Wine Dharma

DharMag January 2020 What is Canadian whiskey? How is it made, what does it taste like and what are its characteristics?

Canadian whiskey, history, flavors and production method of cereal distillate Canadian whiskey is little known in the world, either for the lack of appeal of the big brands or for the fact that the collective imagination has elected Scotch Single Malt and Bourbon whiskey as the two polar stars to follow if you are looking for spirits high quality. We write whiskey and not whiskey, even if we are not in Scotland, but the Canadian derives from the colonies founded by the English, among which there were many Scots, see Nova Scotia.

And the problem with Canadian whiskey is just that: the fluctuating quality. Among the approximately 25 Canadian distilleries, you will find excellent whiskeys and products at the limit of drinking water due to the habit of producing almost exclusively blended and the rather permissive disciplinary. Because if it is true that every Canadian whiskey must age in wood for at least 3 years in barrels with a maximum capacity of 700 liters, it is also true that it is also possible to cut Canadian whiskey up to 9.09% of the mass with Port wine, Sherry, common wine or even other spirits.

And honestly, in a world of spirits where everyone is trying to move towards a concept of purity that can recall a terroir, this choice is unacceptable. Now there is no need for everyone to produce hard and pure Single Malts, from biodynamic barley grown on their own and with the water of the glaciers of the rainbow unicorns, but at least prohibiting the blend with other spirits or wine would be the minimum. We are no longer in the 60s when the first single malts were coming out, now even the general public has refined the palate and we do not need these pandering and softened products that wink.

Rye whiskey

There is also Canadian Rye, but don’t think for a moment about American Rye whiskey, because in Canadian it is enough that there is 5-15% rye in the mash to be called Rye whiskey. While in the real American Rye the rye in the mash must be at least 51%. A big difference is that if it is imported into the United States, the writing Rye on the label cannot appear unless the rye is raised to 51%. Only a couple of Canadian (whitefly) distilleries use 100% rye mash, but generally, the average is 10% rye use.

How Canadian whiskey is made

The process is very similar to the production of Scotch grain whiskey, from which it derives as we have already said. The grains (wheat and rye) are ground, water is added and the mash is cooked. Thanks to the inoculation of yeasts, fermentation starts and then this Canadian beer is fermented. We move on to distillation with the wort being heated, the alcohol in the form of vapor ascends in a coil, which in turn is cooled and thus the vapor returns to the liquid state.

A second distillation proceeds, heads and tails are eliminated, the master distiller chooses which substances/aromas/flavors to keep and which to discard and so the distillate is put in barrels with a capacity of 700 liters for three long years. After the aging in cask, another step can be made in the woods used to make Porto, Sherry or Madeira and then move on to the blend and the addition of dyes, aromas, other spirits or wine.

Few Canadian distilleries do not use dyes or cut whiskey with other spirits. One of the most interesting, perhaps the most careful and rigorous is the Still Water Distillers.

Canadian whiskey how to make it, what does it taste like, how much it costs and Surely these limits are not just flaws, which keep the most demanding drinkers at bay, but the same goes for tequila, you might say. Yes, of course, and in fact, tequila is becoming more and more an industrial product and that is why many new artisanal distilleries are born and mezcal is rising to a flagship distillate, leaving the tequila to eat the dust. Eye, we are talking about absolute quality, not sales.

On the plus side, Canadian whiskey is a cheaper product than Scotch Single Malt and is, therefore “great” for mixing cocktails.

Surely these limits are not just flaws, which keep the most demanding drinkers at bay, but the same goes for tequila, you might say. Yes, of course, and in fact, tequila is becoming more and more an industrial product and that is why many new artisanal distilleries are born and mezcal is rising to a flagship distillate, leaving the tequila to eat the dust. Eye, we are talking about absolute quality, not sales.

On the plus side, Canadian whiskey is a cheaper product than Scotch Single Malt and is, therefore “great” for mixing cocktails.

The taste of Canadian whiskey

It is difficult to outline a gustatory profile of a distillate that covers a nation as vast as Canada, given that there are many styles, spirits and wood refinements. The Canadian tends to be velvety, very spicy, with flavors and aromas of wood, walnut, vanilla and an infinity of nutty scents due to oxidation. When rye is present it makes itself felt, it adds hard and rough flavors, making the distillate more vertical and less tame. Overall, balance and docility are sought: quite the opposite of Scottish single malts. But as we said Canadians are masters at creating blended, they are not very interested in the pure taste of malt. In summary, they have an eclectic style that takes inspiration from many other countries and then try to pack pleasant spirits, not particularly reactive or territorial.

How to serve Canadian whiskey

Best Canadian distilleries, Canadian whiskey guide, how to drink whiskey Like all whiskeys it should always be served without ice, otherwise, all that ice will numb your palate and you can also drink boiling tar that will not change anything. So no ice, but a drop of water is excellent for enhancing and bringing out the floral scents on the surface. But it is not a way of saying, by adding the water the terpenes detach from the alcohol and come to the surface, bringing with them the most delicate aromas and at the same time lowers the alcohol content, making the distillate more enjoyable. 40 degrees of alcohol are always a lot and if you bring it to 35 you will be able to enjoy the nuances more without burning your palate.

Cocktails made with Canadian whiskey

There are not many, actually, many of the cocktails that were once made with Canadian whiskey are now made with Rye whiskey. In any case, try the two most famous drinks such as Manhattan or Toronto.

Recommended pairings for Canadian whiskey

Its soft and spicy, almost velvety flavor is excellent for pairing with chocolate-based desserts, smoked meat dishes, tuna and herring, but it is also to be tried with aged cheeses such as pecorino or with the classic apple pie.

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