World's Best Whisky: Manitoba's Favorite Beverage
It doesn’t matter whether you spell it “whisky” or “whiskey;” what matters is that it’s delicious. And if you’re a true whisky lover, you probably already know that one of the most delicious whiskies, the 2016 Whisky of the Year as named by Jim Murrary’s World Whisky Bible, is distilled in Manitoba, Canada.
Yes, that’s right. Crown Royal Northern Harvest is crafted from golden grain and pristine water in Gimli, Manitoba. On the western shore of Lake Winnipeg, the Diageo Distillery produces all sorts of alcoholic beverages, but has become especially well-known for their award-winning whisky. With over 1.4 million barrels aging the delicious spirit in 46 warehouses, it’s not surprising that all the varieties of Crown Royal they produce are enjoyed everywhere and are a point of pride for Manitoba.
Though Crown Royal is a Canadian whisky (which means it’s different from a Scotch or Irish whiskey), it’s still one of the most popular whiskies in the United States. Created as a tribute to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939, Crown Royal has become a staple of the beverage industry. It’s intricate glass-cut bottle and the iconic purple, felted bag it’s packaged in complement the whisky’s distinct taste that can be traced back to the grain from which it’s made. Plus, as showcased with Northern Harvest, Crown Royal produces a variety of types of whiskies and special editions to keep your palette satiated.
With Crown Royal on shelves everywhere, you’ll be able to find at least one variety at your local liquor store, but because the Northern Harvest variety has received accolades the world over, it can be hard to track down. In fact, upon its release, Crown Royal Northern Harvest sold out in under 10 minutes in some areas of the country. But don’t worry! You can likely track down a taste if you visit some of Winnipeg’s most bustling and innovative cocktail spots. Trust us — it’s better to try this fantastic Prairie whisky on home turf.
Though the Diageo Distillery isn’t open for individual tours (group tours can be arranged), there are still plenty of spots in urban Manitoba where thirsty travelers can sample home-grown and award-winning whiskies. Cafe by day, bar by night, stop by Forth to enjoy a cocktail in this bright and industrial-inspired space. Albert Street Cocktail Company, self-described as Winnipeg’s first cocktail bar, is another great place to sidle up to the bar and enjoy a drink that’s focused on quality over quantity. When they have Northern Harvest in stock, ask the bartender to whip you up something simple — you won’t be disappointed. SMITH is another stop of the list for whisky lovers. Located in the Inn at The Forks, SMITH provides a perfect place to enjoy a handcrafted cocktail alongside fresh and creative food. Last but not least, for the full Prairie experience, visit Prairie 360 on Friday and Saturday nights for expansive views of the city and over 150 varieties of your favorite beverage in their Whiskey Lounge.
Though all of these spots can shake up a mean cocktail of any type, if you’re looking to track down Crown Royal’s award-winning whisky, be sure to call ahead to see if they have Northern Harvest in stock. If there’s not a bottle on the shelf, however, these local favorites are still worth visiting — we promise they’ll have another whisky for you to try that’s almost as delicious.
If having a cocktail or two isn’t enough to satisfy your passion for whisky, head to Manitoba’s capital city for the Winnipeg Whisky Festival. Taking place once a year, this festival focuses on all things whisky, with over 130 products featured, gourmet cuisine to sample, and a ton of tastings. You’ll have the opportunity to sip on some of the province’s (and the world’s) best whiskies and take a few bottles home, too.
Whether you drink whisky on the daily or just want to give an award-winning whisky a try, tasting Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye where it’s made is truly a unique Canadian experience. Plus, tracking down your favorite spirit can be a great way to explore a city through its food, bars, and of course, beverages.
Thirsty? See what else Manitoba has to offer by visiting Travel Manitoba’s website.