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Ranking the last 7 years of Canadian whisky

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@JasonHambrey
JasonHambrey started a discussion

Canadian Whisky is in good times now - while other categories are still growing, stocks are light and prices are up. Canadian whisky is still becoming better and more available - so - let's look at the last 7 years of Canadian whisky. Which are the best years? Include losses. Feel free to add micro-distilled products; I didn't for the sake of brevity in the summary below. This shows you how much the category has changed since 2012!

So, what are your top years? What was the best/worst?

A snapshot: 2018: CC 41 Year Old, CC Barley Batch, Wiser's 35, Gooderham & Worts 11 Souls, Lot 40 CS 11 Yrs Old, Pike Creek Three Oaks 21, Wiser's Alumni Series, Wiser's Seasoned Oak, Wiser's 2018 Commemorative, Forty Creek Unity, Crown Royal Noble 13 Y.O., Crown Royal Bourbon/Blender's Mash, Entrapment 25 Y.O., Century Reserve 30 Year Old, Canadian Rockies 17 Year Old.

2017: CC 40 Year Old, Wiser's 15 Year Old, Wiser's Dissertation, Wiser's Union 52, Wiser's Canada 150, Wiser's 35, Lot 40 CS 12 Y.O., Gooderham & Worts Little Trinity, Pike Creek 21 Speyside, Crown Royal Blender's Mash, Crown Royal Noble Collection Wine Finish, Forty Creek Heritage, Collingwood Town Collection, Lock Stock and Barrel 18, - oh, and we lost Wiser's Legacy (RIP but please come back to life again soon), Lot 40 Recipe Changed (and got younger, I suspect)

2016: Wiser's Last Barrels, Wiser's Double Still Rye (now triple barrel), Pike Creek rum replaced the port, Lock Stock and Barrel 16, Masterson's Barrel Finished Ryes, Forty Creek Founder's Reserve, Crown Royal Noble Collection Cornerstone Blend. I think we lost Wiser's small batch in here somewhere.

2015: Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye, Crown Royal Single Barrel, Gooderham & Worts, Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony, Canadian Rockies 35 Year Old (at 79.3%!), Canadian Rockies 21 (to Canada), I think this was the year we lost Danfield's 21 (RIP).

2014: CC100% Rye, Lock, Stock and Barrel 13 Year Old, Masterson's Straight Barley, Masterson's Straight Wheat, Forty Creek Evolution, Crown Royal XO (Crown Royal Cask No. 16 RIP), Crown Royal Monarch, Wiser's Red Letter, Ninety 20 Year Old, (Century Reserve Lot 15/25 RIP - I think this year)

2013: Masterson's Rye, Whistlepig 10 Y.O. Rye (I believe this year?), Whistlepig Boss Hog, Collingwood 21 Year Old Straight Rye, Forty Creek Heart of Gold, Wiser's Red Letter,

2012: Lot no. 40, Pike Creek Port Cask 10 Years Old, Alberta Premium Dark Horse, Crown Royal Black, Forty Creek Portwood, Highwood 25 Year Old Stampede.

2011 was Alberta Premium 30 and John's Private Cask, but we have to stop somewhere. I probably missed a few, my summary ended up more laborious than expected.

about one year ago

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Replies: page 1/3

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@JasonHambrey, Very interesting. I was having a variant of this conversation today with @cricklewood. Using a list from July 2016 as a reference point, the absence of some great Canadian whiskies is conspicuous. These whiskies are not necessarily new, some are new to the marketplace. The raw stocks have existed for decades and are only now coming to market. This is not the point I'm stressing here. The point I wish to make is the willingness of producers to listen to the various lobby groups and influencers resulting in the long awaited introduction of connoisseur products to the marketplace. The absence of many of these types of whiskies from the list below (see pic) emphasizes the gap that existed in the Canadian marketplace only 30 months ago. Our voices have been heard ...and our wallets are open.

about one year ago 0

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@Victor
Victor replied

@JasonHambrey thank you for your discussion and for your list!

Unquestionably, for those of us who have tasted a good few of these recently released Canadian products, and knew what was available in the period prior to their release, Canadian whisky emerged from its cocoon and grew wings during this period.

The trend is very favourable, to be sure. Top tier cask strength Canadian products becoming continuously available remains the big unanswered need for many of us.

One other issue for the quality of Canadian whisky which has also existed for some time now in the US whiskey market is: how well will quality be maintained in the mass market brands when the top barrels are being segregated for use in premium products? I think that if you tried some Jim Beam White Label bourbon from 20 years ago or some ($12) Jim Beam Yellow Label Rye from 20 years ago, that you would find that they were much better than the Beam products being sold today in the mass market brands. I believe that they went down in quality largely because the best barrels of bourbon became increasingly reserved for other, more expensive, product lines.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor replied

...and meanwhile, 99.5% of the population of the world doesn't get a chance to taste 90% of these whiskies listed by @JasonHambrey and by @paddockjudge.

