Canadian Whisky Awards 2011 held January 19, 2012 at Victoria Whisky Festival

Canadian Whisky Awards 2011

October 27, 2012


The Canadian Whisky Awards ceremony will once again be held in Victoria B.C. in January. Producers contemplating participation this year can have a look below at how things went last year.  Entries close in early November and are restricted to whisky that has been distilled in Canada.  Good luck to all entrants.

Canadian Whisky Awards 2011 Announced

(scroll down for the complete list of winners)

The winners of the Canadian Whisky Awards for 2011 were revealed tonight at a ceremony in Victoria B.C. These awards are just like the Oscars. No-one knows the winner until the envelope is opened. Scroll down to go straight to the list. Keep reading to find out why they won.

Canadian Whisky of the Year went to John Hall for his Forty Creek, John’s Private Cask No. 1. Trevor Walsh accepted a gold medal for Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 year old, and Richard Zeller of Sonoma California’s 35 Maple Street was on hand to accept his gold medal for Masterson’s Rye. Gold medals were also awarded to Wiser’s Legacy and Wiser’s Small Batch.

Margaret Tucker accepted an Award of Excellence for Canadian Club on behalf of Beam Inc. Brown-Forman’s Ryan Cheverie took home three Awards of Excellence, one each for Collingwood, Canadian Mist, and Canadian Mist Black Diamond. Awards of Excellence were also presented for Alberta Springs 10 year old, Canada Gold, and White Owl Whisky.

Glenora Distillers was recognized for twenty years of distilling single malt whisky in Canada. Congratulations to all the people who make and sell these winning whiskies.

Canadian Whisky Awards FAQs

How are the winners selected?

A jury of experienced whisky tasters and spirits judges samples each whisky blind and assigns a score. Awards are based on the aggregate scores.

Who is on the jury?

The jury for 2011 included Jason Debly, André Girard, Mark Gillespie, Kris Shoemaker, Chip Dykstra, and Lawrence Graham, with Davin de Kergommeaux as the Chairman of the Judges.

What are the judges’ qualifications?

The judges are all independent whisky writers including bloggers, print journalists, and one broadcaster. Each has demonstrated a particular interest in Canadian whisky through reviews and comments on the web and in print. Care was taken to ensure good representation from across the country.

Why whisky writers and bloggers?

One of the accomplishments of these awards is that they provide an opportunity for experienced whisky writers to taste blind a number of Canadian whiskies they might not otherwise get to taste.

How are the competing whiskies chosen?

The whisky makers are invited to select their very best whiskies for the competition, thus giving the judges more Canadian whisky experiences to write and talk about.

Why are there only five gold medalists?

One goal of the awards is to help whisky connoisseurs around the world recognize that Canadian whiskies can hold their own on the world stage. A large number of gold medals might generate short-term interest. However, to ensure the credibility of the awards the long-term strategy is to make sure that the whiskies earn their medals honestly in a rigorous competition where knowledgeable and independent judges give them long and careful scrutiny. This means that  silver and bronze medals are also marks of distinction, awarded only to worthy competitors. There are no participation awards.

Normally autumn is awards season. Why are the Canadian Whisky Awards held after the Christmas rush?

The goal is not to fuel the Christmas frenzy, but to steadily build a strong base of knowledge concerning the very best Canadian whiskies. Neither are these awards about improving search engine optimization to generate maximum Christmas traffic to the judges’ blogs and websites. Rather, they are intended to be a reliable source of information for people wishing to identify the best Canadian whiskies all year round. The winners will be just as flavourful next December when Christmas rolls around once more.

Are these awards a public relations exercise for the Canadian Whisky Industry?

No.  Operated on a not-for-profit basis the Canadian Whisky Awards are fully independent of the Canadian whisky industry.

Canadian Whisky Awards 2011 – The Winners

(Click names of winners for more information)

Domestic Market WinnersOverall highest scoring whisky available in the Canadian market only.

Connoisseur Whisky of the Year

Forty Creek John’s Private Cask No. 1

Sippin’ whisky of the Year

Alberta Springs 10 year old

Whisky value of the Year

Canada Gold

Export Market WinnersOverall highest scoring whisky available outside Canada only.

Connoisseur Whisky of the Year

Masterson’s Rye

Sippin’ whisky of the year

Canadian Mist Black Diamond

Multiple Market WinnersOverall highest scoring whisky available both in the Canadian market and outside Canada.

Connoisseur Whisky of the Year

Wiser’s Legacy

Sippin’ whisky of the year

Wiser’s Small Batch

Whisky value of the year

Canadian Mist

Overall Winners and Awards of Excellence

Best New Whisky of the YearOverall highest scoring new release of 2011.

Forty Creek John’s Private Cask No. 1

Canadian Whisky of the YearOverall highest scoring whisky of 2011.

Forty Creek John’s Private Cask No. 1

Award of Excellence, Innovation The whisky that in the judges’ opinion has most broadened the appeal of Canadian whisky through innovation.

White Owl Whisky

Award of Excellence, Line ExtensionThe whisky that in the judges’ opinion most successfully exemplifies a new version of an old favourite.


Award of Excellence, Canadian Whisky ProfileThe whisky that in the judges’ opinion has most contributed to raising the profile of Canadian whisky through promotional activities and publicity.

Canadian Club

Distillery of the Year A special acknowledgement of Glenora Distillery for twenty successful years making single malt whisky in Canada.

