Canadian whisky is a kind of whisky I know (or knew) nothing about. Barely available in Europe and apart from Canada it’s only the big brands you will ever find. While there aren’t many distilleries, there are a lot of brands and there is quite some history. All great reasons to read this book.
The book tries to be very complete. There are chapters on ‘what is Canadian whisky’, the history of Canadian whisky and its distillers, and a story for each distillery. I think this works very well since all chapters are very informative and to the point. There are no endless comparisons on how Canadian whisky is different from bourbon, scotch or whichever kind of cereal based dramming.
There are dozens of tasting notes spread out through the book which is a good choice, since I usually don’t read them and in this manner it isn’t a fully wasted chapter. The pictures in the book, albeit all sepia print, are nice and to the point.
All in all, a terrific, well written book with loads of cool and interesting data. Almost a cowboy story / whisky book crossover! Absolutely loved it.
Canadian whisky, however (the booze, not the book) is still somewhat of a mistery to me. Not that the explanations weren’t concise or good, but just because I strongly have the feeling that there isn’t much of a defined process behind it, sort of like American whisky. In America, however, you have bourbon which is pretty well defined. In Canada, you just have to distill a beer, age it for three years and that’s more or less it.
That feels kind of weird to me, since I am more or less ‘used’ to the rulings around Scottish Single Malt, which leaves almost no room for invention. Canadian whisky might be very different, or the book doesn’t really address the laws Canadian whisky has to follow, except for the aging rules.
The history of how people came from Europe to start a mill and almost everyone built a distillery next to it, with quite a few specific examples of in depth histories of certain industry leaders is very interesting and never becomes tedious to read, so that quite the achievement from Mr. de Kergommeaux!
What I also really appreciate is that De Kergommeaux addresses his worries for the Canadian whisky industry. The restrictive government rulings, taxation that is slowly bleeding the industry dry, the fact that there are only 9 active distilleries left (with a few that will have whisky in the near future) and the fact that nobody knows anything about such a big product is also nice to read. He addresses his concerns but does not really point a finger at anything or anyone. Very gentlemanly.
Funny anecdote: I ordered the book and it took about a month to arrive. When I expressed my concern to the shop it sent another one. Three days later I had two of course. When I started reading the book some pages were blank by accident. Davin offered to replace the book, but since I already had a back-up, that wasn’t neccessary. Still, very, very nice (and according to some references in the book: very Canadian!)!