View Full Version : Canada Border Crossing

09-21-2011, 17:40
I am making a trip to Buffalo this weekend, and would like some advice. I am heading over to Canada for a few days also and would like any information about liquor stores across the border.

First, any stores/bars in Buffalo I need to visit?

Second, I would like to find some exports, I dont know if they will be available? If they are would I find them in Duty Free Leaving the US or Duty Free Entering? Should I look at Liquor store away fom the border or on it? It also looks like the liquor is "state" controlled in Canada, anyone have any insight?

Thanks in advance

Last, any Canadian Juice that you recommend I try to procure?

09-21-2011, 18:12
I was just to Windsor, Ontario a few weeks ago. Here is what I suggest:

-Don't buy more bottles at the Buffalo duty free than the number of legal age occupents in the car. Canada customs charges 30.00+ per bottle in duty for any extra bottles 80 proof or higher. Lower than 80 proof is charge of 5.00 per bottle.

-If you are going to shop for bottles in Buffalo, do it after coming back from Canada for the same reasons mentioned above.

-In Canada, all liquor store are government controlled. You can go to the LCBO website and search for any brands you are looking for and see what store in the visited area has them. I usually concentrate on bottles that aren't available in the US or in my area.

-On the way back from Canada, any bottles may be subject to duty depending on how long you visited Canada. duty per bottle usually runs about 3.00, which is cheap. I usually buy bottles I can't get back home.

-Not all bottles in duty free are good prices, especially in Canada. In particular, the scotch prices seem to run on the high side.

-In Canada, there are some Canadian brands that are longer aged if that is your thing. One that I like and that is available at duty free is Crown Royal Limited. It isn't age stated but is good. Another one available in Canada is Centennial 10yr. rye. Very reasonable at 24.00 per bottle!


09-21-2011, 20:20
I sampled Wisers Legacy in the gazebo and thought it was top notch.

It's a Canada only bottling and one I would recommend bringing back if you can find it.

09-21-2011, 23:58
I sampled Wisers Legacy in the gazebo and thought it was top notch.

It's a Canada only bottling and one I would recommend bringing back if you can find it.

I don't know anything about Canadian whisky but I also tried this whisky at the gazebo and it was very good whisky.

09-22-2011, 07:26
Every year, for some years anyway, Canadian distillers have issued something new. Either small batch, or very aged, or something else to distinguish it. Most of these are good but to me stay within the precincts of the Canadian whisky style, even the Red Letter version of Wiser issued some years ago which is its most expensive. The latter has a rich vanilla taste from some primo barrels evidently, but I don't get an assertive whisky taste from it, one I associate with a high percentage of whisky distilled out at a low proof.

Wiser's Legacy is different. It contains, per the label, a high proportion of pot still rye whisky and the taste shows, with a big wintergreen/spearmint-like flavor against a good wood background. As far as I know, they don't use new charred barrels, hence absence of a "red layer" taste. Apparently (from things I've heard here and there) new oak barrels are used for the aging, presumably lightly toasted, but whether 100% or not I can't say.

Anyone going to Canada who likes a traditional whisky taste should buy this IMO. Wiser's 18 is very good too, some good blending there, but it is more in the traditional vein for Canadian. I also like Forty Creek and its associated whiskies, from the craft operation in Grimsby, Ontario which is an extension of a winery operation.

But Wiser's Legacy is my favorite by far of all Canadian whisky being made today.


09-22-2011, 07:31
Gibson's Finest 12 or 18 year, only available in Canada. Had some in Vancouver.

09-22-2011, 07:35
First, any stores/bars in Buffalo I need to visit?

In Buffalo, I recommend the following:

Premier Group (http://premiergroup.net/)
Global Group (http://www.global-wineandspirits.com/)

Both "Groups" have three stores, each with one in Orchard Park
if you'll be in the area.

As far as Canada, were I to visit, I'd be on the look out for Forty
Creek Confederation Oak Reserve.

09-22-2011, 18:42
Thanks everyone, I head out tomorrow, I will let you know if I strike gold.

09-23-2011, 04:44
Gary - Have you tried any of the Alberta Premium older juice? They make a 27 and a 30yr that both seem very reasonable price wise and are very well reviewed.
So far at least, I haven't been able to get my hands on any here in the states or spoken to a Bourbon aficionado who has tried them.

09-23-2011, 06:59

I haven't tried those IIRC. There is another Alberta Premium iteration I did try, 25 years - probably the same batch when younger.

All these very aged Canadian whiskies, to my palate, take flavor mostly from the barrel. The companies select well to ensure the whiskies have no punky taste (degraded wood or other off-flavors), but I don't get otherwise anything really notable about them. CC's 20 and 30 year olds were similar. They are good in the sense of being velvety and well-balanced but the wood predominates.

If, say, the rye flavoring whiskies used, e.g., what apparently became Whistle Pig, were aged 12-20 years, that might be more interesting for me.

Putting it a different way, and I stress I am explaining only my own taste, I don't see the point of prolonged aging of the typical Canadian whisky blend. Due to the preponderance of whisky in it distilled at a high proof, it doesn't need long aging. Hence the three years minimum aging required by Canadian law.


