Canadian whiskies are usually lighter and smoother than other whisky styles. Another common characteristic of many Canadian whiskies is their use of rye that has been malted, which provides a fuller flavour and smoothness. By Canadian law, Canadian whiskies must be produced in Canada, be distilled from a fermented mash of cereal grain, "be aged in small wood for not less than 3 years", and "possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky". The terms "Canadian Whisky", "Canadian Rye Whisky" and "Rye Whisky" are legally indistinguishable in Canada and do not denote any particular proportion of rye or other grain used in production.
Canadian whiskies, as with their American cousins, originated on the farm. These early whiskies were made primarily from rye. In time most Canadian distillers turned to corn, wheat, and other grains, but Canadians continue to refer to their whisky as "Rye" even though the mash bill for most Canadian Whisky is now predominantly a mix of corn, wheat, and barley, with only a modest perportion of rye for flavor, which results in a lighter-bodied spirit.