The Great White North Heads South

Canadian whisky aims to reclaim its US base.

 

Canadian whisky is hardly a newcomer to the spirits world. Our neighbors to the north first started distilling whisky (the 'e' is dropped like its spirited Scottish counterpart) in the 1700s, but American consumption of this liquor didn’t really take off until the advent of Prohibition, when it was so easy to smuggle mass quantities across the US-Canadian border.

Canadian whisky still has a loyal fan base in the States, but over the years, it has lost ground to other styles as tastes have fluctuated. But this venerable spirit is getting in front of a new generation of drinkers now, thanks to brands like Canadian Club, which recently started a multimedia commercial campaign in earnest and has introduced a variety of unique expressions into the market, such as Canadian Club Sherry Cask—aged in oak and matured in sherry casks—and Classic 12-Year.

In general, Canadian whisky is a blend of separate distillates, at least half of which must be a neutral grain spirit. Just like bourbon or Scotch, Canadian whisky is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years. The result is an extremely smooth spirit with a dry finish that’s easy to enjoy on its own or in cocktails. It’s a great base for long drinks with lots of ice, where flavor is needed without a lot of bite, and it melds extremely well with a variety of liqueurs and bitters.

Canadian Cooler
2 oz  Canadian Club
1 oz’ B&B
2 dashes’  Angostura bitters, Ginger beer, Mint sprig

This long drink is perfect for sipping in the shade—an adult iced tea of sorts. The spice of the B&B, bitters and ginger beer is backed up nicely by the smooth whisky. Stir the whisky, B&B and bitters briefly in a mixing glass to incorporate, then strain into a Collins glass filled with crushed ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a mint sprig.

 

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Photo credit: Kelly Wright

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