lol at American bartenders trying to tell us Crown Royal isn’t rye.
It’s not tho.
TIL I’ve been lied to for the past fifteen years:
I just checked the LCBO website (and can’t seem to post a screenshot from the phone interface,) but it’s $45 in Ontario nowadays.
Fuck the BCLDB, though.
So the Canadian habit of calling Canadian blended whisky “rye” comes from the early part of the 20th century, when Canadian distillers, in an effort to distinguish their wheat-and-corn mashbills from that of American bourbon, began to add rye to their mash, leading to a slightly spikier, spicier product. Bargoers began to ask their bartenders for (e.g.) “that rye whisky,” referring to the Canadian variant, and the name stuck even as through the 20th century the rye became more expensive/difficult to source and thus was dropped from most distillers’ mashbills.
Crown Royal is basically the least rye-like thing to ever get called a “rye.” Every sip of it should tell you that it takes full advantage of the total Wild West-type regulation of the Canadian liquor industry in order to top off its flavour with bourbon. Plenty of Canadian whiskies from Forty Creek’s surprisingly inexpensive offerings to Century Reserve’s somewhat pricier high-end stuff offer a lot more than anything but the nicest bottles of Crown Royal’s line. You’re paying for nostalgia and for a bag they don’t even give to you with every bottle anymore when you pay for a bottle of Crown Royal. But we’re here to talk rye.
Importing American rye is a pain in the ass but *pulls u aside 2 whisper a secret in ur ear* Alberta Premium makes better rye than a lot of American ryes anyway. To the point where their 10-year blend, Alberta Springs, is imported by premium American rye brand WhistlePig and literally just rebottled on their farm and sold for a profit. Personally I’m a fan of the distillery’s Dark Horse, a 90-proof spirit with rich, toasted flavours and complex notes reminiscent of allspice and dried stonefruit. It’s well under $40 a bottle pretty much wherever you go in Canada and it beats the tar out of, for example, Breakout 8-year rye, an American product that initially cost $58/bottle here in Saskatchewan and dropped down to about $32/bottle after nobody bought it. It’s also to my palate as nice or nicer than Rittenhouse, which was more heavy on the sweeter flavours (dark toffee, toasted-near-burnt marshmallow) than I’d expected for all its talk of spiciness.
Also – a protip is that all of Dark Horse’s flavours meld really, really well with a number of South American single-origin coffees, so a neat party trick for the next couple of months that I’d suggest would be to pick up a bag of Agua Preta from your nearest Intelligentsia retailer and drop, say, a half-cup of beans in the bottom of a mason jar full of Dark Horse and put it in your fridge overnight (at least eight hours). Remove the beans the next day, re-bottle the whisky, and use it along with orange bitters to make one of the better Manhattans you’ve ever had.
Also Saskatchewan has all of you beat in terms of our liquor board not having the stuff it ought to. No Fernet, no Lillet, no Luxardo Maraschino, no nothing. We just got elderflower liqueur in, like, August. Quit yer gripin’!
Important rye infos. And I just bought a bottle of Forty Creek yesterday, as it happens. A bit sweet but good.
It’s a trap!
It’ll only end in biting and kicking.