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 ★★★☆


74 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.

      • jws1272:

        If I had to call something a “poor man’s Crown Royal”, I’d go with Rich & Rare Reserve. However, this IS some GOOD Canadian whisky. I’ve never found but ONE bad whisky from The Great White North (original CC….Don Draper, what were you thinking?). I’d take this over original CC any day, and the Hunter Rye isn’t bad either.

        Long live Canadian Whisky!!!

  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!!

  29. Winston:

    I had some Canadian Hunter at my brother’s home in Florida and would like to purchase some in Atlanta, where I live. Is there a listing somewhere of distributors?

  30. JMan:

    Being I have many friends that make some dang good white liquor,I am not a huge fan of Canadian Hunter. But it’s not a bad “bang for your buck”. I got started on Hunter when I was 16,but soon figured out that I liked home made white liquor better. But for the price, if you don’t make your own… it’s not bad

    • JMan:

      Hell yea

  31. Sam Holt:

    21 year old here. I go to a large university in the US and am no stranger to the booze despite my age. We used to drink large amounts of shitty vodka but in my relative old age I’ve discovered I’m a whiskey man. I really don’t understand the Jack Daniels thing and Jameson is good and fine, of course Crown is my favorite but seriously, for the price you really cannot find a better liquor in any given store. I take it with ice and a dash of water but it mixes quite pleasantly with all varieties of sweet vermouth. I’m currently studying in Norway where the liquor is more expensive than gold and can’t even begin to describe how much I miss the Hunter. On a side note, you can’t beat the studly canadien on the cover accompanied by his beautiful hounds.

  32. Rye Man:

    This Canadian Hunter Rye has a weak rye taste. Disappointing. There is a watery, sweet liquorice taste, and acetone mouth feel, but clean tasting at the same time. Nothing to experience but the feeling of being drunk. The hangover is mild.

    A milder tasting whiskey with even less hangover is Dickel’s nr 12. But it’s not a rye whiskey. It has no acetone mouth feel. It tastes like healthy apple water. But twice as expensive. Dickel makes a rye whiskey but I haven’t tried it yet.

  33. James Guthrie:

    Davin gives a good review on a quality product. If you don’t like Canadian Hunter that’s okay. It leaves more for me to drink!

  34. James West:

    20 some odd years ago we “a crew of pipeline hands” didn’t know there was anything but Crown Royal. Until one guy showed up with Canadian Hunter “TWO DOGS” is what he called it. After several taste test over the next few nights. Might near 30 years now and still enjoy it. TWO DOGS is king, picked up a case today.
    Thanks for the years of enjoyment!
    Jim West

  35. john:

    where can i buy canadian hunter in prescott az

    • Davin:

      You’ll have to try the liquor stores. Ask if they can get it.

  36. Pop:

    Glad I found this ” TWO DOGS”. I’m retired and 76 yrs young.. Love Crown Royal and Jamison, but had to look for something I could afford… I’ve tried a many but this Canadian Hunter is awesome….. Thanks to all for the reviews and information

  37. Danny:

    This has become my ‘go to’ drink of choice. Pour over a few cubes of ice and enjoy. Savor the flavor and save a few hard earned dollars too. What’s not to love?

  38. Bob:

    I drank Black Velvet and VO for nearly 20 years before trying a “cheap” bottle of Canadian Hunter.
    WOW!! What a great surprise!!! Canadian Hunter is absolutely as smooth as either and , frankly, I also prefer it over Crown Royal.
    I typically buy two 750ml at a time at my corner liquor store here in Michigan. Believe it or not, it only takes $14.75 to walk out the door with a pair of Canadian Hunters in glass. Such a deal, and such a great whisky!
    Can’t understand why folks pay the big bucks and get nothing better than Canadian Hunter.

  39. Is there a distributor in AZ?

  40. L.Ford:

    My uncle turned me onto to Canadian Hunter (but since reading reviews “TWO DOGS” is what i call it). He told it was just like Crown Royal but alot cheaper. And I LOVE CROWN ROYAL. So I tried it and not going back.

  41. In the past 3 plus years I have turned very 30 people on to this product. But I have had 4 complaints, including myself in the past month or so. Can you explain why there is a taste difference. Jeffrey Alan King) last purchase was today (7/7/17) in Virginia.