This conversation and so many others on Connosr is a conversation of Canadians speaking with Canadians...and also of Canadians speaking with the rare non-Canadian who often visits Canada.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

My tasting of Canadian whiskies has not been as extensive as @paddockjudge or @JasonHambrey but having only “discovered” Canadian whisky in the last 18 months or so, my highlights would be:

  • Lot 40 Cask Strength (last year and this year’s releases)
  • Wiser’s Dissertation
  • Wiser’s Legacy
  • Highwood Ninety Decades of Richness 20 Year Old
  • Lot 40 (standard release)
  • Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye (I know, I know, batch variations...but I’ve had some excellent bottles of this stuff)
  • Gooderham & Worts 17 Year Little Trinity (I reviewed this one too quickly. It got much better with some air exposure)
  • Forty Creek Confederation Oak
  • Forty Creek Heart of Gold

I’ve got a few samples of CC40 which I haven’t tried, a bottle (and sample) of Wiser’s Last Barrels, a sample of last year’s Wiser’s 35, and a bottle of this year’s Wiser’s 35. I have to say that the Hiram Walker/Wiser’s flavour profile(s) seem to be more my style than other distilleries.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander replied

I generally agree with @OdysseusUnbound 's list (my daily Canadian has become Lot 40). It certainly is an incredible renaissance in Canadian whisky - even when I started this little hobby some years ago, almost all of the bottles @JasonHambrey mentioned off the top didn't even exist. So many are very good and AFFORDABLE. Those whisky fans who don't have a palate for Canadian and so are buying mostly single malt scotch are certainly spending a lot more than we are...

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@talexander I’m amused by some of the members of one of my Facebook whisky groups who “just can’t develop a palate” for Canadian whisky (as they adjust their top hat and monocle). Reading their comments, you just know they’ve probably never tried anything beyond standard CC or Crown and are trying so hard to appear more sophisticated and discerning. laughing To be fair, many of these guys are just as snobby and condescending with regards to bourbon. Oh well, that makes for a wider and more affordable range of whisky experiences for the rest of us.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander replied

@OdysseusUnbound I know some pretty down-to-earth whisky lovers who just don't have a palate for it. I don't think they're being snobbish or anything - they simply don't like it. The snobbish ones are the ones who poo-poo the entire category, criticizing it for allowing some additives, being made in giant factories, show disdain for those who enjoy it, etc etc. However, those who say they just don't like the flavour profile are perfectly valid in their opinion. Myself, though I love many Canadian whiskies, there sure are a lot of bad ones - and so, as a broad category, I would rate Canadian lower than single malt scotch, bourbon and Japanese. But Canadian's affordability and availability (and Pam's love of Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye) means I buy more Canadian whisky than any other category.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@Victor, Canadian Distilleries are controlled by foreign owned multinationals who use the incredibly huge, efficient, and dependable Canadian production facilities to fill both their bottom line and the millions of bottles of their highly profitable blends. It is not difficult to imagine this rennaissance in Canadian Whisky to disappear as quickly as it appeared.

The release of super-premium Canadian whisky is an anomaly, an outlier, the result of decisions made at the local level and certainly not in the corporate boardrooms. It is no secret that Canadian whisky, mostly cheap blends created for mixed drinks, outsells ALL other whisk(e)y categories combined in the United States. Ulra-premium, Super-premium, Connoisseur style whiskies cannot be profitable outside of Canada, not at the current price levels these offerings command. They fly under the radar at a relatively small additional cost to the major producers and this is the only reason why requests for this style of whisky have been answered. Luxury Whisky is expensive whisky. These Canadian gems are diamonds in the rough, many of them uncut and unpolished and certainly not over-hyped.

Alberta Distillers Limited of Calgary, Alberta, Canada is owned and operated by Beam Suntory, Inc., a subsidiary of Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd, a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings of Osaka, Japan. HQ for Suntory is located in Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the largest producers of distilled beverages worldwide as are Diageo and Pernod Ricard.

The Crown Royal Distillery of Gimli, Manitoba, Canada is owned and operated by Diageo plc, a British multinational alcohol/beverage firm, HQ in London, England and the largest distiller on the planet until being overtaken by China's Kweichow Moutai in 2017.

Hiram Walker Distillery of Windsor, Ontario, Canada is owned and operated by Pernod Ricard, a French Company with HQ in Paris, France. This is distillery is the largest producer by volume of spirits in North America.

Canadian Mist Distillery of Collingwood, Ontario, Canada is owned by Brown-Forman of Louisville KY

Forty Creek of Grimsby, Ontario, Canada was a craft distiller that grew rapidly and developed a reputation for high quality whisky. It was purchased by Compari Group, HQ in Milano, Italy. Lately that reputation for high quality whisky has been questioned by consumers and critics. Forty Creek does not have a large inventory from which to easily support super-premium brands and the bottom line.