09-24-2011, 22:47
This post may be too late, but I made the trip earlier this summer and picked up Alberta 30, CC 20, CC 30, Wiser's Legacy, Red Letter and Forty Creek Double Barrel and Confederation Oak (and some others :) ). If you head north from Buffalo into Ontario, you can get the Forty Creek (and could even visit the distillery), but you probably won't be able to get the CC 20 & 30, or the Red Letter (I think most of the other Wisers are available in the US, and at a cheaper price), which you may be able to get in Quebec. On the other hand, you may not be able to get the Forty Creek in Quebec, other than the select. Also, in Ontario, I was too early, but Forty Creek John's Private Cask should now be available, and it may be worth looking into. Check the LCBO and SAQ websites for availability - from what I've seen, they're pretty good on updating status. By the way, I had the hardest time trying to figure out the customs/duty to pay, and after spending many hours on it, I never did come to a conclusion. It almost seems that under NAFTA, purely Canadian whiskey doesn't get charged by the US gov't (each state may be different) but I couldn't get a clear answer.

09-26-2011, 14:17
Due to the preponderance of whisky in it distilled at a high proof, it doesn't need long aging. Hence the three years minimum aging required by Canadian law.

Gary - one last off the topic question. I have always thought of Canadian as essentially Bourbon and Rye flavored Vodka. Sort of a Bourbon Vodka cocktail in a bottle.
Are they still using GNS in a big way? Or have they shifted to more "almost" Vodka - is that the very high proof you mentioned?

As well done as it is I sure wish CRXR was a lot more flavor forward.

09-26-2011, 14:46
Steve, the practice hasn't generally changed here of using essentially what the Scots call grain whisky to be the base for Canadian whisky. So this grain whisky is distilled, in Canada of course, at a high proof, over 190 proof (the Scots have a cap proof in this neighborhood but I can't recall it right now), which produces an almost-neutral spirit that would be close to GNS. I know some producers typically produce their rye whisky base at 192 proof, or 96% ABV. However, in Scotland and Canada too, whisky must be aged at least three years to be called Scotch whisky or Canadian whisky, so this base takes flavor from the wood and therefore is not quite vodka, although some people have called it - the base again - brown vodka. Anyway grain whiskies do have, even apart from wood aging, some detectable flavour, but it is quite light because the congeners have mostly been removed from the spirit by the rectification in the big column stills.

The true flavouring element in Canadian whisky - apart from sherry or other wine which is sometimes added - comes from the straight rye or bourbon-like "flavouring whisky" added to it. This is distilled at a low proof, always under 160 proof and often at a proof much like the typical bourbon or straight rye is distilled at in the U.S. This product often in Canada is produced from rye, it can be malted rye, un-malted rye, or a combination. In distinction, grain whisky is usually made mostly from corn, or corn and wheat. However Alberta Distillers uses all-rye both for its flavouring and base grain whiskies. (But the rye element of the grain whisky base doesn't really matter all that much IMO given the high distillation proof of this part of the blend which will generally be the greatest part). Apparently, Whistle Pig was made as a flavouring whisky in Alberta, but since it happened to be aged in new charred barrels, it was able to be sold in the U.S. as straight rye).

In Wiser's Legacy however, a large part of what is in the bottle (I doubt 100%) is a flavouring whisky, which gives it a bigger taste than normal.

The amount of - let's call it for convenience - straight whisky typically used in Canadian whisky blends from what I understand is very low, perhaps 4-7%, but higher in some cases, e.g. I've heard that CC 10 years old is 30% rye flavouring whisky. This whisky can be pre-blended with the base, or, separately aged and added after. Usually new charred barrels are not used in either case, but they can be in some instances. Indeed it would be lawful to make a Canadian whisky, and some do, by simply adding some bourbon brought in from the U.S. for the purpose, provided the other requirements of producing a Canadian whisky are met.

In the U.S., (American) blended whiskey can use unaged spirit (GNS) as the base, so therein lies a difference, but I don't find it a significant one.


09-27-2011, 07:11
Gary - Have you tried any of the Alberta Premium older juice? They make a 27 and a 30yr that both seem very reasonable price wise and are very well reviewed.
So far at least, I haven't been able to get my hands on any here in the states or spoken to a Bourbon aficionado who has tried them.

I'm still on the hunt for any ol' Alberta Premium--new stuff, old juice, etc. And it looks like I've got to seek out Wiser's Legacy too when I get the chance. We do have Wiser's Deluxe 10 Year Old ($20) and Wiser's Very Old 18 YO ($58) but I think I'll hold off until I can find the Legacy. Never tried the Forty Creek Barrel Select ($20-$25) but should probably give that a whirl as well.

09-27-2011, 14:20
Thanks to everyone that contributed here, I fear that my inetntions were not to create a Canadian Whiskey Thread, but a where to get bourbon in Canada thread. I hope the admins have mercy on me knowing it was not my intent.

Anyway, I took alot of your advice and found out it is really not fruitful to look in Canada for bourbon, or (more likely) I was looking in the wrong place. The LCBO stores had nothing and the duty free had just about the same.

On some of your advice, and against some others. I was able to secure Wiser's Legacy and Crown Limited (at the Duty Free, much better value than LCBO). The staff was very nice and (to my surprise) they have other stock that is not on the shelf, I was just told to ask, unfortinately still not much success with the bourbon hunt. I also did find the 40 Creek products (2x bbl and John's Private) mentioned here and limited mysel for just one, the Confederation Oak.

Lastly, I have to thank John for the referral to Gloabl, I was able to releive their shelf of the burdensome weight of a bottle of Handy which completed my 2010 BTAC, I also left one behind for any SB'er that is interested.

Don, I did see the 12yo all over but was holding out for the 18, which never appeared.

10-02-2011, 09:35
Well Im Canadian and I prefer Gibsons. 12 or 18.

That forty creek stuff tastes too much like cough syrup to me, cant stand it and cant understand why people brag it up. :rolleyes:

To each, his own:cool:

09-07-2012, 23:23
In the last month I have seen gibson's 12 and Wisers Legacy for sale here. The Legacy was 41.00, quite a bit cheaper than Canada!