Did you know that Crown Royal and Canadian Club aren’t the only two Canadian whiskies on the market? I know, it’s shocking, but it’s true. Here are six other things you probably didn’t know about moose hooch.
Canadian whisky is rye whisky… sort of.
Until United Statesians became infatuated with it, most people assumed that all rye whisky was Canadian whisky. And by definition, they are one in the same in Canada. Food and Drug Regulations (C.R.C., c. 870) states that to be called Canadian Whisky/Canadian Rye Whisky/Rye Whisky it must “possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky.” That’s a nice roundabout way of saying, “do whatever the fuck you want.” Most of their whisky is made from corn, just like ours.
Canada suffered through prohibition too.
Prohibition in the United States might be man’s greatest mistake, but few know that Canadians also suffered the injustice of forced sobriety. Each province had their own timeline, but this living nightmare lasted from roughly 1916 to 1925. Of course the government fat moose still wanted their money, so some distilleries and breweries were allowed to keep producing alcohol to export. That’s why there as still plenty of booze to sneak into Detroit even though those making it weren’t allowed to drink it.
The Purple Gang were the real kings of bootlegging.
Everyone knows Al Capone, but it was the Purple Gang, comprised of mostly Jewish kids from Detroit, who dominated the bootlegging scene. They controlled everything worth doing in Detroit, including the illegal importing of booze from Windsor. Big Al was scared to go to war with them so instead he used them as his chief whisky supplier. It’s even suspected that it was the Purple Gang who later set up 50 Cent’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago.
One dude bought 4 of Canada’s biggest distilleries.
Most people wrongly attribute Canadian whisky’s success to prohibition in the States, but it was actually thriving beforehand and took a turn for the worse around the time of prohibition. It got so bad that one guy, Harry Hatch, bought four of the five biggest distillers in Canada. That’s not something one dude can do if business is booming. Business is certainly good now though as those four, Gooderham & Wort, Hiram Walker, Corby and Wiser’s, combine to produce a large portion of the world’s booze.
Not all Canadian whisky is light.
Canadian whisky tends to be synonymous with light, and that’s was the point. They didn’t want to be scotch or bourbon. Canadian distillers wanted to carve out their own niche of drinkability long before the folks at Bud Light started throwing the word around. That’s not to say it all tastes the same though. The minimal restrictions (aged 3 years, etc.) allow for a lot of creativity in the market, from the single-maltish Pike Creek to the spicy, 100% rye Lot 40. Throw in Wiser’s, the #1 seller in Canada, and you’ve got yourself an incredibly wide range of Canadian whisky from just one portfolio.
Mother Nature’s Canadian mood swings result in greatness.
According to Don Livermore and his PhD in wood, the secret to Canadian whisky’s uniqueness is the environment. Climate swings have a huge affect on the aging process by increasing/decreasing how deep and often the spirit penetrates the barrel, and no distilleries have a wider range in temperature than those in Canada. Unlike Scotland where the weather rarely changes, summers in Canada are hotter than two rats humping in a wool sock while winters are colder than a witches tit. This helps get the maximum flavor from the barrel without needing decades to do it.