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We want to give a shoutout to our moonshine neighbors to the north. If you think moonshine is only an American pastime you are dead wrong. Distilled spirits have has been around since 12th century and have been made all over the world, including Canada. Many Canadians make homemade alcohol, which is often called: shine, screech, home-brew or swish. During the American prohibition American bootleggers and moonshiners were not the only ones supplying illegal booze to thirsty customers. Canadian whisky played a major role in the illegal liquor trade. Canadian whisky was transported from Hiram Walker's Distillery in Windsor Ontario, across the Detroit River using small, fast smuggling boats. Today when Canadian liquor is mentioned the first thought that usually comes to mind is Canadian whisky, or rye whisky.
Canadian Rye Whisky
According to the Canadian Food and Drug Act Section B.02.020.
Canadian Whisky, Canadian Rye Whisky or Rye Whisky
(i) be a potable alcoholic distillate, or a mixture of potable alcoholic distillates, obtained from a mash of cereal grain or cereal grain products saccharified by the diastase of malt or by other enzymes and fermented by the action of yeast or a mixture of yeast and other micro-organisms,
(ii) be aged in small wood for not less than three years,
(iii) possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky,
(iv) be manufactured in accordance with the requirements of the Excise Act and the regulations made thereunder,
(v) be mashed, distilled and aged in Canada, and
(vi) contain not less than 40 per cent alcohol by volume; and
(b) may contain caramel and flavouring.
(2) Subject to subsection (3), no person shall make any claim with respect to the age of Canadian whisky, other than for the period during which the whisky has been held in small wood.
(3) Where Canadian whisky has been aged in small wood for a period of at least three years, any period not exceeding six months during which that whisky was held in other containers may be claimed as age.
Canadian whisky is often referred to as rye whisky since historically much of the content was from rye. Today there is no legal requirement for rye to be used to make whiskies with the names of Canadian Whisky, Canadian Rye Whisky, and Rye Whisky. Most Canadian whiskies are blended multi-grain liquors containing a large percentage of corn spirits, the finished product is usually lighter and smoother than other whisky styles. All spirits used in making a Canadian whisky must be aged for at least three years in wooden barrels and the final whisky must contain at least 40 percent ABV. No distinction is made between new or used and charred or uncharred barrels which are used for aging. The Canadian Food and Drugs Act requires that whisky labeled as Canadian Whisky be mashed, distilled, and aged three years in Canada. To improve color and flavor it may contain caramel and flavoring, in addition to the distilled mash spirits.
Today most Canadian whisky is blended to achieve the Canadian whisky character. This is usually achieved by adding a flavoring whisky made from a rye with a lower proof, to a high-proof base whisky which is made typical from corn and sometimes wheat. Today most Canadian whisky contain only a fraction of rye, with the exception of Alberta Premium which is one of the few remaining 100% rye grain Rye Whiskies produced in Canada.
In the United States the definition of rye whisky prevents low rye content whiskey from being labeled rye. The U.S. also requires that if whisky is blended or contains coloring, flavoring or distillates with 95% or greater alcohol content, this must be acknowledged on the label by including the term blended in the description on the label. Canadian law does not have this requirement. Moreover, U.S. law requires at least 20% of the content of a blended whiskey to be straight whiskey rather than neutral spirits which is not required under Canadian law.
You don't need to live in Canada to make rye whiskey but you do need to live in Canada to make Canadian rye whisky. We do sell our 100% copper moonshine still kits to Canada, we recommend that our Canadian friends make some true Canadian whisky. All of our Canadian orders ship via USPS and they are marked as copper parts for customs. The next time you make a whiskey mash try adding a bit rye which will add some good complex flavor. Start with our corn whiskey recipe and add 1 pound of rye, it will make the end product a bit more complex and it will add that spicy character that rye is known for. If you live in Canada and want to make some good old fashioned screech look no further than a moonshine still kit from Clawhammer Supply.