Sazerac's Canadian Hunter Canadian Whisky - (formerly Seagram's)

Canadian Hunter 40% alc./vol. (80 proof)

March 4, 2012


Faint spirit evolves into robust rye spices with rich butterscotch, hints of dry grain, and ripe dark fruits. Very flavourful and mouth-filling with sizzling pepper, fleshy dark fruits and lime peel. Spicy Rye. ★★★☆

Canadian Hunter was long a staple whisky in the line-up from the House of Seagram. Seagram’s first distilled the whisky at its plant in Waterloo, Ontario. Following the death in 1971 of Sam Bronfman, who had brought the Seagram’s whisky brands to global domination, the company lost its way. Sam’s grandson, Edgar Bronfman, finally just cast the family heritage to the wind at the turn of this century. The Canadian whisky brands his grandfather had nurtured so carefully, and newer ones such as Canadian Hunter, which was introduced in 1984, were dispersed. But they were not lost altogether. Canadian Hunter eventually found a welcoming home with the Sazerac Company of New Orleans.

Sazerac takes its Canadian whisky portfolio very seriously. Its Canadian whisky team is led by Drew Mayfield, a Canadian whisky man who was the last chief distiller at Seagram’s before that company imploded. Canadian whisky, of course, can be made only in Canada, and this is why Sazerac now has hundreds of thousands of barrels of Canadian whisky ageing in Canadian whisky warehouses. From this ready supply Sazerac blends upwards of twenty different Canadian whisky brands, most of them with distribution limited to the U.S. market.

The label on the Canadian Hunter bottle has been updated recently. However, it still retains its image of the mushing huskies that continue to provide transportation in some of Canada’s more remote northern communities.

Nose: Simple and straight forward Canadian rye whisky with sweet baking spices, butterscotch, dry grain, and dark fruit. An initial wisp of spirit quickly develops rich aromas of sweet caramel, typical Canadian rye spices, and a broad ripe fruitiness.

Palate: Sweet, peppery, rich and mouth-filling. This is a big flavourful though not overly complex whisky. The creamy caramel holds steady throughout while hot pepper, ripples of clean oak – and in the background sweet dark fruit including prunes and dried currants – provide substance and body. It is loaded with sweet baking spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg and throbbingly hot ginger, with a wonderfully peppery burn. Round and mouth-filling, its strength is in its straightforward simplicity.

Finish: Longish. Clean but sweet on the finish with dry linen, hints of oak, bitter lemon rind, and pleasingly tingly spices. You can almost hear it calling for ginger ale.

Empty glass: Not a lot, maybe a bit toffeeish with hints of lumber.

$10.00 at liquor stores in the U.S.

Recommended ★★★☆


42 Responses to “Canadian Hunter 40% alc./vol. (80 proof)”

  1. Darko Vusir:

    Wow! Nice review. I haven’t had this since the ’80′s. I remember buying a 1.75 litre bottle in Buffalo for like 10 bucks or so.
    I think, next time I go across the ditch, I’ll pick up a bottle or two for old times sake.

    Thanks for the review.

    • Davin:

      Thanks Darko, Yes, it’s really kind of nice and I quite enjoyed it.

  2. ed:

    just tryed it for the frist time and i have to say it’s real good

  3. I work at the Army& Airforce Exchange in New there a distributor

    • Davin:

      Hi Ben,

      Sorry, I do not know. Best to check with whoever distributes Sazerac there.


  4. Skipper:

    People have called this the “Poor mans Crown Royal”. Is it really good enough that people would compare it to Crown Royal?

    • Davin:

      It does have quite a few fans, that’s for sure.

    • clark:

      No. I would only say that it’s slightly less palatable than Jack Daniels. I would rate it above similarly-priced whiskeys though. Crown is MUCH better than Canadian Hunter. You get what you pay for.

  5. Leroy Bragg:

    Drank Crown for many years, got tired of paying for a blue bag then throw it away.Bought Canadian Hunter and will never go back.

  6. keith:

    just finished the last bottle of the old style and compared the old with the new US version before all of the old was gone. Its not the same..while close the original is better….much better. Hope they can figure it out. I’m refering to Canadian Hunter. Keith

  7. Brittany:

    i work in a liqour store in Alberta.. i have a customer who is looking for this type of whiskey.. is it avaliable anywhere in Alberta??

