When it comes to a quality bottle of whisk(e)y, you’ve probably learned by now that a good bottle doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. Are expensive bottles of whisk(e)y delicious? You’re damn right they are. Are less expensive options also delicious? Not all of them, but many are.
That rule applies across every category of whisk(e)y. No matter if you want Scotch, rye, or something else, you’ll be able to find a good bottle in your price range. In the case of this list, we’re setting our sights north of the border to see the best Canadian whiskies under $20.
Next time you’ve got a Jackson to drop on a bottle of Canadian liquid gold, consider these options. Just remember that the price may eclipse $20 depending on where you are.
Know nothing about Canadian whisky? Check out our interview with the man who wrote the book on it, Davin DeKergommeaux.
Black Velvet ages their Reserve Canadian whisky a minimum of eight years, which has aided the blend’s persistent popularity since the first batch was distilled in 1991. Although listed at $14, don’t be fooled by the price — this is still a great go-to among the best whiskies from our neighbor to the north. With powerful and complex notes of roasted nuts, pear, slight spice, and pepper among others, the medium-bodied spirit sports a smooth, mellow grain taste on its smokey finish.
It seems as if flavored whiskies have been popping up everywhere lately. But hey, if it gets people to enjoy one of man’s greatest past-times, all power to you as long as don’t go overboard. Phillips Distilling offers a whole collection of flavored whiskies, ranging from cinnamon to pineapple, and our favorite: pecan. If you’re going to engage with an infused whisky, it might as well be one that hosts a rich nuttiness that’ll complement a whisky’s smokiness.
R&R was birthed during the Prohibition era, as Harry Hatch, who owned the Gooderham and Worts distillery and one of Canada’s most successful whisky entrepreneurs, distilled the first batch in Toronto. To go along with R&R’s rich history, theReserve blend is reminiscent of higher-end whisky brands, boasting a honey toast and floral nose while being heavily influenced by spicy rye grain and oak barrels in its flavor. This one also works well as a lone wolf over ice or in a mixmixed drink
We’re all aware of Canadian Club. The Reserve blend is a favorite amongst the budget bottles of Canadian whisky out there. The brand’s reputation doesn’t end with one creation, though. Canadian Club’s 100% Rye won best whisk(e)y in the world in 2015 and is the cream of the crop when we’re talking the best cheaper Canadian whiskies. Crafted from whole grain rye grown in Alberta’s unforgiving countryside, this bottle offers a rich caramel and oak taste followed by a spicier finish than your typical Canadian whisk(e)y. Nonetheless, it retains that good old Canadian Club smoothness that’s best suited for life alone, or on ice.
This rye whisk(e)y managed to find the perfect median of complex and balanced, offering a smooth texture that crawls up the glass. Wiser’s rye is brimming with oak and toasted grain notes with an enduring rich toffee finish. Not only is this blend bold enough for life on the rocks, it’s also light enough to make any cocktail flourish.
As the most luxurious selection among the best Canadian whisky under $20, Forty Creek’s Barrel Select has been ranked the No. 1 tasting whisky in North America by discerning Whisky Judges in multiple years over the last decade, and has taken home some of the highest accolades possible for a whisky. While this blend is only under $20 in some regions, it’s close enough and so good that we had to include it. It offers a little bit of everything: smooth viscosity and mellow aftertaste while also touting a complex character. Each batch is distilled separately in small portions and aged in American White Oak barrels. Each bottle may offer a different experience; but a pleasant, rich earthiness nonetheless.
Article originally published by Bryan Holt on April 30, 2017. Last updated by Sam Slaughter on August 7, 2018.