Holiday Wine Guide: The LCBO’s best Canadian-made spirits

Holiday Wine Guide: The LCBO’s best Canadian-made spirits

Including whisky, gin, vodka—and even a lactose-free eggnog liqueur

Willibald Gingerbread Gin

Willibald Gingerbread Gin

$26.95 | Ontario
While rum may be egg nog’s traditional mix-in, this gin will add a layer of seasonal spice and a bit of complexity to the creamy, divisive drink. Strong notes of cinnamon, clove and ginger mingle for a taste and aroma reminiscent of a batch of freshly baked gingerbread. LCBO 17088

Related: The LCBO’s best bottles of wine to give as gifts

Vodkow Eggnog

Vodkow Eggnog

$29.95 | Ontario
For some lactose-free Christmas cheer, consider this smooth, creamy, not-too-sweet Ontario-made eggnog. Sustainability is at the core of how Vodkow produces its vodka, taking a dairy byproduct called milk permeate and turning it into a carbon-neutral tipple. It’s already spiked, so simply pour over ice. LCBO 28030

Spicebox Canadian Spiced Whisky

Spicebox Canadian Spiced Whisky

$31.95 | Canada
Given its name, this blend unsurprisingly displays a good amount of cinnamon—but it’s the vanilla that really takes centre stage. There’s a subtle, not unpleasant burn on the finish, but on the second (and third, and fourth) sip, it’s replaced by caramel and more of that vanilla. LCBO 258954

Georgian Bay Vodka

Georgian Bay Vodka

$34.95 | Ontario
This vodka from Georgian Bay—which has been making spirits bright since 2013—is creamy, smooth and almost too easy-drinking. It would do just fine in a mixed drink or a martini, but it’s meant for straight-up sipping. LCBO 446559

Gretzky Red Cask

Gretzky Red Cask

$35.95 | Ontario
The Great One may have a winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, but it’s his whisky that has generated the most buzz. Aged in red wine barrels, this whisky is smooth and creamy with notes that range from spicy to sweet, including dessert-like caramel and toffee on the finish. LCBO 472332

Cabot Trail Maple Whisky

Cabot Trail Maple Whisky

$35.95 | Quebec
This maple-infused whisky tastes like a sugar shack in a bottle. It’s so delicious, you’ll want to pour it on your pancakes (but that’s probably not a good idea). Instead, drink it neat or over ice, or use a splash to sweeten up your favourite holiday cocktail. LCBO 27892

Spring Mill John Sleeman & Sons Rye Whisky

Spring Mill John Sleeman & Sons Rye Whisky

$44.95 | Ontario
Allan’s Mill Distillery was founded in 1836 by the same Sleeman family of beer fame. Beginning in 2017, John Sleeman (great-great-grandson of the OG Sleeman) began rebuilding and restoring it, eventually renaming it. This bit of Canadian history comes with rich caramel flavours and a nice spice note on the finish. LCBO 34384

Ren Ultra Premium Vodka

Ren Ultra Premium Vodka

$51.95 | Ontario
This sleek bottle stands out among the many vodkas on the LCBO’s shelves. Crafted in Ontario using corn, this vodka has a nice sweetness on the nose, a smooth mouthfeel and a clean finish. It works in your favourite holiday cocktail, but it’s also good enough to be sipped on its own. LCBO 19592

Bearface Wilderness #2

Bearface Wilderness #2

$59.85 | British Columbia
So much goes into this bottle that it’s a bit hard to wrap your head around. First, this single-grain whisky is aged in selected wine casks. Then it’s cut using distilled water and maple-smoked salt collected from artisan salt makers on Canada’s Pacific coast. The barrels used are French oak ex-Chardonnay wine casks and Alligator-charred ex-Burgundy casks. Catch all that? This unique-tasting whisky from Canada’s west coast is full of smoky-salty goodness, and it’s oh-so-smooth until you get to the satisfying maple burn that makes you go back for another sip. LCBO 33997

Signal Hill Founders Select Overproof Whisky

Signal Hill Founders Select Overproof Whisky

$59.95 | Newfoundland
Our second whisky comes from the other side of the country. Compared with American bourbon, the rules for making Canadian whisky are a bit more flexible. Barley and rye are both notably absent here—it begins instead with corn. That plus an aging process that employs Canadian white oak barrels and bourbon barrels means the flavour profile feels like it could indeed be from south of the border. But make no mistake—the smooth caramel notes are very Canadian. LCBO 32225

Lot No.40 Dark Oak Canadian Whisky

Lot No. 40 Dark Oak Canadian Whisky

$63.95 | Ontario
This bottle celebrated a gold medal win in 2021 at the Canadian Whisky Awards—and with all the whisky made in this country, that says a lot. Made with 100 per cent rye and aged in a collection of charred barrels, the flavour profile is chock full of molasses, spice and deep caramel. LCBO 19563

Forty Creek Barrel Select

Forty Creek Barrel Select

$67.85 | Ontario
We tasted a lot of Forty Creek whiskies for this roundup, but this bottle—aged in a mix of seasoned ex-bourbon barrels and new American white oak—was the best of the bunch. It’s their most award-winning recipe for a reason: it’s smooth and creamy, with notes of brown sugar and spice and a clean, almost luxurious finish. Pairs well with a roaring fire. LCBO 8805

Laneway Ever Gin

Laneway Ever Gin

$69.95 ($64.95 until Dec. 31) | Ontario
Labelled as a liqueur—likely due to the addition of maple syrup in the bottle—this blend of juniper and wild-foraged Canadian botanicals truly feels like wilderness in a glass. The additional sweetness from the maple is barely perceptible on the palate, making it a worthy gin for the perfect Canadian martini. LCBO 19021