Discover the Whiskies of Windsor
Ontario’s best-kept secret is secret no more — Windsor, Ont., with its storied prohibition-era history, is home to cutting-edge whisky distillers — and plenty more.
With global awards and classic and innovative spirits flowing, Windsor-made whisky is having a renaissance. “The water of Windsor is flowing!” says Tish Harcus, a Canadian whisky industry legend who recently celebrated 30 years with Canadian Club.
Windsor brand Canadian Club was created by Hiram Walker, a businessman from just across the river in Detroit. Walker first opened a Windsor distillery in 1858, and brands founded by fellow Canadian whisky barons J.P. Wiser, Henry Corby, William Gooderham and James Worts are all made in Windsor today. The city became a hotspot during U.S. Prohibition in the 1920s, when Canadian spirits illicitly crossed the Detroit River to satisfy thirsty Americans, and since then Windsor has helped make a permanent name for Canadian whisky worldwide.
Today, there’s nothing underground about Windsor’s pride in this spirit. Here’s what to taste.
Canadian Club Premium Canadian Whisky
The whisky that started it all for Windsor is a pale-gold pour with the faint scent of caramel corn, citrus peel and lots of soft spices like ginger and cinnamon. It’s perfect in a trendy Whisky and Soda water highball with a twist of lemon.
J.P. Wiser’s Deluxe Whisky
This signature blend from a distillery founded in Prescott, Ont., now located in Windsor, is rich with caramel and sultana aromas, with a finish that’s both sweet and spicy. Try it in a classic Old Pal cocktail: 2 parts Canadian whisky to 1 part each dry white vermouth and Campari, garnished with orange zest.
Gibson’s Finest Bold 8 Year Old Whisky
The Bold expression from a brand that started in Pennsylvania, was once located in Quebec and is now Windsor-made. With a higher proof (46 percent alcohol by volume) than other Gibson’s bottlings, and dominated by spicy rye flavours, it has a robust taste that still shines when mixed with cola.
Lot No. 40 Single Copper Pot Still Canadian Whisky
With a nose like baked spiced apple and a palate zesty with orange, clove and pepper, this Manhattan-ready amber whisky artfully showcases Canada’s world-class rye grain. A copper pot still is the old-school, batch-distilling apparatus that meticulous distillers around the world have been using for centuries.
Royal Reserve Whisky
One of the vintage brands in the Canadian whisky lexicon, this light but aromatic rye has a slightly astringent, dry finish that’s a perfect foil to ginger ale. The iconic label still peels off cleanly for sticking onto your favourite accoutrement of choice — it has long graced everything from toolboxes to guitar cases country-wide.
Hiram Walker Special Old Whisky
This hot, spicy classic rye is named for the founder of Windsor’s Walkerville distillery enclave (who, ironically, was from Detroit). From the retro quilted glass bottle to the medallion-style label, this is old-fashioned rye the way Canadians have enjoyed it for more than 160 years. Try it in a Whisky Sour lightly sweetened with maple syrup.