Whisky Distilleries of Canada

Name Country Status Type
Acadian Canada Closed Malt
Alberta Canada Active Rye
Arcadian Canada Closed Rye
Black Velvet Canada Active Grain
Canadian Mist Canada Active Grain
Cascadia Canada Active Grain
de Vine Vineyards Canada Active Malt
Forty Creek Canada Active Grain
Gimli Canada Active
Glenora Canada Active Malt
Highwood Canada Active Grain
Hiram Walker and Sons Canada Active Grain
Lucky Bastard Canada Active Malt, Grain
Maple Leaf Canada Closed Malt
Okanagan Canada Active Grain
Pemberton Canada Active Grain
Sazerac Canada Active Grain
Sazerach Facility Montreal Canada Active Grain
Shelter Point Canada Active Malt
Still Waters Canada Active Malt
The Myriad View Artisan Canada Active Grain
Thomas Adams Canada Active Rye
Unibroue inc. Canada Active Malt
Urban Canada Active Grain
Valleyfield Canada Active Grain
Victoria Distillers Canada Active Malt
Waterloo Canada Closed Rye
Weyburn Canada Closed Corn
Wolfshead Canada Active Grain

For a long time, Canadian whisky was only an insider tip when you think of whisky on the American continent. But he doesn’t have to hide behind the well-known wwwhiskies from the USA at all. Canada has everything you need to make a good whisky: huge grain fields, clean water and people who distil the very special Canadian whisky with a lot of love and time. Canadian whisky is characterized by a special mildness, which, however, gets its strength from its beautiful spiciness and the tartness of the rye. It is worth taking a look at the history of Canadian whisky and uncovering its specifics. Of course we also present the most famous whisky varieties from Canada, after all, Canada is the third largest whisky producer in the world with more than 200 million bottles.

Canadian whisky history

Canadian whisky history begins at the end of the 18th century. The first distilleries were built in Québec and Ontario around the Great Lakes. Some sources say that William Henry was said to have opened the first whisky distillery in Manitoba in 1796, but it is more likely that Québec was already producing. Rum was mostly distilled here. But the production of whisky developed very quickly, so that there should have been over 200 distilleries in Canada by the middle of the 19th century. At the time of Prohibition, the Scots, but above all the Canadians, smuggled whisky into America. After the prohibition years, Canadian whisky was so well established in the USA that even today more Canadian whisky is drunk as a separate brand.

Canadian whisky - whisky in the new world

In Canada, whisky is spelled consistently like the Scots with just a y and not, as is common in the USA, with an additional E. This shows that the influence of the Scots here was greater than that of the Irish. You can read about why people write whisky and not whisky in Ireland in our article whisky or whisky - where is the difference? to. Both Scots and Irish immigrated to Canada and soon began to make whisky from excess grain. They sold the good brandies to trappers, settlers and hunters. The whisky warmed them and brightened the frustrating cold nights in the wilderness.

In 1821, John Molson opened Canada’s first commercial whisky distillery. Of course, there were other whisky pioneers besides Molson who started making Canadian whisky with their home-grown grain. A real breakthrough and success came about half a century later, when the rise of Canadian whisky began. These pioneers included Henry Corby, William Gooderham, Joseph E. Seagram, and Hiram Walker. Seagram and Walker were the two who brought their companies to true world fame and contributed significantly to the success of Canadian whisky.

Hiram Walkers and the Canadian Club

Hiram Walker was a grain dealer from Detroit. He wasn’t satisfied with the quality of the whisky, which probably tasted very bitter and burned a tiny bit in his mouth and throat. So Walker bought land on the Detroit River in Ontario and founded his first distillery in 1858. Here he produced a very spicy whisky from rye and barley malt and, by the way, a very neutral brandy made from corn. The highlight of Walker: he mixed both and let the mixture mature as a blend in barrels for six years. With the long storage and the marriage of two types of whisky as blended whisky, he broke new ground in Canada.

