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The Rum Howler – Top 50 Canadian Whiskies of 2016

rum-howler-top-50-2016I have been noticing an industry wide trend with respect to spirits in general, and whisky in particular. Decisions are being thrust upon brand owners based upon the economics of an industry which has seen its products become increasingly popular, while at the same time price sensitivity among consumers as a whole remains high.

In some cases, in order to keep up with demand and to keep prices in check, age statements are being dropped so that younger whiskies can be used in the blending, and in other cases barrel selection is changing with brands being blended with barrels which may have been re-used more often or which may reflect a younger average age for the blend despite the maintenance of an age statement.

I am not going to debate (at this time) the merit of industry choices as companies adapt to the marketplace. What I am going to do, is state that I have been noticing the differences when I taste the whisky which is being produced. For that reason, I have been revisiting many of my old reviews, and in a lot of cases not only are my scores changing, but my tasting notes are reflecting changes in taste profile as well.

This brings me to my yearly list, The Rum Howler – Top 50 Canadian Whiskies of 2016!

In compiling my list this year, I gathered as many of the newly bottled Canadian Whiskies as I could. This included both new brands as well as many of the whiskies which I had tasted and reviewed previously. I included all sample bottles I had received in 2015 and 2016; however, I did not include any samples from discontinued brands. I re-scored many of my reviews and when appropriate, and I wrote new tasting notes (and introductions when I felt the old information was no longer valid).


This means that this year’s Top Canadian Whiskies of 2016 list and the reviews of each spirit reflect how each of the various brands taste now, not how they tasted may have several years ago. The list is also the most comprehensive year-end list I have ever completed for the Canadian Whisky category. Fifty Canadian Whiskies have been included. Every one was acquired as a sample at some point during the last two years, and in order to determine the final rankings, I re-tasted whiskies with similar scores side by side in the months leading up to the presentation of this list with the newest bottling possible.

As always, I present my list in reverse order this year stating at number 50. The first 25 whiskies will be revealed in groups of five, and the last 25 will be published one at a time throughout the Month of December, all the way to Christmas Eve when the Best Canadian Whisky of 2016 will be unveiled.

I trust you will all enjoy the countdown!


50)  Canadian Mist   (80.5)
49)  Canadian Club Premium    (81)
48)  Gibson’s Finest Sterling Whisky   (81.5)
47)  J.P Wiser’s Double Still Rye   (82)
46)  Revel Stoke Deluxe  (82.5)

45)  Forty Creek Three Grain Harmony  (83.5)
44)  Crown Royal Deluxe    (83.5)
43)  Gibson’s Finest Bold  (83.5)
42)  Pike Creek 10 Year Old   (84)
41)  J.P. Wiser’s Deluxe  (84)

40)  Rich & Rare Reserve (Sazerac)   (84.5)
39)  Highwood Canadian Rye Whisky    (84.5)
38)  White Owl Whisky   (85)
37)  Collingwood Handcrafted Canadian Whisky   (85)
36)  Potters Special Old Rye Whisky   (85)
35)  Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old   (85)
34)  Legacy Small Batch (Sazerac)   (85)
33)  Canadian Club Small Batch Sherry Cask    (85.5)
32)  Tangle Ridge (Bourbon Casked)   (85.5) 
31)  Canadian Club Reserve (9 Year Old)    (85.5)
30)  Windsor Canadian   (85.5)
29)  Alberta Premium Canadian Whisky (85.5)
28)  Mt. Logan 5 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky  (86)
27)  Centennial Rye Whisky (NAS)   (86)
26)  Crown Royal Black    (86)
25)  Hiram Walker Special Old  (86)
24)  Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve Whisky (Lot 1867F)     (87)
23)  Crown Royal XO   (87)
22)  Ninety (Premium cask Aged) 5 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky  (87.5)
21)  Gooderham and Worts 4 Grain Canadian Whisky  (87.5)
20) Wiser’s Small Batch   (88)
19)  Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Year Old  (88)
18) Alberta Springs Canadian Whisky   (88)
17)  Canadian Club Small Batch Classic (12 Year Old)   (88)
16)  Coyote Ugly Canadian Whisky  (88.5)
15)  Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve Whisky   (88.5)
14)  Ethan Koll Rare 8 Year Old Canadian Whisky    (88.5)
13)  Crown Royal Reserve  (89.5)
12)  Crown Royal Northern Rye Canadian Whisky   (90)
11)  Forty Creek Founder’s Reserve  (90.5)

10)  Canadian Club Chairman’s Select – 100% Rye     (90.5)
09)  Lot No. 40 Rye Whisky  (91)

08)  Caribou Crossing Single Barrel Canadian Whisky  (91.5)
07)  Mt. Logan 15 Year Old (91.5)
06)  Century Reserve (Lot 1525) Canadian Rye Whisky (92)
05)  Wiser’s Legacy   (92)
04)  J.P. Wiser’s 18 Years Old    (92.5)
03)  Mt. Logan 20 Year Old    (93)
02)  Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky   (93)
01)  J.P. Wiser’s Red Letter Whisky (94)


6 Responses to “The Rum Howler – Top 50 Canadian Whiskies of 2016”

  1. Dwayne Stewart said

    Like you I’m a fan of the Highwood Ninety and Century releases. In regard to the Mt. Logan releases I find it interesting the exclusive retailer essentially is rebranding the same juice (5% lower abv in the case of the Ninety) and marketing it at a premium to Highwood’s products. Seeing the relative rankings in your list I think I’ll stick with the Highwood, at least till the clearance sales.

    • There are differences in the blends (at least by taste) but I certainly would not dissuade you from sticking with the Highwood Ninety branded whiskies, they are superb!

  2. Harry Goslin said

    Hey Chip,

    Is the Century Reserve 15/25 year old still available out west? It’s nowhere to be found in Ontario and I wasn’t sure it was even being produced anymore.

  3. Bob said

    Just wondering….have you noticed a difference in taste with the Gibsons 18 year old … it the same quality brand that I like , because they re branded it as VENERABLE ….

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