Best Canada 150th Anniversary Bottlings / by Jason Hambrey

This, perhaps, has been the best year ever for Canadian Whisky. In additon to  the (significant) affirmation of the quality of Canadian Whisky from various world authories, let’s just take a look at the various limited edition bottlings released this year – the 150th anniversary of Canada.

There are actuallly many to list, so I want to present my favorite releases this year. Many of these represent some of the best Canadian whiskies ever released – it is no list to look down upon. Whisky has not under-represented Canada in 2017. Here are my top 12 (well 13, I picked all the very notable releases this year rather than just a top 10) limited edition offerings this year:

  1. Canadian Club 40 Year Old: Can anything else be said? The oldest whisky ever released, and, not a poor one - a whisky that in every way embodies the glory of aged whisky, with incredible subtelty and structure. Oh, what old corn whisky can accomplish in reused casks....
  2. Wiser’s 35 Year Old: It’s a shame, really, that this is not number 1 – in any „normal” year, this would be. A remarkable whisky, combining the glory and sharpness of rye with that of corn whisky. Containing all the remarkable subtlety and complexity of both extremely well-aged whisky and that of rye grain.
  3. J.P. Wiser’s Dissertation: talk about rye! This is one of the most intense, and focused, ryes I have ever tasted. Remarkably complex, too...
  4. Lot no. 40 Cask Strength: the full strength, more complex, and more developed Lot No. 40 – perhaps the epitomy of Canadian rye. 12 Years old at the cask strength of 55% – relatively low, at that, to retain all the magnificent characteristics of the grain and fermentation. Need I say more?
  5. Crown Royal Wine Barrel Finished: not high powered, but evolving and complex. This year’s edition of Crown Royals’ Noble Collection took all the best from wine casks and applied it to whisky. A brilliant release.
  6. Union 52: a mix of 52 year old Scotch with mature Canadian whisky. A long overdue, and well-deserved, combination.
  7. Stalk & Barrel #Canada150 Blend: The producers of some of the best rye whisky on the planet discovered a great 5 year old corn whisky to blend around – and the result was terrific once the malt and rye whiskies were blended in. And, notably, priced at $45 – the first whisky in my database produced by a micro-distillery to crack 90+ on my value score.
  8. Two Brewers Special Finishes: though based in the yukon territory,  two brewers is producing arguably the best single malt in Canada, having started to release 8 year old single malt whisky this year. Though all of their releases have been terrific, my favourite was release four which was matured for a year in a bourbon cask (and many otherwise). Incredible, Canadian Single Malt Whisky.
  9. Gooderham & Worts 17 (and Pike Creek 21): Two of the less heralded releases from the prestigious Wiser’s Northern Border Collection – statement whiskies communicating the impact of blending and also imposing the glory of Canadian whisky on the world market, where scotch is the by-product of preparing barrels for Canadian whisky maturation!
  10. Forty Creek Heritage: A Forty Creek limited edition, which have provided some of the best whiskies ever released in Canada. This edition has been a star amidst the past two years of dissapointing releases, reclaiming the remarkable Forty Creek’s position of a leader in craft Canadian whisky with it’s rich character with the impact of blending communicated perfectly in the essense of the whisky
  11. Collingwood Town Collection Double Barreled: A very floral (roses, if I ever smelled them) and woody whisky, this 45% Collingwood product not only ups the flavor but also the quality and complexity of the usual stuff. It got a bit overlooked this year...
  12. J.P. Wiser’s One Fifty Commemorative Whisky – An easy, 16 year old whisky with a nice creamy based and spice to back it up. Each bottle was numbered to represent a particular week of Canada’s history.

And, yes, quite a year for Wiser’s, too....