Saturday, April 5, 2014

The mystique of Canadian whisky

The mystique of Canadian whisky

By Kate Hoshimiya
The Daily Magi
November 29, 2067

Canadian whisky is a type of whisky produced in Canada. Most Canadian whiskies are blended multi-grain liquors containing a large percentage of corn spirits, and are typically lighter and smoother than other whisky styles. Several hundred years ago, when Canadian distillers began adding small amounts of highly-flavorful rye grain to their mashes people began demanding this new rye-flavored whisky, referring to it simply as "rye." Today, as for the past two centuries the terms "rye whisky" and "Canadian whisky" are used interchangeably in Canada and refer to exactly the same product.

While the lighter and smoother Canadian whiskies are the most widely familiar, the range of products is actually broad and includes some robust whiskies as well.

Historically, in Canada, whisky that had some rye grain added to the mash bill to give it more flavour came to be called “rye”. Although some Canadian whiskies are still labelled as “rye”, Canadian “rye” whisky usually contains high-proof grain whisky blended with lower-proof rye-grain whisky and Canadian-made "bourbon-style" corn whisky as flavouring. Occasionally barley whisky is also used for flavouring. Flavour may also derived in other ways, such as flavour development from the aging process. It is a common misconception that Canadian whiskies are primarily made using just rye grain. The use of rye grain is not dictated by law, and the primary grain used to make most Canadian whisky is corn.

According to the laws of Canada, a Canadian whisky must be mashed, distilled and aged in Canada. As with Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey, the alcohol content of the spirits used may exceed 90%. Thus, much of the spirits used in making a Canadian whisky, prior to aging, may have less grain-derived flavour than typical single malts or U.S. "straight" whiskeys. To improve marketability, it may contain caramel (as may Scotch) and flavouring, in addition to the distilled mash spirits.

All spirits used in making a Canadian whisky must be aged for at least three years in wooden barrels of not greater than 700 L capacity (a requirement similar to that for Scotch and Irish whisky and longer than for American straight whisky). The final whisky must contain at least 40 percent alcohol by volume. No distinction is made between the quality of the barrels - new or used, charred or uncharred may be filled for aging.

Canadian whisky is recognized internationally as an indigenous product of Canada. Products labelled as Canadian whisky must satisfy the laws of Canada that regulate the manufacture of Canadian whisky for consumption in Canada. When sold in another country, Canadian whisky is typically also required to conform to the local product requirements that apply to whisky in general when sold in that country, which may in some aspects involve stricter or less stringent standards than the Canadian law. Canadian products aged less than three years or not in "small wood" barrels (or failing to meet the domestic Canadian whisky standards in some other way) cannot be called "Canadian whisky" within Canada and in some other countries (such as the U.S.).

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