The Best Canadian Whiskies To Drink In 2023

An earlier version of this article stated The Liberty won the 2021 Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition. It placed but did not win. Corrected on 12/22/2022

Nothing warms a soul in the winter quite as effectively as a glass of whiskey. When snow inches are turning into snow drifts, there's no place better to be than on the couch with a book in one hand and a couple ounces of rye in the other. Typically, whiskey fans don't limit the spirit to specific years, but anytime is a great time to recount the best Canadian whiskies of the moment.

There are a number of factors that make Canadian whiskey (they drop the "e" up north; so will we from here on out) distinct from its American counterparts. Those in the Great White North typically ferment and age the grains in their blended whiskies separately, then blend right before bottling  — bourbon and American whiskeys, conversely, usually blend before fermentation and aging. Reflecting on the process in 2020, a whisky expert observed that the Canadian stuff, contrary to popular belief, is not made predominantly with rye. As noted by Redhead Oak Barrels in a 2013 breakdown, the Canadian version of the spirit is both lighter and notably smoother.

How we selected the best Canadian whiskies to drink in 2023

According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Americans are drinking more Canadian whisky, purchasing 4 percent more of the spirit in 2021 than in 2020. In fact, American consumers tendencies have increased steadily since 2018., with a market forecast from Beroe Inc. indicating that Americans buy more Canadian whisky than any other nation. The U.S. market accounts for 85% of the whisky's total sales, a trend expected to continue upward through 2025. 

To properly gauge the best whisky,  any list must cover a wide range of whisky tastes: single grain, flavored, and spiced, just to name a few. There are a lot of contenders to choose from — over 350 craft whisky distilleries in Canada alone, according to Beroe. For these purposes, a scoring rubric will be employed of personal tasting experience, popularity among reviews, brand reputation, and, of course, helpful reference from the annual Canadian Whisky Awards. 

Best overall Canadian whisky

Trust Canadian Rye Whiskey from The Liberty Distillery seems to be the perfect option to sip while you tackle all of your holiday baking. Expect a hint of cinnamon, the aroma of apples and vanilla, and just a touch of orange peel — which sounds like all the makings of the best Christmas desserts. An In Search of Elegance review describes the cozy holiday feeling that Trust evokes: candied fruits, warming spices, toffee. It's clear that the flavor experience of this Canadian whisky is complex and multi-faceted, something to unwrap slowly and ponder over time. 

A 750-milliliter bottle of Trust can typically be acquired for less than $100, which seems a steal for such an appealing craft from a talented distiller — after all, The Liberty was recognized in 2021 Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition. This whisky is made with three-quarters rye and one-quarter barley, and distilled three times and aged for three years in Burgundy wine barrels and oak barrels. 

At the time of this writing, Trust Canadian Rye Whiskey is available for $69.99 on The Liberty Distillery's website, or through local spirits vendors. 

Best cask strength Canadian whisky

Shelter Point Distillery was an award winner in the 2022 Canadian Whisky Awards — actually, it was an 18-time recognition recipient across multiple categories, including: Sippin' Whisky of the Year, Best Cask Strength Whisky, Best Single Barrel Whisky, Best All-Rye Whisky, Best Single Malt Whisky. One creation from Shelter Point — Smoke Point 3 — secured the title in several of these categories, a clear indicator that it's one of the best Canadian whiskies of the year. The distillery gave this esteemed whisky the nickname "a campfire in a bottle," for its smoky peat-fired taste. 

Smoke Point #3 is a 100 percent malted barley spirit, distilled twice and aged first in oak casks formerly used for bourbon, then in casks from distilleries on the famous Scottish Isle of Islay — also known as the Whisky Coast. The American bourbon and Scotch whisky influences give this third batch of Smoke Point a complex flavor palate of smoky, sweet, and salty tones. 

You can get a 750-milliliter bottle of Smoke Point for $83.25 from Shelter Point Distillery.

Best Canadian whisky under $100

The blended Canadian winter wheat whisky from Crown Royal's Noble Collection earns a spot on the best Canadian whiskies of 2023 ranking, and it's well deserved. After all, it was named "Canada's Best Whisky," "Best Blended Whisky," "Sippin' Whisky of the Year," and "Canadian Whisky of the Year" by tasting experts at the 2022 Canadian Whisky Awards, trumping over 150 other Canadian whiskies that were sampled. 

