The Twelve Whiskies of Christmas

December 12, 2011


When the festive season rolls around and Christmas cheer is on every lip, the discussion turns to gift giving. And which whisky will that special someone choose for me this year? Here are some suggestions (hint, hint) for the discerning gift giver – and for the thankful gift receiver: 12 (plus one) whiskies that any self-respecting whisky lover would be thrilled to find in their Christmas stocking or sip with Santa by the fire.

Canadian Club Classic 12 This is the most Christmassy of the Canadian Club range. It’s sweet and spicy and a most versatile drink indeed as it works well as a sweet and flavourful sipper, a robust mixer, and, with its spicy notes, will add flavour and zip to a glass of eggnog.  CC Classic 12 is available at LCBO for $24.40.

Collingwood A new flavour from an established distillery, Collingwood took Canada by storm in 2011. Loads of robust rye notes have been bolstered by extra time spent in a marrying vat with staves of toasted maple. The result? A fruity, spicy quality unmatched in any other whisky. On sale now for $27.95.

Crown Royal Limited Edition Crown Royal is the best-selling Canadian whisky in the world, but this special Limited Edition is only available in Canada, making it well worth a trip north across the border for someone state-side wanting to get Dad something really special this year. Canadian dads, of course, will be just as pleased to receive a bottle. $37.45.

Pendleton 1910 12 years old Exclusivity operates on both sides of the border. Available only in the U.S. is this exclusive Canadian rye whisky bottled by Oregon’s Hood River Distillers. It is a couple of cowboy-belt notches above the original already popular version of Pendleton. The fancy bottle it comes in is carefully sculpted but it’s the juice inside it that really impresses. And Dad will be impressed that you crossed the border to buy him a special aged Canadian rye. Available in the U.S. for $39.95.

Royal Canadian Small Batch New for 2011 Royal Canadian Small Batch is a fruity, up-market version of an old Canadian favourite. It’s rich and flavourful for fireside sipping or a midnight nip. And the bottle is a bit classier too, making it a dram Dad would be proud to serve his most welcome guests. $37.95 at LCBO.

White Owl Real rye whisky with the colour filtered out, White Owl is made for cocktail drinkers who want to raise their game. Funny thing though, once whisky drinkers started sipping it, White Owl became the most successful new whisky ever introduced by Highwood Distillers. It is still selling like hotcakes so don’t wait till the last minute to get yours. White Owl opens new possibilities for cocktails and mixed drinks.  $39.75 at LCBO.

Danfield’s 21 Available right across Canada, though in limited quantities, Danfield’s 21 year old is a connoisseur’s delight. Rich corn whisky is accented by long-aged rye to produce an unparalleled whisky which is both sweet and piled high with crisp Canadian wood. A wonderful sipper. Currently $45.75 at LCBO.

Alberta Premium 30 This 30-year old all rye whisky from Alberta Distillers was the big whisky story of 2011. It was much anticipated and sold quickly but persistent shoppers will still find bottles in liquor stores in Alberta, Ontario, and points in between.  At $49.95 for a 750 ml bottle of 30-year-old whisky, it also has to be the whisky bargain of the year.

Wiser’s Legacy Pot-distilled rye whisky is mingled with just enough malted rye and corn to broaden the palate of one of the spiciest whiskies on the market. Legacy is made according to an original J.P. Wiser recipe, showcasing the ageless skills of one of the founders of the Canadian whisky style. Its substantial square decanter and wooden stopper make a great first impression that carries over into every glass. $49.95 at LCBO.

Masterson’s Rye The best of the Canadian straight ryes, Masterson’s has the punch of straight rye whisky with the smooth elegance that Masterson’s masterful minglers so skillfully produce. Strong, rich, robust and complex, it remains ever so sippable. You’ll have to go state-side to buy this one, but it’s worth the trip. Rumours have it coming home to Canada in the New Year, but do you really want to make Dear Old Dad wait until then?  $54.99 at Shoppers Vineyard.

Forty Creek John’s Private Cask No. 1 Forty Creek has an impressive line-up of whiskies and this is one of the best, a real “spice monster.” John’s Private Cask is the latest of John Hall’s limited, one-time-only small-batch releases. The combination of creamy body and robust flavours is sure to please that hard-to-buy-for whisky lover. Sells in Canada for a bargain $69.95.

Gibson’s 18 This whisky generates more fan mail on than any other with its sophisticated synthesis of creamy grain flavours and clear crisp wood. Soft, supple, and oh so elegant.  This is a true contemplative to savour slowly by the embers of the Yule log. Available in very limited supply at $74.75.

