Canadian whisky used to enormously popular. Back in the sixties, it was considered something sophisticated. Sadly, those days are past. In fact, Jim Murray of the annual Whisky Bible fame calls Canada the “forgotten whisky empire”, and he’s not wrong. Single malt Scotch is the reigning king of the whisky world, while bourbon is alternately a gentleman’s or tough guy’s spirit, and newcomers like Japan, India, and the US craft spirit scene are intriguing underdogs.
Thankfully, Canadian whisky has a champion in Davin de Kergommeaux. A trained sommelier, contributing editor to Whisky Magazine, and all-round whisky aficionado, de Kergommeaux is an unabashed fan of Canada’s contributions to the world of brown spirits, and his book, Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert, is a battle cry for those of us who love the stuff.
Valuing a thorough approach, de Kergommaeux has broken his book into five parts. The first two parts deal with the ingredients of whisky and the process of creating it and is written with a scientific bent, albeit in language a layman can understand. The third part—and in my opinion, the best part—has to do with tasting: how to taste whisky, and why whisky tastes the way it does. The fourth part is a brief but fascinating history of whisky distilling in this country, and the final part is a tour of the nine major distilleries operating in Canada today.
Sprinkled throughout the book are tasting notes for over one hundred Canadian whiskies, ensuring that if you aren’t enjoying a tipple when you start reading, you’ll reach for a bottle shortly. Actually, as you read further, your shopping list of Canadian whiskies will grow. I’m not suggesting that this is a defect; in my mind, it’s a feature.
Dave Robson is the editor of DailyXY. He spends his time reading books, drinking Scotch, and smoking cigars.