Many brands vie for the title of best Canadian whiskey. This list includes recommendations based on different aging techniques, flavors, and other factors that you can find in the best Canadian whiskey brands.
How We Chose Our Ratings
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The Canadian whiskeys on this list will be rated based on a five-star system. All of the products will be rated on their method of production, final blend, and taste to determine the best Canadian whiskey.
The rating will also take the brand producing the whiskey into account. This list looks at the brand’s history, its various lines of Canadian whiskey, and its reputation as a Canadian whiskey provider.
All brands were limited to one entrant. Some of them may share a parent company, but the intention is to look at specific lines of Canadian whiskey and rate them, not the companies that produce them.
The ratings also take into account public perception of each entry on our list. Other tasters and reviewer’s opinions were taken into consideration when determining the best Canadian whiskey.
The intention of this list is to recommend several top Canadian whiskeys. Some enthusiasts prefer sweeter Canadian whiskeys, while others prefer bitter whiskeys. Entries on this list should be diverse enough to satisfy both types of Canadian whiskey drinkers.
Most importantly, however, the best Canadian whiskeys (or whisky, as Canadian producers prefer to call it) will be determined by flavor and favor. The intention is for this list to up to date, so many of these whiskeys are currently very popular, and testers speak well of the final product.
Note that a low star rating doesn’t mean the whiskey is bad. This list is to determine the best Canadian whiskey, so a low star rating here still puts it above the average Canadian whiskey.
Top 6 Best Canadian Whiskeys
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This list is of what we consider to be the best Canadian whiskeys. Every entry below is worth your consideration if you’re a connoisseur, but each has its own unique quirks and flavor profiles.
One of the unique things about Canadian whiskey is that the rye is added at the end of blends, instead of the beginning. This allows Canadian whiskey to have far greater differences in flavor profile and the contents of the mixture than other whiskey types.
J.P. Wiser’s 35-year old Whiskey was voted the Canadian Whiskey of The Year by the Canadian Whisky Awards in Victoria for 2018. Its base is heavily made out of corn, though it contains about 10% column and pot distilled rye.
Since corn is a sweeter base, even mixed with other ingredients its smell has been described as that of apricots, green apples, or plums. When you taste it though, the rye gives it a bitter aftertaste as well. Some described it as similar to a wood fire, or the taste of black peppers.
The 35-year old whiskey reuses casks, so it picks up many flavors from previous drinks. It is also a mix of all four grains (corn, barley, wheat, and rye), so it does not have a simple taste.
J.P. Wiser’s 35-Year Old Canadian Whiskey might be the most diverse entrant on our list. The list of ingredients is certainly big for a Canadian whiskey. Overall though, it averages out to a sweet whiskey taste that many agreed reminded them of fruit drinks in some regard.
The J.P. Wiser 35-Year Old Whiskey is a five-star Canadian whiskey. It has a complex taste added to it from both fruity and bitter flavors. If you prefer a complicated drink, which is first and foremost sweet and fruity, then the 35-Year Old is the best whiskey of 2018.
The Forty Creek Heritage Canadian Whiskey is considered one of the best new whiskeys in the market. It is made from barley, corn, and rye, without any wheat in the mix.
Forty Creek Heritage is a very thick whiskey. Forty Creek is known for using thick sweeteners like molasses or maple syrup or at least making their drinks taste like them. As a result, their whiskeys are usually on the sweeter side, and Forty Creek Heritage is no exception.
The Heritage is a bit of a reverse from our previous entry. Many testers noted it smells like strong ginger, and the rye is immediately apparent. When tasted, however, the most notable ingredient was vanilla.
Just like the J.P. Wiser 35-Year Old Whiskey, Forty Creek Heritage is thicker than most whiskeys. Some described it as creamy, and it is definitely sweeter than average. It also utilizes more ingredients than other, simpler Canadian whiskeys.
The Forty Creek Heritage earns a four and a half star rating. It’s new, and it has a strong flavor, but it may not appeal to those who prefer a more earthy whiskey. It is also styled after a previous whiskey, as its creators said it is a reinvention of their Forty Creek Three Grain Whiskey.
Pike Creek is a good brand for Canadian whiskey overall. Pike Creek whiskey is finished, which means the final product is moved to new barrels for several months. The new barrels are often from a different product, with the intention of adding a few new tastes to the mix.
What makes the 21-Year Old unique is that it is finished in casks imported from Speyside in Scotland. The casks were used for a single malt before being shipped to Canada, and so the blend makes this completely different from normal Pike Creek whiskeys.
The Pike Creek 21-Year Old finish is also not spiked with rum or mixed with a port like most Pike Creek whiskeys. Pike Creek also intentionally goes light on the rye in their whiskey.
If you dislike bitter whiskey or want someone to try a rye whiskey with only a small amount of rye, the 21-Year Old can help. It’s described as tasting subtly sweet like honey. All tasters noted however that it has an aftertaste that’s similar to pepper, and that lasts a long time.
