Canadian whisky is a type of whisky produced in Canada. Most Canadian whiskies are blended multi-grain liquors containing a large percentage of corn spirits, and are typically lighter and smoother than other whisky styles.
According to the laws of Canada, a Canadian whisky must be mashed, distilled and aged in Canada. It may contain caramel and flavouring in addition to the distilled mash spirits, and there is no maximum limit on the alcohol level of the distillation, so the bulk of the distilled content (often more than 90 percent) may be neutral spirits rather than straight whiskies. It must be aged for at least three years in a wooden barrel of not greater than 700 L capacity, and it must contain at least 40 percent alcohol by volume.
Laws in some other countries, such as the United States, recognize Canadian whisky as an indigenous product of Canada, and require that products labeled as Canadian whisky must satisfy the laws of Canada that regulate the manufacture of Canadian whisky for consumption in Canada. When sold in another country, Canadian whisky is typically also required to conform to the local product requirements that apply to whiskey in general when sold in that country, which may in some aspects involve stricter standards than the Canadian law.
Characteristics and historical background
It is a common misconception that Canadian whiskies are primarily made using rye. The use of rye is not dictated by law, and whisky products of all grain types are often generically referred to as (and may legally be labeled as) "rye whisky" in Canada. Under Canadian law, the term "Canadian rye whisky" is simply synonymous with "Canadian whisky".
In contrast, the U.S. definition of "rye whisky" prevents low rye content whiskies 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.
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