Good whisky is famous for having notes of leather on the nose. But the link between leather and whisky doesn’t end there. When you think of whisky bars, for instance, they have all the ambiance of a private club with their dim lighting, amber colours, jazz music, but it is especially the iconic leather bar stools and armchairs that give whisky bars such cachet.
Colour constitutes another connection between leather and liquor: light-brown leather is called “whisky leather,” while leather in an orange-to-amber shade is called “cognac leather.” Cognac-coloured leather is actually very trendy right now.
Whiskies of the world
The traditional whisky producers – Ireland, the United States, Scotland and Canada – are success stories. Their products have strong and established identities. As a new player in the industry, Japan is making whisky with a novel flavour and culture that defy stereotypes. It’s definitely worth trying!
Untangling the terminology
Let’s start at the beginning: Whisky is the generic name for a spirit made by distilling grain (rye, barley or corn) that has been aged for at least three years in wooden barrels.
Scotch is a whisky produced, aged and bottled in Scotland.
Bourbon comes from the United States, especially Kentucky, and is made primarily from corn.
And rye is a Canadian whisky, made from rye, as the name suggests.
Canada has been a whisky producer since the 1800s and enjoys an excellent reputation around the world. These three whiskies are part of the Canadian tradition:
- Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye was crowned the best whisky in the world in 2016 by renowned author Jim Murray, who wrote the book Whisky Bible.
- Fun fact – The cult TV series Mad Men contributed in a big way to the renewed popularity of Canadian whisky, since Canadian Club whisky was the favourite drink of the main character, Don Draper. It is rumoured that sales of this whisky spiked by almost 20 per cent after the series aired.
- As for J.P. Wiser’s, it needs no introduction as it is Canada’s oldest continuously produced whisky.
The new wave in Canadian whisky
Following in the footsteps of vodka, gin and rum, whisky is now attracting artisanal distillers across the country. Here are some gems that deserve to be sampled:
The Eau Claire Distillery is located in Alberta. The company was designated Canada’s leading craft distillery thanks to its Single Malt Whisky which was the Gold Winner at the 2019 New York International Spirits Competition, where 600 participants from 30 countries competed.
- De Vine Wines & Spirits is located in British Columbia. The craft distillery has won many awards and honours over the last two years, including Gold with Distinction and Best in Class for its Glen Saanich product at the 2019 Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition.
And from Québec…
La Distillerie du St-Laurent produces a white whisky called St-Laurent Moonshine. It is made from grain cultivated in the Bas St-Laurent region.Les Subversifs also makes a white whisky called White Dog, which is designed to be aged at home. La Maison Sivo has two amber whiskies on offer, one of which, Le Rye, was named Best Rye in Canada by the Toronto Whisky Society.
Cocktail culture and special events
Cocktail culture has made major inroads in recent years, which gives Canadian whiskies a chance to attract a new, younger, more female clientele.
In Montreal, whisky is one of three main themes this year (along with Portugal and organic products) at the annual La Grande Dégustation de Montréal to be held on October 31 – November 2. The event brings together some 250 winegrowers, distillers and brewers, as well as 14,000 wine, beer and spirit fans, connoisseurs and professionals.
The Contest is over
Would you like to participate in this marvellous tasting experience? We have some VIP tickets to give away! Just answer this question (in the comments section below the article): what is the name of the liquor from which the colour of light brown leather gets its name?