Welcome to the Straightbourbon.com Forums.
Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    9,166

    The Nature of Canadian Whisky

    In sampling the recent new releases, I've been struck by how good our blenders can be to produce a flavor dominated by complex barrel tones - the tones of reused wood and charred wood combined, usually. Perhaps because Canadian whisky is mostly high proof, largely non-congeneric product, they focus more on the barrel - or rather barrels -to come up with a complex, almost uncut cigar-like taste - than in the U.S. Of course, the charred barrel gives a lot to bourbon, perhaps even most of its character, but it is a blunt instrument, the wood gums flow into the whiskey and give it a monochrome richness and power. Only through batching and blending can an equal or further complexity result, and here is where the Canadians come in (the best of them). The Canadians therefore HAVE to be batched (which is not to say the odd single barrel can't be good), and small lots can help to attain a specific, rich palate. The CC 20 year old released here last year also offers complex wood flavours that are well-married and pleasing. It is true too that small amounts of low-proof rye, corn or barley whiskies in the blends inform their character, the effect is often subtle but no less present for that. It may sound strange to age a bland spirit but I think I see now why the aging practice developed in Canada. It was done, certainly to mellow the liquor because even grain neutral spirit can be somewhat rough and harsh (even some vodkas are like that), but probably it was seen early on that giving further barrel age allows a dimension of (wood) flavour to come through that is different from what the bourbon barrel offers or the sherry barrel for malt whisky but can add interest and complexity to the whisky.

    The Forty Creek whiskies also use extensive aging but in their case, the blend of base whiskies is quite characterful to begin with so you end up with a bigger flavour than Danfield's or Wiser's Reserve have. Still, the latter are more traditionally Canadian in taste, that signature butterscotch/cedar note is there that identifies the whiskies as traditional Canadian in style. All the main brands here (save perhaps the youngest and most bland) have that signature but it appears with particular style and elan in many of the premium end products. It isn't fair to compare them to bourbon, they are a different category completely.

    Gary

  2. #2
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Mentor, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    837

    Re: The Nature of Canadian Whisky

    It isn't fair to compare them to bourbon, they are a different category completely.
    Well said Gary. I agree with you whole heartedly. While I'll usually take a Wild Turkey product for it's blend of power and complexity I paused the other day after your review to resample the Forty Creek. Nice whisky. Sweet, balanced... A nice change of pace. I wouldn't suffer if it had to become my regular pour but as long as I can get Kentucky Spirit, I guess I don't see that happening. That's good. My stash of Forty Creek (no longer available in Ohio) should last me a while.

    Ken

  3. #3
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    Posts
    479

    Re: The Nature of Canadian Whisky

    In sampling the recent new releases, I've been struck by how good our blenders can be to produce a flavor dominated by complex barrel tones - the tones of reused wood and charred wood combined, usually. Perhaps because Canadian whisky is mostly high proof, largely non-congeneric product, they focus more on the barrel - or rather barrels -to come up with a complex, almost uncut cigar-like taste - than in the U.S.
    Gary

    Could you discuss the mysterious (to me) 9.09% (one-eleventh) non-whisky component that is allowed in Canadian whisky? This can be, as I understand it, such things as orange juice (distilled and/or fermented?), prune juice, port or sherry, non-Canadian spirits/whiskey, etc.

    The distillers seem to be pretty mum about this. Check out this bit of double-speak at a Parliamentary committee hearing in 2002 by the president and CEO, Spirits Canada, Association of Canadian Distillers:

    Mr. Nick Discepola: I have one point to ask about for my own edification. Could you explain to me what a 9.09% flavouring component is?


    Mr. Jan Westcott: In Canada, for as far back as we've been making whiskey, we've looked for ways to differentiate our product from other products. One of the ways we do that, and have done that, in Canada--some of the records I've looked at go back over 100 years--is to flavour our whiskey with other whiskies and wine. If you go back many, many years, the rule of thumb was about 10%. In converting that to codification, the actual conversion worked out to be 9.09%. That compares, for example, with what happens in the United States. When they make a blended whiskey in the United States, they can add 80%. Therefore, our provisions are quite modest and they're Canadian. Other countries do other things and we respect that. They all make their products.
    This practice has an old pedigree; as you have pointed out, it is mentioned in the 1885 Joseph Fleishman rectifying manual (which I can't seem to find at pre-pro.com).

    Jeff

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    9,166

    Re: The Nature of Canadian Whisky

    Jeff, the Fleischmann extracts are on www.pre-pro.com, they hard to find, is all. Go to the site index and you will see it listed under "Whisky Recipes, As Used By Distillers". They confirm use of such additives but much less than 10%!

    Interesting you found that statement by Jan Westcott (head of a Canadian distillers association).

    First, let me say, not every distiller uses wine or sherry flavouring: Crown Royal for example is all-whisky. Use of sherry casks is different, too, from adding liquid sherry or wine or prune juice to spirit...

    With regard to those that add such things, I doubt the proportion used is anywhere near 10%. And anyway it makes sense to add flavouring sometimes.


    Gary

 

 

Similar Threads

  1. Recent developments in Canadian whisky
    By Gillman in forum Foreign Whiskey
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 11-03-2006, 14:45
  2. Forty Creek Canadian Whisky
    By cowdery in forum Foreign Whiskey
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 07-13-2006, 15:28
  3. Canadian whisky - defining the palate
    By Gillman in forum Foreign Whiskey
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 11-14-2004, 21:21
  4. Pendleton Blended Canadian Whisky
    By shennig608 in forum Foreign Whiskey
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 07-07-2004, 09:17
  5. Canadian whisky additives
    By voigtman in forum Foreign Whiskey
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 07-07-2004, 05:13

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Back to top