Glen Breton Battle of the Glen 15 years old Glenora Distillers’ finest single malt whisky is distilled and matured in the Highlands of Cape Breton. Fifteen years have smoothed the spirit to silk, creating a rich single malt whisky with a full bouquet of fresh orchard fruits and wild flowers. It sells for $150.00, but you’ll have to do a bit of searching as it is no longer available at LCBO.

So there you have it: twelve Christmas whiskies to make Christmas morning just that much more special.  And as that famous song tells us, there are actually 12 Days of Christmas. So don’t limit yourself to just one of these choices. Why not try a different one on each of the 12 days (and an extra one for Boxing Day)? “On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me… Hohoho! Merry Christmas!


11 Responses to “The Twelve Whiskies of Christmas”

  1. Emmett Hossack:


    I like your selection. Have tasted 7 of your Twelve Whiskies of Christmas.

    Did not see on your site any reference to Urban Whisky which is distilled in Kelowna, BC, see – Had an opportunity in October to visit with Mike Urban in Kelowna. He adds an index finger size piece of an oak whisky barrel to a bottle of distillate and you decide when the taste is to your liking. Have ordered 6 bottles for tastings at my two whisky tasting clubs: the Ottawa Whisky Guild and the Ottawa Single Malt Fellowship.

    If you ever travel to Ottawa, let me know. Perhaps we could arrange a wee tasting.

    Warm whisky regards,


  2. Chris Brown:

    Thanks for a great selection. I’ve been playing catch-up with my Canadian whiskey knowledge and your site has played a huge part in dropping the learning curve.

    To think that I’ve been trooping to Seattle to buy Thomas Handy and Rendezvous Rye when there was such a great selection here at home. (By the way Caribou Crossing is on a sell-off in Washington State for about $37/bottle with a very few bottles left according to their system).

    The selection here in B.C. is sketchy at best with John’s Private Cask and Alberta Premium 30 long gone. (Luckily I have family in Alberta and I managed to find a stash of the AP 30 and a good supply of John’s Private Cask that will be waiting for me when I go home for New Years!). Still trying to decide whether to go for the Confederation Oak as well since it never made it here…

    Keep up the good work and can’t wait to see what you’ve chosen for the New Years tipple!


    • Davin:

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your kind words. My New Year’s tipple hails from Mexico – but it’s real Canadian rye.

  3. Adam McCarthy:

    G’day All,

    Thank you Davin. The rumour is true, Masterson’s 10 Year, Straight Rye Whisky is currently moving into Canada with limited availability of course! If you are a distributor, or looking for more information, please feel free to contact me at

    Emmett, I look forward to yourself and your members tasting Mastersons.

    Chris, I’m sure some will end up in BC for you as well.

    Happy Holidays

    • Davin:

      Hi Adam,
      Thanks for the update. It would be super if you could keep us up to speed as your distribution in Canada gels.

  4. Looking over your wish list I think I’ll have to gift myself with a few of these this Christmas!

    • Davin:

      Great! Let me know which ones you get.

  5. Shawn:

    I’m new to the fine tastes of whiskey and have tried a handful of Scotch, Irish & American whiskey’s……and Canadian whiskey. I mention the Canadian whisky separately as it has a hands-down winning taste when compared to the whiskey of other countries. Sadly in Australia, CC is the only readily available Canadian whiskey (although it is a fine drop & a good ambassador for Canada). I did have the opportunity to do a bit of travel around California recently & tasted Canadian Mist, Black Velvet and Crown Royal. These served to wet my appetite and I’m now in the process of convincing my wife that we should holiday in Canada for the pure natural spectacle Canada has to offer[ ;) ].

    • Davin:

      Glad you like our whisky Shawn. There’s a lot in Canada that just never makes it out of the country. Enjoy your visit.

  6. Lauren:

    In the next year or two there will be a few new whiskies to come out of British Columbia. Shelter Point Distillery and Pemberton Distillery are producing grain to glass single malt whiskies which will be aged for the minimum required 3 years in oak. Victoria Spirits and Okanagan Spirits in BC are producing aged blended and malt whiskies. And Still Waters Distillery out of Ontario is producing an aged grain to glass single malt as well. Exciting times for Canadian whisky!

    • Davin:

      Hi Lauren,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, among the small distilleries there are no “grain to glass” whisky operations yet, simply because no one has been putting spirit away for long enough for it to be legally called whisky, or, more importantly, for it to have matured long enough to be ready to bottle. But I am really looking forward to that day, and you have named all of the prime contenders.

Leave a Reply