For the newcomer, American whiskey and Canadian whisky often feel like they’re cut from the same cloth. And they kind of are… but they also kind of aren’t. The United States and Canada share vast sections of the North American continent, with similar agricultural backbones — so there are major similarities between the two whisk(e)y styles. But production differences and regional variances separate them significantly.
For years, there’s been a perception that Canadian whisky is somehow inferior to its American counterpart. This is flat out wrong. Canada produces some of the best whiskies in the world and is often the supplier of some of America’s best rye grains. WhistlePig sources their rye from Alberta, for instance. So the idea of dismissing Canadian whisky out of hand — especially when their grains make up so many famous mash bills — is patently absurd.
American whiskey, meanwhile, is a vast category. We’re not talking about a focused locale like Ireland, Scotland, or Japan — where there’s a pretty close-knit monoculture around whiskey. America has its own sub-regions that shine from Tennessee to Kentucky to Texas and beyond. Treating it like it’s all one way or another would be a serious mistake.
Read on as we dive into what makes these styles and regions unique, where they overlap, and where they diverge.