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Canadian Club 40 Year Old

Review: Canadian Club 40 Year Canadian Whisky   (94/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on December 19, 2017

This holiday season, a new Canadian whisky is on the wish lists of Canadian Club fans. After 40 years of resting in American oak barrels in Windsor, Ontario, Canadian Club released Canadian Club 40 Year Old, its oldest age expression released to date, and possibly the oldest in Canadian whisky history.

According to Rob Tucker, Senior Brand Manager, Canadian & American Whiskies at Beam Suntory:

“With 160 years of great whisky making, Canadian Club’s numerous gold medal awards won in recent spirit competitions, and with our storied past as the preeminent club whisky in speakeasies which were known for stylish, stirring times, and a little mischief in mixed company, it only makes sense that a historic brand like Canadian Club gets to treat Canadians with such a delicious one-of-a-kind whisky like Canadian Club 40 Year Old,”

Tish Harcus, Canadian Club Global Brand Ambassador, adds:

“This whisky has the characteristic Canadian Club smoothness; yet it’s complex, with Christmas spices, butter tarts and finely refined barrel notes. You can taste the oak but it’s not overpowering.”

According to my sources, Canadian Club 40 Year Old was produced from a selection of American Oak barrels which contained 100% corn whisky. These barrels had been consolidated many times over the course of 40 years to minimize the oxidation of the spirit during its lengthy maturation period. The whisky has been released in part to commemorate Canada’s 150 Anniversary, and was available with full distribution across Canada as of Mid November in limited quantities. The spirit is bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 4/5

Pictured to the left is the bottle which the Canadian Club 40 Year Old Whisky arrives in. It looks rather snazzy doesn’t it. The heavy glass rectangular decanter looks masculine and helps to elevate the presentation giving the whisky an impression of substance on my whisky shelf.

I was disappointed with the cardboard display box however. This is the oldest whisky produced by one of Canada’s most famous distilleries (Hiram Walker Distillery) and it represents Canada’s most iconic brand world wide whisky brand. The understated display box suggests to me that the brand owners lack the confidence to place their spirit on par with the world’s other great whiskies. I cannot help but feel the brand image of Canadian Club could have been elevated to a much greater degree world-wide with a better looking display box.

In the Glass  9.5/10

When poured into my glencairn, the Canadian Club 40 Year Old Whisky displays itself as a gold coloured spirit. When I tilted and twirled my glass, I saw a slightly thickened liquid sheen on the inside which slowly released medium-sized droplets which developed into mid-sized legs that ambled back down to the whisky at the bottom of the glass.

The aroma in the breezes above the glass offers no disappointment. My immediate reaction was Yumm! The breezes brought forth a combination of butterscotch, oak and vanilla which was melded into a luscious toffee. After a few minutes I began to notice a welling up of fresh corn underlain with firm impressions of tobacco and hints of burlap. Dark fruit in the form of prunes and impressions of raisins was apparent as well. Some canned apricots add a little sweetness.

I continued to let the whisky breathe, and the spirit continued to develop in the glass with oak and dry grain spices growing side by side pushing impressions of baking spices along with them. Wisps of cinnamon, hints of cloves and even a little nutmeg and allspice were evident as I nosed the breezes above the glass. Before I knew it, 20 minutes had passed and I was still fascinated by the scents and smells I was encountering. Was that a bit of maple? Or perhaps some more smoky dry fruit? Some more corn, and perhaps some almond and hazelnut melding with the vanilla and butterscotch giving me an impression of marzipan? All of those impressions were wonderful with the whole seemingly greater than the sum of the individual parts.

In the Mouth  57/60

The mouthfeel is luscious with initial impressions of breakfast corn cereal (think Honeycombs) and vanilla pudding. I would describe this initial flavour as firm, but not overbearing. In fact there is a beguiling quality to the aged spirit almost as if the whisky is telling me to be slow down such that I can appreciate it more fully. There are nuances within the flavour stream that should not be missed.

On the second sip, I also taste oak and cedar melded into butterscotch toffee. As I paused for a few seconds to think about it, I also noticed a few hints of sticky orange marmalade. The fruitiness of the spirit increases with impressions of ripe plums and dry apricots, ripe yellow apples and impression of pears. Running throughout the whisky is a light impression of dark treacle and the flavour of dark toasted bread (think of the flavour of dark toast which has almost but not quite turned black). (This dual impression of treacle and almost burnt toast reminds me strongly of Bajan Rum.) Roasted walnuts and those same baking spices we encountered on the nose (vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) accent the dram wonderfully.

As you are probably guessing, I think very highly of this 40 Year Old Whisky.

In the Throat  14/15

The 40 Year Old Canadian Club Whisky is bottled at 45% alcohol by volume, yet it goes down so smoothly that I had to check the bottling proof one more time just to be sure. There is a nice peppery heat tapping the tonsils after the swallow and flavours of yummy baking spices and treacle in the afterglow.

The Afterburn  9.5/10

The Canadian Club 40-Year-Old Whisky is an outstanding whisky. I think what I appreciate the most is how well the flavours within the dram act to compliment each other. This is a finely balanced whisky which features a myriad of flavour nuances which all work together supporting and elevating the whole.

The whisky is being sold across Canada for a suggested retail price of $249.95. I would suggest that it is worth every penny.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


Each of my review contains a rating or score out of 100 and these scores can be interpreted using the following scale:

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)



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