Although Crown Royal is the most recognized Canadian whisky in the U.S., our neighbors to the north have a storied whisky distilling history, strikingly tied to U.S. events, that started long before the blended whisky was even introduced to the Canadian market in 1939.
Don Livermore, the master blender behind Pernod Ricard’s Canadian whisky portfolio, thinks Canadian whisky isn’t spotlighted enough for its versatility and the creativity that can go into it. Although other countries impose strict regulations on how whiskey is made within their borders, Canada simply requires that the spirits used in making a Canadian whisky be aged for at least three years in wooden barrels, and that the final product is at least 40 percent ABV.
That provides Livermore (one of two distillers in the world with a PhD in Brewing and Distilling) with a lot of freedom to play around with the whisky he produces, among them J.P Wiser’s Rye and 18 Years, Pike Creek Whisky finished in vintage port barrels, and Lot 40, a rye whisky with a cult-like following. The portfolio masterfully shows off the range that Canadian whisky can have.
The J.P. Wiser’s brand, he said, is the preferred whisky in Canada. The whisky took off during the Civil War, when the southern states cut off the north from its bourbon supply, but it’s been fighting to come back ever since losing the valued U.S. market during Prohibition.
Livermore recommends trying the various whiskies in the portfolio based on what you’re looking for in your whisky.
“Rye is very popular right now with the cocktail culture, and Lot 40, which is very out there, very full of the rye spice, fulfills that need, whereas J.P Wiser’s Rye is more for the regular guy, more for the guy trying to get into rye whisky,” he said.
And sip on J.P. Wiser’s 18 Years if you want to catch the rich caramel notes of the barrel. “This is the taste of age,” he said.
The Maple Up
1 1/2 parts J.P. Wiser’s
1/4 part pineapple juice
1/4 part dry vermouth
1/4 part maple syrup
Dash of orange bitters
Combine ingredients and shake. Serve in a coupe or martini glass.
— J.P. Wiser’s