Canadian Distilling

Spirits of the land

Made with the finest ingredients the land can offer, Canadian distilled spirits — from Canadian whisky to liqueurs — are among the world's best. They're steeped in tradition, too, because we've been refining our craft since the first Canadian distillery was founded in Québec City in 1769.

Our distillers' tradition grew deeper as Canada journeyed toward nationhood, and by 1840 our distinctive Canadian rye whisky had already secured a notable reputation for excellence. Today, Canadian distillers produce not only Canadian whisky but also a wide range of other fine spirits including rum, vodka, gin, brandy, liqueurs and coolers. There are now close to 1,000 domestic brands of spirits available.

The taste of distinction

The most famous of all our distilled spirits is our Canadian whisky. It's the only spirit in Canada whose origin and production techniques are protected by law. Whisky is "appellation protected." This means if it says "whisky" on the bottle, you know it comes from Canada.

What makes Canadian whisky so distinctive? It's partly our careful choice of water, which must contain just the right amount of minerals. It's also because of the carefully chosen corn and internationally recognized malting barley that our distillers use. Above all, though, it's the rye included in the blend that gives Canadian whisky its distinctive character. The grain's flavours meld with the sweet vanillins from the charred oak barrels in which the spirit is aged, and after a minimum of three years in the cask, it has mellowed into one of the smoothest whiskies in the world.

Standards of excellence

The success of Canada's distillery industry rests on our high product standards, our abundance of high-quality crops grown in fertile, clean soil, and our long tradition of proven distilling techniques. In addition, Canadian distillers operate under strict health, safety and quality regulations enforced by the federal government. These regulations and standards have helped Canadian distilled spirits earn their well-deserved international reputation for exceptional character and memorable taste.


Taste the Canadian difference

Whether it's Canadian whisky on the rocks, a Caesar with Canadian vodka or a cooler over ice, there's a Canadian spirit to suit everyone who takes pleasure in a fine beverage. For further information on Canada's distilling industry, please visit:

Government websites


Trade Statistics

The following tables represent Canada's total trade in a given export commodity based on Statistics Canada data. The product categories represent HS code groupings and have not been modified. In most cases, statistics have been presented at the 6 or 8 digit level. Statistics are presented in Canadian dollars and are complete through year end 2010.

Canada's Exports to All Countries (HS Code 2208) - ($CAD)
  2008 2009 2010 2011 Growth 2008-2011
Undenatured ethyl alcohol by volume less than 80% alcohol; spirits liqueurs and other spirituous beverages 327,921,195 336,358,362 328,119,314 358,280,516 9.3%
Canada's Exports to All Countries (HS Code 2208) - (Quantity, LPA)
  2008 2009 2010 2011 Growth 2008-2011
Undenatured ethyl alcohol by volume less than 80% alcohol; spirits liqueurs and other spirituous beverages 134,469,644 130,603,582 134,949,408 133,943,422 -0.4%

LPA - Litre of pure alcohol

Canada's Exports to All Countries by Province
(HS Code 2208, Value $CAD)
Province 2008 2009 2010 2011
Alberta 42,074,483 41,398,822 43,854,084 42,402,742
British Columbia 35,371 140,696 1,432,042 989,437
Manitoba 9,483,776 6,351,043 3,031,318 389,483
Northwest Territories 0 0 0 6,818
New Brunswick 0 175,018 0 0
Newfoundland and Labrador 1,695,431 12,435,289 8,422,382 10,843,927
Nova Scotia 112,945 778 83,308 72,404
Ontario 235,260,605 234,157,829 225,080,364 217,386,266
Prince Edward Island 0 46,341 0 0
Québec 39,258,584 41,652,546 46,215,816 86,189,439
Canada's Top 10 Distilling Markets
(HS Code 2208, Value $CAD)
Country 2008 2009 2010 2011 Growth 2008-2011
TOTAL: 327,921,195 336,358,362 328,119,314 358,280,516 9.3%
United States 309,304,242 315,236,498 311,100,404 335,815,023 8.6%
United Kingdom 871,870 5,066,617 4,274,801 4,053,607 364.9%
Germany 2,113,023 2,106,370 2,129,605 3,458,385 63.7%
Sweden 3,057,147 2,585,122 1,591,744 2,015,096 -34.1%
Japan 3,501,063 2,480,809 1,429,552 1,490,068 -57.4%
Norway 0 204 11,790 1,252,837  
Australia 399,219 557,879 359,953 1,054,418 164.1%
Netherlands 608,117 404,955 155,907 829,236 36.4%
Hong-Kong 44,688 36,663 819,462 701,935 1470.7%
United Arab Emirates 0 91,485 207,689 664,098