Canadian Mist Canadian whisky

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

November 9, 2011

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Toffee sweet, vanilla, grassy with citric fruits, and a cleansing bitter lemon zest.  Some earthiness, sour mash, rye grain and rye spices, with a youthful spirit. Malty & Dry. ★★★☆

Canadian Mist is one of Canada’s best selling whiskies, but among those who read whisky blogs and discuss whisky on the web, it is probably the most underrated and misunderstood of Canadian whiskies. Why? It is pretty much agreed among the whisky cognoscenti that to make good whisky, it is essential that the new spirit come in contact with copper during the distillation process. About 15 years ago a well-meaning whisky writer stuck his head into the hot and tiny still house at the Canadian Mist distillery, saw 6 shiny, stainless steel columns, and being more familiar with Scottish pots than Canadian columns, decided there was no copper in the stills.

Wrong! In reality, besides the copper doubler and copper piping, the upper trays of the stills were also filled with copper, but he didn’t see it and so he reported otherwise. Ever since then, one whisky writer after another has blithely quoted the misinformed original, spreading this erroneous information, with some even saying, absurdly, they can actually taste the lack of copper. So if you are a fan of tasting notes, be careful what you believe, because, and let me emphasize this, the stills at Canadian Mist are loaded with copper and the whisky they make, though young, is quite simply flawless.

But the urban myths don’t end there. Another widely-held mis-belief is that the scrumptious rye notes in Canadian Mist come from the addition of Early Times in the blending process. Again, wrong! Like Canadian Mist, Early Times is owned by Louisville’s Brown-Forman, but Early Times is a straight Kentucky bourbon whisky, or more recently, an American whisky, so I’m not sure where the rye notes are supposed to come from. In any case, every drop of spirit in Canadian Mist—rye, corn, and barley alike—is distilled at the Canadian Mist distillery in Collingwood, Ontario. Though called a blend by US regulations, it really is a single-distillery whisky. Canadian Mist makes only one product, despite what others have reported, so yes, there really is, in fact, only one Canadian Mist.

Nose: Begins on dry grass with a vague fruitiness which then quickly becomes fruitier with prunes, cranberries, oranges, hints of sherry, and that undefinable rye fruitiness. Rye spices are then joined by rye grain itself and earthy hints of clay. A unique cola-like aroma is a pleasant surprise that hangs on for quite some time as notes of grain mash, hints of fresh beer, and maybe some nuttiness build beneath it. The whisky smells warm and shows its youth with slightly spirity overtones.

Palate: Toffee, caramel, and right away a cleansing bitter citric zest. The oranges predicted in the nose soon arrive, as do waves of hot pepper and, again, hints of cola.  This cola-like flavour, which is quite unusual among Canadian whiskies, comes from pleasing traces of (n)propyl alcohol among the congeners. The whisky quickly becomes fruity with fresh vanilla that supports the sweetness of the toffee notes.

Before long rye spices poke their heads out of the peppery notes along with a floral perfume.  Restrained, but typical rye earthiness grounds the middle which has a lightly creamy mouthfeel.  This creaminess is nicely balanced against a bitter-lemon citric zest. There is a hint of milk chocolate in the creaminess, then, as the zest clears the way, rye spices and hints of wood become more prominent only to be followed by more hot pepper and sweet toffee.

Finish: The finish is medium to short in length, hot and peppery, then fading to sweet toffee. A refreshing citric bitterness rinses away a slight cereal mashiness.

Empty Glass: There’s plenty here including dry grass, a slight mashy sourness, some sweet fruit, vanilla, toffee and caramel, along with bare hints of wood and kiwi fruit.

Canadian Mist is one of America’s most popular mixing whiskies and it certainly serves this purpose admirably. This is why I was surprised to learn that it was also one of the whiskies I enjoyed among the stiff competition at the World Whisky Awards in London recently. Although it had already won a clutch of medals in several other international whisky competitions, I simply had not expected to find it there at the pinnacle of such events, and since all whiskies were tasted strictly blind, I had not recognized it.

What a pleasant surprise it was when the scores were in and the names of the entries were revealed. Although another Canadian whisky edged it out, it made a very respectable showing. So, I’ll say it’s a mixer, yes, but it is also worth trying as a sipping whisky. We’ll be returning to Canadian Mist in later posts when we talk about cocktails and mixed drinks. $23.00 at LCBO, less than $10.00 some places in the USA.

