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'This is how we make whisky in Canada'

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@Spitfire
Spitfire replied

Have you read "Canadian Whisky" by Davin de Kergommeaux? Similar treatment, but it covers all the major Canadian distilleries, and includes a lot of history.

That said, I can't shake the feeling that the Canadian whisky industry is, well, industrial. The vast majority of Canadian spirit is distilled in less than 10 facilities, each one, well, industrial in scale. And it does not surprise me that by far the majority of their output is basic, inexpensive "mixer."

Now, I have been recently sampling some fine Canadian whiskies, and I may start another thread for discussion. But compared to the vastness of the Canadian industry, the nuggets of excellence seem very few and far between.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

Wow! I must be the ultimate health care professional!

Even without any equipment, I just measured a 30 mmHg increase in @paddockjudge's blood pressure!

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@Nelom
Nelom replied

Here's a link to a 360-degree virtual tour that's pretty cool: tour.jpwisers.com/instructions

And here's some more reading in the same vein as the links in the OP: windsorstar.com/news/local-news/…

@Spitfire Yeah, I've read Davin de Kergommeaux book, I quite enjoyed it. If you liked that one I can also recommend "Canadian Whisky: The Product and the History" by William F. Rannie. It's from 1976 so it's pretty outdated in parts, but it's interesting nonetheless.

As for your concerns about the industrial nature of many of Canada's distilleries, I don't think of that as a negative in any way. I don't really see why it would be. People like Don Livermore knows what he's doing and with the resources at his disposal he's able to create some pretty great stuff.

I'm not saying smaller distilleries can't make good whisky, but larger distilleries certainly aren't at a disadvantage in that regard either.

about one year ago 0

@Robert99
Robert99 replied

@Nozinan Maybe you should offer your services to @paddockjudge. His silence is not a good sign...or maybe he is just cooling down in his hole... ;)

about one year ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@Robert99 I suspect he's busy with the summit.

about one year ago 0

@Nelom
Nelom replied

Here's another good write-up about Canadian whisky that talks a bit about the ever controversial 9.09% rule as well as the major and minor players in the Canadian whisky landscape:

winealign.com/articles/2016/…

Also, I'm curious: did anyone try the 360-degree tour I linked above? I just did it again, and it's pretty neat. Maybe one day they'll start doing real tours. Here's the URL again: tour.jpwisers.com

11 months ago 0

@Nelom
Nelom replied

Toronto Whisky Society recently made a trip to Hiram Walker and now have a three-part write-up about it on their website. There's lots of very nice and interesting behind-the-scenes pictures there, and since Hiram Walker is such a massive operation (largest distillery in North America) everything from the stills to the barrel warehouse are on a huge, grand scale. Cool stuff I thought and well worth a few minutes of your time, even if Canadian whisky isn't a favourite. :)

Here's a link to the first part: torontowhiskysociety.ca/2017/03/…

6 months ago 0

@Nelom
Nelom replied

This thread is kind of becoming "This is how we make whisky at Hiram Walker" but some folks from K&L Wines made a trip up north and visited North America's largest distillery. They wrote a decent piece about it on their blog, so I thought I'd throw up the link here:

spiritsjournal.klwines.com/klwinescom-spiri…

6 months ago 0

@Nelom
Nelom replied

This popped up in my Google Now feed:

Detroit's Rye Whiskey Heritage

For those of us already familiar with the topic, there's nothing particularly new or earth shattering revealed, but I thought I'd post the link anyway because the video has some nice photos and footage I hadn't seen before.

4 months ago 0

@Nelom
Nelom replied

What's that? A non-Hiram Walker post? Yay!

Here's a nice interview with Barry Bernstein, one of the founders of Still Waters, which is a microdistillery in Ontario.

tastethedram.com/single-post/2017/…

4 months ago 0

@Nelom
Nelom replied

Maclean's just published a very nice article on Canadian whisky that tempted me to start a whole new thread, just to get it more exposure. Then I figured I might as well keep this one going. Presumably most people on Connosr who care about Canadian whisky will still see it.

It's a great overview of the recent-ish past as well as a commentary on the current resurgence and what may be to come. Dribbled throughout there's also some whisky history, both Canadian and otherwise.

Here's the link: macleans.ca/society/…

3 months ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@Nelom

Whew! I was worried it might have appeared on the last page of the magazine, usually reserved for descriptions of a life lead before a tragic death in the last sentence.

