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.