Canadian Whisky

Their is only a small number of distilleries in Canada, majority of production occurs at 8. Canadian whisky is a diverse category because distillers focus on blends. 

Almost all distillers rely on their own production, in order to meet the needs of the blenders the distilleries are set up to create a number of flavour streams.

Largely speaking the blending components are be divided into 2 types.

  1. Base Whisky

  2. Flavouring Whisky

Raw Materials 

There is no restriction on the grains that can be used 

Corn > nearly all base whisky

Wheat > sometimes used in base whisky 

Rye > flavouring whisky, Canada produces the most whisky made from rye

Barley > flavouring whisky

Mashing and Fermenting 

Canada uses more rye than any other country. Canadian whisky has been defined by the flavours resulting from the addition of small quantities of rye flavouring whisky to base whiskies. 

Rye, even in small quantities has a defining impact. Due to this long continous tradition of using rye, whisky can be labelled 

  • Canadian rye Whisky

  • Rye whisky

Grains are processed separetly, come together in the blending stage


Barley mashes are created by:

Malting (barley) 

  • Grain starts to germinate artificially by creating ideals levels of moisture and temperature. 

  • For 2-3 days the barley is placed into water, then stepped, then drained. 

  • The moisture level is raised to the level needed for germination w/o drowning.

  • When the barley starts to grow it is called GREEN MALT.

  • Green malt must not dry out and the temperature has to be controlled. Too high (kill and stop germination)

  • Whilst the grains are modifying the starches into soluble sugar the grains are constantly turned to avoids roots knotting together.

  • Green malt (once modification is complete) is placed into a kiln.

  • Kiln > heated and dried to stop germination w/o damaging the enzymes.

  • At this point peat can be introduced. Peat will be used as fuel. As peat burns it gives off a perfumed smoke that is rich in flavour compounds(phenolics). For the peat to impart a flavour the temperature of the kiln must not be too hot, lowering the temperature of the kiln will have a greater effect.

Corn, wheat, rye 

Cooked in pressure cookers at a high temperature 144c, to hydrolyse the starch. Conversion is completed by using a small amount of barley or added enzymes. 

Commercial Yeast > Base whisky

Proprietary Yeast > Flavour whisky to generate specific flavours


Base Whisky - either column or pot stills. Relatively lightly flavoured.

Flavouring Whisky - pot stills 


New and old ex-bourbon barrels > 200L heavily charred american oak

European sources > Port and Cognac used to finish whiskies


Wide range of styles and blends.

Less expensive, large brands eg. Canadian Club have a soft character due to the high percentage of corn-base whiskies used. 

Caramel and 9.09% of the blend can come from a non-whisky source. 

Law was brought in to help Canadian whisky be more competitive in the US market.

Flavourings include

  • Spirits that are minimum 2 years old

  • HRS - 95% or more are NOT allowed

  • Sherry

  • Wine - of any age 

Some distillers use a small amount of rye for an extra spicy touch. Sherry used in small amounts lift out the fruity notes that are naturally present.

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