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  1. #21
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    To be called whiskey under EU rules, a spirit must be made from grain and aged in oak for at least three years. That means everything in the bottle, so if some Canadians contain rum or brandy, or anything other than aged whiskey, that would disqualify them.

    However, I think most Canadians probably could be sold in Europe. They aren't because the demand simply isn't there. Virtually all of the whiskey produced in Canada is sold in Canada and the USA.

  2. #22
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    I agree, Chuck. Usually you can find Canadian Club in most parts of Europe, and some other brands.

    Personally (although this is a different question, for a different thread) I can't see what is wrong with adding small amounts of flavouring to whisky. To me, when you age malt whisky all its life in a sherry barrel (or rum barrel or Madeira barrel or whatever), you are "adding" sherry. I fail to see the difference between pouring it in the barrel near to bottling time, or some time before for marrying, or some time before that for re-casking for some years, or some time before that when the new whisky is put in the ex-sherry barrel... It is all of a piece to me. I'd rather judge on taste.

    That said, I doubt very many internationally known Canadian whiskies choose to add sherry or port: it's just not the tradition. CR never did and I doubt CC does, for example. The practice probably was restricted to locally sold (Canadian market) less expensive brands - but that shouldn't define its potential by the same token.

    Blending is not IMO an easy concept to pin down...

    Gary

  3. #23
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    You´re probably right and I´m wrong.

    It would be interesting, though, to know how much of the Canadian whisky production that consists of "9.90%:ers" with non-whisky in them. And also on which markets these whiskies end up.

    One thing that could speak for my theory (if only a little) is that we seem to have quite a lot of Canadian brands that appear to be made specifically for the Scandinavian market. Why do I believe this? Well, I haven´t bumped into them anywhere else and the labels are partly written in Swedish. Some of the brands are Seven Oaks, Lord Calvert and Royal Canadian.

    In fact, the only consistently available brands in (Western) Europe are Black Velvet, Canadian Club and Crown Royal. Most distilleries, including well known ones such as Alberta and Canadian Mist, have nothing to offer at all on this side of the pond. (Well. obviously I do not know about Romania and their ilk, but...)
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  4. #24
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    Lennaert, you may be right in terms of permitted non-whisky additions (e.g., added sherry) that are not allowed in something called whisky in the EU.

    This assumes that the EU definition does not borrow in turn the Canadian domestic definition, but I take it that is the case from what Chuck said.

    Possibly brands which have added sherry, or added anything which is non-whisky, cannot therefore be sold there as whisky, this is possible.

    I just don't know though the history of Canadian whisky marketing there or (of course) exactly which brands may use such additions. I would say though if you have at least 3 regularly available interntionally known Canadians, that's not so bad. How often have I seen in many places for bourbon, say, Maker's and Jack Daniels White and of course JD.

    Some of the less well known brands you mention are known elsewhere by the way, certainly Lord Calvert is, Royal Canadian too, but not sure about the third one.

    Gary

  5. #25
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    As I mentioned before, I´m probably dead wrong on this, but let´s for the sake of keeping the argument alive, postulate a theory that the majority of the whisky produced in Canada use non-whisky additives (sherry, brandy, distilled orange juice etc).

    In most parts of the world, where, I believe, whisky regulations are somewhat slack, they would get away with this. In the European Union they would not. This might serve to explain why the majority of Canadian distilleries do no have products over here (Valleyfield is another big gun invisible in Western Europe).

    Why do I persist with this reasoning? Well, with all due respect I would say that Chuck´s claim about the market for Canadian whisky is almost correct. In my view, there is no demand for premium Canadian whisky. At least in Scandinavia the popularity of standard Canadian whisky would not be disputed by anyone in the know. Why then, are some distilleries not here?

    Then again, I have no idea who makes Royal Canadian (the label with mostly Swedish text gives no clues). Maybe it is an Alberta product?

    By the way, Gary, I highly suspect that the Lord Calvert you are referring to is a completely different beast from the one on the Scandinavian market. Our bottling is much younger and in a radically different looking bottle.
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  6. #26
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    I see what you saying but when you say "slack", is that not using a loaded term?

