Liquor Laboratory

14 Best Canadian Whisky Brands You Should Try (2023 Edition)

Best Canadian Whisky 

Last Updated on December 16, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Whether you’re a massive fan of everything Canadian, such as maple syrup, hockey, and cold weather, one thing is for sure– Canadian whisky mustn’t be skipped. 

What makes Canadian whiskies unique? Canadian whiskies are aged for at least three years and must be at least 40% ABV. 

If you’re a beginner wanting to explore what Canada offers in the spirits world, we’ve narrowed down the best Canadian whisky brands you shouldn’t miss. 

Top 14 Canadian Whiskies To Try 

14. Gooderham & Worts 49 Wellington

Man Drinking Bottle of Gooderham & Worts 49 Wellington

Average Price: around $44/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 49% ABV 

Why We Like It: Looking for an excellent grain whisky? Then you should try this Gooderham & Worts 49 Wellington Canadian Whisky. 

For those unfamiliar with this brand, it contains various types of grains like malted barley, red winter wheat, rye malt, unmalted rye, wheat corn, and barley malt. 

It seems complex, but the blend of flavors is well-rounded, delivering good-tasting notes of pepper, honey, and spice along with the right proof.  

13. JP Wiser’s 15 Year Old

Bottle of JP Wiser's 15 Year Old on a Snow

Average Price: around $50/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: Although there are older Canadian whiskies on this list, nothing can beat JP Wiser’s 15-Year-Old whisky for its impressive tasting notes, which is just right given the aging process. 

It’s a combination of mature grain whiskies with some hint of rye spice.

It’s not too complex, and the mix of flavors, like the baking spices, dried fruit, green apple, and toffee, are savory. 

Significantly, you won’t have to break the bank to experience quality.  

12. Alberta Premium 30-Year-Old

Close Up Shot of Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Bottle

Average Price: around $49.95/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: One of the last remaining Canadian whisky brands introducing 100% rye whiskey in North America, Alberta Distillers Limited’s Alberta Premium 30-Year-Old is a blend of rye aged in oak tanks for 30 years. 

This smooth and creamy expression has a spicy caramel flavor with honey and vanilla.

We prefer drinking it straight or mixed with other drinks, making it an ideal choice for special occasions. 

This pure rye grain whisky is also quite affordable compared to the premium ones, yet the quality is competitive.

You shouldn’t miss this one, especially if you’re into old-aged spirits. 

11. Danfield’s Limited Edition 21 Year Old

Danfield's Limited Edition 21 Year Old Bottle and a Glass on Table

Average Price: around $45/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: Our list of the best Canadian whiskies won’t be completed without mentioning Danfield’s Limited Edition 21-Year-Old expression.

If you want the classic, this is your best bet. 

The slight bitterness with the flavor of Angostura bitters, at first sip, is apparent, but as you proceed, the oak and wood notes show up, balancing the flavors. 

This is not our favorite Canadian spirit, but it’s undeniably good, competing with the characters of Canadian Club 100% rye, Caribou Crossing Single Barrel, and JP Wiser’s. 

10. Lock Stock & Barrel Lock Stock & Barrel 16 Year

Man Holding Bottle of Lock Stock & Barrel Lock Stock & Barrel 16 Year

Average Price: around $139.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 53.5% ABV 

Why We Like It: This 100% Canadian rye whisky is bottled and sourced in the US, and it’s well worth the price, especially when paired with an excellent cocktail. 

We enjoy its spicy finish and sweet background balanced by dried fruit, cocoa, and caramel notes. If you want a more refined drink, Lock Stock is a great choice.

However, this comes at a high price, so you might as well ready your budget. 

9. Lot 40 Canadian Rye Whisky

Man Holding Bottle of Lot 40 Canadian Rye Whisky

Average Price: around $34.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 43% ABV 

Why We Like It: There are many types of Canadian rye whiskies that one can choose from, but this expression from Lot 40 at the Hiram Walker Distillery [1] is one of the best. Why do we say so?

This Canadian whisky is made of 100% rye mash bill, distilled in copper pot stills.

The sweet and spicy flavor complements the dominant rye spice in this whisky with hints of dried fruits and vanilla. 

Actually, we consider this a great example of a great rye whisky from the north.

8. Pendleton Directors Reserve Whisky – Aged 20 Years

Bottle of Pendleton Directors Reserve Whisky - Aged 20 Years in Box

Average Price: around $125/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: If you have the budget to burn to experience the excellent quality and premium spirit, the Pendleton Director’s Reserve Whisky might be precisely what you need.

Pendleton is genuinely one of the best Canadian whiskies, but it comes at a high price point. The bottle’s design alone boosts elegance and luxury. 

This whisky is made with spring water from the Mount Hood river in Oregon, enhancing the strong flavor with hints of spice, vanilla, and cherry.

We suggest drinking it neat for the ultimate experience. 

7. J.P. Wiser’s 18-Year-Old Blended Canadian Whisky

JP Wiser’s 18 Year Old Canadian Whisky Bottle and a Glass

Average Price: around $66/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: We like this 18-year-old whisky from JP Wiser’s as an after-dinner drink. It’s a bit more special than their other offerings for its smooth flavor profile.

This whisky stands out for its complexity in flavors, which is driven by the usage of the bourbon barrels used for aging.

— Frederic Najem, Food, and Beverage Director

This aging process took 18 years in Kentucky Bourbon barrels, creating the complex and delicious flavor.

