Friday, September 5, 2014

Canadian Whiskey

Last week I had a guest at the bar who wanted help narrowing down his whiskey preferences. He knew he liked whiskey and that it was good in mixed drinks, but he wasn’t sure which kind of whiskey he liked most. I made a variety of drinks for him, mostly very tropical and sweet to fit his palate, and discovered exactly what he thought. He liked Canadian whiskey.

Canadian whiskey is probably the easiest whiskey to mix with because it is always blended and very smooth. There’s no malting or smoking and the multiple distillations and aging in new oak pretty much mean that the only thing you taste is the alcohol and the barrel. In this way, Canadian whiskey is like the vodka of whiskeys.

That’s not to say that Canadian whiskey is inferior to scotch or bourbon, Irish or Japanese, it is just different. There are some outstanding blends like the one above that stand out very well on their own. They have their own distinctive flavor, more spicy than bourbon, milder than a rye, drier than most scotches—Canadian whiskey tends to have a strong alcohol burn with a light palate and soft oak notes. Some of the better blends like Crown Royal Reserve have milk chocolate flavors and a long-lasting finish.

Other Canadian whiskeys are the perfect price for experimenting by mixing with maple syrup in a Manhattan or a Canadian Dog Sled cocktail. The Blinker I made yesterday is made with Black Velvet, a 3 year old whiskey, that allowed the grapefruit flavors of the drink to stand in the forefront while keeping oak in reserve. Try mixing Canadian whiskey with pineapple juice and creme de cacao for a Kona Cooler or with light rum in a Lord Rodney. You’d be surprised how close to the tropics Canada can get with its whiskey.

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