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Canadian Club Classic (12 Years Old)

Whisky Review: Canadian Club Classic (12 Year Old) 84.5/100
a Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted January 30, 2011

Canadian Club Whisky or C.C. as it is known amongst its advocates was my father’s favourite whisky. He was quite happy when a family event like a wedding or anniversary would come around, and he could volunteer to supply the spirits for the event. Dad never paid much mind to which beer he chose, or which wine, or even which rum, vodka or gin; but… he always insisted on Canadian Club Whisky. In fact as he grew older he would often share a story where he remembered fondly the 25th Wedding Anniversary Celebration for Mom and himself. As the night was winding down many of the guests commented to him that he certainly didn’t shave off any corners with respect to the liquor. He served his friends the best; he served them Canadian Club. Dad was proud of the reaction his neighbours and friends showed him that evening, and he always cherished that night where he was universally recognized for his generosity and his good taste.

The Canadian Club Classic, which is the subject of my review is a whisky my Dad would certainly have enjoyed. It is a couple of steps up from his whisky of choice, the previously reviewed Canadian Club Premium.  ‘Blended at Birth’, the C.C. Classic Whisky is a mixture of rye, rye malt, corn. and barley malt spirits. These spirits are blended before being placed in white oak barrels where they age together for a minimum of 12 years. The Classic contains a higher amount of malted barley in the blend than its younger sibling the Premium, and the result is a slighter sweeter more rounded whisky with the smoother character that the longer time spent aging in oak provides.

In the Bottle 4/5

To the right is the bottle presentation for the Canadian Club Classic.  This is the only bottle in the C.C. range to depart from the flagon style bottle used by the rest of the range. To me this is an indication that the company is making the subliminal suggestion to the buyer that this whisky is no longer for mixing. The decanter style bottle is reminiscent of those old glass decanters you saw J.R. Ewing use when he grabbed his shot of whiskey in those vintage episodes of Dallas (just before he completed his latest bit of villainy towards Cliff Barnes).

In the Glass 8.5/10

The Classic Whisky is a golden amber colour in the glass, and when that glass is tilted, small thin legs form and trickle back down the sides. The initial nose is light with a mild butterscotch aroma. It is just a little sweetish and carries an impression of waving corn and barley fields ripening in the sun. After the glass decants I begin to receive some spicy oak and rye as well as a slow building of baking spices.

In the Mouth 51/60

The entry into the mouth is soft and creamy. That typical ‘dank’ Canadian Club flavour is muted in this expression, and the whisky finds more sweet butterscotch than spicy toffee at first tasting. However, the spiciness does build through the mid palate as rye and oak begin to make a firm imprint onto the flavour. I taste a vague smokiness running throughout as well, with hints of dry fruit giving the whisky a little depth of body in the mouth. Hints of fermenting fruit lie at the edges of the taste profile with a little sourness of baked apples complete with the cinnamon and raisins.

Twelve years of aging in white oak has buffed the flavours of the whisky taking the edge off, and the result is a spirit which is very sippable. But, maybe too much of the edge has been taking off. I find the flavour is perhaps a little too mild to keep me interested in sipping for very long. My instinct instead is to mix the whisky into a nice cocktail and to enjoy the added smoothness that the whisky provides in that form.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The finish is smooth and crisp. A butterscotch fade with a soft landing of rye spice in the throat.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

This is a good all round whisky to pull out when company is coming. It has a mild flavour and a smooth, crisp finish. The Canadian Club Classic is pleasant to drink neat or on ice, but it is also on that threshold where you won’t mind if your guests who prefer a cocktail or a bar drink have the impulse to go ahead and mix one.

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


Suggested Recipe

Canadian Club is perhaps the most versatile mixing whisky which is found all over the world. And as I stated in my review for Canadian Club Premium, if you go into any bar in Canada (and a lot of them in the States) and you order a Rye ‘n Ginger, the bartender is likely to begin with Canadian Club.  Like the C.C. Premium, the Canadian Club Classic makes a great Rye ‘n Ginger. But I wanted something a little different (but tasty) to be my cocktail of choice for this longer aged version of Canadian Club. After a few different trials, I came up with the Ice Storm.

The Classic Canadian Ice Storm

Classic Canadian Ice Storm
a recipe by Arctic Wolf

2 oz Canadian Club Classic
3/4 oz grapefruit juice
3/4 oz Cranberry Juice
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Grenadine

3 large cubes of ice

Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth
Serve in a cocktail glass
Garnish with a wedge of lime if desired

Please enjoy this whisky and the suggested cocktail responsibly. Remember the aim of my blog is to help you drink better.. not to help you drink more!

Note:  The sample for this review was provided by the Beam Global team in Alberta who upon learning of my review series for the family of Canadian Club Whiskies immediately stepped forward with a few samples.


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

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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