And Hiram Walker went one step further. Until now, whisky has been delivered in barrels or jugs. Walker changed this and had his whisky bottled. At first, the label simply read the name of the manufacturer, but very soon it was successful and the gentlemen’s club lover added a club to the Walker. Now the whisky was called Walkers Club. The light Canadian whisky became successful very quickly and Walker expanded its delivery area to the USA. There he did not necessarily meet with approval from a well-known bourbon manufacturer with his brand. You can guess who we mean. Johnny Walker obtained an edict from the government that required Hiram Walker to clearly mark that this whisky is Canadian whisky.Canadian Club .

Seagram is the second major name in Canadian whisky history. Joseph E. Seagram was the son of English immigrants. In 1883 he bought a distillery in Waterloo, Ontario and began making whisky. His efforts made progress and from 1916 his successful brand Seagram VO got better. In 1920, Samuel Bronfman bought the small distillery and expanded the product range. Similar to Walkers, the real rise began in the days of American prohibition.

The Effects of Prohibition in America As in almost every country, there has been a temperance movement in Canada. Temperance movements wanted to ban the consumption of alcohol entirely. One of the first pioneers of this movement was Father Chiniquy, who preached water and drank whisky (to get straight to the point). He didn’t live like he preached at all. In addition to alcohol consumption, there were embezzlement, amorous missteps and arson, which led to his excommunication. In contrast to that of a woman named Nelly Mooney McClung, his influence was negligible. The very same began to stand up for many suffering women, whose husbands were alcoholics, and in 1914 alcohol bans were introduced in some Canadian provinces. In 1918, the ban even went nationwide for a short while. However, it was quickly repealed by the government. Was it the insight into the futility of the ban that drove manufacturers and consumers into illegality, or was it economic calculation?

The fact that prohibition was implemented nationwide in America only shortly afterwards speaks in favor of the economic calculation. This opened up a number of opportunities for the neighboring country to smuggle Canadian whisky into the USA. This was probably even passively supported by the Canadian government. This was how Canadian whisky became known in the USA and by the end of Prohibition it was so well known that the national brands had a hard time finding the connection again.

The temperance movement also existed, for example, in one of the countries of origin, if not the country of origin of the whisky - Ireland, where there was a sharp decline in pubs during these times. In addition, the Irish were very devout and respectful of laws. As a result, they smuggled and sold much less whisky to America than the Scots during the era of American prohibition. Prohibition and the temperance movement were partly responsible for the rapid decline of the famous Irish whisky. Do you want to know more about it? Then read our story of Irish whisky.

whisky regions in Canada

While we are already writing about Canadian whisky, we would of course also like to briefly introduce you to the whisky regions. In the course of time we will certainly dedicate a separate article to each region and take a closer look at them.

Quebec

Québec is the largest province in Canada and has a predominantly French-speaking population. Apart from the big cities, the province is quite sparsely populated. Québec used to play a major role in Canada’s whisky production, as two of the most important distilleries were located here: Beaupré and LaSalle. Both played a major role in filling the supply gap during Prohibition in the United States. Today there is only one distillery left in Québec - Vallyfield Shanley.

Ontario

Ontario is the most populous region in Canada. Toronto, the largest and most important city in the country, is located in Ontario. Ontario is the province of lakes. This is how the name came about. In the Indian language it means something like beautiful water or beautiful lake. Because of this water and the proximity to the USA, many whisky pioneers and manufacturers, such as Hiram Walker and William Gooderham, were drawn to Ontario. Walkerville, Canadian Mist, and Kittling Ridge are distilleries that still operate here today and manufacture whisky.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland. Canada’s second smallest province only has one whisky distillery, but this one is tough. The name says it all: the landscape is reminiscent of Scotland. And so it is not surprising if the Scottish whisky tradition is also lived here. Around 80 percent of the inhabitants of Nova Scotia have British roots, a large part of them are Scots. On the island of Cape Breton Islands, malt whisky is produced in the finest Scottish tradition - quite atypical for Canada.

Manitoba

To the far east is the province of Manitoba, the land of 100,000 lakes. It is very sparsely populated and again, most of the immigrants here are from Great Britain. But French, Poles, Ukrainians and Filipinos are also at home here, as is ten percent of Canada’s natives. More than half of the just over one million residents live in the city of Winnipeg. The climate in Winnipeg and the surrounding area is very special. Extremely cold winters follow pleasantly warm summers.

