The Canadian Whisky Awards 2017 / by Jason Hambrey

I recently attended a dinner regarding the Canadian whisky awards, for which you can see the 2015 results here, and, I thought it appropriate to post here on their merit. The Canadian Whisky Awards is composed of an international panel of experienced whisky tasters, typically of a size of 10, with Davin De Kergommeaux, former Malt Maniac and Mr. Canadian Whisky as the head judge and organizer. Here is what makes the awards unique:

  • It is completely independent and non-profit. The judges take no compensation. Some awards require memberships and high fees, etc. - this is not the case for the non-profit awards here.
  • The tastings are all done blind over the course of a month, with the judges not taking any sort of compensation and no membership fees, etc. for the participants in the competition. What is more, the blind judging over a month enables judges to take more time with the whiskies, rather than some competitions which blitz through whisky after whisky.
  • Only Canadian whisky is judged, in both the whisky and flavored whisky category.
  • Having a panel ensures that the best whisky selections are based on multiple preferences, not that of a single person's preference, ensuring good selection of the best whiskies.

More info from the Canadian Whisky Awards Factsheet:

Canadian Whisky Awards Factsheet

 Canadian Industry Background

The Canadian whisky industry has a rich history that goes back almost 250 years. By the late 1840’s, over 200 distilleries were in operation in Canada. Canada was once home to the largest distiller in the world, the Seagrams Distillery, based in Montreal, Quebec.  The Gooderham and Worts Distillery in Toronto’s (now known as the Distillery district) played an important role in the growth and wealth of the nation and once contributed more to the federal coffers than any other enterprise in the country. Today, that number has fallen to 200 but the quantity has only continued to increase.

Canadian Whisky Awards Background

Founded in 2010, the Canadian Whisky Awards recognizes the very best Canadian whiskies and encourages distillers to maintain the highest standards for making whisky. Entries into the awards competition are received from distillers operating across Canada.  The Canadian Whisky Awards operate on a not-for-profit basis, and are judged blind. They have always been independent of the whisky industry.

Founder and Host

Davin de Kergommeaux is a certified Malt Maniac and a trained sommelier.  For more than two decades he has been an independent commentator analyzing, writing and talking about whisky.  Davin has been frequently called upon to judge at international whisky competitions including the World Whisky Awards.  Since 2003 he has served as a judge for the annual Malt Maniacs Awards.

Qualifications

To qualify for the Canadian Whisky Awards, a whisky must be distilled and matured in Canada for a minimum of three years.

Selection Process

Entries are solicited from whisky producers.  To encourage broad participation, the panel of judges only reveals the names of the winners.  A roster of eminent judges pick the winning whiskies on a blind tasting basis based on a standardized score sheet. 

Categories

Winners receive gold, silver and bronze medals. Top winners in each category receive award certificates.

 Categories include:

  • Canadian Whisky of the Year
  • Award of Excellence – Best New Whisky
  • Award of Excellence – Innovation
  • Award of Excellence – Canadian Whisky Profile
  • Award of Excellence – Line Extension
  • Award of Excellence – Artisanal Distiller of the Year
  • Connoisseur Whisky of the Year (one award each for products intended for Domestic, Export, or Multi-year markets)
  • Sippin’ Whisky of the Year (one award each for products intended for Domestic, Export, or Multi-markets)
  • Value Whisky of the Year (one award each for products intended for Domestic, Export, or Multi-markets)
  • Flavoured Whisky of the Year (one award each for products intended for Domestic, Export, or Multi-markets)

Previous Winners

  • 2010 Forty Creek Confederation Oak
  • 2011 Forty Creek John’s Private Cask No. 1
  • 2012 Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve (2012 edition)
  • 2013 Lot No. 40
  • 2014 Collingwood 21-Year-Old Rye
  • 2015 Lot No. 40
  • 2015 Sippin’ Whisky of the year Canadian Club 100% Rye
  • 2015 Best New Whisky – Gooderham & Worts

Official Canadian Whisky Awards

The Canadian Whisky Awards are announced and awarded in conjunction with the Victoria Whisky Festival. Winners will be announced on Thursday, January 19, 2017.