The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies
Canadian Whisky continues to go through a resurgence as whisky aficionados all over the world are becoming re-acquainted with the great Canadian Spirit. We saw the beginnings about 10 years ago when the two largest Canadian Distillers, Wiser’s and Crown Royal released new Ultra Premium Whiskies (Wiser’s Red Letter & Crown Royal XR Waterloo). These new whiskies which were each priced above $125.00 and established a new high water mark for Canadian Whisky at least as far as price was concerned. Admittedly, the market was rather tepid towards these new offerings as the local Canadian consumer was much more comfortable with their Canadian whisky priced in the low twenties, and even the flag bearer of premium whisky at the time (Wiser’s 18 Year Old) was still to be found in the mid forties and low fifties.
As time went one other super premium Canadian whiskies began to appear. Alberta Premium’s ridiculously low-priced 25 Year Old Whisky was introduced in 2007 (only $30 a bottle) followed by a more moderately priced 30-year-old offering five years later ($60.00 per bottle). Canadian Club joined the parade bringing forward their own Ultra Premium 30 Year Old offering and then making their 20-year-old whisky a permanent part of their whisky family. During all of this Highwood Distillers was quietly producing a premium 21-year-old 100 % corn whisky as well as their LOT 1525 which was a blending of premium whiskies aged 15 to 25 years.
As well as beginning to produce premium aged whiskies, Canadian distillers also started to innovate. Forty Creek was leading this innovation as John Hall began distilling and aging whisky from three separate grains blending them and then using unique casks to finish the job. In the US, more experimentation with our national spirit was underway as companies like 35 Maple Street in Sonoma California began to play with our straight Canadian Rye. Not to be outdone, Wiser’s and Crown Royal joined in each experimenting with new styles of oak barrels and new rye forward whiskies bringing more diversity to the spirit we call Canadian. In the midst of all of this, a distilling revolution began as micro distillers began popping up across the country each of them bringing a new twist to Canadian Whisky.
This all brings us to the present, 2015. Canadian Whisky is in demand in Canada (and all over the world) like never before. The spirit is now a more varied and diverse than it ever was. Speaking in ‘whisky terms’, it is a great time to be a Canadian!
Which brings me to my yearly list, The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2015. In compiling my list this year, I gathered a couple of friends and together we sampled from my collection of Canadian Whiskies over a series of several weeks in October. I had my friends score the spirits using my scoring system, and then I averaged the scores (along with my review score) to create the final list.
25) Windsor Canadian (86)
24) J.P. Wiser’s Hopped (86.5)
23) Crown Royal Monarch 75th Anniversary Blend (86.5)
22) Canadian Club 20 Yr Old Whisky (88)
21) Centennial Rye Whisky (NAS) (88)
20) Pendleton 1910 (Aged 12 Years) Canadian Whisky (88)
19) Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve Whisky (88.5)
18) Gooderham and Worts 4 Grain Canadian Whisky (88.5)
17) Wiser’s Small Batch (88.5)
16) Coyote Ugly Canadian Whisky (89)
15) Century Reserve 21 Year Old (89)
14) Alberta Springs Canadian Whisky (89.5)
13) Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve Canadian Whisky (89.5)
12) Canadian Club Chairman’s Select – 100% Rye (90)
11) Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Year Old (90)
10) Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still Canadian Whisky (2012 Edition) (90.5)
09) Century Reserve (Lot 1525) Canadian Rye Whisky (90.5)
08) Wiser’s Legacy (91)
07) Crown Royal Reserve (91.5)
06) J.P. Wiser’s 18 Years Old (2015 Release) (92.5)
05) Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye Whisky (93)
04) Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky (93.5)
03) Wiser’s Red Letter Canadian Whisky (2013 Release) (94)
02) Crown Royal Hand Selected Barrel (94.5)
01) Canadian Rockies 21 Year Old (Batch 001) (95)