Canadian whisky might, in some ways, be similar in style to blended Scotch, but it’s got a personality of its own, which many credit to the use of rye in its blends – but actually, that’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the drink and its differences to other world whiskies. Whiskies produced in the country must be aged for at least three years and contain at least 40% ABV, but beyond that, distillers are free to experiment in how they distill and age their spirits. And in fact, farmland improvements have allowed whisky makers to branch out to other grain blends. So even though the original whiskies of Canada were made using rye – the only grain to withstand harsh winters – nowadays, distillers are more likely to use corn than rye to make the country’s light, signature spirit.
The top Canadian whisky at this year’s IWSC was Hiram Walker and Sons’ Lot No. 40 Dark Oak Rye Whisky, which earned 96 points and impressed judges with its ‘expressive aromas of caramel and raw cocoa,’ and outstanding creaminess with a smooth, dry finish. Another bottle in the Gold medal-winning category was Alberta Premium Cask Strength Canadian Rye Whisky, scoring 95 points and and boasting ‘robust, vibrant aromas with a powerful palate full of sweet caramel.’
Moving on to aged whiskies, and Gibsons Finest Rare 12 YO Canadian Whisky was awarded a Silver medal and 92 points for its sweet vanilla, citrus and watermelon nose and ‘spiced complexity’ on the palate.
Every Canadian whisky on this list was judged by an expert panel, including Bordeaux Index spirits buyer Guy Hodcroft, head of new product development at ATOM Brands Rosie Milsom, and Waitrose’s ex-head of wine and spirits Derek Strange. Keep reading for the top whiskies from Canada and expert tasting notes from the judges.
HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE SPIRITS?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous spirits tasting process. That means that each spirit sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC spirit judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the drinks industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
HOW DO WE SCORE THESE SPIRITS?
Only the best spirits sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, spirits have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
MORE FROM CLUB OENOLOGIQUE
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