Canadian Club Premium Canadian Whisky
Review Canadian Club Premium Whisky (81/100)
a Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on January 19, 2011 (Revised and Re-scored September 2016)
Hiram Walker was the visionary American entrepreneur (born in New England), that immigrated north to Ontario and set about creating a most distinctive brand of Canadian Whisky which became known as Canadian Club. Although he began his distilling days in Michigan, he perfected his craft north of the American border in what would become Walkerville, Ontario. The whisky which Hiram Walker created was unique. He utilized methods of production which were not just unusual, but actual contrary to common whisky practices of the day, and his Canadian Club whisky is even today made in that contrary fashion being the only major whisky brand in the world to be blended before being aged in oak barrels, (Blended at Birth).
Canadian Club Whisky is now the oldest (and probably the most influential) Canadian Whisky brand in the world. It is found in over 150 countries, with sales in Canada that are unmatched by any other premium whisky brand. The company has been granted numerous Royal Warrants from Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II and it has been reported that Canadian Club was the whisky of choice when Al Capone smuggled thousands of Cases of Canadian Whisky into the USA during prohibition.
Today Canadian Club Premium is the flagship brand for the company. Although it was previously aged for a minimum of 6 years in white oak barrels, the brand carries no longer carries an age statement. The aforementioned Canadian Club website now reports:
” … it is aged longer than the 3 years required by law in oak barrels before bottling for the smoothest possible flavour …”
The spirit is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.
In the Bottle 4/5
Pictured to the right is the Canadian Club Premium bottle presentation. I am extremely happy that the tallish brown bottle is completed with a sensible plastic screw top cap. The bottle itself is made for easy pouring and easy storage. A good presentation for an entry-level whisky.
I do, however, have a minor quibble with the word ‘premium’ on the label as spirit which is merely aged for longer than 3 years is (in Canadian Whisky terms) mid grade at best, and in fact, for the Canadian Club line-up this is actually the lowest tier. But those marketing guys and gals seem to think that placing the word ‘premium’ on your lowest end product helps the entire brand. I disagree with the marketing, but then again they sell so much of this whisky, perhaps I am wrong.
In the Glass 8/10
Poured into the glass, Canadian Club is a soft amber colour which flashes golden in the light. The whisky appears to be light bodied and leaves only a vague oily sheen on the sides of my glass with tiny legs trying to trickle down.
On the nose, a light caramel tone begins to form with a bit of an almond taint. Fruity aromas of canned apricots and raw pineapple follow with a spicy oak rising up at the end. Somewhere, and I am not sure where, a dank vegetal tone which hints at tobacco and sour fruit has began to creep in.The dank aroma also carries hints of corn and a vague medicinal quality into the air as well.
In the Mouth 49/60
Canadian Club as a brand, has one the most aggressive flavour profiles in the Canadian Whisky Category. There is a dank, organic, sour mash flavour which runs through the whisky. As well, the whisky is full of damp tobacco and fermenting fruit flavours. The spirit is spicy too, with oak tannins disguised as orange peel zest and rye spices heating up the mouth. Caramel flavours seep in and out as does an impression of vanilla.
Overall, the flavour is robust, and complex but it also has that, ‘when you get used to this you will really like it’ quality. It’s that ‘getting used to it’ part, that is kind of challenging. My Dad got used to it and he would never drink anything else. And over the past few years I have began to appreciate the flavour much more as well especially when I mix cocktails. I like strong flavours that push through my mixed drinks and that is exactly what the Canadian Club premium does.
In the Throat 12/15
The finish is of medium length and kind of I guess I would say ‘aromatic’. The dank corn mash flavour lingered in my throat, and the finish was as bitter as it was sweet. Strangely, the bitterness in the finish did not dissuade me as bitter finishes often do. The bittersweet finish seems to pair well with the overall flavour of the whisky.
The Afterburn 8/10
I can’t quite call the Canadian Club Premium Whisky a sipper. The dank and earthy flavour seems to challenge my palate just a little too aggressively. But as a mixer, the whisky is superb. The dank complex flavour gives life to even the most simple of cocktails adding a complexity that most other mixing whiskies just cannot match. That is the strength of the Canadian Club whisky, and the reason why it is found in so many liquor cabinets and in so many countries around the world.
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
One cannot suggest a recipe for Canadian Club without referring to the quintessential bar drinks the whisky has become famous for. Many bar-tending books refer to Canadian Club by name when suggesting a Canadian Whisky for the elegant Manhattan Cocktail. As well if you go into any bar in Canada (and even some in the US) and order an easy-going ‘Rye and Ginger‘, then Canadian Club is the assumed whisky that the establishment will begin with.
This dates back to the days of Prohibition when Canadian Club was the whisky of choice for smugglers and whiskey runners. But the easy mix-ability of Canadian Club has ensured that the tradition has endured.
I have no reservations recommending Canadian Club Premium Whisky for either the elegant whisky cocktail or an easy-going bar-drink. However, I am going to suggest something in between as my favoured Canadian Club Cocktail, what I call, the Canadian Club Cooler.
Canadian Club Cooler
2 oz Canadian Club Premium
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Lime juice
dash of bitters
Simple Syrup to taste
Pour the whisky, the lemon and the lime juice, and the simple syrup into a metal shaker
Add a dash of bitters
Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts.
Strain into an ice-filled glass.
Top with Ginger-ale
Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime
As usual, 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)