Lohin McKinnon makes whisky for the new world

by | Apr 26, 2019 | BC Spirits

Lohin McKinnon is one of the new BC distilleries proving that great single malt whisky doesn’t have to come from Scotland.

There is arguably no other spirit steeped in as much tradition, pomp and regulation as whisky, so how does a distillery from a region not known for whisky compete? They innovate. That’s the approach BC distillery Lohin McKinnon is taking to make their unusual single malt whiskies.

“I think one of the great things about being a small distillery in the ‘new world’ is that you are not bound by a lot of the same rules that you would if you were in Scotland,” said Duncan Joseph, assistant brand manager at Lohin McKinnon. “We can do more interesting or crafty things and the consumer is open to new things.”

The ‘crafty things’ that Lohin McKinnon is doing includes finishing whisky in tequila barrels, teaming up with Black Sage Vineyard to make a truly local wine barrel finished whisky and being the first in Canada to use chocolate malted barley for their Chocolate Malt Whisky. They also maintain a line-up of traditional single malt and peated whisky.

Lohin McKinnon is attached to the well-known Central City Brewing and is actually a collaboration between brewmaster Gary Lohin and head distiller Stuart McKinnon, hence ‘Lohin Mckinnon.’

Lohin McKinnon Single Malt Whisky. Photo by Abby Wiseman


Lohin McKinnon released their first single malt whisky in 2017 and immediately garnered accolades, including Gold at the 2018 Canadian Artisan Spirits Competition and Silver at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

This year they took home Silver at the 2019 Canadian Whisky Awards for their Chocolate Malt Whisky and Lohin McKinnon Peated Whisky, as well as bronze for their Tequila Barrel Finished Whisky.

Winning the hearts of whisky judges and connoisseurs is one thing, but winning over the general public, who generally equate fine whisky with Scottish single malt, is the real grind.

“One of the biggest challenges is explaining that we are a high-quality single malt Canadian whisky because people don’t know,” said Joseph. “People who are really into whisky know about it, but it’s really tough to convince people until they try it.”

We didn’t need much encouragement to try Lohin McKinnon’s Single Malt Whisky made in small batches with Canadian malted Barley and aged in oak barrels. The result is a light and smooth whisky with a soft mouthfeel and notes of honey and green apple with a woody and dry finish. An easy sipper that goes down even easier at the price of around $60 per 750ml bottle.

We also recommend the Tequila Barrel Finished Single Malt that we tasted at Lohin McKinnon’s Whisky Club.

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Excellent work. Well done you. Bravo.

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