Windsor area and Hiram Walker and Sons clean up at Canadian Whisky Awards

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Windsor Star/Sharron Hill


Windsor poured it on at the Canadian Whisky Awards with Hiram Walker and Sons Distillery named distillery of the year and its master blender Don Livermore garnering Canada’s first whisky blender award.

“They really did clean up,” awards founder Davin de Kergommeaux said Monday. “Especially the last three years, Windsor has really been cranking out good stuff.”

Any way you look at it, the honours for the Windsor area are impressive from the ninth annual Canadian Whisky Awards held last week in Victoria B.C.

If Amherstburg’s Crown Royal bottling ties are taken into account, the area had links to almost half of the medals.

Three of the top eight brands competing for whisky of the year were produced at the Hiram Walker and Sons distillery which is one of about 70 whisky distilleries in Canada, de Kergommeaux said.

And Livermore alone had links to about 30 of the awards including nine gold medal-winning whiskies and six special awards. There were more than 100 whiskies entered.

“It really showcases what we can do here,” Livermore said of the quality and innovation that is starting to turn heads globally. “We can compete against the other whisky categories of the world with the Scotch, the Irish Whiskey and the Bourbons. We make good stuff here. I believe this is one of the best distilleries in the world.”

He was ecstatic and humbled to be named the blender of the year. He said whisky is a complex team effort and the approximately 170 employees and local farmers who sell grain to the distillery should be proud.

driano Ciotoli of WindsorEats — who has been promoting Windsor as Whiskytown and is organizing the second Whiskytown festival Aug. 10 — said the distillery of the year award confirms the city’s new claim to fame.

By Ciotoli’s count, Windsor and Amherstburg had links to almost half of the gold, silver and bronze medals since Crown Royal has whisky bottled at the Diageo Canada plant in Amherstburg. Canadian Club and the Gibson’s Finest brand of whisky won a number of medals and are also produced at Hiram Walker and Sons, Ciotoli said.

“We’re one of the best distilling regions in North America, even possibly the world,” Ciotoli said.

Hiram Walker and Sons is the largest distillery in North America with about 150 different products. It is owned by Pernod Ricard and run by Corby Spirit and Wine Limited. It is estimated to have a $300 million economic impact in the region a year.

ivermore is a “rarity worldwide,” Ciotoli said. “Having him distilling the whiskies right here in Windsor really is something special.”

He consistently produces complex blends with tremendous flavour balance, de Kergommeaux said.

The best whisky in Canada for 2019 went to Forty Creek 22-year-old Rye made in Grimsby, Ont. 


Other special Canadian Whisky Awards:

Livermore is the master blender for the four brands of Corby Spirit and Wine Limited that are made in Windsor: J.P. Wiser, Gooderham and Worts, Pike Creek and Lot 40. 

Gooderham and Worts Eleven Souls won Best Blended Whisky.

Pike Creek Rum Barrel won the Sipping Whisky Multi-market medal.

An Award of Excellence for a line extension went to the Corby NHL Alumni Series.

J.P. Wiser’s 35-year-old whisky won Connoisseur Whisky in the multi-market category.

Canadian Club 41-year-old whisky which is still made in Windsor earned the Connoisseur Whisky in the domestic category.

Crown Royal Blender’s Mash 13 won in the Connoisseur Whisky export category.

Crown Royal Salted Caramel won in the multi-market Flavoured Whisky award.