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Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

On My DeckLast year I embarked on a mission to determine the very best whiskies that Canada had to offer. To compile my list, I began by examining all of my Whisky Reviews and by referring to all of my scoring and tasting notes from each year that I served as juror for the Canadian Whisky Awards. In all, I examined tasting notes and scores for close to 100 different Canadian whiskies which were currently available in the market as I compiled my list. There was no way I could account for every Canadian Whisky in existence; however, I feel confident that my examination was as thorough as was reasonably possible, and that my resulting list represented the best possible effort which could be made at that time. Based upon those examinations, I narrowed my list of almost 100 whiskies to 40 great Canadian Whisky contenders. At that point I set out to acquire samples of each of these whiskies for my Tasting Group’s analysis. Although some of these whiskies were already in my possession, I sent a call out to industry and acquired the other samples I needed for the task. After that, my friends (The Rum Chums) and I tasted and judged that selection over a period of a few weeks. The result was The 2013 Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies.

This year we have seen the arrival of several new Canadian whiskies, and the disappearance of several of the Limited Edition whiskies which had made last year’s list. Some producers have made changes to their brands, and some of those brands may have (in my opinion) evolved or changed in other ways during the past year. To account for these possible changes I recompiled my list based upon all of the new Canadian whiskies I have sampled during the past year, as well as older brands I re-sampled.

This year’s list is based upon my perceptions alone, as unfortunately, I did not have time to gather my friends for additional tastings. However, I feel just as confident this year that my efforts represent the best effort possible at this time.

The list will be presented “Countdown Style” during the month of December with the best Canadian Whisky of 2014 revealed on December 24, 2014 just in time for you to grab a bottle for Christmas and New Year’s cheer! As you return to this page (beginning November 30) a new whisky will be revealed each day as I count down to the Rum Howler’s Selection of the World’s Best Canadian Whisky of 2014!

As so with no further ado, allow me to present my list of The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014:


25)  Ninety (Premium cask Aged) 5 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky  (88)
24)  Hiram Walker Special Old    (88)
23)  Canadian Club Small Batch Classic (12 Year Old)    (88)
22)  Masterson’s 12-Year-Old Straight Wheat Whiskey     (89)
21)  Potters Special Old Rye Whisky (89.5)
20)  Crown Royal Reserve    (89.5)
19)  Schenley OFC Canadian Whisky      (89.5)
18)  Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve Canadian Whisky   (89.5)
17)  Canadian Club 20 Yr Old Whisky    (90)
16)  Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve Whisky   (90)
15)  Wiser’s Small Batch    (90.5)
14)  Canadian Club Chairman’s Select – 100% Rye   90.5
13)  Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year Old Canadian Whisky    (90.5)
12)  Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old    (91)
11)  Century Reserve 21 Year Old    (91.5)
10)  Pendleton 1910 (Aged 12 Years) Canadian Whisky    (91.5)
09)  Wiser’s Legacy    (92)
08)  Alberta Springs Canadian Whisky    (92)
07)  Century Reserve (Lot 1525) Canadian Rye Whisky    (92.5)
06)  Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still Canadian Whisky    (93)
05)  Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky  (93)
04)  Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Year Old   (93)
03)  Crown Royal Cask 16   (93.5)
02)  Wiser’s 18 Years Old Limited Release Canadian Whisky (2014 Edition)   (93.5)
01)  Wiser’s Red Letter Canadian Whisky (2013 Release)    (95)





26 Responses to “Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014”

  1. Jonathan NY said

    Nice list

  2. Peter said

    I just purchased Red Letter and now I have most of your top 25 in my bar. (With the exception of those I cannot find or not available here). Filled in the top 4 this week, yikes, my wallet took a beating filling the final 4 slots.

    I hope you re-review Pike Creek in 2015. I don’t feel it is a 85/100, tastes too good neat.

    • Peter said

      Follow up to the Red Letter,

      OMG, smoother than Cask 16 at 45% ABV. Need to exercise control on this one.

  3. Peter said

    Hey Chip, was Collingwood 21 years tested for this list. I have an unopened bottle and am still torn between hoarding it and opening it.

    • I tasted the Collingwood 21 a few times last year (at judging events and festivals) and determined that it would not make the list for this year. When I get s full bottle for review later this year, I will be able to give the brand a more thorough evaluation. (Sometime my opinion changes when I can taste a spirit in isolation untainted by what I have tasted previously.)