The Big Three, Canadian Mist, and Forty Creek are Canadian only by geographic location and the laws that govern their operations. The good whisky stays in Canada. World markets want affordable spirits and that is what these corporate giants provide.

I've had the pleasure of drinking some very fine Canadian juice over the years; Park and Tilford, Schenley, Royal Command, Crown Royal Limited Edition, CR Reserve, Wiser's Red Letter, Gibson's Rare and now the chance to have whisky never before tasted outside of blending labs or from special samples kept behind display tables at whisky shows is an opportunity not guaranteed to continue in Canada, let alone outside of its borders.

I hope this trend of top-flight Canadian whisky not being available outside of Canada continues, for I fear the alternative may not be its expansion into global markets, but its extinction.

about one year ago 8Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

@talexander That’s totally fair. Just like some people don’t like peated whisky or sherried whisky. But reading some people’s “anti-Canadian whisky” comments, you just know they’ve never tried much of it. One comment I often hear is “Canadian whisky is too weak and sweet”...really? Lot 40 Cask Strength is weak and sweet? Wiser’s Dissertation is weak and sweet? There are a lot of people who think drinking exclusively single malts, and especially expensive single malts, makes them “more refined”. tophat

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@OdysseusUnbound, Freddie Noe, 8th generation of Beam Family in the whisky business does not share the same opinion of Canadian Whisky being too weak or sweet...he used CC 40 YO and Alberta Distillers 13 YO Rye to make a blend with his Knob Creek Rye. I didn't think the 8 YO Cask Strength Knob Creek Rye 59.8% abv needed to be fixed, but using cask strength CC 40 YO and Cask Strength 13 YO Alberta Rye actually improved it. wink

That's one hell of a compliment, putting the name Little Book, given to him by his grandfather Booker Noe, on a Canadian-Kentuckian blend. Freddie is the face of the future for Beam. @Victor, BeamGlobal might be the ones to take super premium Canadian whisky "global".

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 replied

@JasonHambrey This is an interesting subject for those who are already "Whisky Aficionados" and have explored the varieties of new top shelf or want-to-be top shelf Canadian whisky. The average Joe really has no idea that something like Lot 40 is a worth while whisky to try. A matter of fact many have no idea that it has been around for years now. As @paddockjudge said of me "the bus driver gets see to when people get on and get off". For myself, it takes an effort to convince some one to take a chance on purchasing a bottle of Lot 40. Whereas most people will grab a Crown Royal or a Bulleit off the shelf without hesitation. Even those who sell the stuff have no idea of what they are selling. It's just a title, "Sam knows about whisky(really, Sam know nothing he's just selling a brand and BS). Why are these anomalies out there? Maybe, to create a buzz among the "aficionados". They'll post about it and Joe will think about buying lower shelf brands. You'll have to excuse my cynicism, it is just what I've experience over the last month.

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@OdysseusUnbound - I think the mind-set that you speak of is similar to folk who brag about paying £100's for a clothing item and will scoff at lesser valued/branded products. The irony being they are simply bragging about being fooled/conned. That said, as I know someone close to me who is very much of that mind-set, if it makes them happy then crack on relaxed

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@JasonHambrey

I’m flattered that you, let alone anyone, would solicit my opinion on Canadian Whisky. In this genre I still consider myself a rank amateur.

I have a skewed knowledge of Canadians because I came into the game late. My collection is mostly based in things I was told were good by a few Connosrs. I only “got” Canadian whisky for real less than 2 years ago.

So I haven’t really experienced a lot of bottom shelf stuff.

I would say my favourite Canadians over the last 8 years I’ve studied whisky would be:

  • Wiser’s Dissertation

  • Wiser’s Legacy

  • Lot 40 CS (either year)

  • wiser’s 35 YO (either year)

  • Forty Creek Heart of Gold

  • Forty Creek Confederation Oak

A few that just didn’t do it for me:

  • Forty Creek Harmony and Founder’s Reaerve

  • Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

  • Crown Royal Monarch (sorry @paddockjudge)

  • Crown Royal Cornerstone Blend (don’t judge me)

If I went back to some of the Ones I didn’t like today, would I feel differently. Unclear.

about one year ago 0

@JasonHambrey
JasonHambrey replied

Responding to @fiddich1980 @OdysseusUnbound @Victor

It is rather true that some simply don't like the style of Canadian whisky, generally - the challenge there is that it is a much more diverse category than many suspect. That being said, it is still largely composed of a lighter, often sweeter style. But, it's still less sweet than bourbon so it's not all about sweetness. There is certainly often some snobbery to it. For one of the largest producers of whisky, it also probably has the smallest percentage of premium/connoisseur products. Scotch, USA, Canada, Japan, and then Ireland are the largest producers of whisky, in that order, and I do think Canada has the least percentage of connoisseur bottlings. American whisky, perhaps, might have fewer if you look at all of American whisky and not just straight bourbon.

