A few months ago, the founding members of the Toronto Whisky Society were discussing what we should do to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, and eventually the discussion came around to whisky awards. When we looked at these awards, we found that they don’t always reveal the full list of whiskies evaluated, and generally don’t evaluate up-and-coming distilleries with product under 3 years old.
Canada has a ton of small, young distilleries in all provinces, and we saw an opportunity to help bring awareness to them and help promote Canadian spirits. As a group, TWS has about 2500 whisky reviews online, but had never done a large head-to-head review event like this. We reached out to distilleries, large and small, and asked if they’d like to participate. About a dozen responded and sent in a total of 15 sample bottles for us to try. We separated them into the following four categories (not without some debate as some fit more than one category):
- Non-Whiskies & Whiskies-in-Progress
- Canadian Single Malts
- Canadian Whiskies
- Cask Strength Canadian Whiskies
Each category will have results posted over the next week, and will include the collective tasting notes and comments on each bottle. We’ll also give a collective ranking of that category, derived by averaging reviewers’ individual rankings.
As we value transparency, our tasting notes are unedited, honest and straight-forward, and we exclude no bottles from the final evaluations. This means some commentary may be unflattering, but we believe the consumer deserves an honest look at these spirits, and hopefully our feedback is taken constructively vs critically.
This is far from a comprehensive look at the Canadian whisky/spirits landscape, and isn’t an ‘award’ per se, but we hope that fans of Canadian whiskies and spirits find some value in these tasting notes and rankings, and seek out some of the lesser-known distilleries we’ve showcased!
We plan on running this event annually, so if you’re a small Canadian distillery that has whisky on the market, or is just starting up, feel free to reach out via our contact page to discuss how you can be included next year!