  4. Peter said

    Did you get a chance to try the FC Evolution and what were your thoughts? I seem to remember you were awaiting the release and had placed an order.
    I have sipped at half my bottle and would rate it higher than Copper Pot as a sipper and CP came in at #16 (In CP’s defense it is a fantastic mixer and at 55% less the cost of FCE it deserves the rating)

    Fantastic list as always and Merry Christmas

  5. Mike said

    You might be interested to know that there is a new Crown Royal called XO, also finished in cognac casks, but half the price of Cask No. 16. Currently available in the US. I tried it and found it quite similar to No. 16 though I was comparing from memory.

    • Hi Mike

      Based upon the desriptions on the Crown Roayal website, the two whiskies sound very similar. I do believe that Cask 16 undergoes a slightly different cask selection process, but I have no specifics to offer at this time. I do know that I have loved Cask No. 16. ever since I first tried it five years ago, and it seems to have retained its quality over the years.

  6. Peter said

    Starting to think FC Evolution will not make the list. No big deal as I have yet to find a whiskey I like more than Highwood Ninety. So smooth and delicious at 90 proof is a testament to this distillery.

  7. Gerard said

    Hi Chip,

    I love the site and the top 25 countdown. Did you get a chance to try the Crown Royal Monarch? I didn’t see a review on the site, but wonder if it might be in contention to be in the top 25 if you tried it. I’m torn trying to choose between it and Wiser’s Red Letter as my next purchase.


    • I am glad you like the countdown. Can’t give you any spoilers though ….

      • Gerard said

        That’s understandable!

        I bought the Monarch.

        I think it’s stunning. So much so that I want to buy a second bottle to hoard, after only 2 smallish drinks from the first bottle.

      • Gerard said

        Hey Chip – wow, I’m really surprised the CR Monarch didn’t make the list. Is that a result of you not trying it, or a result of you trying it and not finding it good enough to make the list? I personally cannot see the Monarch rating less than an 88, and I would surely place it above the lowest rated whisky on your list that I have tried (Canadian Club Small Batch 12 Year Old).

        I’m soon picking up a bottle of the Red Letter, though!

        • A bottle of Monarch did not make it too me this year, hopefully next year I will taste and review it.

          • Gerard said

            Well Chip… as you can see above, I stated that I couldn’t imagine you rating the Monarch less than 88 points, which would have put it on your Best Canadian Whiskies of 2014 list.

            Alas, you rated it 87.5! Oh so close!

            Comments are not open on your CR Monarch review… I have noticed some reviews allow comments and some don’t. Any particular reasoning for that?

            • Hi Gerald

              You must comment using the front page posting for the article rather than the actual review page. FYI: Comments remain open for only 60 days and then they automatically shut off. I am hoping that 60 days is a long enough for my regular readers to leave a comment if they so wish. I had to do this to control the sheer volume of comments I was getting (up to 100 a day).

              Unfortunately many people who leave comments make misleading or outright fabricated statements. Because I am legally responsible for the content on my site, I had to find a manageable way to vett these comments. Certain articles like my TOP 25 Canadian Whisky Page were purposefully left open for longer than 60 days as I felt pages of this nature might generate worthwhile comments for up to 6 months.

  8. Dan said

    Hi Chip, thanks for the countdown, even though I follow your blog off and on I just discovered this list.

    On a whim I’d picked up a bottle of the Ninety 5-year here in Vancouver as I was looking for a good cheap whisky. At $24.99 it didn’t disappoint and researching it is what landed me here.

    Since then I’ve grabbed a bottle of the CC 12 year which I enjoyed a bit more than the Ninety.

    Tonight on my way home from work I’ll grab either the Forty Creek Copper Pot or the Wiser’s Small batch.

    My goal here is to find some favorites in the $25-30 range.

    Looking forward to trying a few more as they are unveiled.

    thanks again and cheers!

  9. Peter said

    Have never seen the Masterson’s 12 years, only the 10 is in Ontario and at $75 a bottle.

    Purchased Highwood Ninety at less the $50 and Collingwood 21 for $57 and they are as good as it gets.

  10. Peter said

    Awaiting your Forty Creek Evolution rank and will anybody beat Highwood Ninety

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