True scotch only comes from Scotland, of course. True scotch only comes from Scotland, of course. Bourbon hails solely from the United States. There’s no replicating Irish whiskey, and Canadians take credit for the spicy personality of rye. You can't beat tradition...but you certainly can add to it. Here’s the exciting truth — the art of whisky making is best shared among the many, and fantastic new offerings are cropping up all over the world. Your next favourite whisky just might come from a place you don't expect.
The great purveyors of taste that they are, it was only a matter of time before a French-born whisky would appear, thanks to distiller Bastille, where owner Jean-Marc Daucourt has carved out a distinctive style. Now an upstart from Wales has dipped a toe into the distilling business. Neighbouring whisky heavyweights Scotland and Ireland should be delighted that Penderyn Celt — the first distillery to open in Wales in a century — is making a go of it and helping define what Welsh whisky can be. Over in Sweden, Mackmyra launched after a few friends realized no one in the country was creating single malts. Determined to showcase the pure ingredients at hand and the distinctive tastes of aging in Swedish oak, they have steadily gained an enthusiastic following for their whiskies.
Japan has cemented its position among the world’s great whisky makers, as evidenced by the string of awards the country’s distilleries have earned. For one, look to Suntory’s Hibiki for a taste of that success. India, too, is quickly gaining pace, with the likes of Amrut’s Fusion Single Malt, and be on the lookout for even more whiskies to appear from this area of the world.
IN THE USA
South of our border, between small-scale distillers and the boom in small-batch producers, every state now produces its own whiskey. Koval Distillery marks the first operation to set up shop in Chicago since Prohibition. It’s bringing a new style of American whiskey to market with the use of alternative grains, such as millet and oats, while insisting on using only certified organic ingredients. This attention to detail is attracting traditionalists and budding whisky drinkers alike. And showing its own bold frontier mentality, Colorado’s Breckenridge is extending bourbon-making further west. Crafted with a high rye mash bill, it takes the discussion about American whiskey style into spicier territory, as has been the trend of late. Yes, Americans are producing a raft of true ryes that are rivalling our own.
IN OUR OWN BACKYARD
While the heritage of Canadian whisky tends to revolve around a handful of major producers, there are a number of modestly sized distilleries across the country staking their claims with new offerings. Glenora Distilleries in Nova Scotia produces Glen Breton Rare, a release that earned the privilege of calling itself a single malt. Still a relatively new distillery, Ontario's Forty Creek continues to attract whisky lovers with its portfolio of standards and special releases. And then there’s Lohin McKinnon, a partnership between a British Columbia winery and craft beer distillery that produces whiskies that derive their complexity from aging in bourbon casks before finishing in pipe wine barrels.
With fresh inspiration and experimentation helping democratize the craft of whisky making, the time has never been better to explore your options and discover the unexpected.
With the country's typical élan, this whisky captures France’s knack for pursuing the better things in life. Aged in a variety of casks, including French Limousin oak, it offers a burst of fruitiness off the top as peach, orange and spicy accents ease out over a delicately dry finish.
This B.C. collaboration between vineyard and distillery creates a wholly unique Canadian whisky. Layers of earthiness, dark fruit, vanilla and licorice greet the palate in a profile sure to linger in the memory.
The red dragon of Wales speaks to the fierce independence this whisky maintains in the company of its neighbouring whisky-making nations. Sweet and smoky elements combine in a clean-finishing whisky and are heightened by tinges of orange, vanilla and sea spray.
For this Rocky Mountain distillery, rewriting the rules of bourbon begins with an abundance of rye. That high rye mash bill ups the spiciness quotient before mellower tones of butterscotch, white oak and vanilla fill the palate.
Koval prides itself on using only certified organic ingredients and then drawing only the "heart cut" of the distillate for an impeccably clean and pure whisky character. Here, soft grain and apricot precede peppery caramel and sustained notes of clove and tobacco.