Are there any straight Canadian,,,,,,

Talk about Tennessee, American and Rye Whiskey here.

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Unread postby gillmang » Mon Mar 21, 2005 4:18 pm

Thanks Chuck. I know you also have the technical knowledge as a lawyer about researching these things and can appreciate the effort involved! If you want to review the legislation, just Google Canadian Legislation. The Canadian Department of Justice site comes up which is easy to use, you simply input the name of the consolidated statute, if looking for that, or regulation, if seeking that, in the box provided. If you insert the name of the various laws I mentioned (Food and Drug Regulation, Distillery Regulation, Excise Act) it all comes up real fast and then just go to Division 2 of the Food and Drug Regulation, I'd start there, look in particular at Section B.02.020. Note also that Canadian whisky must be, "mashed, distilled and aged in Canada", I should have mentioned that earlier. Also, a distillate can include a mixture of distillates: so provided they are all made from cereals and all made in Canada and aged 3 years, they can be combined without reference to the idea of "flavouring" (so this would cover say what 40 Creek does). The flavouring rules only apply when it is desired to add "wine", or a spirit that isn't cereals-derived (e.g. rum) or made in Canada (e.g. Bourbon) or is cereals-derived and made in Canada but is not aged as long as the whisky it is desired to add it to and still have the label state, say (in my earlier example) 6 years old. Gets a little complicated. Some interesting stuff there about bourbon, e.g., it can be diluted with water on entry to Canada to adjust the proof. The way these laws were written, these guys knew a lot of the stuff we do, e.g. about redistillation!

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Unread postby cowdery » Mon Mar 21, 2005 6:15 pm

I've been surprised, in talking to the people at Four Roses, for example, to learn that some Canadian whiskey contains bourbon. Maybe not so much now, when there is a bit of a tight market, but when bulk bourbon is cheap, why not?
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Unread postby gillmang » Mon Mar 21, 2005 6:45 pm

Well being a straight (flavoring) whiskey bourbon is a candidate to add to the post-3 year old high proof spirit in the Seagram method that you referred to earlier. Some would have been made here (bourbon-style) in the old days but after I think they trunked it from Four Roses and probably still do despite the spin-off to Kirin. If it is bourbon aged as long or more than the Canadian whisky it is added to, as I read these laws, there is no limit to how much can be added, i.e., the age of the youngest whisky must be shown, which is "okay" in this case, and it still can be called Canadian whisky (subject possibly to the application of the general laws on misleading advertising, e.g. possibly there is an argument that if more than x% of the bottle is not made in Canada the product cannot be termed "Canadian" whisky; then too not all whisky sold here is so termed, e.g. some is called "rye whisky" only...).

But if the bourbon being added is younger than the Canadian distillate the producer may in practice want to hew to the near 10% limit rule discussed earlier. So, in a 26 ounce bottle at 40% abv, almost 10% of the 10.4 ounces of pure ethanol in there can come from bourbon (or other "spirit", or "wine") which is younger than the Canadian whisky it is being added to (unless the producer wants to show that younger age on the label, which he might if it is old enough in his marketing judgement to show as the stated age). About one ounce of ethanol that is or two ounces of bourbon at 100 proof. What this seems to show too is that Canadian whiskey can in fact contain a lot of non-domestic spirit. Maybe there is an argument even for the purpose of the Distillery Regulation (let alone the general misleading advertising rules) that at some point one is not "adding", e.g. that one cannot add to one ounce of 10 year old Canadian whisky 25 ounces of 8 year old American GNS and label the bottle 8 year old "Canadian whisky" or even 8 year old "rye whisky". At that point the addition arguably is not a flavouring, something that is a flavouring shouldn't become the dominant taste - or should it...?. Yet, since a "flavouring" can include a product without flavour (GNS) (only the law could create such a creature) maybe these arguments are not correct... Possibly Canadian excise uses rules of thumb to deal with these questions.

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Unread postby cowdery » Mon Mar 21, 2005 9:19 pm

I have been told that about half of the output of Four Roses is sold to Diageo for use in various products. This is one of the reasons Four Roses has not expanded its U.S. distribution.
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Unread postby Oregone » Tue Mar 22, 2005 7:32 pm

cowdery wrote:I have been told that about half of the output of Four Roses is sold to Diageo for use in various products. This is one of the reasons Four Roses has not expanded its U.S. distribution.


Make them stop!
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Unread postby cowdery » Tue Mar 22, 2005 10:57 pm

Oregone wrote:Make them stop!


Well, I think the more likely solution is that Four Roses will just have to make more.

I'm getting information from a lot of directions here lately indicating that there is a bit of a bourbon shortage going on, driven primarily by stronger than expected growth in Europe, Germany and Austria in particular.

Your ability to get your favorite brands won't be affected, unless your favorite brand is a bulk bourbon bottled by a non-distiller. They are the ones really feeling the pinch.

Most of the distilleries now are operating at or near capacity and some are planning major expansions. Beam has announced an expansion at Boston, KY (the Booker Noe plant) that will make it bigger than Buffalo Trace. Maker's Mark is also expanding.

The ominous part of the Beam announcement is that this is their largest expansion since 1970. Since bourbon made today won't be sold until 2010 at the earliest, you really need a crystal ball to feel good about investing a lot in added capacity. The expansions of the late 60s and early 70s were followed by a bourbon crash that gave us the bourbon glut of the 1980s.
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Unread postby tlsmothers » Wed Mar 23, 2005 10:32 pm

Thanks for digging in and clarifying this for us all.

