Windsor, Ontario, has a colourful history that is absolutely rich in distilling, brewing and fermenting history. From the birthplace of Canadian Club whisky to being home to J.P. Wiser’s and North America’s largest distillery to 70% of alcohol consumed in the United States during prohibition crossing from our shoreline, there’s a reason we’re known as Whiskytown Canada.
That history and culture continues on today with dozens of producers making beer, wine and spirits in and around our region.
Here are some great ways to enjoy the flavours and styles that are a great reflection of the quality beverages still being made today in and around Windsor.
RIVER’S END GIN
River’s End Gin is Wolfhead Distillery‘s first foray into gins. Crystal clear and bright, River’s End gives a vibrant aroma of juniper and pine, orange and a lemon base with slight rose and hibiscus.
Meanwhile, the flavour of the juniper pops right up from, as does coriander and orris root, while you’ll taste more subtle hints citrus and floral notes with a backbone of spice from cinnamon and star anise. The finish brings back the juniper and heat from grains of paradise.
Having been in the works for over a year before it’s release at the end of November 2020, the story behind the name of the gin is a touching one. The name River’s End was inspired by Dave Lovell, a neighbour and good friend of Wolfhead Distillery owner, Tom Manherz. Dave operated a business of the same name and often spoke about stories of the river. Sadly, Dave passed away of cancer a few years ago and this is Tom’s tribute to his friend.
J.P. WISER’S RED LETTER (DISTILLERY EDITION)
We wrote about this very limited released from J.P. Wiser’s the other day, so if you act fast there might be a bottle or two left.
Finished in new oak barrels as J.P. Wiser would have done all those years ago, this 15-year-old whisky has characteristic notes of green apple, vanilla and toffee along with dried fruit and clove. The new oak finish imparts elements of wood spice and toasted oak, making this a complex yet sippable whisky perfect for sharing special moments with others.
Perfect for enjoying neat or on the rocks.
While it’s also available online, part of the perks of living in the same city as North America’s largest distillery is being able to walk over to their shop and picking up their very limited releases.
GIBSON’S FINEST BOLD 8 YEAR OLD WHISKY
While many known Canadian Club and J.P. Wiser’s connection to Windsor, it’s not as known that Gibson’s Finest is also distilled in Whiskytown.
This 8 year old is one of our favourites from them. Firstly, it is higher in alcohol content to stand up to other ingredients when crafting cocktails. Being aged in a darker barrel provides smoothness, but has enough character that the Whisky stays the show piece in whatever drink you make.
Brand Ambassador, Joshua Groom, suggests a classic Manhattan or what he calls the “BOLD 212”.
He choose this craft cocktail for two seasons. The first being the whisky name actually describes the recipe (212 – 2 parts Gibson’s Finest BOLD 8YO, 1 part Sweet Vermouth, 2 dashes Angostura bitters). Garnished with orange it becomes the BOLD 212.
Secondly it just so happens that 212 is also the area code for Manhattan.
ISLAND STYLE HARD SELTZER
The first hard seltzer to be made in Windsor-Essex has quickly become a hit.
Paradise Island Style Hard Seltzer from the Grove Brew House is made from a blend of seltzer water, a gluten-reduced malt base, and a hint of natural fruit flavour. With 100 calories, 5g carbs per 355mL serving and no added sugars or sweeteners, Island Style is the perfect craft beverage for those seeking a healthier alternative.
This hard seltzer comes in 3 berry flavours: raspberry, blueberry and blackberry.
CANADINA CLUB 43 YEAR OLD
This one is for the whisky lovers who want to be a baller, shot caller, with 20 inch blades on the Impala.
In what has become an annual tradition, Canadian Club released the oldest aged Canadian whisky with their Canadian Club 43 Year Old. Paying tribute to its legendary role during Prohibition, Canadian Club has dubbed this limited-edition expression ‘The Speakeasy.’
Batched and barrelled in 1977, Canadian Club 43 Year Old boasts notes of oak and leather on the nose, while delivering nutmeg and dried fruit on the palate, with a lingering mouth feel. The spirit’s subtle spice and sweetness are perfectly balanced, a true testament to the distillery’s masterful craftsmanship that has be tirelessly honed for more than 160 years.
The whisky provides an aroma of toasted oak with hints of brown sugar and rich leather. Once on the palate, you’ll recognize nutmeg spiciness balanced with a subtle sweetness and a touch of dried fruit.
Canadian Club founder, Hiram Walker, would be proud.