The main industry is still agriculture today, especially with a very strong grain cultivation. And where there is grain, whisky is not far. Canadian whisky is also produced here in the largest distillery in the country. The Gimli Distillery is a legacy of Seagrams. The Maple Leaf distillery is also located in Winnipeg.

Alberta

In the very west of Canada, on the border with British Columbia, lies the province of Alberta. There are endless prairies here and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains surround the landscape. Many oil companies settled in Alberta when the black gold was found in the 1970s. Especially around and in Calgary. After the boom, the Winter Olympics saved the city from financial ruin. But Alberta also has large grain-growing areas and that’s why there are some whisky distilleries here that have chosen the province as their location. At the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the distilleries also found wonderful water for making whisky.

Even today there are at least three distilleries left. Alberta is one of them and even produces some of its own rye cultivation. Highwood and Lethbridge / Black Velvet can still be found here.

British Columbia

British Columbia is even further west. It is named after the Columbia River, which has its source here. The largest city in this province is Vancouver. Life bubbles here in a colorful mix of people of different nationalities. Trade is booming, large and good universities have developed here, tourism is booming due to the beautiful landscape - and yet whisky producers have never been drawn here. Only the Potter distillery is active here.

Special features of Canadian whisky

Canadian whisky is mostly a blend. This is why Canadian whisky is usually referred to as blended Canadian. In Canada, the grain is mostly not malted and different types of grain are used to make whiskyused. Malted grain, which supports the fermentation and fermentation process, is only used by very few distilleries. Canadian whisky is stored in barrels for three years and must have an alcohol content of at least 40 percent by volume after storage. So far, the specifications do not differ particularly from Scotch. However, up to two percent fruit juices, sherry or fruit wine can be added to Canadian whisky. The Canadians want to avoid aging in sherry barrels and still achieve the typical aroma.

Types of Canadian whisky

Canadian whisky is particularly light, often very light (unless artificial coloring has been added) and particularly pure (apart from fruit juices and wine additives that are added later). It is mostly made from rye, corn, wheat and barley. As already mentioned, most are blended wwwhiskies that are blended from several wwwhiskies. You can read more about the production of blended whisky in our article Blended whisky - the high art of whisky marriage . But there are also distilleries that produce single malts. Glenora and Still Waters or Glen Breton and Stalk & Barrel produce Single malt wwwhiskies. It is worth trying this once.

Canadian whisky is often made with corn. This is mixed with whisky made from rye (rye whisky). There are over 500 varieties in Canada. Canadian wwwhiskies are very adaptable and mild and are therefore very popular for mixed drinks and cocktails. whisky beginners in particular often turn to the Canadian blend. We are sure to present a few more interesting recipes for mixed drinks with whisky in whisky Fox Magazine.

Four types of whisky are known to be produced in Canada.

Rye whisky

Rye whisky is actually a rye-based brandy. Rye whisky has become a quality feature of Canadian whisky without it actually having to be rye whisky. At some point the mashers began to mix in rye, which hit the Canadians’ taste pretty well. Canadian whisky was then associated with rye whisky and so the term was equated by using Canadian rye as a name, although there is no rye in it. Simply because it tastes typically Canadian. Pure rye wwwhiskies are for example Bush Pilot or Alberta Premium Rye. However, rye is mostly not bottled, but used to make blended whisky.

Blended whisky

As mentioned, most wwwhiskies in Canada are blends. Almost 99 percent of the production is blended wwwhiskies. A wide variety of mixtures and proportions of rye, corn, barley and wheat wwwhiskies are possible.

Corn whisky

Corn whisky is corn whisky. The yellow grain is particularly popular in Canada for making whisky. The corn gives the whisky a pleasant sweetness and softness that Canadians love so much. A single corn whisky is extremely rare, it is used almost exclusively to blend the different wwwhiskies into a blend.

Malt whisky

Malt wwwhiskies and single malt are produced only very rarely, in areas with Scottish influence such as Nova Scotia. Especially the Glen Breton from Nova Scotia is one of these rare specimens.