Canadian whisky is the lightest example from the major whisky distilling countries. That’s because Canadian whisky traditionally consists of a blend of two components: a base whisky and a flavoring whisky. The base whisky, usually made from corn, is very light in flavor and comprises the large majority of the whisky’s make-up. The flavoring whisky, often one with a high rye content, makes up the rest.
Ironically, Canadian law allows Canadian whisky to be called Canadian Whisky, Canadian Rye Whisky, or Rye Whisky, even though the actual amount of rye in the grain mixture is usually very small, and much less than corn. There is a huge difference between Canadian “rye” whiskies and American “straight rye” whiskeys. The straight ryes produced in the United States are considerably bolder and more challenging. Canadian “rye” drinkers are often confused and overwhelmed by the intensity of the straight rye whiskeys from the United States, where the largest ingredient must be rye.
Canadian whisky’s lighter style makes it appealing year-round, even in the warm summer months when other whiskeys might be too heavy. While most people think of Canadian whiskies as mixing whiskies, something to be drunk on the rocks or with soda, there are also some fine Canadian whiskies that you can sip neat, like Crown Royal Reserve or Wiser’s 18 year old, both of which are worth seeking out.