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Issue 74 - Land of legends

Whisky Magazine Issue 74
September 2008


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Land of legends

Canada is a great holiday destination and has a fascinating take on whisky production. In this guide we look at two centres:Ontario and Calgary

Walkerville/Canadian Club There are some legendary names scattered through the history of Canadian whisky but there are few bigger than Hiram Walker.And while it might be stretching it to credit him for inventing the category of Canadian whisky as we know it today, his influence on its development is immense, and his producing whisky has been emulated across Canada ever since.

By the time he launched what was to become known as Canadian Club in 1884, the production method had evolved to one that is now recognisably a Canadian style.The whisky was made up of very strong base spirit mixed with a considerably weaker flavoured spirit,often made with rye. For this purpose a copper pot still was used to make a heavy, oilrich rye.

The resulting whisky was lighter and cleaner than whisky would have been at the time, and it was an immediate success, prompting other producers to turn to the same production methods.

The distillery was expanded in 1894, with great fanfare, and a town grew up around it to accommodate distillery employees.Known as Walkerville, the area is still home to the original distillery and much of it is a throwback to Hiram Walker's time.The production methods haven't changed massively either, and much of the old equipment remains in place though not necessarily in use.

Canadian Club has of course remained a world famous brand, but under its name there are a range of whiskies.Mostly they are distilled and then blended before maturing.Th...

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