    • Davin:

      Probably best to ask at the store where you bought it.

    • Shane:


      I had this problem in 2014 when they change the blend. I drink Canadian Hunter for over twenty years, the label showed import on it (Old blend), when they changed the blend the label did not have import on it. When they change the blend, that is when I had to find another whiskey to drink.

      I have noticed when I picked up what I drink now, at two liquor stores, that there are both on the after 3 years shelf again, labeled Canadian Hunter with import on it and Canadian Hunter without import on it. If you started drinking it 3 years ago, you may have picked up the import one, there is a big deference.
      Check the labels.

      My original post on this site when they started the blend switch at the liquor stores was August 3 2014.

      I loved the old blend, but I’m not ready to go back for now, because I’m not sure what is going to be on the shelf the next time.

      Coke changed way back when and I never went back and I see no Canadian Hunter classic on the label, just the old Import on the label.

  42. brian:

    $8 for 750ml in central Virginia. Smooth, sweet, slightly peppery. Doesn’t jump out of the glass, but it’s great for the price. I drank Black Velvet for awhile but I found that this is a little cheaper and has a little more character.

  43. Steven:

    This stuff is actually amazing. 6 dollars a fifth near me. Insane.

  44. Rick:

    Im in Watertown SD. Several stores carry it here. I too like Crown Royal better but for about a fourth the price, Hunter is pretty darn good. Sipping on some over ice right now and can taste the butterscotch.

  45. Patrick:

    This, on Dec 10, 2017. A Friend of mine introduced me this truly interesting whisky…love the spelling and especially the taste, the blends of butterscotch, rye and other very well thought of ingredients that have created HUNTER. I really didn’t I would like the rye taste, but it is an enjoyable combination of all spices and all other of the meticulous thought you have put into this warming and favorable modestly priced Canadian Whisky. I send this message from Central NC area and just wanted to say, I think you did well. Especially because of the chilly temps here. Very smooth and warming withe the right “BITE”.

  46. Wayne S. Kahrs:

    I have converted from various Canadian Whisky brands, to exclusively Canadian Hunter. I have introduced it to 3 of my friends, who had been CC, or Crown Royal fans for YEARS. One of these friends is almost 91 and another about 85 who both drank CC for most of their lives. The other one (about my age, 80)…all have admitted they feel that it is better than CC, and virtually (not quite) as good as Crown Royal. But, the difference in price and quality says that they are all pretty much switched over to Canadian Hunter. I’m having at Canadian Hunter Manhattan right now.

  47. Troy:

    Bought my first bottle in 1989. Was a better price than Canadian Club and almost as smooth. Drinking the new hunter (non seagrams) and I think it is improved now on par with Canadian Club. I do miss the Seagrams label though.

  48. Bobby:

    Had 2 Hunters and Coke since I Been Home from Work this Afternoon! I don’t always drink Whisky but when I do I drink Canadian Hunter,LOL!!!!! Good Whisky!!!!!

  49. Jim:

    I like whiskey, or whisky, across the board and have bought Canadian Hunter here in western Minnesota. It is good, flavorful with the added “flavors” and does go well with ginger ale and Coke. Price was the determining factor at first, I must admit. With the current mail in rebate and the special sale price it is, believe it or not, $6.98/ 1.75 handle. A person can’t afford to buy a jug just to try it out. I do love that butterscotch “flavor” too.

  50. Wes:

    Very smooth for the price! It beats a lot of other rubbing alcohol whiskeys at the same price point.

  51. Mark:

    To anyone looking for a specific bottle of something, don’t be afraid to ask. Ive moved around a bit, and have often found that what i was looking for wasn’t on the shelf. Any decent liquor store will order in something for you, or even keep it in stock for you if you are a regular.

  52. Meinrad:

    I discovered Crown Royal almost 60 years ago and was very pleased to find Candian Hunter a few years ago that tastes as good for a lot less money. My favorite Canadian blended whiskey now after drinking Black Label for years.

  53. Brianna Breezybaby McClearn:

    I love it have put a lot of people from my small city on to drinkn this!!!

  54. Thomas:

    $4.99 at grocery outlet !

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