3 months ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@Nozinan, are you predicting the 'tragic death' of Canadian whisky?

That's a great article, @Nelom. Thanks for posting. The article looks to me quite accurate with respect to its assessment of the position of the current Canadian whisky industry. I cringe--shudder uncontrollably--actually, though, when I read the implied approval of the 9.09% addition "splash" of non-whisky additives standard as somehow being a good thing. Just gross.

What is not addressed, and appears nowhere near being addressed with respect to Canadian whisky is this: while the Canadian whisky industry has recently repeatedly proven that it can put out high quality premium products, the quality of most of the mass market products remains quite marginal. My guess is that the Canadian whisky industry in the next few years will continue to do precisely what it doing right now: i.e. selling some very good limited release high end products for connoisseurs, and keeping the shlocky standard for the other 98% of their production for the hoi poloi. Is there anything wrong with this...which to the Canadian industry corresponds to 'giving the people what they want'? There is something wrong with this only if you don't want 98% of your products by volume produced to be mixers only. So, from the standpoint of the Don Livermores of the world all is just fine with the Canadian whisky industry. From the standpoint of whisky lovers who sip, everything is just fine if you content yourself to the top 2% of the Canadian whiskies produced.

3 months ago 3Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@Victor No, I was just making reference to the back page of the magazine which always spends the first 98% of the page describing a utopian life of someone, and finishes with a final sentence such as

On April 17, 2009 XXX was driving along a country road and lost control of his car, plunging down a cliff to his death.

Or something like that.

I was worried the article would somehow jinx Canadian whisky.

3 months ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@Nozinan, you mean, like, "After a long prosperous lifetime Canadian whisky made the fateful decision to allow 50% non-whisky additives. Death was immediate and painful." ?

3 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Nelom
Nelom replied

Re: @Victor and the 98/2% split of mixers and higher-end Canadian whisky...

While I disagree about that specific split (it seems to me that mixers occupy a much smaller percentage than 98, but I suspect you were just using those figures to illustrate you're point) my feelings on the subject is that the status quo is fine by me. There's currently more than enough premium Canadian whisky for me to choose from, and if the plentiful existence of lower-end stuff can keep the prices of higher-end bottles within my reach, so much the better.

3 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@Nelom Fair enough, but I I'd argue that it could be better. I'd like to see more cask strength or at least higher proof stuff than 45%

3 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Nelom
Nelom replied

@Nozinan Oh, I didn't mean to imply that improvements to the category couldn't be made or wouldn't be welcome. Mostly I wanted to point out that I'm fine with the current premium/low-end split in terms of volume produced. But if the next Wiser's Rare Cask release is a cask strength release, you won't hear any complaints from me.

3 months ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@Nelom But look at the up[coming release of premium spirits from Wiser's. THere's likely not enough for everyone who wants it, especially the CS stuff. I think they could put out better quality and more volume of that better quality.

3 months ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@Nelom, the Maclean's article written by Christine Sismondo is uninspiring. She gives the impression there has not been a good Canadian whisky until a decade ago.

3 months ago 0

@Nelom
Nelom replied

@Nozinan Fair point. I just looked through the LCBO's listing of Canadian whisky, and out of the 20-ish or so products that would fall into the premium category (give or take 5-10 bottles, depending on how you define premium) there were 8 that are listed as Limited or Seasonal. I agree that that is an entirely too high percentage of the premium category that is not available to everyone, or available for a limited time only.

Then again, since new temporary releases keep coming out, maybe the number of bottles in the premium category remain relatively constant. Although that is small comfort when you fall in love with a limited release, as I have done with Dissertation.

@paddockjudge I'm assuming you're primarily talking about some of the statements in the opening paragraphs ("the market has been flooded by mild, watery Canadian blends for pretty much the entire 20th century" etc.) and I do see where you're coming from, but she does qualify it by saying "some blends" and nowhere does she say that that description fit everything being put out by Canadian distilleries.

That said, as a fellow appreciator of Canadian whisky I do think you have a point, and that she was probably a bit too harsh and critical when referring to our whisky industry's past. But I also don't feel that that invalidates the rest of the analysis regarding the current situation and potential future of the category. All in all I found it a well-written, and well-researched piece I'd be glad to pass on to anyone interested in learning more about Canadian whisky.