Described as "truly stunning" by the awards' head judge, Winter Wheat is crafted from just over 50 percent winter wheat, plus corn and a little bit of malted barley, according to Crown Royal. When we tried the award-winning winter blend, we found it to be velvety-smooth, a bit smoky, with a peppery anise-like aftertaste. If you want the flavor of a $500 whisky for less than $100, this is the perfect option for that taste of luxury. 

As of April 2023, Crown Royal Winter Wheat can be located directly through the Crown Royal site; Drizly also lists the 750-milliliter bottle for $73.49.

Best flavored Canadian whisky

You have to appreciate a good flavored whisky. They make for more interesting mixed drinks, and give you something to knock back in shot form, too. Infusing the grain spirit with cinnamon, caramel, vanilla, or fruity flavors can make sipping on-the-rocks whisky a more pleasant experience as well. The Canadian Whisky Awards dubbed the Rich and Rare Peach Whisky as the pick of the year, but we think a fruit flavor, especially apple or peach, is prolific enough in whisky that standing out with the fruit alone is difficult. 

The addition of cinnamon in Catch Fire's Peach and Cinnamon Canadian Whisky elevates a run-of-the-mill fruit whisky to something more transcendent. The heat from the cinnamon layers another flavor in the whisky and, combined with the peach, leads to a drink that tastes like peach cobbler in a cup — all you'd need is a splash of RumChata to mimic a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Catch Fire's Peach and Cinnamon Canadian Whisky is available through Total Wine & More for $10.99 per 750-milliliter bottle. 

Best luxury Canadian Whiskey

Sipping on a straight whisky carries a certain air of luxury, of importance. Typically, there's no real reason to reach for a several-hundred-dollar spirit over its $50 counterpart — but then again, if the opportunity presents itself, who would turn it down?  

This is why, for the best luxury Canadian whisky to drink in 2023, it's hard to beat Canadian Club Chronicles 42-year whisky. Canadian Club has a long history of distilling superior whiskies; with seven generations to perfect the craft, there's no denying their expertise in the field. It's said that this whisky, the second issue of a series of 40-years-plus aged whiskies, celebrates the people who worked on docks, moving crates of Canadian Club during the Prohibition Era. 

You don't have to break any laws to get your hands on Canadian Club in this century, but it will cost you a couple Benjamins. According to Total Wine and More, this top-shelf blended whisky brings a warm palate that will remind you of afternoons spent baking on a cold day: Brown sugar meeting the complex taste of rye, a hint of warming spice, and a whiff of toffee. 

A 750-milliliter bottle of Canadian Club's 42-year-aged whisky is priced at $249.99 through Townline Wines

Best 100% wheat Canadian whisky

Although it may be an esteemed Canadian whisky distillery, Last Mountain Distillery doesn't only make whisky. This Canadian spirit company does offer an extensive whisky line — from Smokey Single Malt Whisky to Cherry Whisky and pre-made Old Fashioned Whisky Cocktail  — but on the more intriguing side, Last Mountain's offerings also include bold attempts like Apple Pie Moonshine, Dill Pickle Vodka, and a liqueur flavored with honey and cinnamon.

Our pick for the best 100 percent wheat Canadian whisky this year is Last Mountain Distillery's Release No. 0002 — that's their single-cask, single-malt wheat whisky, aged for five years in California red wine barrels. The palate of this whisky is perfect for the winter season — notes of baking spice and berries, per Last Mountain. It's unsurprising that this whisky secured the "Best Wheat Whisky" title in the Canadian Whisky Awards this year. 

A 750-milliliter bottle of Release No. 0002 is $80 through Last Mountain Distillery.

Best new release Canadian whisky

Crown Royal Canadian Whisky bottles are always visually pleasing, but this 29-year extra rare blended whisky is particularly stunning and elegant in its presentation. The rare spirit was announced in November 2022, and according to Crown Royal, just 6,000 bottles of this whisky were made, so procrastinators need to get on the ball or risk being left behind.

According to a Crown Royal spokesperson, the oldest-aged whisky ever released by the brand brings an "exceptional flavor profile" to the Manitoba-based distiller's lineup; the rye blend whisky is said to be a fragrant, autumnal spirit with flavors of fruit and vanilla, rounded out by its three-decades-long aging in American oak barrels. 

As of April 2023, this limited edition whisky is available from Drizly starting at $499.99.