    • Davin:

      To my knowledge this is not distributed in Canada. If any store in Alberta has it it would be Kensington Wine Market in Calgary. I’d call first as it’s a long shot.

      • Brittany:

        Okay i will have to do that then… kinda odd its Canadian and isnt sold here!! haha but thank you :)

      • Brittany:

        nevermind!! haha that ones a bust they dont have it either

  8. Matt:

    I got given a bottle of this and was unsure about it. I drink Gibson’s gold regularly and I found Canadian Hunter really pleasant. The spices and after taste are delicious. Thanks for the great review, I was thinking about re-gifting this bottle before I read this.

  9. Lavon:

    My husband loves Canadian Hunter; he has bought it for decades. However, he can no longer get it in the state of New Hampshire. Is that a permanent situation? Can he get it in MA, ME. or VT????

    If not, can your recommend another product that tastes similar???? HELP!!!!!

    • Davin:

      Hi, I am a whisky writer and I do not make or sell whisky and I am not sure where Canadian Hunter is sold. I do know there is lots of it our there so maybe try another store. Sorry, that’s the best I can do.

  10. Nate:

    I was curious who would carry Canadian Hunter Whiskey in the Charlevoix Michigan area. Thanks for your help.

    • Davin:

      Sorry, no idea. I write about whisky but I do not sell it.

  11. BayouBoy:

    Us Cajuns down here in Louisiana on da Bayou are leaving Crown Royal and changing to Canadian Hunter because its smoother and doesn’t hit you as hard as Crown Royal does. Try Candian Hunter with Coke or Diet Cole It’s Really SMOOTH!

  12. Ramrodsix:

    Here is Texas we call it “Cowboy Crown”. The local/national/international motorcycle club switched from Crown Royal to Canadian Hunter for their club house because it was great tasting but cheaper. The call it “Two Dogs”.

  13. jerryontap:

    I manage a Grocery Store that sells Hunter. We had a guy that was calling around trying to find this while he was in town so he could take some back home. He talked it up and as like many compared it to Crown. I had to give Hunter a try and like most was surprised and impressed that such a low cost liquor could be this good. I recommend it to anyone that comes in undecided and have never heard anything but positive from people. Give it a try, only out $8.00 at our store if you don’t care for it.

  14. Walt:

    Where can I buy in Mesa Arizona ?

    • Davin:

      Not sure, you’ll have to check the liquor store.

      • Trevor Smith:

        Total wine in Chandler or bevmo in tempe also red devil May have it as well as Chandler liquor. Im a C-town kid. Have a good one and enjoy P.S. Its under 10$ for a 750ml

  15. jws1272:

    Snagged a “traveller” bottle of this for $8.50 at a store in a nearby Cleveland suburb (Brook Park) that sells some interesting stuff. (Only place I’ve ever seen a “handle” (1.5 Liter) of St. Remy brandy. Very tempting!!!) Quite some good stuff. Had a couple of glasses, but might snag another bottle for my libation for a B-movie/grindhouse/drive-in movie convention that we’re attending next weekend…..(it’s also a GREAT 2 1/2 day PARTY!!)
    I haven’t found a bad entry yet in my exploration/consumption of Canadian whisky.

    • jws1272:

      Thank you so much, Davin, for your great reviews!! I’d read the review in the past, so I knew my purchase wasn’t without good merit. I’d been into that store a few times, but hadn’t made any purchases. I figured that was a minimal buy, but, DAMN, that buy definitely was a VALUE. Just made a “Hunter & Branch” with some Gerolsteiner mineral water. Deee-lish!!!

  16. Anyone notice the slight change in the Canadian Hunter label around mid-2014. Old label said, “Canadian Whiskey – a Blend.” New label says, “Canadian Whiskey with Natural Flavors.” What’s up with that? Could be marketing, but I suspect a recipe change.

    • Davin:

      They are forever tweaking the labels to give them a fresh look. Some brands, Glenlivet 12 for instance, have dozens and dozens of variants.

  17. Shane:

    Bought two bottles of Canada hunter the other day, opened one it was normal in taste. When I opened the second bottle, it tasted weird and then I tasted it again, it was like my brothers drink of choice, captain Morgans spiced rum. I looked at the bottles one had Canada hunter imported the other did not show imported. I had to go to the neighbors get some real whiskey (even wiilliams) prefer jack if canadan hunter is not around, but baggers can not be chooses.
    Have they did a coke thing and chaged from good to bad?

