Canada’s infamous 9.09% isn’t often talked about this side of the water, but we’ve broken it down so you have all the info you need for when you’re buying Canadian whisky.
What’s in a whisky?
Most whisky producing countries will have some kind of regulation regarding how that whisky is made, labelled and sold. Scotland have a lot of stipulations to protect both the consumer and the produce, as does America.
The question boils down to the very idea of what is a whisky? For example, in Scotland, it’s aged for a minimum of 3 years in oak barrels and in a Scottish distillery. This is the law at its most basic.
In Canada they have similar laws and one of those is that 9.09% of a blended Canadian whisky can be made from other stuff and still be called Canadian whisky. This is probably a bit more lax than most countries’ whisky laws, which strive to build integrity into the spirit
Legal and Flavoursome Complexity
However, we’re not talking any old liquid here. Canadian whisky is allowed by law to contain caramel colour and flavouring, but other than that, it has to taste and smell and have the general characteristics of Canadian whisky. So no throw any old thing in there.
Most importantly, it can include imported spirits. This means that Canadian blends can literally use other whiskies to enhance and improve the flavour. Take Wiser’s Union 53 or Alberta Premium Dark Horse for example. Both of those have used the law to improve the taste of their whiskies.
Alberta Premium Dark Horse uses 8% Old Grand-Dad Bourbon as well as a % of sherry to boost the flavours in the original whisky. The added sherry especially makes it an excellent blend for making cocktails.
Wiser’s Union 52 is another intriguing example as it uses 52 Year Old Scotch to add layers of flavour and complexity. You might balk at the thought of using such an old Scotch to improve a blend, but think about the intensity of flavour and just how damn good that Canadian blend must be.
What do you think of Canada’s 9.09% rule? Start the conversation in the comments!