Gary was kind enough to share some Lot 40 with us at the Festival last year. I couldn't find it here in NY, but coincidentally, before reading this tonight post tonight, I sent off an email to McCormick asking about distribution here. I see the Forty Creek listed in NY and tried this at last year's WhiskyFest, but have never had the Pike's Creek or Gooderham & Wort's.
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Unread postby Strayed » Thu Mar 24, 2005 12:33 am

There is also a 100% rye whiskey made by Alberta Springs. It's not my favorite rye whiskey of all time, but it's not typical Canadian either and not really all that bad.
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Unread postby gillmang » Thu Mar 24, 2005 5:58 am

The Alberta Springs products - the 10 year old is quite good - seem to get a filip from the all-rye but the effect is moderated because of the high proof of the distillate. I would think most of it is high proof product anyway, some of the bottle may be low proof whisky. If so, I am not sure if it is added after aging is completed or whether the white dogs are combined to be aged together but either way the contribution to flavor is quite restrained. It is a good option for those who like some rye flavor but appreciate the mild (tending to bland) Canadian whisky profile. All in all the Canadian whiskies seem to end up a different animal from all-straight whiskey. The only ones I have had that really stake out a straight rye taste or "feel" are Lot 40 and to an extent Forty Creek. I wish there were more products available here that represented a straight rye palate or something approaching it.

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Unread postby gillmang » Thu Mar 24, 2005 6:05 am

One other thing about Canadian rye whisky is that the extra aged Canadian Clubs are good products, especially the 15 and 20 years olds. They get a good balance of oak to spirit flavor.

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Unread postby Strayed » Thu Mar 24, 2005 9:15 am

gillmang wrote: It is a good option for those who like some rye flavor but appreciate the mild (tending to bland) Canadian whisky profile.

That's about a perfect description. It's also my kind of whiskey review. I wonder if one-liners are allowed on the review page :D

I've been using Lot No. 40 for years (well, a few of them anyway) as an example of what real Monongahela rye probably tasted like. It also makes an example for showing how the German/Swiss-based whiskey in North America migrated from eastern Pennsylvania (where it disappeared completely) to the areas where it flourished, namely the frontiers of west Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Ontario. There's a fascinating story that goes with Lot No. 40, which I estimate is about 60% fabricated by Corby's, the company whose flavor whiskey it was in its former life, and the other 40% true. A little like the Elijah Craig story, except that Joshua Booth was a more prominent figure and his history is more traceable, so there are records that show he really did exist and make whiskey on his homestead located on lot #40, in the Bay of Quinte area of Ontario. He was also involved in the politics of that area and is considered a figure in general Canadian history. The parts of the story that are likely only attributed to him can be considered typical of distillers at that time in that area, though, so (unlike the Elijah Craig myth) they're still valuable. I've been able to trace Joshua Booth's roots back to the same area along the Delaware River (Bucks, Delaware, Chester, Mercer, Somerset counties) from which the Overholts of West PA and the Beams of Kentucky originated.
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Unread postby Strayed » Thu Mar 24, 2005 9:24 am

By the way, I mention the German/Swiss origins of American whiskey a lot, but that doesn't mean I think that's the ONLY source. I just think that it's that tradition, and not the equally important Scots-Irish style, that is represented by these famous families. The Scots-Irish whiskey style spread up the Shenandoah Valley (up means "upriver", that is, south) and all through the American South. I think it's very possible (although I have no evidence) that it was the combination of these two styles in Kentucky that became the basis for Bourbon whiskey.
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Unread postby gillmang » Thu Mar 24, 2005 11:11 am

Most interesting thoughts and information. I wonder when Corby was taken over by Hiram Walker, and if the Lot 40 that was released was made before the takeover or after. I will buy a bottle of a Corby's brand and see if I can detect Lot 40 in it. I can add more since I still have some and Dane kindly will (thanks Dane!) bring me a bottle at Sampler/Gazebo upcoming.

It seems hard to know if distillation followed ethnic lines in different places. Certainly as early as 1810 everything in the immediate pre-bourbon era seemed quite fixed judging from M'Harry, i.e., Americans made whiskey, they made it from rye or corn or both, various combinations of these two grains were used which he analyses in detail concluding a 50/50 mix was the best (both for the economic value of the slops and the effect on the whiskey), some whiskey was aged (probably a year or two by inference from various things he says), aged was considered better than non-aged, and people who branded their casks (which I interpret as firing them on the inside) stood the chance of making the best whiskey and beating the competition. No reference to foreign traditions other than in a parenthetical if not droll sense sometimes. What I take from this was the implantation, adaptation and melding of European practices, resulting in a distinct American tradition, had already occurred, probably by the later 1700's.

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Unread postby Dave » Thu Mar 24, 2005 8:19 pm

Nobody has mentioned Glen Breton, who come as close to producing a "straight" as anyone in Canada. It's in the Scotish style but of course can't call itself that.

http://www.glenoradistillery.com/glenbreton.htm
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Unread postby gillmang » Fri Mar 25, 2005 9:41 pm

True Dave but it is a very Scottish-style whisky, it seems to depart from the orbit of North American straight whisky, I guess because Glen Breton is an all-malt product.

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