Canadian whisky is having a real resurgence at the moment and it should come as no surprise. After the Alberta Premium Cash Strength Rye claimed top spot in the 2020 Jim Murray Whisky Bible, demand for the region’s uniquely sweet drops has exploded, birthing a host of new distilleries and whisky Barrons eager to take up the mantle. But for all their attempts, it’s an old favourite that has come out on top, with the iconic Crown Royal laying claim to the best Canadian whisky of the year, courtesy of the 2022 Canadian Whisky Awards.
Canadian Whisky: At a Glance
While you could argue that the Canadian whisky market is heavily influenced by its neighbours to the south, the reality is far more ingrained. Whisky rose to popularity after local distillers made the bold decision to increase volumes of rye to their mixes, resulting in a stronger, spicier taste. As a result, Canadian whisky is characterised as being largely corn-based with some rye grain added to the mash bill, so much so that the terms Canadian whisky and Canadian rye can be used essentially interchangeably.
From a basic perspective, Canadian whisky is otherwise made of wheat, corn, and barley, with each component being mashed, fermented distilled and aged separately to reach their best individual potential. From there, the distiller is free to experiment with blending options to create a more flavoursome final concoction.
How is Whisky Critiqued?
The 2022 Canadian Whisky Awards are judged by nine independent whisky experts, who precise over 150 entrants from across the country. The judging comes down to three tasting notes;
- Nose – Nose is the term used to describe the smell of a whisky (yes, you’re reading that right, not everyone enjoys their spirits as shots). This can range from sweet to burning the nostrils.
- Palate – Palate is the term used when describing the first initial taste of a whisky. This taste is derived mainly from the ingredients used, but can also come from the barrels where the whisky was aged, or other factors in the distilling and manufacturing process.
- Finish – Finally, the finish describes the after taste of a whisky. While most people are looking for a chaser to follow their whisky, fans of top shelf spirits will try to savour the heat and/or flavours.
Canadian Whisky Awards 2022 Winners – Highlights
The results from the twelfth annual Canadian Whisky Awards confirmed that while new players have entered the scene, Crown Royal remained the country’s top dog. Here are some highlight winners from the event.
Canadian Whisky of the Year – Crown Royal Nobel Collection Winter Wheat
The biggest winner of the night, Crown Royal Nobel Collection Winter Wheat was named Canada’s best whisky, Canadian Whisky of the Year, Best Blended Whisky and Sippin’ Whisky of the Year. Described by Davin de Kergommeaux, head judge and founder of the awards as a ‘truly stunning whisky” that is “incredibly complex, flavourful and well-balanced” the Nobel Collection Winter Wheat starts sweet, features a peppery spice in the middle, before finishing with a bitterish pith.
“On behalf of our entire team at the distillery in Gimli and our blending team, and our teams throughout North America, it’s an absolute honour to be named the Canadian Whisky of the Year,” said Stephen Wilson, director of whisky engagement for Crown Royal. “The Noble Series, it’s always been a chance for our blenders and our distillers to really showcase just the quality of whisky we produce at Crown Royal. So for that to come full circle and for all of those folks to get the recognition they deserve, I’ll tell you, our team has been on cloud nine.”
Bottle: 750 mL
Made In: Ontario, Canada
By: The Crown Royal Distilling Co.
Awards: Canada’s best whisky, Canadian Whisky of the Year, Best Blended Whisky, Sippin’ Whisky of the Year
Best Single Malt Whisky – Shelter Point Smoke Point 3
The third batch of Shelter Point’s ultra-popular peat influenced whisky took home honours as Best Single Malt Whisky, Best Cask Strength Whisky and Sippin’ Whisky of the Year – Domestic. According to the brand, the smoky single malt is aged in American oak ex-bourbon casks for five years and finished in casks previously used by a famous Islay distillery for over two years.
Bottle: 375ml & 750ml
Made in: Oyster River, BC
By: Shelter Point
Awards: Best Single Malt Whisky, Best Cask Strength Whisky and Sippin’ Whisky of the Year – Domestic
Best Corn Whisky – Bearface Whisky Elementally Aged Triple Oak 7-Year-Old
Corn-based whisky has always had a rich history in North America, so naturally, the stakes were high in this category. Taking out honours this year was BEARFACE’s Triple Oak, a single grain Canadian whisky matured for seven years in ex-bourbon American oak barrels, then aged in French oak red wine casks and air-dried virgin Hungarian oak.
Made In: British Columbia, Canada
By: Bearface Whisky
Style: Medium & Sweet
Awards: Best Corn Whisky
Best Wheat Whisky – Last Mountain Single Cask 100% Wheat Whisky
Hailing from Saskatchewan’s first micro-distillery in Lumsden, the Last Mountain Distillery Single Cask 100% Wheat Whisky is a seriously impressive release. Produced from wheat grown at the Brewster Farm in Earl Grey, the Canadian whisky is non-blended, non-chill filtered and bottled at 45%.