3 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor replied

@Nelom, Let me explain myself a little further. My speculation of 98/2% split between sippers and mixers among all Canadian whiskies produced is based on total production. I don't have stats on Canadian whisky production, so this is just a guess...and implicit in that guess are my own preferences as to what I would choose to sip versus mix. Do not forget that 70% of total Canadian whisky production is sold in the USA. Until the last 3-4 years the US got very little premium Canadian whisky. Now Lot 40 and Wiser's Legacy can be found in my area, but the Lot 40 and Wiser's Legacy beginning in 2013-present shifted flavours and are not as desirable to me as were those produced in 2010-2012. The net result is that there is not one single Canadian whisky which I can now buy at my local stores which I would trust 100% to be a sipper I would want to own. The closest ones are Forty Creek Barrel Select (if it is a non-sulphured batch), Legacy (probable lesser batch), Lot 40 (probable lesser batch), and Crown Royal Reserve (crap shoot batch variability). There are still probably a few bottles of Royal Canadian Small Batch around, if I look hard. Those are good. I can buy WhistlePig and occasionally find Masterson's, both of which are solid, but rather expensive. And while I like both WhistlePig and Masterson's quite a lot, I consider them to be outliers of Canadian production because they are not made in the Canadian industrial style (i.e.they are made to US straight rye specifications), nor sold as Canadian brands. In this extremely affluent DC metro market we just do not see those Cask Strength Crown Royals or other special Canadian products which have recently gotten down to Texas. Canadian sipping favourites of mine, such as Gibson's Finest Rare 18, Danfield's 21, Alberta Premium 25 yo and 30 yo, Forty Creek John's Private Cask No. 1, and Highwood Calgary Stampede 25 yo, are next to impossible to find now, even in Canada.

If I were a Canadian whisky collector I would now be putting aside multiple bottles of the current special releases which I liked. The feel of the Canadian premium whisky market is now a lot like the feel of the US premium whiskey market in about 2010. Within the next 2-3 years the popularity of the US premium products completely overwhelmed the supply of new premium products coming to market.

3 months ago 1Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@Nelom, are we discussing the same article??! Yes, the opening lines, in fact the very first statement.


"For too many people, the perception of Canada is of a milquetoast nation of polite and somewhat bland citizens."


The author can kiss my Red and White Canadian ass!

3 months ago 1Who liked this?

@newreverie
newreverie replied

@Victor don't pan your market too hard. You were able to get a bottle of Parker 24yr bourbon at retail. The only bottle available to me is $400. Then again crown SB at $30 Is a pretty good deal. But It was designed for the Texas market.

3 months ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@Victor,

A quick whisky fact about WhistlePig 10 YO Straight Rye.

WhistlePig earns the label of "Straight Rye" by conforming to the regulatory demands for such a designation; however, the contributing factor that keeps WhistlePig 10 YO in the Canadian Style is the period of aging it receives "finished in once-used bourbon barrels"...see pic of Neck Tag from WP 10 YO.

3 months ago 0

@Victor
Victor replied

@paddockjudge, Interesting. I see nothing on the tag about the length of conventional aging in new charred oak versus the length of the 'finishing' period in used bourbon wood. Unless the length of the finishing is long and that of the aging in new charred oak short, I don't see how the use of a used bourbon barrel for 'finishing' could influence the flavour very much. Just about the only flavours one gets in the bourbon barrel not contained with greater vehemence in the new oak barrels is a little bit of corn and barley...a very little bit.

3 months ago 0

@Nelom
Nelom replied

@paddockjudge She's saying that that's our reputation among some people, not that she's agreeing with it. In fact, I'd argue the "too many people" line means she's indeed not agreeing with it.

Anyway, I'm sorry you took offense to the article. That certainly wasn't my intention when posting it.

3 months ago 2Who liked this?

@Nelom
Nelom replied

@Victor Thanks for the clarification. As a percentage of litres produced, I think your 98/2 guesstimate is probably not too far off.

As to the rest of your post, I understand, agree, and sympathise with different parts where appropriate. relaxed

3 months ago 1Who liked this?

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge replied

@Nelom, she doesn't qualify the statement. As I stated earlier, I'm not inspired by the article. In my opinion, it is pretty much something thrown together to meet a deadline...brown vodka journalism.

3 months ago 0

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