Glenora Inn and Distillery

Gold medalists:

Wiser’s Small Batch

Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 year old

Wiser’s Legacy

Forty Creek John’s Private Cask No. 1

Masterson’s Rye

Silver medalists:

Forty Creek Barrel Select

Canadian Club Sherry Cask

Royal Canadian Small Batch

Canadian Mist Black Diamond

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

Forty Creek Confederation Oak

Caribou Crossing Single Barrel

Wiser’s 18

Gibson’s Finest 12 Year Old

Pendleton 1910

Alberta Springs 10 year old

Canadian Club Reserve

Bronze medalists:


Gibson’s Finest Sterling


Canada Gold

Centennial Limited Edition

Canadian Mist

Canadian Club Classic 12

White Owl Whisky

Canadian Whisky Awards 2010 are reported here.

Canadian Whisky Awards 2012 are reported here.


21 Responses to “Canadian Whisky Awards 2011”

  1. paddockjudge:

    In my opinion there should have been one more gold medalist this year – you, a true ambassador for Canadian whisky.

    Your insight and careful attention to detail allow those of us on the fringes to be a part of the whisky scene.

    Thank you Mr. Chairman.

  2. Igor Kossov:

    Your energy amazing,Your connosseiurship and knowledges- Wikipedic.
    Congrats and keep up Your great work for years to come.
    Thank You!!!

    • Davin:

      Thanks a lot Igor. Very kind words.

  3. sku:

    Nicely done!

    So did Alberta not submit the 30 year old? I remember it getting a very good review from you.

    Now this is all very good Davin, but you need a catchier name for your awards. I mean, I know you’re Canadian and all, but you could still have something a bit more flashy. The Candies? The Blendies? Or maybe Malt Maniacs style…the Crazy Canadians? The Provincial Palates? The Maple Leaf Maniacs? I’ll be expecting something with panache for next year.

    • Davin:

      I’d prefer not to talk about whiskies other than the winners, but I do think Alberta Premium 30 year old was one of the gems of 2011.

      The Maple Leaves? We Canadians can be quite conservative.


  4. Yello to Mello:

    Good work judges!

    I hope I get a chance to buy a Masterson’s one day.

    • Chris Brown:

      Good work on the awards Davin. I can’t argue with your top choices although I’d give the edge to the Legacy over John’s Private Cask (so far). It’s truly amazing how much variation there is in my glass from just one bottle over a number of sipping sessions. (I’ve learned not to pass judgement until at least half way through and over a period of days or even weeks.)

      The Legacy, when I first opened it, had an almost overpowering nose of sweet,gingery cake that settled down substantially over repeated tries. If I’d judged it on the first try alone I would have found it too cloying.

      Can I ask if your judging session were done over a period of time with each individual receiving their bottles or were you all together for one session?
      Also, by asking the various distillers to offer their best, how does that give you a potentially better selection than if you chose yourselves? (I can definitely see that for budgetary reasons this would make great sense though.)

      With this criteria Alberta Premium 30 was almost guaranteed to miss the cut as there was no incentive for the makers to offer what they have already sold out of. This is kind of sad as in it’s quiet way it is a phenomenal bottle. Perhaps there should be a category for judges to vote for an outstanding bottle that is no longer available but that was sold in the previous year?

      • Davin:

        Hi Chris,

        Thanks for your kind words. Judges rated the whiskies in their own homes or offices, in private and with no knowledge of what they were tasting. It was 100% blind with no possibility of one judge influencing another.

        This was a building year for the competition. We are discussing ways to improve it for next year.

  5. [...] 2011 Canadian Whisky Awards [...]

  6. Hurray for the Masterson’s best thing you’ve sent to the states in a long time

  7. Greg:

    I’m surprised the Wisers 18 only achieved Silver. That offering has received some decent press here in the States. I attended a whiskey tasting event this last weekend where 275 selections were available to sample, unfortunately, Canadian was not represented that I could find.

    • Davin:

      Yes, Wiser’s 18 is an absolute classic and one of my favourite whiskies of all time. Whisky Advocate picked it as their Canadian Whisky of the Year just weeks after our results came out.
      Sometimes when you have a team of judges there are some surprises.

  8. Sailor Joe:

    Where are the awards held this year?

    Is it open to the public?


    • Davin:

      The Awards will be held in Victoria again this year on the Thursday of the Victoria Whisky Festival. Yes, members of the public are welcome to attend. People from the trade can book through me, members of the public should consult the Victoria Whisky Festival website and follow instructions there to book directly with the hotel. This will not be posted for another week or two.

  9. John:

    A few years ago, I picked up a bottle of Canadian Mist because it was cheap (US$14.99 for 1.5L). I thought it would be fine for mixing with cola, as I often do for a summer cocktail. I tried it neat and was pleasantly surprised. It has a sweet, clean taste, nice heat, and no wicked hangover. It is fine on the rocks or with a splash of soda. The value of this BF product cannot be overstated.

  10. [...] Canadian Whisky Awards 2011 are reported here. [...]

  11. [...] Canadian Whisky Awards 2011 are reported here. [...]

  12. Gus:

    I just read the reviews and looked at the products tested, I noticed you missed testing one of the best Canadian wiskey’s I’ve ever had. I think you guys should try Tangle Ridge ( I think only available in Alberta). It’s a 10 year old double casked rye that runs at a price point similar to Crown Royal

  13. [...] Canadian Whisky Awards 2011 are reported here: [...]

  14. [...] Canadian Whisky Awards 2011 are reported here: [...]

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