Canadian Whisky

Canada’s whisky-making history mirrors that of the United States. Its earliest farmers first began distilling rye in the eastern territories (in the late 1700s), but as western Canada was settled in the following centuries, corn and wheat also became popular. Canadian whisky came to prominence during Prohibition, when it was illegally smuggled by boatloads and carloads to those American masses thirsty in the south. While there are strict U.S. requirements for when a specific grain can be referenced on a label, a bottle of Canadian whisky can be labeled as “rye whisky” even if there is little or even no rye in the mashbill. This is due to the use of rye as a flavoring grain throughout much of Canada’s whisky-making history, which was so well-known that “rye” and “whisky” became interchangeable. The only legal requirements for Canadian whisky are that it must be made in Canada from a fermented cereal mash that is then aged in wood containers for at least three years and bottled at 80 proof or higher.

Top Canadian Whisky Posts:

Crown Royal Deluxe Blended Canadian Whisky
Lord Calvert Black Canadian Whisky
Drinking the Bottom Shelf Vol. 2: Canadian Whisky – Ellington, Black Velvet, LTD

Review: Uncle Nearest Straight Rye

By Drew Beard | January 22, 2023 |

  Uncle Nearest began its foray into rye whiskey earlier this fall with the limited release of Uncut/Unfiltered, a burly, cask strength bruiser that I came to appreciate (with some revisiting and a healthy splash of water). For their next addition to the rye side of the portfolio, the distillery is introducing Uncle Nearest Straight…

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Review: Alberta Premium Rye

By Christopher Null | January 11, 2023 |

Alberta Premium has been attempting to live up to its name in recent years, pumping out a series of annually released cask strength versions of its iconic rye whiskey — made with 100% rye in the mash — as well as very old age-statemented offerings like this 20 year old. Today, we take a step…

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Review: Pendleton Directors’ Reserve Canadian Whisky 20 Years Old

By Christopher Null | November 15, 2022 |

Hood River Spirits, based in Oregon, has been slowly moving upmarket with its Pendleton Canadian Whisky brand, which we’ve covered at length. Recently it dropped its oldest expression ever, a blended whisky carrying the name of Directors’ Reserve and a 20 year old age statement. (The directors in question are the heads of Oregon’s annual…

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Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye

Review: Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye (2022)

By David Tao | November 6, 2022 |

Long an under the radar producer for much of North America’s sourced rye (at least for U.S. consumers), Beam Suntory-owned Alberta Distillers has been leaning into their house brands under the Alberta Premium banner since 2020. That year marked the first American release of Alberta Premium Cask strength, and in 2022, the brand’s 80 proof…

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Review: Crown Royal Extra Rare 18 Years Old

By Christopher Null | September 11, 2022 |

Crown Royal takes a break from its Noble Collection with this new release, an 18 year old whisky dubbed Extra Rare. The whisky is billed as “an exquisite blend of three of the brand’s most exceptional whiskies” — but beyond that, details are scarce. The softness endemic to Canadian whisky is amply present here, a…

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Review: Bearface Triple Oak Canadian Whisky 7 Years Old

By Drew Beard | September 3, 2022 |

Bearface is a relatively new Canadian whisky brand with a somewhat complicated backstory. First, the name, Bearface, comes from the fact that the whisky is said to be aged in “Bear Country.” More specifically, it’s aged in shipping containers located in British Columbia where they do have their fair share of bears, but more importantly,…

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Alberta Premium 20 Year Rye

Review: Alberta Premium Rye 20 Years Old

By David Tao | August 12, 2022 |

Long time rye drinkers have likely had their fair share of juice from Alberta Distillers, though more commonly via brands that source from the Calgary-based single-grain giant. A long time mainstay on Canadian shelves, the distillery’s own Alberta Premium brand has more recently made waves south of the border. Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye has…

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Review: Pendleton Canadian Whisky – Original, Midnight, and Rye 12 Years Old (2022)

By Christopher Null | June 13, 2022 |

Oregon’s Hood River Distillers has been cranking out Pendleton Canadian whisky for longer than Drinkhacker has been around, dropping additional expressions over the years, most of which we’ve reviewed at some time or another. Today we take a retrospective look back at the three most available whiskies of the four-expression permanent lineup, all but the…

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Review: Chicken Cock Cotton Club Rye 20 Years Old

By Christopher Null | February 19, 2022 |

Grain & Barrel Spirits, the company behind the Chicken Cock brand’s revival, continues to push the brand upmarket, releasing limited expressions of all kinds of (sourced) whiskeys, revolving around bourbon and rye. This latest expression is a doozy: A 20 year old Canadian rye named in honor of Harlem’s Cotton Club, where the original Chicken…

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Review: Barrell Gray Label Bourbon, Whiskey, and Seagrass (2021)

By Drew Beard | February 1, 2022 |

Barrell made its first upmarket moves in 2018 with what was then called the Barrell Craft Spirits line, a selection of extra-aged, cask strength bottlings that represented the cream of the crop from Barrell’s expansive spirits stocks. The initial lineup included a bourbon, whiskey, and rum offering. We only got the chance to sample the…

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