  18. Shane:

    Forgot to say this new bottle was nasty tasting, I will have to move on after 20 years with Canada hunter.

    • Davin:

      Sorry you didn’t like that one Shane, but look on the bright side: now you are motivated to try other whiskies. There are loads of good ones out there.

  19. Ron:

    I have been enjoying hunters rye for about a year now i love the flavor and it has a very nice afterbite but hey for $12.00 a bottle its good enough to take off that nasty edge of anxiety that this dang world causes me… Cheers ah

  20. Shane:

    Ron tell us what you think when you try the new Canadian Hunter with with the new label, that does not have imported on it. Emailed Sazerac, reply was new label because of a new blend.

  21. donka:

    need to find a store that carries this in So. California. cannot find it anywhere

  22. Dominic:

    I’m not a big whisky person, just bought this like 3 hours ago, only mine is 90 proof. Here’s my experience so far. It’s not overly flavorful which is not a bad thing, I don’t like strongly flavored whisky. It burns like HELL taking a shot, but the burn is so short, and it only took like two or three seconds for the burn to go away fully. On my third shot it made me cough out my nose just a little which isn’t completely unusual for me as I’m only 21 still, but I am a pretty strong drinker. The flavor is pretty bad like most liquors but it’s bearable, just not smooth. Finally, the buzz is actually quite nice. Not the most warm buzz ever but I feel good. If you’re looking for a fine, smooth, and easy to drink whisky then this isn’t for you. If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck to get a decent feeling buzz off of then this is perfect.

  23. rasta:

    We have it on tha outside of our town. $10.49 for a 5th. I’m a collector and yes I will put it in we have a one Called Texas Crown Whiskey made from Canada

  24. Chrishook321:

    I live in north east Texas and can find Canadian hunter in all liquor stores.
    Yes I started buying it as an alternative to the high expense of crown royal (which we still love) but I have recently stopped making highballs with Coke and switched to
    seagrams ginger ale out of a can as 2 liters lose the bubbly too fast.
    Excellent highball!!

  25. Ed Crimmins:

    I defy the world to find a better value for the dollar.

    Canadian Hunter has a nice pleasantly gentle and complex flavor and does not lead to bad hangover side effects—should you make a small mistake and have one too many…some less expensive products like this can hurt you, as I am sure you know..pretty smooth for the price….

    If anybody has a similar value recommendation, please send it along!

  26. Monkey Wrench:

    Fantastic overview of an awesome whisky!!
    Loved the history, and devoured every word written.

    Thank you, Davin!! :)

    Monkey Wrench

  27. Gavin:

    As an experienced whiskey connoisseur, I like to trust my whiskey choices to my senses. I walk into a state liquor store blind folded and decided to let a whiskey choose me. I have tasted some of the best whiskies in the world, so I was a little surprised when fate chose Canadian Hunter for me. 750 ml of barrel aged Canadian Whiskey, what more could I ask for. I think what really polishes off the flavor is the #2 plastic used for precise flavor preservation. I can honestly say it was love at first taste. Seeing the statuesque man in a green velvet/polar bear fur coat with his two dogs, Sparky and Lyle, my life was completed. I thought once I had consumed my first bottle the experience was over. Little did I know, the “Hunter Effect” would continue to enchant my life for the coming days. All my life, I was never a runner. Expecting to feel hungover after my first bottle, I was surprised to complete my first sub 9 minute mile. I also had been suffering from depression and a feeling of despair, but suddenly, after Canadian Hunter, my life had meaning again. I didn’t think that life could get much better and life presented me with one more miracle. I was lost, in the woods with a dead cell phone when a bear began to close in trying to get the twix bar from my pocket (the only food I had left). I thought it was over and decided to enjoy my last few minutes of life with a sip of my favorite Canadian Hunter. Just as the sip flowed in my mouth, gently tickling my throat, Parky and Lyle, the Canadian Hunter’s huskies came to the rescue and scared off the bear. I then even sprinkled a little on my phone, and suddenly it was recharged so I could call out for help. Canadian Hunter saved my life and truly held up to its motto so I could “Live to tell the Tail”. Tim Sucks.

  28. Jon:

    I stumbled upon Canadian Hunter by total accident. I was a Canadian Club and Canadian Mist fan by introduction from my folks. Once I tasted two dogs I was astounded. It’s lighter, tastier, and smoother than Crown, CC and mist. I love it on ice with water only. Hunter is “the bomb”
    Great price and quality!!

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