What makes it "Canadian" whiskey?

…besides being made in Canada. I know what makes bourbon, rye, single malt, Irish, and the various blends, but what’s so special about Canadian? It definitely tastes different than the other styles…Is there a best brand?

I think its because its usually because its Rye Whisky and not Burbon Whisky like most US Whisky.

BTW - Is there an “E” in “Whisky?”

Seagram’s is widely considered to be the best brand. And it is Canadian.

wisky or whiskey it does not seem to matter.

Personally, I am not a big Rye Whiskey drinker, but I do prefer Alberta Premium.

No cites, but I’ve heard the story that when Scottish settlers arrived in Canada, they tried to recreate the whisky they made back in Scotland. Problem was that at that time, there was very little barley available for whisky-making. So they used what was freely and widely available: rye. Because of rye whisky originally coming from Canada, it became known as Canadian whisky.

I don’t know how true it is, although given the amounts of Canadian beer produced, the supply of barley is obviously no longer a concern for our beverage alcohol industry. But it’s an interesting story.

Nowadays, rye whisky can be produced anywhere. But I believe that only the rye whisky that is produced in Canada can legally be called “Canadian.”

As for what’s best, it’s more a matter of opinion than anything. When it comes to rye, I like Crown Royal, my sister prefers Canadian Club, and my father was always partial to Corby’s Royal Reserve. Needless to say, during the rare times that we can get together, rye is rarely served.

Wait, I found an interesting link: an explanation of the different kinds of whiskies, from the Canadian Club site. It’s a little heavy on the “our whisky is the best” kind of marketing, but it helps to answer your question. The rest of the site is worth a look too.

Repeat after me:

Canadian Whiskey is not Rye Whiskey

If you go into a bar in the U.S. and order “Rye Whiskey”, you are as likely as not to get Canadian Whiskey. Unfortunately, this leads some poor unsuspecting slobs to say (after washing the vile flavor of the Canadian Whiskey out with soap and water), “I guess I don’t like rye whiskey.”

Candadian Whiskey is not Rye Whiskey

A product cannot be bottled as “Rye Whiskey” in the U.S. unless it is made with at least 51% rye. About the time of Prohibition, it was indeed the case that most Canadian Whiskey was made with mostly rye. But there was no law mandating that state of affairs, and in recent decades, all or almost all Canadian whiskey is made with mostly corn (maize), with smaller amounts of wheat and barley. The amount of rye is small indeed compared to Rye Whiskey.

(Not meant to be a hijack - more of a sidebar) I one tried Japanese Scotch. I swear it tased like bar-rail Canadian.

So, are you saying that most Canadian Whiskeys are not a rye whiskey?

If so, I don’t know if I believe that. I have yet to go see a bottle that is not labled “Canadian Rye Whiskey.” That is not to say such an animal does not exist but the vast majority for sale do say “RYE”. Can they call it a “Rye” whiskey and still make it with corn products as you mention? How can you tell if its made with corn? Does it have to say? If so, I’ve yet to seen one in a store up here.

I’ve had a lot of different rye whiskies, and a few Canadian whiskies (Crown, Seagram’s). The Canadian didn’t taste like the rye I’ve had and vice versa. The percentage thing is useful for U.S. standards, though how a product that uses 51% corn and isn’t even made in Kentucky (let alone Bourbon County!) can legally be called “bourbon” is beyond me. I would have guessed Canadian whisky uses some kind of blending trick to obtain the flavor but I’m not sure. Is it aged a certain amount of time in certain kinds of barrels? It probably depends on which product your dealing with, but Canadian whisky is either a WAY superior rye blend or U.S. rye is made differently because they don’t taste the same at all. Amongst whisky drinkers I’ve known, they almost always turn up their nose for rye, but they’ll drink Crown or Seagram’s 7, maybe it’s a brand name thing…

The difference is that Scotch Whisky has no “e” and Irish Whiskey does. All the pretenders are something else. My favorite is Johnny Walker Gold, a blended Scotch Whisky. And the people from Scotland are scottish or scots, never Scotch, which is either booze or a kind of tape.

It likes hockey.

bernse I think it boils down to different defintions used by the two governments. I don’t remember seeing the word “rye” on any bottle of Canadian Whiskey sold in the U.S., but I will check the labels when I’m at the liquor store later today. Canadian whiskey is typically made with only about 10-15% rye IIRC, but there may be some brands that are over the 51% limit used in the U.S.

Genuine American Rye Whiskey isn’t always easy to find even in the States. Jim Beam Rye (as distinct from Jim Beam Bourbon), Wild Turkey Rye (as distinct from Wild Turkey Bourbon) and Old Overholt are probably the easiest brands to find. “Old Overcoat”, as it’s sometimes called, is one of the best whiskeys I’ve had for the money, but it’s not as good as good Scotch. Canadian whiskey does have one thing going for it: it’s usually aged about 6 years instead of about 4 for American Rye. One American Rye, Rip van Winkle Rye, is aged 12 years, but I’ve never had it.

I’ll do some window shopping…yeah at a Liquor store today just to verify on my side too.

Try Old Potrero single-malt straight rye whiskey, distilled in San Francisco. It’s made in small batches from 100% rye malt. But don’t try too much…the proof is 125. A thimbleful after a special dinner is very nice, as an alternative to a cognac or an armagnac.

Just back from the liquor store in New Hampshire. I checked the labels of about a dozen different kinds of Canadian Whiskey, and not one of them mentions rye. I suspect the U.S. 51% rule is at play.

I bought a very small bottle of Seagrams VO Canadian Whiskey to remind me of the flavor. I don’t think I ever had that brand before, but it’s better than I remember Canadian Whiskey being. I still prefer American Rye, but I can see where some people might prefer the less bold taste of Canadian Whiskey. The price of Old Overholt and Seagrams VO is exactly the same: $10.99 for 750 ml.

Well, it looks like I may have to take my foot out of my mouth. Upon a visit to my local alcohol vendor, I went to the Whisky section. At least 1/2 just said “Canadian Whisky”. The other said “Canadian Rye Whisky”. I always buy a “Canadian Rye Whisky” brands myself, and I thought they all said it… apparantly not.

Now I am curious though as to what the “Rye” content of our Rye Whisky is compared to the US. I’m trying to investigate that. I know it tastes a hell of a lot better, thats for sure… :wink:

I think what we have here are two different interpretations of the word “rye.”

I’m in Canada. Here, in bars and liquor stores, we don’t ask for “Canadian whisky.” At least, neither my friends nor myself ever has. We ask for “rye,” and we get Crown Royal, Seagrams VO, Black Velvet, Canadian Club, or whatever brand happens to be our choice.

However, according to Seagram’s brand listing, such choices as Crown Royal and Seagrams VO are “Canadian whisky.”

But in our bars and liquor stores, we’d call them “rye,” and we’d be understood. Frankly, up here, I’ve never had a rye (or a Canadian whisky) that wasn’t made in Canada. I don’t even know if such things are available here. Guess you have to make a distinction when you ask for this (these?) kinds of whisky in the US, however.