The Pike Creek 21-Year Old receives a three-star rating from us. It is neither as sweet as some of the recommendations on this list nor particularly bitter and earthy. While the imported barrels make it taste unique, it doesn’t stand out against other Canadian whiskeys. It does, however, set itself entirely apart from the rest of Pike Creek’s catalog, and has its place on their shelves.
Many testers claimed that J.P. Wiser’s 35-Year Old Canadian Whiskey was the best sweet whiskey in 2018. Just as many people have said that Lot No. 40 is the best Canadian whiskey with a bitter taste.
Lot No. 40 has forty-three percent ABV (alcohol by volume) and leans heavily into the rye part of rye whiskey. The rye is apparent in the smell and the taste, along with the taste of pepper, and what some described as freshly baked bread.
Where other Canadian whiskeys try to mask the taste of the grains, Lot No. 40 makes them take front and center in all regards. The standard blend for Lot No. 40 is over ninety percent rye, and ten percent malted rye.
Lot No. 40 is the earthiest Canadian whiskey on this list, and among the earthiest Canadian whiskey, you can obtain. It has been considered a premium line of Canadian whiskey since its reintroduction in 2012. It is not a limited run whiskey like many of its competitors.
The rating for Lot No. 40 Canadian whiskey is an easy five stars. It is not for every Canadian whiskey drinker, but it is very clear about that. For those who want a spicy, rye flavored whiskey, or have an earthy pallet, this whiskey has the highest of recommendations.
Crown Royal reserve is one of the oldest Canadian whiskeys to make our list. It was initially released in 1992 as Crown Royal Special Reserve, but the Special was eventually dropped. It still sees annual release and has become the most iconic Canadian whiskey in the world.
The Crown Royal Reserve is bitter whiskey that uses rye as the foremost grain. You can taste cinnamon, pepper, and other complementary ingredients immediately from the first sip.
Rye doesn’t have a particularly strong smell. For that reason, brown sugar and maple syrup were added to the mixture. You can get hints of both of these smells in a bottle of Crown Royal Reserve the moment you open the bottle.
The whiskey itself is thin. For those who want a Canadian whiskey they can pour on ice or sip casually, this is preferable. If you like a thicker drink similar to cream or tea, however, you may want to choose a corn-based Canadian whiskey instead.
It is a relatively simple whiskey with few ingredients. That means flavors from the cask, from the grains, and from other earthy sources are more pronounced. Crown Royal Reserve isn’t a limited edition whiskey either, which makes this possibly the best Canadian whiskey you can easily acquire a bottle of.
Crown Royal Reserve receive a three-star rating. It is a Canadian whiskey that emphasizes its rye component, similar to Lot No. 40. It uses corn and some sweet ingredients to balance out the flavor, however. It can still be heartily recommended to any Canadian whiskey drinkers who enjoy a bitter or earthy drink, though.
Tangle Ridge Canadian Whiskey
Tangle Ridge Canadian whiskey is another new entry into Canadian whiskey. It’s also unique because it uses a one hundred percent rye base. Tangle Ridge whiskey is the only Canadian whiskey to employ a double cask aging method.
The rye is first aged for ten years in a single barrel. It is then removed, and mixed with sherry. The new blend is then put into reused casks taken from bourbon distilling, and is left to mix until the final product is at last distributed.
Tangle Ridge is easily one of the best Canadian whiskeys to use only rye as its base. It does use a mixture of vanilla and sherry to sweeten it, however. Surprisingly, this means it isn’t the most bitter Canadian whiskey on our list.
Tangle Ridge whiskey receive a three and a half star rating. Many of our fellow testers said the sweetening ingredients mellowed it out enough that they weren’t overwhelmed by the rye flavor. It is still a very earthy Canadian whiskey, however, and doesn’t push extremes the way some of our other recommendations do.
Canadian whiskey is unique because Canadian rye whiskey isn’t required to have any rye in it at all. This unique part of Canadian law is one of the reasons Canadian whiskeys can have so many unique blends.
When Canadian whiskey is made, each grain is fermented, distilled, and aged on its own. These can be corn, wheat, or barley. The producer then chooses to mix these in whatever proportion they deem appropriate. Finally, they add an amount of rye to even out the mix based on what they feel is appropriate.
When deciding what the best Canadian whiskey is for you, a lot of it will come down to your flavor pallet. Canadian whiskey with a lot of corn grain will be sweeter for example or may have extra rye to counteract that taste. Other Canadian whiskeys can be dryer and taste bitter.
Unlike many categories of alcohol, Canadian whiskeys don’t actually share much in common with each other. The only requirement to be a Canadian whiskey is that the whiskey must have been crafted in Canada. The name doesn’t suggest anything else about the drinks themselves.
If you want to purchase a sweet or thick Canadian whiskey, we recommend a corn-based whiskey like the J.P. Wiser or Forty Creeks listed above. They’re easier for newcomers to Canadian whiskey, or for those who have a hard time dealing with bitter flavors.
If you want a taste akin to more traditional whiskey though, you should look for rye or wheat based whiskeys instead. These whiskeys can be bitter or tangy, and some have said they have a citric flavor. Examples of whiskeys that fall into this category are the Crown Royal Reserve and Lot No. 40 mentioned above.