Canada may be famous for its whisky, but Canadian Club and Crown Royal aren’t the only spirits our northern neighbors are turning out. Like the U.S., Canada is seeing a surge in new craft distilleries, which are producing spirits like vodka, gin and a wide range of liqueurs. We chose a few of our favorites that should be on your radar, whether you’re celebrating Canada Day, watching a hockey game or simply toasting the ol’ maple leaf.
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Crystal Head Vodka
Perhaps the most instantly recognizable bottle on the shelf, Crystal Head Vodka is distilled from corn (a varietal called Peaches and Cream), then blended with Newfoundland water. It’s partially filtered through semi-precious crystal Herkimer diamonds, which new agers claim have healing powers. Owned by American artist John Alexander and Canadian comedian Dan Aykroyd of SNL and Nothing But Trouble fame, it’s one celebrity spirit we can get behind. Plus, the bottle makes a great bookend.
Ungava Premium Canadian Gin
You wouldn’t think of the Arctic as a verdant region rich with flora, but Ungava proves otherwise. Its bill of botanicals includes six rare plants native to the Arctic region: wild rose hips, Arctic blend (an evergreen plant used in teas), cloudberry, Labrador tea, crowberry and Nordic juniper — all of which are handpicked wild in the summer and steeped in the gin. Naturally bright yellow, it makes a statement served up, simply garnished with a grapefruit wedge or in a Gin & Tonic.
Ironworks Distillery Five Year Rum
Rum? From Canada? As tropical as its reputation may be, rum can be distilled anywhere as long as there’s sugarcane handy. Ironworks distills theirs from a locally produced molasses. Each batch of the micro-distillery’s Five Year Rum is a bit different. The current bottling is just a little on the sweet side, with lots of vanilla packed in.
Sortilège Maple Whisky Liqueur
There’s nothing quite as Canadian as maple syrup—except for, perhaps, maple syrup whisky. Sortilège does it right, combining the highest grade of Canadian maple syrup with Canadian whisky distilled from 100 percent rye, aged three years in white oak. We love it neat or on the rocks as an after-dinner cordial, and it makes the perfect gift if you’re looking for presents at Duty Free.