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Canadian Club Chronicles 43 Year Old Canadian Whisky

Review: Canadian Club Chronicles Issue 3 – 43 Year Old (The Speakeasy)      95/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (AKA Arctic Wolf)
Posted on January 04,  2021

For each of the past three years Canadian Club has been releasing a Canada’s oldest age stated Whisky. And each year that release has been getting one year older. It started in 2017 with the Canadian Club 40 Year Old .

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 was released in part to commemorate Canada’s 150 Anniversary, and was available with full distribution across Canada in the fall of 2017.

In 2018 we learned that Canadian Club hadn’t emptied all of those 100 % Corn Whisky barrels, those that hadn’t been used were now one year older. In the fall of 2018, Canadian Club released what they called Canadian Club Chronicles – 41 Year Old Whisky (The Water of Windsor), again using some of those same barrels; but this time adding a small amount of cognac, rye and sherry to the final blend. Not enough to disqualify the 41 Year age statement, but enough to give the whisky a somewhat different character than the previous year’s 40 Year Old whisky.

Then in 2019 the cycle was repeated as Canadian Club released Canadian Club Chronicles Issue 2 – 42 Year Old Whisky (The Dock Man). This time to offer some distinction in the blend, the whisky was blended with a 16 Year Old Rye Whisky, a 12 Year Old Pot Distilled Rye and a small amount of Brandy.

Which brings us to 2020 and the release of Canadian Club Chronicles Issue 3 – 43 Year Old Whisky (The Speakeasy). This time the aged Corn Whisky has apparently been freshened with a dash of 11 Year Old Rye whisky. I wasn’t able to find out how much rye suffice it to say it was not enough to disqualify the 43 Year Old age statement.

Canadian Club Chronicles 3 – The Speakeasy  is bottles at 45 % alcohol by volume.

In the Bottle 4/5

Pictured to the left is the bottle which the Canadian Club 43 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 am 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.

I also found it curious that a whisky which give a nod to The Speakeasy, has no reference to the illicit nightclubs of the Prohibition on the front label or on the front of the display box. Seems a rather uninspired homage to me.

In The Glass  9.5/10

Colour: Rich Amber just starting that turn to copper

Legs: Large droplets form at the crest dropping thick leglets which fall very slowly.

Nose: A melding of brown sugar, butterscotch, vanilla and almond chased by leather and dry fruit (raisins and prunes). Baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and hints of clove) well up and merge with the oak and rye spices.

The nose grows and grows as you let the glass breathe becoming almost breathtaking as the richness unfolds. Rum-like scents of molasses, Cognac-like aromas of raisins and dry fruit, Bourbon-like notes of corn and honeycomb seem to be all combined together with sticky marmalade and yummy nougat thrown in for good measure. And yes, that dash of rye seems to be playing a roll brightening the breezes without taking the shine from the sumptuous aroma.

In the Glass 57.5/60

The whisky is soft and luxurious on the tongue which allows the rich flavours to linger seemingly forever. I can taste a lovely melding of toffee, corn, vanilla, and almond with hints of rum-like brown sugar and molasses for good measure. Not that this is sweet, it isn’t but there is just enough of those delicious sweet flavours to bring balance to the oak sap, the wood spice and the old leather which lies underneath. Bright citrus zest and ginger liven the palate giving us a somewhat peppery bite, and then I notice dry raisins and hints of Christmas cake. There is much more as canned peaches and apricots are hinted at as is a yummy marzipan and even bittersweet chocolate.

I keep re-adjusting my score as I sip, and each time it climbs higher.

In The Throat 14.5/15

The well aged whisky is heavy bodied and soft which results in a long lingering finish which holds all of the flavour on the palate for you to savour well after the swallow. Oak, brown sugar and baking spices seem to settle on the tongue with echoes of leathery dry fruit (raisins and dates) dawdling in the background.

The Afterburn 9.5/10

Last year I complained that the blenders at Canadian Club were trying to do too much when they added a small amount of cognac, rye and sherry to their 41 Year Old Whisky in 2018, and then added a 16 Year Old Rye Whisky, a 12 Year Old Pot Distilled Rye and a small amount of Brandy to the 42 Year Old Whisky in 2019. This year they seem to have kept themselves in check adding just a dash of 11 year Old Rye. And this time, the 100 % Corn Whisky (which was fantastic in its original form) was even better for it. Canadian Club Chronicles 3 – 43 Year Old Whisky (The Speakeasy) is a tremendous example of just how wonderful well aged whisky can be.

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

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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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