskies out there that are a blend of many different barrels and casks, this one comes from one single barrel.
Though each bottle will taste slightly different, all will have flavors of maple, vanilla, spices, and sweet honey.
2. Forty Creek
Forty Creek comes from the Grimsby distillery in Ontario, opened back in 1972 by Otto Rieder. Innovation and a desire to do things differently is what separates them from other whisky producers.
Confederation Oak is their most impressive whisky, created to commemorate Canada’s Confederation from 1867.
It’s blended and aged for two years in new Canadian oak barrels, the result coming with lovely notes of dark fruits, honey, and praline.
1. Lot No. 40
In our humble opinion, Lot No. 40 is probably the best Canadian whisky we’ve ever tried, produced at Hiram Walker Distillery from 100% Canadian rye.
The brand is among the most famous and their whiskies are some of the most beloved, and it’s not just us who says that, it’s all those years of winning multiple awards for their blends.
The Lot No. 40 Canadian Rye Whisky is a must try. It was discontinued back in the 2000s, but the demand was so high that the producers had to bring it back to consumers.
The world of whisky is a great one, and Canada is right there on top, next to well known whisky producers from the United States, Ireland, Japan and of course, Scotland. If you ever find yourself in front of a shelf with Canadian whisky, you know what to choose.
Even if it’s your first time trying it, you won’t go wrong with any of these 15 Canadian whisky brands.