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The 2011 Canadian Whisky Awards

Last year, Davin de Kergommeaux (Canadian Whisky) hit upon an idea which I thought was long overdue, the first ever fully independent Canadian Whisky Awards! These awards highlighted not only the best tasting whiskies made in Canada, but they also awarded special achievements by Canadian Whisky Distillers in areas of innovation, brand extension, and media/advertising. I supported Davin in his efforts to raise the public profile of Canadian Whisky, because like Davin, I believe Canadian whisky deserves to be recognized as a World-Class spirit.

The profile of the Canadian Whisky Awards has grown considerably over the past year. So this past fall when I was asked to participate with Davin and five other North American judges to evaluate the state of Canadian Whisky in 2011, I jumped at the chance to be involved. So it was that with Davin De Kergommeaux acting as Chairman of the Judges (and Lead Organizer), and with six more of us helping out as best we could, we set ourselves to the task of evaluating and judging Canadian Whisky for the year ending in 2011. Blind samples were sent out across Canada and into the United States for judging. We all sipped and sampled and marked down our scores. The scores were checked closely and then tallied, and of course the winners were selected.

The whisky awards were broken down into three groupings with three categories in each grouping. The groupings were broken down according to whether the whisky was designated to be sold strictly within Canada (Domestic Market), or if it was to be sold strictly outside of Canada (Export Market), or if it was designated for sale in both the domestic and the export markets (Multiple Markets). Within each of these grouping the whiskies were divided into three categories, a Connoisseur’s Category for the Deluxe or Super Premium Brands, a Sippin’ Category for the Premium Brands, and a Value Whisky Category for the Economy Based Brands.

Additional Awards were presented for the Best New Whisky of the Year, and the Canadian Whisky of the Year. As well,  Awards of Excellence were presented for outstanding achievement in the areas of Innovation, Line Extension, and Canadian Whisky Profile.

The results were unveiled yesterday (January 19, 2012) at the Victoria Whisky Festival in Victoria, British Columbia.

Here are those results:
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Awards of Excellence – Domestic Market

  • Whisky Value of the Year (Economy Category):  Canada Gold (Kittling Ridge/Forty Creek  Whisky)

These were the overall highest scoring brands in each category for those Canadian Whiskies which were designated to be sold exclusively in the Canadian Market.

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Awards of Excellence - Export Markets

  • Whisky Value of the Year (Economy Category):  no winner

These were the overall highest scoring brands in each category for those Canadian Whiskies which were designated to be sold exclusively export markets outside of Canada.

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Awards of Excellence - Multiple Markets

  • Connoisseur Whisky of the Year (Deluxe Category) - Wiser’s Legacy (Wiser’s Canada/Corby)
  • Whisky Value of the Year (Economy Category) -  Canadian Mist (Brown-Forman Corporation/Collingwood Distillery)

These were the overall highest scoring brands in each category for those Canadian Whiskies which were designated to be sold in both Canadian and Export Markets.

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Award of Excellence – Best New Whisky of the Year!

This was the overall highest scoring new whisky brand release for the year 2011.

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Award of ExcellenceCanadian Whisky of the Year!

This was the overall highest scoring whisky in the 2011 Canadian Whisky Awards Judging Competition, or if you will, the overall Grand Champion of the Competition.

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Award of Excellence for Innovation

This is the whisky that in the judges’ cumulative opinion has most broadened the appeal of Canadian whisky through innovation. White Owl brings a clear filtered well-aged spirit to the table directly competing with the upscale super-premium Vodka Category. Introduced in selected markets in 2010, White Owl became available across the country in 2011 taking the Country by storm and introducing Vodka and Whisky drinkers alike to a brand new upscale cocktail experience.

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Award of Excellence: Line Extension

This is the whisky that in the judges’ cumulative opinion has most successfully exemplified a new version of an old favourite. Collingwood whisky brought the Canadian Mist Brand into Canada in a new exciting way. Staves of Maple wood used in the final aging process carried new flavours into the Canadian Whisky flavour profile.

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Award of Excellence: Canadian Whisky Profile

This is the whisky that in the judges’ cumulative opinion has most contributed to raising the public profile of Canadian whisky through promotional activities and or publicity. Canadian Club Whisky was awarded for the continued high-profile role of Canadian Club Whisky in the HBO Boardwalk Empire Television series.

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Distillery of the Year

A special acknowledgement of Glenora Distillery for twenty successful years making single malt whisky in Canada.

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Gold Medalists:

Silver Medalists:

Bronze Medalists:

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Chairman of the Judges:

Judges

5 Responses to “The 2011 Canadian Whisky Awards”

  1. Laurence said

    Hi Chip,
    Thanks very much for a summary of the results. I can see I have some more homework to do now. One question that leaves me scratching my head though is: “Was the Alberta Premium 30 yr included in the testing?”
    Cheers

    • Hi Laurence

      I am not sure whether or not I am supposed to be discussing what brands were entered, and what brands were not, but in the case of Alberta Premium 30, I think I can be forthright. The Whisky is pretty much sold out everywhere. As I understand it, there were no bottles left in the system to enter into the competition. So no, it was not included in the tasting.

      The Alberta Premium 30 Year Old did win The 2011 Rum Howler Awards for Best Single Grain/Single Malt Whisky, and for Best Whisky Value and for Best Canadian Whisky. Unfortunately, I had not Tasted the John Hall’s Private Cask No. 1 at the time those awards were being judged and tasted.

      Both Whiskies are in my opinion absolutely outstanding and my review for the John Hall whisky will be published in a few weeks.

      • Laurence said

        Thanks for the reply, Chip. It is a relief to have it confirmed the 30 yr wasn’t included. I look forward to reading your review of the John Hall’s Private Cask No. 1. I was not aware of this whiskey and can hardly wait to try it.

        • Mike said

          Private Cask No. 1 is really good, though I rated Confederation Oak Reserve a little higher. Private Cask is a unique-tasting whisky.

          • John Hall is getting really good at making whisky. I have heard rumours that this year he will be bottling his Portwood Reserve II, and I hope that these rumours prove to be true, because my supple of the original Portwood Reserve is dwindling.

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