2017, Books

Canadian Whisky, Second Edition: The New Portable Expert (2017) by Davin de Kergommeaux

I’m Canadian but I know every little about Canadian whisky. For most of my adult life I’ve definitely conflated “rye” and “Canadian” and only knew that some whiskies were Canadian through osmosis. Aside from a period of drinking “CC & G” as my go-to cocktail and another period of always having Wiser’s at home (usually mixing it with maple syrup….) I really haven’t cared about Canadian whisky either. But, the older I get and the more I can about drinking good liquor (as opposed to any liquor) I figure I should know what’s good and what’s not. So I guess that’s how I found my way to this book. Because I have an idea of what I like when it comes to Scotch and I figured I should figure out if there is Canadian whisky I really like.

De Kergommeaux is passionate and enthusiastic. It’s no wonder he’s become the unofficial spokesman for the country’s whiskies, as you’re unlikely to find another person who knows as much and cares as much outside of actual distillery employees. His book is extremely easy to read and combines history with details about differing techniques and his own reviews of many different whiskies. I got this book from the library but, if I try a few of his recommendations and find myself liking them as much as I like mescal or peaty scotch, I can see myself buying it.

My biggest critique is that the history can get a little convoluted. That’s not de Kergommeaux’s fault entirely, as the story is very convoluted. But I had a little bit of a hard time remembering who was distilling where and how. As a neophyte I don’t yet care how much rye is added but some kind of graphical formula breakdown might have helped me keep the different kinds straight, at least during the history section of the book.

I understand that experts usually don’t like to rank things but another thing that would have been useful would have been a list of, say, 10 Canadian whiskies to get started with, or 10 classics or whatever. Something more than just the tasting notes. Because, frankly, I don’t actually know which whisky to try based on his tasting notes without re-reading all of them and taking my own notes. Sure, I can do that, but it would have been useful to have somewhere to start beyond the tasting notes.

But, on the whole, this was a very good introduction to something I know basically nothing about.


If you have a recommendation on your favourite Canadian whisky, please do comment.

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