We spent all of October confronting the terrifying things that lurk on the bottom shelf of the liquor store, and I was really happy to return to the good stuff in November… but just like a zombie back from the grave, it seems like there are one or two bottom shelf buys still lingering around in my queue. So rather than prolong my dread, let’s put one of those products to rest: Canadian Mist.
Canadian Mist was a brand of whiskey introduced to the United States by the Brown-Forman Company in 1967. It used sourced whiskey from a Canadian distillery for their new product, which was imported into the United States and bottled for sale domestically.
In 2020, the brand was sold to the Sazerac company, makers of good things like Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace — but who also have a competing brand of Canadian sourced whiskey called Rich & Rare, which we reviewed for Halloween this year. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t very good.)
The brand doesn’t try to hide the fact that this is a mass produced whiskey. From their marketing materials, they themselves state: “Canadian Mist may not be ‘small-batch’ or ‘artisanal’, but we’re all about quality”.
For this spirit, the grain bill isn’t disclosed but they do let us know that there’s at least some rye and barley included among the corn. And a nice touch is that the corn they use is grown within 100 miles of the distillery. Those grains are milled, cooked, and fermented to create a mildly alcoholic liquid.
That liquid is then distilled in a series of column or “continuous” stills, devices that are designed to efficiently concentrate the alcohol in the liquid but tend to produce less flavorful spirits. Once distilled, the newly made whiskey is placed into previously used white oak barrels to mature (usually former bourbon barrels imported from the United States). After an undisclosed period of time, that spirit is blended and bottled for sale.
They certainly spared no expense on this bottle. (And if you couldn’t tell — yes, that was sarcasm.)
On the one hand, this is a plastic bottle with a plastic screw-on top. It’s pretty much the most dirt cheap container you could possibly pick for your spirit, and it feels that way too. It’s not a great first impression.
But what does impress me a bit is the design work and the label. The bottle may be made of cheap materials, but they did actually put some time and effort into making it look different from everything else on the market with swooping forms and an offset sticker on the face.
Another thing I really appreciate is the minimalist approach on the label design. The brand information is clear and visible, but they made the background of the sticker transparent which allows us to see the beautiful color of the whiskey inside. It’s a nice touch… even if the color is potentially artificial.
At first glance, this looks like a normal whiskey. We’ve got an amber colored spirit, crystal clear with no apparent impurities, which looks roughly like every other whiskey on the market. The aroma, on the other hand, is something different. I’d say this smells like a burning rubber tire, complete with the acrid quality, mixed with a bit of brown sugar and caramel. It’s not exactly the most auspicious of starts.
Based on that first whiff, I didn’t have high hopes for this whiskey… but at first sip things seem pretty good, actually. Right up front is a good bit of brown sugar sweetness, some honeycrisp apple (probably due to some rye content in the whiskey), and even a bit of dried fruit like figs and raisins. On the finish I get a little bit of baking spices, and it finishes with a surprisingly crisp and even tone.
I think the addition of some ice has thrown off the delicate balance of this sprit, and some unfortunate things are starting to show through in the flavor.
Just to note, nothing has changed about the aroma. That still smells oddly industrial and not in a good way. But now, all those not-great aromas seem to be infiltrating the flavor profile as well. This still has some nice dried fruit notes, but there’s now an acerbic texture to it that makes the whole experience somewhat unpleasant. Beyond that, there aren’t any flavors of note… just a slight bitterness in the mouth that isn’t really what I wanted to experience.
Cocktail (Old Fashioned)
At first sip, my initial reaction was “this tastes like nothing”. I do think there are some flavors in here, but there’s such chaos and disarray that, in the end, the net result is a bland and uninteresting cocktail.
One thing that sticks out are the dried fruit flavors. Dried figs and raisins are fairly clear here… actually, they’re too clear here, as these components seem to be overwhelming just about everything else that is going on. Normally, the aromatics from the bitters will even things out, providing some lift to the flavor profile, but here they are just barely visible in the background.
On the plus side, this isn’t as acerbic and distasteful as before… but there really isn’t anything enjoyable going on here either.
I’m actually pretty happy with this cocktail. Given how things have been going so far in this review, I was a bit concerned, but this one actually worked out all right.
The only thing I’m actually getting from the whiskey is the dried fruit flavor. Everything else seems to have been covered up by the ginger beer and lime juice — and in this case, I’m not mad with that outcome. The acerbic flavor is gone and there isn’t anything necessarily off-putting about the cocktail I’m getting, and that’s what really matters.
If I could have one complaint, it’s that there isn’t anything interesting going on with the texture. This is a fairly flat and one-note drink, and with a Canadian whiskey I would have expected some black pepper spice from the rye content to kick things up a notch. That, sadly, is missing.
I can forgive a lot of things in a whiskey. I can forgive a whiskey being too bold, or too boring, or even being mass produced. But in this case, there’s something honestly unpleasant at every step. From the awful aroma when taken neat, to the bitter taste on the rocks… unless you are actively drowning the flavor profile with mixers and competing components, then this wouldn’t be something I would recommend. And honestly, at that point, vodka might be a better substitute.
What I’m most disappointed about is that we didn’t get to this before Halloween this year. This misty whisky is legitimately as frightening to my taste buds as John Carpenter’s The Fog.
|Canadian Mist Blended Canadian Whisky
Classification: Blended Whiskey
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $9.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 0/5
Occasional flashes of dried fruit mixed in with industrial aromas and bitter textures.