Distilled Sunshine

Clash of the Canadians


I’ve put together four Canadian whiskys, and felt it was time to do a comparative tasting. Our lovely contestants this evening are

Snake River Stampede small batch Canadian Whisky,
Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve,
Ellington Reserve aged 8 years,
Pendleton Rye 12 years old.

But let’s begin at the beginning, what exactly is Canadian whisky, and how is it distinct from other whiskys? Alrighty then, assuming (a) you clicked that link and read up on it,  (b) you didn’t read it, because you’re already a master of your domain in whisky knowledge, or (c) “Zeus almighty, no one cares, just tell me what they’re like,” let’s dig in:

Absolutely fascinating! They all have something of a similar flavor profile. Just like most bourbons have commonalities, ryes have commonalities, or Islay Scotches – these Canadian whiskys were similar.

Look into this: Could it be due to the fact that they all were aged in ex-bourbon barrels? How many then aged further in ex-sherry casks?

The Ellington is a bottom shelf Canadian blended whisky import. The lightest I tasted in today’s series. It has a more pleasing slight sherry flavor, but it’s a quite thin. The finish is entirely lacking. Not something that I would ever recommend. For another opinion, you can check out Drinkhacker – Drinking the Bottom Shelf Vol. 2: Canadian Whisky.

Snake River Stampede, well that’s an usual name?  It is named after the Snake River Stampede rodeo, now held in Nampa, Idaho. It began in 1913 and has been going strong ever since.

“It is one of the top twelve professional rodeos recognized by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and is held for five days every year during the third week of July.” ( wikipedia)

This comes from Indio Spirits. They note that this a blend of 4 to 8 year old “Canadian whiskeys aged in bourbon barrels and finished in sherry casks for 6 months.” 40% ABV, 80 proof.

Snake River Stampede is stronger and has much more of a spice edge. On the palate it is sweet, and also spicy, maybe some crème brûlée. This has been aged longer than the Ellington and has a higher amount of rye blended in. It has a more desirable heavy mouthfeel, although there’s that bit of a woody & spicey bite. Has an almost ginger-ale like finish. My judgement? This would be quite excellent as a mixer!  Just not special enough to buy as a straight sipper. For another view, see the review by Canadian whisky expert, Davin de Kergommeaux

The Forty Creek Copper Pot is a rich heavy flavor bomb, an amazing explosion of sherried coppery whisky – which tastes almost like chocolate as it hits the front of your palate. Read more about Forty Creek Copper Pot Reserve

As for the Pendleton Rye, it has one of the most gorgeous bottles I have seen. Hint of vanilla, sweet, none of the alcohol burn that some associate with whiskey. The peppery rye flavor is more subtle than in other ryes. A very pleasant and easy drink. Not too complex, and lighter than the many higher proof offerings. Read more on the Pendleton 1910 Rye

Here are some other Canadian whiskys that I have reviewed – however none of these tasted like the four I sampled here today.

Canadian Hunter Blended Canadian Whiskey

Crown Royal

Pike Creek Whisky Finished in Port Barrels

Whistlepig 10 year rye (Behind the nonsense Vermont marketing, this is a Canadian)