January 16, 2014 – The 2012 edition of Corby’s Lot No. 40 took top honors as Canadian Whisky of the year in the 2013 Canadian Whisky Awards presented tonight at the Victoria Whisky Festival. Corby’s win ends a three-year run at the top for Forty Creek’s John Hall in the tightest race yet in the competition’s four years.

“I’ve never, ever seen it like this, honestly,” Canadian Whisky Awards founder Davin de Kergommeaux told WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie after the ceremony. “The top three whiskies came within .2 of each other.” Lot No. 40 edged out Forty Creek’s Heart of Gold and Masterson’s 10-year-old Straight Rye for the top spot in blind judging by nine whisky writers and bloggers from Canada and the USA.* The whisky was produced at Corby’s Hiram Walker Distillery in Windsor, Ontario by master blender Dr. Don Livermore, and was a favorite among Canadian whisky lovers during the 1990’s until it was withdrawn from the market around 2000. In 2012, Livermore recreated the 100% rye recipe for Lot No. 40 with guidance from Mike Booth, the original blender who created it using a seven-generation family recipe of malted and unmalted rye.

“We were very excited,” said Corby’s Dave Weaver after receiving the award. “We knew it was a great product and was doing great things in the marketplace, so we couldn’t be happier.” John Hall, while slightly disappointed in being beaten by the slimmest of margins, saw the Corby win as a positive for Canadian whisky overall. “I am extremely pleased that I lost by only .2 of a point, but I am also extremely pleased that there’s a lot more exciting Canadian whiskies out there now.”

In fact, most of the 2013 award-winning whiskies were not even on the market when the competition began four years ago. According to  de Kergommeaux, the flavor of the Canadian whisky profile is changing as new whisky drinkers enter the market. “They want big, bold whiskies…we’ve got these wonderfully rich, full-bodied whiskies with lots of flavor.”

Here is the complete list of award winners.

Whisky of the Year – Lot No. 40
Connoisseur Whisky of the Year Best New Whisky – Forty Creek Heart of Gold
Connoisseur Whisky of the Year Domestic Market – Alberta Premium Dark Horse
Connoisseur Whisky of the Year Multi Market – Lot No. 40
Sippin’ Whisky of the Year Domestic Market – Last Mountain Private Reserve
Sippin’ Whisky of the Year Export Market – Canadian Rockies 10 Years Old
Sippin’ Whisky of the Year Multi Market – Royal Canadian
Whisky Value of the Year Domestic Market – Canada Gold
Whisky Value of the Year Multi Market – Canadian 83
Award of Excellence Canadian Whisky Profile – John K. Hall Forty Creek Distillery
Award of Excellence New Distillery of the Year – Still Waters
Award of Excellence – Innovation – 35 Maple Street for Masterson’s 100% wheat and 100% barley whiskies.
Award of Excellence Line Extension – Kruger/Mondia for Spicebox Pumpkin Spiced Whisky
Flavoured Whisky of the Year Domestic Market – Forty Creek Cream
Flavoured Whisky of the Year Export Market – Wiser’s Spiced No. 5
Flavoured Whisky of the Year Multi Market – Crown Royal Maple
Award of Excellence Flavoured Whisky of the Year – Forty Creek Cream

For the first time, craft distillers were honored with awards. Last Mountain of Saskatchewan was honored for its Private Reserve, a blend of whiskies sourced from other distillers. The distillery is currently maturing its own whisky for the required three years before bottling. Ontario’s Still Waters Distillery was honored for launching the first micro-distilled Canadian single malt whisky with its Stalk & Barrel line of whiskies.

A complete list of medal winners can be found at the Canadian Whisky web site.

*Editor’s note: WhiskyCast’s Mark Gillespie was a member of the judging panel. The other judges included Davin de Kergommeaux, Johanne McInnis, Jason Debly, André Girard, Kris Shoemaker, Chip Dykstra, Blair Phillips, and Graham MacKenney.

Links: Canadian Whisky