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Issue 81 - The Canadian new world

Whisky Magazine Issue 81
July 2009


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The Canadian new world

Dave muses on John Hall's approach to whisky making and innovation.

You know, I've never been to a distillery.” I can tell that, I reply. This looks more like a winery. “It is a winery .. and a distillery,” says Forty Creek's John Hall. Makes sense. By this time I'd given up anticipating what to expect. After all, this was my first trip to Canada and I didn't know quite what to expect, other than really nice people that is.

That's what everyone who comes back from Canada says. “They're so... nice” I'd agree with that. They're people who care... maybe a little too much at times.

Toronto must be the only city in the world with a health and safety monument, where plaques record the macabre deaths of various workers, such as Nada Temerinski who ‘died in a landscaping accident', or Dennis Wilbur, whose tragic demise came as a result of ‘an explosion at a fruit juice factory'. I'm still trying to work out though how Edward Tong's ‘death from a bullet wound' was an industrial injury, unless he worked at a bullet testing factory. I suspect Health & Safety is pretty high on the Canadian agenda. It's a country which seems to like rules “ or at least is home to a political class which loves rules, which are adhered to with total inflexibility.

Quite how the whisky lovers at the wonderful, celebratory Spirit of Toronto show put up with the restrictive and absurd regulations of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario is beyond me.

Which brings me back to John Hall, because what I've seen in this brief visit, is a country where innovation...

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