Expect hints of sweetness, smoke, and nuts in this whisky. 

6. Shelter Point Single Malt Artisanal Whisky

Man Holding Bottle of Shelter Point Artisanal Single Malt Whiskey

Average Price: around $85/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 46% ABV 

Why We Like It: One of the most popular and beloved single malt beverages in our list is Shelter Point Single Malt Whisky from Vancouver Island, Canada— made from 100% malted barley. 

This is a pleasant and approachable drink that doesn’t have the typical pitfalls of American whiskey. The grain sat forward, but it worked well in this drink. 

This is a little surprise, as it only took three years to develop using American oak barrels.

The aroma of vanilla bean, spice, and dry fruit lingers in the mouth as you taste Shelter Point whisky. We recommend this drink for autumn and spring days. 

5. Pike Creek 10-Year-Old Rum Barrel Finished 

Pike Creek 10 Year Old Canadian Whisky Bottle and a Glass

Average Price: around $30/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 42% ABV 

Why We Like It: Pike Creek 10-Year-Old expression finished aging in rum barrels. So, the banana and brown sugar notes combine with the spice, dried fruit, and caramel flavors. 

Pike Creek is one of the great Canadian whiskies we’ve tried so far due to its rich and flavorful profile despite the long aging time. 

Since it used rum barrels instead of just oak barrels, the unique flavor makes this Canadian whisky more interesting.  

4. Caribou Crossing Single Barrel Canadian Whisky

Caribou Crossing Single Barrel Canadian Whiskey Bottle and a Glass

Average Price: around $49/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: One of the best single-barrel Canadian whiskies is the Caribou Crossing. This Sazerac brand is a bit more affordable, depending on where you buy it.

This blend is made from only one single barrel, making it unique from other famous Canadian whiskies. 

We like the notes of honey, maple syrup, simple syrup, spices, milk chocolate, and vanilla, which are ideal for sweet holiday drinks or even on the rocks.

3. Forty Creek Confederation Oak

Bottle of Forty Creek Confederation Oak

Average Price: around $68/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: Produced at the Grimsby, Ontario Distillery, Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve, blended whisky, finished aging in new Canadian oak barrels. 

The nose of Forty Creek is aromatic, with notes of honey, praline, and dark fruits covering the palate.

Overall, the tasting notes surprised us because of the sweet vanilla hints, unusual in Canadian whiskies.   

More interestingly, the smooth and full-bodied flavor of Forty Creek whisky complemented the pleasant white pepper finish that gradually faded after. 

2. Canadian Club 100% Rye

Close UP Shot of Canadian Club 100% Rye Whisky Bottle

Average Price: around $18/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: Who wouldn’t know Canadian Club? It’s not just popular in the US but a famous brand of affordable Canadian whisky [2]– created by Alberta Distillers. 

This Canadian rye whisky is aged in a variety of barrels but Canadian Club whisky isn’t the most intense rye experience you’ll have, but it’s a good deal nonetheless. 

Alberta Distillers ensures natural caramel and oak notes, which they always succeed in doing.

This rye whisky is one of the best Canadian spirits we’ve tried; the smooth taste and rich flavor profile are near perfection. 

1. Crown Royal Deluxe

Man Holding Bottle Crown Royal Deluxe Canadian Whisky

Average Price: from around $42/1L 

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Why We Like It: For a luxurious feel, we particularly love this Crown Royal Deluxe.

This is one of the best Canadian whiskies to date and one of the most famous brands.

It not only boosts sophistication, but Crown Royal is excellent on its own, versatile, and genuinely delicious.

The tasting notes of salted caramel, vanilla bean, and oak mix well. 

The aromas are robust and rich, with a long and lingering finish. Compared to other whiskies, this is perfect in cocktails–suitable for any cocktail party or celebration.  

FAQs 

Which Canadian whisky is best for mixed drinks?

The Canadian whisky that is best for mixed drinks is Crown Royal. Its oak, brown sugar, and vanilla notes work perfectly in all kinds of cocktail recipes, from the classics to modern beverages.

Does Canada make good whiskies?

Yes, Canada makes good whisky. Canadian whiskies are aged for a minimum of three years, made with grain blends, and no less than 40% ABV [3]. 

Is Canadian whisky better than bourbon?

Canadian whiskies are better than bourbon in terms of ruggedness and intensity. Bourbon is better for a drinker who’s into a smoother and sweeter spirit. 

What’s the most expensive Canadian whisky?

The most expensive Canadian whisky is from Crown Royal, their limited edition 29-Year-Old Extra Rare Blended Canadian Whisky. The suggested retail price is around $399 per 750ml. Only 6,000 bottles are sold [4]. 

Final Verdict 

Canada has so much to offer regarding spirits, and some of the best Canadian whisky brands include Gooderham & Worts, Canadian Club, Forty Creek, Shelter Point, and Crown Royal. 

While there are premium ones, some are affordable, too, which suits anyone’s budget. You don’t have to spend too much to experience quality and good spirits. 

Overall, we hail Crown Royal as the outstanding Canadian expression that every drinker– beginner or experienced– shouldn’t miss. 

References:

  1. https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/hiram-walker-amp-sons-once-again-named-distillery-of-the-year-832579110.html 
  2. https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/is-canadian-whiskey-good 
  3. https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/C.R.C.,_c._870/section-B.02.020.html 
  4. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/crown-royal-extends-higher-marques-portfolio-with-newest-aged-29-year-old-whisky-301681100.html 
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