    In the U.K., the definition of whisky does not require a maximum proof. You can make whisky too from any kind of cereals.

    You can put whiskey in a "wet" sherry barrel and sell it as whisky three years later.

    Is that slack?

    I see the point you are making for the sake of the argument, but I feel the whole issue is moot (just my opinion).

    Gary

  7. #27
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    It took a bit of searching, but here are is the EU definition of whisk(e)y

    European Parliament legislative resolution of 19 June 2007 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the definition, description, presentation and labelling of spirit drinks...

    Annex II...

    2. Whisky or Whiskey
    (a) Whisky or whiskey is a spirit drink produced exclusively by :
    1) .…. distillation of a mash made from malted cereals with or without whole grains of other cereals, which has been
    i) saccharified by the diastase of the malt contained therein, with or without other natural enzymes,
    ii) fermented by the action of yeast,
    ( 2 ) .…. one or more distillations at less than 94,8% vol., so that the distillate has an aroma and taste derived from the raw materials used,
    ( 3 ) .…. maturation of the final distillate for at least three years in wooden casks not exceeding 700 litres capacity. The final distillate, to which only water and plain caramel (for colouring) may be added, retains its colour, aroma and taste derived from the production process referred to in points (1), (2) and (3) .
    (b) The minimum alcoholic strength by volume of whisky or whiskey shall be 40%.
    (c) No addition of alcohol as defined in Annex I(5), diluted or not, shall take place.
    (d) Whisky or whiskey shall not be sweetened or flavoured, nor contain any additives other than plain caramel used for colouring
    In my search I also ran across the fact that in 2003 the EC decided to recognize Rye Whisky as a distinctive product of Canada (note the spelling there...very important in this case...USA Ryes must be spelled whiskEy to comply)
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  8. #28
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    Timothy, I am not sure, this seems to be a resolution of the Parliament for a joint proposal with the European Council for legislation by way ultimately of a resolution of the European Council - not necessarily current legislation that is.

    Even if it does state the law, and even that is if a maximum proof exists for whisky in the EU (maybe that maximum existed in the previous, national UK law too, I am not 100% sure) the percentage stated is just under 190 proof, and clearly whisky so distilled will be rather neutral in taste - not 100% neutral but probably very close.

    I note caramel can be added, so this is an "additive" (which some observers feel can affect flavour, e.g. Jim Murray I believe).

    I believe my basic point is still good, i.e., maybe some Canadian whiskies are currently excluded because they contain some flavouring other than caramel, but I find the distinctions without a difference, at bottom..

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 09-04-2007 at 17:39.

  9. #29
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    Yes this is current adopted EU law. I couldn't find the text of the earlier Canadian-EU agreement. However, while there may be a separate ruling for imported goods and what they can be made of, until that turns up this is the best I can come up with for current EU regs applicable.

    I too agree that anything distilled to nearly 190 proof will have little flavor resembling whisky, but then blended Scotch does use a grain component. Aged though it may be, it's still intended to be basically neutral. They wouildn't want to rule Johnny Walker and friends to be non-conforming.

    I also agree that using flavored barrels is very much akin to adding spirits to achieve a given flavor profile. But there is nothing worse than adding caramel for color...the former is the blenders art, the latter are the marketers lies.
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  10. #30
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    Re: Forty Creek Small Batch Release

    Well, I agree with you on caramel, I think it is unneccesary and can (Jim Murray makes this point) "blunt" flavour. Still, it is a longstanding practice, and I think we have to accept the wider market will always insist on colour consistency.

    But anyway my broader point is that it is best to judge the final product by taste alone - I know Hedmans may not even disagree and this is separate from what he was suggesting, but this is my feeling in the end when you compare what seem to be the laws in the various countries.

    Actually when you look at it, of the countries we have discussed, only the U.S. and France in the EU have maximum distilling-out proofs for bourbon (and rye) and Cognac respectively that really ensure traditional character. The other countries (in the EU anyway) seem to have abandoned this for whisky.

    Malt whisky is traditional only because the producers still choose to make it in a traditional way.

    Gary

 

 

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