Again voted the number one island in all of Canada, Nova Scotia’s north, Cape Breton Island, is home to more than the famous Cabot Trail and Cape Breton Highlands National Park; deep in its forested landscape is Glenora Distillery, also known as Glenora Inn & Distillery and makers of top-notch single malt whisky. It looks and tastes like the best of aged single malt Scotch, but since its not distilled in Scotland, it cannot be called Scotch, per se. In fact, Glenora waged a legal battle with Scottish producers (and lost) to use the word “Scotch” rather than “whisky”; the result is their “Battle of the Glen” 15-year-old single malt whisky. So there, Scotland!

Started by Bruce Jardine 200 years after his Scottish ancestors settled in Cape Breton, Glenora is nestled into mountains, and takes all of its water (which, with yeast and barley, comprise whisky) from the local MacLellan’s Brook. Jardine began the distillery in 1990, but its first real batch was produced 10 years later, as is the requirement for aging single malt whisky. The area is known as Inverness; how Scottish can ye get!

Jardine (no longer the owner, but still revered!) engaged the services of experts from Bowmore Distillers in Scotland (he was very serious about this project) who helped him access traditional, authentic Scottish copper pot stills and mash tuns. Patience was the next key component, but proved worthwhile.

Typical of Nova Scotia, Glenora’s Glen Breton Rare line of single malt whiskies is rich with flavours of apples and maple. Now in business for more than 25 years, and with a barrel full of international awards, Glenora Distillery has a range of aged whiskies; here’s the list (we can hear the Scotch aficionados drooling):

  • Glen Breton Rare 10 years old
  • Ghleann Dubh (translated: The Dark Glen) 13 years old, peated
  • Glen Breton Rare 15 years old
  • Glen Breton Rare 19 years old
  • Glen Breton Rare Cabot Links 19 years old (speaking of which, why not go for a round of golf at Cabot Links while you’re in the area; book well in advance!)
  • Glen Breton Rare 21 years old (gold medallist at the 2016 New York World Wine & Spirits Competition)
  • Glen Breton Silver Anniversary Edition 25 years old
  • Fiddler’s Choice (aged in bourbon barrels)
  • Glen Breton Ice (smaller size at 250ml) finished in ice wine barrels

The oldest and first independent single malt whisky distiller in North America, Glenora remains the only whisky maker in Nova Scotia. Terroir being crucial, the Cape Breton highlands are conducive to this type of alcohol. Most whisky produced in Canada is made from rye, and there are rye distillers across the country; it’s common in Canada. Residents and visitors may enjoy exploring other Nova Scotia distilleries, such as Ironworks in Lunenburg, and Still Fired in Annapolis Royal, but if they thirst for the taste of Scotch-style single malt whisky, Glenora is the exclusive spot, and a beautiful location it is. Come for the single malt whisky, dine at the pub and restaurant, and stay the night at the inn in a room or chalet.

Photo Credit: