Mark Your Calendars
Canadian Whisky Awards Banquet
Thursday, January 18, 2018
Hotel Grand Pacific
Victoria, British Columbia
It’s that time of year again. Join your hosts, Heather Leary and I in Victoria B.C. to celebrate the best Canadian whiskies in the world. We would love to have you with us as we announce the top winning whiskies of the year. Tickets for the gala banquet and awards presentation may be purchased for $65 from James Burrough at the Hotel Grand Pacific. Your ticket includes music, entertainment, a gala awards ceremony and a full hot and cold buffet.
Reach James by e-mail at
The Canadian Whisky Awards help keep the world talking about the very best Canadian whiskies.
Winners will be announced at the ceremony and through major press across Canada and the U.S.
We hope to see you in Victoria.
Warm Welcome for Canadian Whisky
A whirlwind tour from Montreal to Vancouver to promote the second edition of Canadian whisky: The New Portable Expert made no fewer than 44 stops. Strong attendance at tastings, dinners, media events, a non-fiction literature festival, book stores and book signings confirm what we already know: Canadian whisky is having its moment.
Massive thanks to the whisky brands that made sure we had plenty to pour and talk about at each stop, to all who came out to chat and sip, and to Penguin Random House for ensuring every detail was taken care of.
Escalator Tax Encourages Bootlegging
Anecdotal evidence suggests moonshine is making a a comeback in Canada. And it’s not the fun and often tasty white spirit some of Canada’s microdistillers are bottling to help keep the cashflow positive.
My experiences this year point to more and more off-the-grid distillers converting potatoes, apples, even deer feed into alcohol which they share with friends and sell surreptitiously. It’s profitable, and becoming more so as taxes drive the price of legally made spirits ever higher.
In my travels across Canada this fall I have been offered boot-leg spirit in four provinces. Occasional encounters in the past have become a deluge this year.
While I agree that as a luxury, alcoholic beverages should contribute more to the treasury than necessities, research shows that alcohol consumption is not “elastic.” As prices go up, consumption does not decrease, people just seek less expensive alcohol.
This unintended outcome is something legislators should keep in mind when determining how much to tax alcohol. Declining legal sales should not warm the hearts of health authorities or anti-alcohol advocates. They just as likely mean that more people are turning to illegal and unregulated sources. This not only reduces tax revenues, but puts people’s health at risk.
Automatic tax increases are not like automatic pay raises. At some point people are going to find ways to stop paying them.
Strong range of fall releases
Canadian whisky has been attracting a lot of notice this year with Canada 150 special releases. While the scrumptiously flavourful Canadian Club 40 year old and the Northern Border Collection Rare Releases got most of the attention, there have been some stellar new whiskies from other producers as well.
Forty Creek Heritage, the latest in Forty Creek’s tradition of special fall releases is a dazzling throwback to the long-lost and much-lamented Forty Creek Three Grain. It’s rich silky texture brings a broad and carefully balanced range of fruits, flowers, nuts grains and barrel notes to the long and lusty palate. A must have.
For Crown Royal lovers in Ontario (and collectors around the globe) the world’s best selling Canadian whisky has a special new bottling called Blender’s Select. Well worth a trip to the LCBO, or of you live outside the province, a road trip.
Sour mash just leaps out of the bottle when you open another Ontario exclusive – Collingwood Double Barreled. Breaking the Canadian whisky mould, Double Barreled is made using a typical bourbon mash bill, with all the grains blended and then fermented together. It takes Canadian whisky flavours in a welcome new direction. Highly recommended.
Wiser’s brilliant master blender, Dr. Don Livermore continues to stand Canadian whisky on its ear with his latest, Wiser’s 15. According to Dr. Don, this whisky reminds him of Wiser’s Deluxe 10 year old, another whisky we’ve long wanted to see revived. Good work, Doc!
And Canada’s microdistillers have joined the ranks of noteworthy new releases with Lohin McKinnon’s Wine Barrel Finished Single Malt, distilled and matured in Vancouver. Add to this Shelter Point Double Barreled Single Malt whisky and it has been a fall of spectacular new Canadian whiskies.
And speaking of whisky books…
The updated Canadian Whisky: The New Portable Expert is now in stores and with on-line sellers. This new, updated edition includes a visitor’s map showing every whisky distillery in Canada (over 40 of them!), over 100 new tasting notes with a birdwatchers’ checklist so you can tick them off as you sample them, coverage of Canada’s burgeoning microdistillery sector, new chapters on whisky flavours and how to taste them, and numerous updates throughout.