If there is a category of whisky that aficionados are quick to defame, its Canadian whisky.  Unfortunately, most of the negative stigma towards Canadian juice comes from the days in the early part of the 20th century when Canadian distilleries were simply shipping in hellacious swill from north of the border.  In some ways, that legacy lingers in that most Canadian whisky is used in mixed drinks, but there are also a number of Canadian whiskies that are well worth drinking neat for their own merits.  It is those whiskies I will be nominating here.

Name: Crown Royal 75th Anniversary Blend

Age: No Age Statement

Batch: 0068

Proof: 80 (40% abv)

Price: $70-80/750ml

Notes: This bottling was a limited edition to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Crown Royal brand.  There were several batches of this whiskey, and some of them may still be available if you look hard enough.  This particular batch was a rye-forward whisky that provided a very dry palate with a lot of rye spices and drying oak.  There was also some bitter dark chocolate and mocha, all balanced out by a lovely mango sweetness working its way through the whisky.  I only tried this one batch, but it was a worthwhile whisky for sure.

Name: Crown Royal Cornerstone Blend

Age: No Age Statement

Batch: N/A

Proof: 80.6 (40.3% abv)

Price: $60-70/750ml

Notes: This whiskey was the first release in Crown Royal’s Noble Collection, and it did not disappoint.  It is comprised of a corn whisky, a rye whisky, and a Coffee still whisky, blended together and shipped out in the iconic Crown Royal purple pouch.  This whisky is creamy all the way through with typical Crown Royal flavors of cherry vanilla and bitter oak.  The balance in this whisky is fantastic.  As this was a limited release, if this whisky interests you, go and get it now.

Name: Crown Royal Reserve

Age: No Age Statement

Batch: N/A

Proof: 80 (40% abv)

Price: $45-50/750ml

Notes: This is a cornerstone of Crown Royal’s Master Series, and its long been a go to gift bottle for me.  The flavors presented here are often crowd pleasers, dried pineapple, raisins, drying oak, and sautéed pears.  This is not an immensely complex whisky, but the flavors are well-presented and delicious.  This is certainly a benchmark of Canadian whisky, and it is readily available in almost every liquor store across America.

Name: Lot 40

Age: No Age Statement

Batch: N/A

Proof: 86 (43% abv)

Price: $50-60/750ml

Notes: This is a rye whisky out of the Hiram Walker distillery in Ontario, and although there is no age statement, most of what I have read indicates that this whisky is bottled around 7-8 years of age.  This is a classic rye profile, with fresh cut evergreen trees, vanilla extract, and freshly baked rye bread.  This can be a hard whisky to find in the United States, but I’m told that if you head north of the border, it’s not too hard to wrangle yourself up a bottle.

Name: Wiser’s 18 Year-Old (circa. 1975)

Age: 18 Years

Batch: N/A

Proof: 80 (40% abv)

Price: Unknown

Notes: Some time ago, a dear friend of mine’s grandfather tragically passed away sitting on a rather eclectic collection of spirits, some in miniatures, some in larger bottles, and my dear friend was kind enough to pass some of the whiskeys on to me.  One such whisky was this bottle of Wiser’s 18, which I have not been able to put a concrete date on, but as best I can figure it, this whisky was bottled around the mid-70’s.  Cracking this bottle open was a real treat and so was the whisky inside.  Unlike most Canadian whiskies nowadays, which are rye-based, this one tasted like it was based in malted barley.  Some of the heather notes common in Scotch single malts were present, coupled with a nutty sweetness, baking spices, cinnamon apples, orange peels, and creamy Amontillado sherry.  Nowadays, it is rare to find a Canadian whisky with any sherry influence, but forty years ago, sherry was a much more common drink, so sherry butts were easy to come by, not like today when sherry butts are a prized commodity for aging whisky.  Unless you are lucky enough to find a dusty bottle of this stuff, it’s gone for good, but it was a damn fine whisky.

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