One of the best selling Canadian Whiskies, Canadian Club is full also of history (and myth). It is sold in more than 150 countries, and is produced out of the Hiram Walker distillery in Windsor, Ontario and originally crafted under Hiram Walker himself. In the 19th century, this whisky was very popular in gentlemen’s clubs, and it hence received the name “Club Whisky”. Eventually, “Canadian” was added to the label, due to pressure from the States in order to tarnish their competition (this part of the story, I believe, may be more legend than truth). Regardless, as it was known for quality, the “Canadian” helped the whisky’s success, resulting in other non-Canadian brands falsely putting “Canadian” on their labels. One big reason for the relative quality of Canadian whisky at the time was the institution of aging requirements before they were instituted in any other country (1 year in 1887, 2 years in 1890, and then 3 years in 1974; source: Canadian Whisky, Davin De Kergommeax).
The whisky is “blended at birth”, meaning that different batches of unaged spirit (presumably of different recipes) are blended together to fit a specific flavour profile before being put in a barrel. It is then aged about 6 years in white oak barrels. The base Canadian Club whisky is different, I believe, in the States and in Canada. Though I haven’t yet tasted the Canadian Club sold in the States, most opinions seem to favour the Canadian bottling over the American.
Nose: There’s an interesting floral note that jumps out to me initially, like rose water, alongside some cola notes. Fruity rye is definitely present, and, equally as present as the corn alongside it, there is a bit of graininess reminiscent of vodkas. I find the corn a little reminiscent of unflavoured corn chips. There’s vanilla and a bit of caramel also in the background….and the nose opens up as the glass sits revealing more vanilla and maple, and, at times, candied orange peel. It’s subtle, but it keeps me interested. There’s almost a bit of sour, almost meaty aroma that comes out in the nose. I get quite an interesting mix of vegetal notes – such as celery and green bell pepper. The nose, I find, is a bit errant and not particularly well constructed together. 24/30 (80%)
Taste: A bit sweet. The rye comes in and carries much of the flavour, although the corn is also still quite present. There’s a particular earthiness to this whisky as it heats up the mouth at the end of the taste that I really like. I also find just on the exit there’s a faint bit of that floral character that I picked up in the nose. It’s interestingly raw at points, and reminds me of the volatility of some rye new makes – however, I don’t mind the flavour. There is some unbalanced bitterness at times, unfortunately, which detracts from the taste. 24/30 (80%)
Finish: The tannins do a bit of work on the finish, which has a nice touch of acidity and prickly spice and cacao powder. The finish has a touch too much of bitterness which I don’t like, however, I find it interesting juxtaposed with the sweetness. As the finish fades, it becomes more enjoyable after a bit of time as the finish seems to lighten up and “cleanse” itself. 16/20 (80%)
Conclusion: This isn’t a whisky I would choose to take an hour with, but it is definitely enjoyable. It’s not perhaps an elegant sipper, it’s a bit too aggressive for that. However, it is good value and sips well and mixes well unless the bitterness comes out too much – and the slight earthiness and the spice are fantastic. 16/20 (80%)