I'm not quite sure why people don't take to Canadian whisky as easily as other categories. It isn't the quality. One reason, for sure, is that most haven't tried much of the category (or don't have access to it), and one reason is perhaps style. But, on style, I find that as my own friends drink more of it, they tend to like it more (not unlike other styles of whisky, and I do find Canadian whisky more quickly dismissed).

Regardless, I'm certainly enjoying the boom and am a little wary of some of the intense price hikes happening over the past two years. 2017 was my favorite year, I think, though the loss of Legacy is substantial enough for me to consider 2018. My all time favourite Canadian whisky, Lock Stock and Barrel 116 Year old 100% Rye (pot distilled in Alberta) in 2016 makes that year on it number 3. It's too bad there haven't been any stunners of late from Forty Creek, but we've gotten so much out of Wiser's that the loss isn't that great.

@paddockjudge I'm trying to get Beam to release more Alberta rye, but under a Canadian brand name, not an American one...

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

The thing with Canadian whisky is that it's a mishmash of different things. Many expressions are essentially blends but at least in Scotland a blend is "Scotch". Interestingly, bourbon is a blend too, and not always the same blend, and yet it has its own aura about it. what Canadian whisky needs is an aura.

about one year ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@Nozinan, you lost me at "Scotch" ...90% of all scotch whisky is found in blends, that is scotch, regardless of the grain type. With that I agree. What exactly makes multigrain scotch so homogenous that terroir explains away millions of cases of really bad whisky? ...yeah, an aura would help Canadian whisky, at the moment allit has is an aurora, and it may be shrinking do to fake global warming.

about one year ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@JasonHambrey, they should let us loose in the blending lab. I bet we would get along famously with Freddie. lol

about one year ago 0

@JasonHambrey
JasonHambrey replied

@paddockjudge Yes, i think so! Only one other person i know liberally blends with 30 plus year old whisky....

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@talexander
talexander replied

@Nozinan Hey, I'm not a fan of the "Cornerstone Blend" either....but I do love the Monarch!

about one year ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@talexander, we can open a Monarch for the next coronation.... which might be a considerable wait as I now believe the Queen might actually be immortal.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@RianC
RianC replied

@paddockjudge - It's the reptilian genes, you see . . . laughing

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound

I haven’t tried the Monarch or the Cornerstone but I’m guessing I’d like them. I seem to enjoy Crown more than most of my fellow Connosrs. I had some plain Ol’ Crown at my mom’s awhile back and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It probably helped that I had just tasted the most “off” batch of Alberta Premium Dark Horse ever.

about one year ago 0

Astroke replied

@JasonHambrey Speaking of LS&B 16 year, one glaring omission from Canadian releases of 2017 is:

Hochstadter's Family Reserve 16 year Rye, which appears to be a 123.8 proof version of the LS&B 16 and incredible.

Was sipping on a Masterson's 10, rye batch 5 last night, speaking of incredible.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

A good malthead friend just sent me a message. His secret Santa gave him a bottle of Crown Royal Salted Caramel. I think it will be quickly re-gifted. This is the kind of nonsense that helps perpetuate the perception of Canadian whisky as an inconsequential lightweight. It’s not hard to see why there is a big credibility gap for serious whisky drinkers. Also, the attitude that the best stuff should be kept at home and only the usual old crap exported doesn’t do much to enhance the global reputation of Canadian whisky. Why aren’t we giving the rest of the world the best we’ve got?

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@BlueNote, I agree wholeheartedly, what else is Christmas but kindness and sharing. We should let the rest if the whisky world have a sip or two from the top shelf.

Gifts of Lot 40 Cask Strength were given and received by the men in my Clan today... no accounting for great taste.

With regard to CR Salted Caramel, mea culpa, I had a Christmas Cocktail with the kids this morning... where else are they going to cut their teeth and develop a palate for whisky like Lot 40 Cask Strength? lol.

Christmas Cocktail CR Salted Caramel, CR Apple Apple slices Ginger Ale Lemon juice. Merry Christmas to all!

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

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@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@paddockjudge I must admit, that cocktail does sound good. Have a great Christmas with the family.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Hewie
Hewie replied

@BlueNote here, here. All I can find in my country is Crown Royal or Canadian Club. As a result I don't tend to read all the discussions on here around Canadian whiskey as it is disheartening reading about something which is unobtainable. Maybe oneday I'll be able to sample some in int's country of origin.

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

Liked by:

J@Nozinan@talexander@OdysseusUnbound@Victor

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