Recommended

★★★☆

The new Canadian Mist Black Diamond is reviewed here.


Comments

19 Responses to “Canadian Mist (40% alc./vol. (80 proof))”

  1. Sorry – I accidentally deleted a comment about Canadian Mist. Re-post and I will make sure it gets approved.
    Davin

  2. kiev:

    I’m looking for some information on two canadian mist bottles that have come into my possession. The bottles are a 750 ml Label say Imported Canadian Mist 1885 Special Reserve 8 yr old. I do have photos that I may provide. I just cannot find this bottle online anywhere. Thanks for your help.

    Kiev

    • Davin:

      Hi Kiev,
      The bottling you have is really quite uncommon. A few years ago, as a marketing experiment, Brown-Forman, which owns Canadian Mist, went through the process of developing a new whisky from the ground up. They decided on an eight year old, did all the product development, packaging, and marketing, and were able to get the whisky to market within a period of about 9 months if I remember correctly. As far as I know there was only ever one batch. I have seen bottles of this whisky, but have never tasted it. Generally Canadian whisky does not appreciate like Scotch does, but given that this was a single batch I’d place the value somewhere in the $100 to $200 range. If the seals are intact, it should still be good to drink. Yes, I’d love to have a look at the photos.

  3. david myers:

    I have a bottle of canadian mist 1885 special reserve that i purchase several years ago i would be interested in selling. e mail me for pictures and info.

    • Davin:

      Hi David,

      My e-mails keep bouncing. Yes, I would be interested in that bottle. Please send me pictures that show the full front label and the fill level. Thanks very much for contacting me. You can find my e-mail address on the contacts page.

      Davin

  4. Keith Gardner:

    Enjoying it right now on your recommendation. I appreciate your site very much as I am beginning to learn about Canadian whisky.

    I want to surprise my dad with some Forty Creek this Father’s Day!

    Keith

  5. Canadian Mist Connoseur [sic]:

    I actually like drinking Canadian Mist straight for the hints of fruit and the sweetness and the flavor that comes from the rye as opposed to bourbon.

  6. JWS:

    Just tried Canadian Mist for the first time tonight, and I must say I AM impressed. Good straight, but smooths out NICELY on the rocks. Good for a budget tipple. So far, the Canadian whiskies haven’t let me down yet. I’d read a few good reviews, including this one, so I picked up a little “tenth” (1/2 of a fifth, aka 375ml) bottle. Yummy!!

  7. Eric:

    Hi, I have an unopened sealed bottle of Canadian Mist A blend and the # on it is a1523427400940703. Unsure of age or value. I do not drink.

  8. John:

    I am surprised how good this stuff is. This is the first cheap 80 proof liquor I have had that isn’t hard to drink straight. In fact it is rather enjoyable! It tastes very fresh and light with a perfectly blended rye overtone. If it wasn’t for the short burn on the finish, I almost wouldn’t recognize this as a budget whiskey.

  9. Susan:

    I have a 40 year old bottle of canadian mist and barcardi rum . are they safe to drink or should I pour them out

    • Davin:

      As long as the bottles are full they should still be good and because old Canadian whisky does not go up in value you can be comfortable opening them.

      • JWS:

        Susan……I believe Davin will share this sentiment with me:

        OPEN, AND ENJOY!!!!

        40 year old Bacardi……Meh…

        40 year old Canadian Mist……ummm……YES, PLEASE!!!

  10. Jimmy sharpton:

    My Dad died at 2000 we found a bottle of Canadian mist in top of his closet the other day.The seal has not never been broken written on the seal is JD 29 223037. Could you tell me how old this blended whisky is and how much it’s worth thank you.The bottle is a 1.75.

    • Davin:

      Hi,

      Sorry, I can’t tell you the age but since the whisky does not appreciate in the bottle, it is worth about $40 in Canada, about half that in the U.S.

  11. Jimmy sharpton:

    Thank you Davin I think the mist is about 20 years old.

  12. Dave:

    Where can I get a bottle of this in Toronto to sample?

    • Davin:

      Not sure. It is in every bar and restaurant in Collingwood and area though.

  13. Tom M:

    So I found 8 bottles at my pa state liquor store on clearance for $10/ 750 ml bottle. I bought 2 thinking whiskey sours. Hmm mm I ran out of my normal sipping bourbon. I cracked one of these over a jigger full of ice and I am pleasantly surprised. I’m keeping these for a nice winter nip after work. Forget the sours.


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