A Primer on North American Whisky
After exploring bourbon, I think it is logical to explore its North American brothers-in-arms, American and Canadian whiskys.
Unlike the more specific bourbon, American and Canadian types of whisky just have to be brewed in the respective countries and must be made from a fermented mash of cereal grain. The type of grain leads to the type of whisky, as 51% corn is bourbon (over 80% is corn whisky), 51% rye is rye whisky, 51% malted barley is malt whiskey and 51% wheat is wheat whisky and all of which makes sense. If the whisky producer ages the whisky for at least two years, it becomes known as a straight whisky. Differences come in the two types of whisky from the aging process, additives and alcohol content. American whisky cannot exceed 80% alcohol and does not allow the addition of flavorings, while Canadian whisky can go well over 80% alcohol content and can contain flavor additives. American whisky must be aged at least two years in new charred oak barrels while Canadian whisky must be aged at least three years in wooden barrels.
One of only three products to be known as a Tennessee whisky, it meets the standards to be called bourbon, with an extra step of charcoal filtering. The Jack Daniel’s website takes pride in that extra step to remove it from the bourbon category with all that riff-raff.
Created in New Orleans, Southern Comfort is now owned by Brown-Forman, the same folks that bring you the aforementioned Jack Daniel’s. (Also the makers of Pepe Lopez tequila. Oh dear lord, don’t make me ever think of that stuff again. Worst drunken experience ever.)
My favorite Canadian whisky (probably because the first time I remember drinking it was with a girl in a secluded hot springs) Crown Royal is a great tasting, smooth whisky that goes great on ice. If you want to spend more on your Canadian whisky, there’s Crown Royal XR for $170 a bottle. Described as “engagingly nutty” just think of it as $170 to spend some time with Jim Carrey. For about half that price, you can get Cask No. 16 that’s aged in cognac barrels.
Seagram’s 7 Crown
You’ve probably heard of this whisky just by hearing people order the ubiquitous seven and seven that combines Seagram’s 7 Crown with 7-Up. Now, there’s the Dark Honey version but it sounds like it loses the whisky behind all the honey.
Pendleton Canadian Whisky
Pendleton Canadian Whisky is aged ten years in oak barrels to give it its unique flavor. I haven’t tried this one yet, but the fact that they have a posse of women on their website makes me think they at least know how to market to me.
Well, next time you’re at the bar, I’d say tip a glass of Crown or Jack to enjoy that North American whisky goodness. Next time I’ll add some more types of whisky to your spirit repertoire. Happy drinking.
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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."