Made In: Lumsden, Saskatchewan
By: Last Mountain Distillery
Style: Medium & Sweet
Awards: Best Wheat Whisky
Best All-Rye Whisky – Shelter Point Single Cask 6 Rye
After its brother take home a swag of gongs, the Shelter Point Single Cask 6 Rye wasn’t to be outdone. The sixth ever official single cask bottling and second 100% Rye, the rare bottling was limited to just 150 hand-numbered bottles. Sweet, spicy and complex, this unique whisky cops influences of bourbon from the American oak cask and malt whisky from the aromas in our warehouse
Made in: Oyster River, BC
By: Shelter Point
Awards: Best All-Rye Whisky
Best New Whisky – Odd Society Maple Whisky
What could be more Canadian than Maple Whisky? Odd Society’s new release features malted barley house-smoked with maple wood, prior to being age distilled spirit for a minimum of three years in oak casks that were previously used to age maple syrup. Warm and rich, the whisky scored major points for its robust, albeit slightly smoky aroma.
Made in: East Vancouver
By: Odd Society
Awards: Best New Whisky
Distillery of the Year – Diageo Global Supply – Gimli
Taking out the top gong wasn’t enough for Diageo-backed Gimli Distillery. The label best known for producing Crown Royal took home the award for the Best Canadian Distillery of the year, surpassing the multitude of microdistilleries and industry icons. After starting production in Manitoba back in 1968, the Gimli Distillery has become one of the most respected and profitable in the country, particularly after it was taken over by spirit giant Diageo in 2001.
Owner: Diageo Global Supply
Produces: Crown Royal
Canadian Whisky Awards 2022 Winners – Full List
- Canadian Whisky of the Year – Crown Royal Nobel Collection Winter Wheat
- Best Blended Whisky – Crown Royal Noble Collection Winter Wheat
- Blender of the Year – Diageo Blending Lab – Montreal
- Distillery of the Year – Diageo Global Supply – Gimli
- Artisanal Distiller of the Year – Okanagan Spirits
- Award of Excellence – Line Extension – JP Wiser’s Red Letter 15 Year Old
- Award of Excellence – Innovation – Forty Creek Master’s Cut
- Award of Excellence – Canadian Whisky Profile – JP Wiser’s Smaller Hero
- Lifetime Achievement Award – Joanne Zanin Scandella
- Best Whisky Spirit – Raging Crow Distillery
- Best Corn Whisky – Bearface Whisky Elementally Aged Triple Oak 7-Year-Old
- Best Wheat Whisky – Last Mountain Single Cask 100% Wheat Whisky
- Best All-Rye Whisky – Shelter Point Single Cask 6 Rye
- Best Single Malt Whisky – Shelter Point Smoke Point 3
- Best Single Grain Whisky – Shelter Point Single Cask 6 Rye
- Best Mixed-Mash Whisky – Okanagan Spirits BRBN Bourbon-Style Whisky
- Best Single Barrel Whisky – Shelter Point Single Cask 6 Rye
- Best Cask Strength Whisky – Shelter Point Smoke Point 3
- Best Barrel Finished Whisky – Odd Society Maple Whisky
- Best New Whisky – Odd Society Maple Whisky
- Flavoured Whisky of the Year – Domestic – Forty Creek Spike
- Flavoured Whisky of the Year – Export – Rich & Rare Peach
- Flavoured Whisky of the Year – Multi-Market – Sortilège Wild Blueberries
- Cream Whisky of the Year – Forty Creek Nanaimo Bar
- Whisky Value of the Year – Domestic – Okanagan Spirits BRBN
- Whisky Value of the Year – Export – Black Velvet Original
- Whisky Value of the Year – Multi-Market – Canadian Club 100% Rye
- Sippin’ Whisky of the Year – Domestic – Shelter Point Smoke Point 3
- Sippin’ Whisky of the Year – Export – Royal Canadian Small Batch
- Sippin’ Whisky of the Year – Multi-Market – Crown Royal Noble Collection Winter Wheat
- Connoisseur Whisky of the Year – Domestic – JP Wiser’s Red Letter 15-Year-Old
- Connoisseur Whisky of the Year – Export – JP Wiser’s Smaller Hero
- Connoisseur Whisky of the Year – Multi-Market – Pendleton Director’s Reserve 20yo
What is the best Canadian whisky?
While the country is renowned for producing a wealth of great drams, the 2022 Canadian Whisky Awards named Crown Royal's Nobel Collection Winter Wheat as the best best of the year.
What is the best Canadian whisky distillery?
Gimli Distillery, operated by mahor spirits icon Diageo Global Supply was name as the Canadian Distillery of the Year at the 2022 Canadian Whisky Awards.