Best 100 percent rye Canadian whisky

If you're looking for a 100% rye Canadian whisky, the pick is this award-winning craft libation from Alberta Distillers. The Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye 63.7% Limited Edition Whisky is made with pure Canadian prairie rye, resulting in a whisky with "an explosive taste" and "unique, earthy character." The distillery offers another rye whisky, but not cask strength, for those who desire a bit less punch in their spirits. 

The Alberta Distillers product won a gold medal in the 2022 Canadian Whisky Awards, made with Canadian Rocky Mountain spring water and aged for five years (per The Whiskey Reviewer), resulting in a combination that finds quality in simplicity. 

This is a distillery known for its rye whiskies, and their craftsmanship in this product is unrivaled. Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye Whisky is listed for $79.99 through Keg N Bottle

Best spiced Canadian whisky

Whiskies frequently possess naturally-occurring hints of spice, even without added flavoring; notes of baking spices like allspice, cinnamon, clove, or nutmeg are not uncommon. Some distillers elevate the punchiness of these flavors by creating a spiced whisky, and Canadian distillery Forty Creek took home the "Flavoured Whisky of the Year" distinction in the Canadian Whisky Awards with their effort — as well as a bronze medal. We don't personally think spiced whiskies should be pitted against flavored ones (apple, caramel, etc.), so we gave it a category all its own.

Forty Creek's Honey Spiced whisky is a spiced spirit counterbalanced by a gentle sweetness from the honey, which softens the intense spice into an easy-to-drink delight. The distillery refers to their product as resting in the "middle ground between bourbon and rye," which will surely ruffle some whisky snob feathers, but once you take a sip it's a hard taste with which to find fault. 

As of April 2023, Forty Creek Honey Spiced is available through the distiller's website for $30.95. 

Best single grain Canadian whisky

When you blend a whisky from three different oak barrels — American oak bourbon barrels, French oak casks, and virgin air-dried Hungarian oak barrels, in the case of Bearface Whisky's Elementally Aged Triple Oak whisky — the resulting product becomes beautifully complex. 

The Bearface distillery refers to their process as Elemental Aging; in essence, the naturally occurring extremes of the Canadian environment play a role in the whisky's maturation. This award-winning spirit inherits a new layer of flavor from each barrel, the distillery explains: a sweet, smooth butteriness from the American oak, light notes of pear and cranberry from the French oak, and a smoky spiciness from the Hungarian oak. 

Bearface's single-grain whisky took home the "Best Corn Whisky" recognition in the Canadian Whisky Awards — a signal of the distillery's craftsmanship in blending. 

The Elementally Aged Triple Oak Canadian Whisky is available for $31.99 per 750-milliliter bottle on Drizly.

Best Canadian whisky under $50

There's no rule that says in order to find a decent bottle of Canadian whisky, you have to break the bank. For proof, look no further than J.P. Wiser's 15-year aged Canadian whisky.

This affordable sipper took home the Award of Excellence from the Canadian Whisky Awards this year, plus Connoisseur Whisky of the Year and a Bronze Medal. According to, JP Wiser ages the whisky in virgin white oak casks, ex-bourbon American casks, and Canadian whisky casks. The result = evokes tastes of green apple and caramel, dried fruit and spice, and a little bit of toffee (via JP Wiser's). The distiller recommends sipping on 15-years-aged rye and corn whisky neat or on the rocks.

Prices for this whisky may vary based on where you find it locally — through the JP Wiser's site, it is actually a little bit over $50, but other vendors have the spirit listed for less. 

JP Wiser's 15 Years Old Canadian Whisky sells for $44.99 at Total Wine.

Best Canadian malt whisky

The most dedicated whisky lovers can likely spot the taste of a malt whisky a mile away. These varieties are typically richer in body, with a sweeter, more complex, caramel-like flavor (via Bartender's Business). Malt whiskies are perfect for slower, more thoughtful sipping to slowly unravel their intricate flavor elements. Our malt whisky pick scored a Silver Medal status at this year's Canadian Whisky Awards: Okanagan Spirits' 2022 Laird of Fintry Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky. According to the distillery, the whisky has been aged for five years in American white oak casks, then six additional months in French wine barrels for good measure.

When sipping on Laird of Fintry, you can expect to taste notes of stone fruit, vanilla, baking spices, and caramel. Only four casks of this year's edition were bottled, so Okanagan Spirits' malt whisky is in very short supply. 

At the time of this writing, it's available for $115.00 per 750-milliliter bottle through the distiller.