Welcome to the discussion thread for the story, Why the World Overlooked Canadian Whisky. You can share your comments and thoughts about the story in the conversation below.
Good information, definitely leads people to look for more information. However the Heyday for Canadian whiskeys ended when the Heyday of whiskey was starting. Unfortunately the big corporations have bought up the smaller microbreweries and distilleries such as weiser’s my favourite. Not the only Great Canadian whiskey and Rye not being part of Wiser’s early manufacturing process I today have a hard time finding a quality Canadian whiskey, outside of Port Creek, which still incorporates Rye. The story of Wiser’s is actually a good one to be told. After being bought out by Hiram Walker’s , corby’s, shipped their wood barrels imported from Europe in the eighteen hundreds back to Toronto’s Hiram Walker Distillery the distilleries burn down and we lost the barrels and we lost the flavour. I believe that was 2002 they also took the ten year old off the bottle because it’s no longer 10 year old. Never mind what they did to the best which was the 18 year old. Today everyone believes that Canadian whiskey must be Rive forward whiskey and rye is rotgut to me. Also wiser is made individual batches of whiskey and what came out of the barrels after mixing different types of individual badges they did not mix different year classes together like Crown Royal ‘a Regal blend of whiskeys some as old as …’ which used to be on there old bottles labels. I agree Canadian whiskeys by separating each port of the whiskey process and then mixing them together is more like making your meal in separate pieces and then blending them as they’re needed and certainly it is a higher quality product but we need to have the diversity that used to be around and everybody’s gone Rye. There used to be a company called Port Creek their whiskey was aged in French pork barrels imported into Canada and that was the only other whiskey that superseded wiser he was older it was smoother it was much more expensive and it’s gone.
Thanks for your article and your time.
Marketing is very much the decider in what’s popular, whereas what’s ‘high quality’ is determined by somewhat self appointed connoisseurs who in turn influence the purchases of the market. Also, if your Canadian Mist or Canadian Club is stocked in the well of every bar, then you’re going to be a top seller based on volume, not quality.
There are two great articles that give you an idea of how the liquor market works to push whatever is in great supply, rather than asking customers what they want. The bottom dropped out of the blended whisky market in the '80s, as mentioned, leaving a lot of single malt distilleries holding stock put up 10 years earlier with no buyers. Ta-Dah! All of a sudden the single malt Scotch market was invented, and a generation of college students were taught to drink it straight, not like your dad did.
Concurrently, the Seagram’s family business was handed down to a new generation, who promptly ran it into the ground in the 1990s. This left a vast quantity of wholesale rye whiskey (part of the Seagram’s 7 blend never intended for retail sale) gone wanting. Ta-Dah! All of a sudden your bartender is selling you Sazeracs and Manhattans, and small rye distilleries are extending their product to thousands of barrels, (Or in the case of Bulleit, just bottling Seagram’s leftover stock unmodified and selling it as a premium brand.)
nice article but 'In distillery-dotted Prince Edward Island" hmm there are 4 distilleries in PEI. I don’t know if that qualifies as “dotted” and only one of them makes whiskey (not a bad one either) see Local Spirits - PEI Liquor Control Commission
I vacation in PEI annually and love the place but it is not a whiskey hot spot - Ontario, Quebec and Alberta have a greater range of craft distilleries. But do come north (once this Covid-19 mess resolves) and sample the excellent whiskeys.
Anyone who is remotely thirsty knows that the best whisky comes from Scotland. Single malt or blend, the highlands can not be beat. But if you have to deviate I can recommend some experimentation with American Tennessee whisky, it can be very pleasant. I also have had some from American West Virginia but I can not be completely sure of the source. There are also some Irish whiskys which are very good but they vary. Stay away from Canadian whisky unless you know you are not going to make it and you want to pass in peace.
I spent several years in Anchorage AK, in and out of the service, and while there was active in the local sports car club. Our main annual event was a midwinter rally to Whitehorse YT and back, and while I never participated (my car not being up to it) I loved the stories it generated. The bulk of these were about the smuggling operations co-incidental to the event, most cigarettes and whisky, the chief prize being Canadian-market Crown Royal. Of course we had that in Alaska, but the home-market stuff was 60 proof, illegal for US sale. You’d think a low-proof whisky would be an odd choice, but that Crown Royal at its market proof was not simply milder, but downright delicious, and you could sip it all night with no great penalty. I did not get nearly as much as I’d have liked!