We talk a whole lot about the whiskey scene in America, but there’s another nearby country that is kicking things up a notch: Canada. Our neighbors to the north have been putting a little bit of extra effort into their whiskey-making and American drinkers are starting to take notice.

Americans imbibing in Canadian whiskey is not a new thing. In fact, Canadian whiskey has been popular in our country since before the Civil War. It’s known for being smooth and it’s even produced differently than the whiskey we know and love. In the U.S., we usually mix the grains together before distillation and it’s aged as one spirit. In Canada, the different grains are typically distilled separately and then blended together before bottling happens.

Canadian whiskey, however, has generally been one of those alcohols that costs a little less and works best in a mixed drink – definitely not the type of liquor you want to sip on its own. Things are changing though, as some Canadian companies focus on more premium whiskies. Why? They know the demand is there. The Distilled Spirits Council reported that in 2013, Canadian whiskey sales were up nearly 3 percent by volume from the year before; the increase in revenue was even higher at just over 6 percent, which shows people are spending more money on the premium stuff.

An AP story discussed Canada’s recent foray into the premium whiskey world, and covered some of the finer whiskies that U.S. drinkers might be interested in trying. The brands, as recommended by Andrew Abrahamson, manager of a high-volume whiskey bar in Los Angeles, and Davin de Kergommeaux, author of “Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert,” include:

  • Caribou Crossing
  • Forty Creek
  • Pike Creek
  • Lot No. 40
  • Collingwood
  • Crown Royal XR (extra-rare)

If you want a good value that packs a good punch, but isn’t as expensive, Kergommeaux also recommends Black Velvet 8-year-old.