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Canadian Club Premium Canadian Whisky

Review: Canadian Club Premium Whisky  (84/100)
a Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on October 10, 2018

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:

” … Our best-selling, flagship whisky is where most folks begin their whisky journey. This is the one that started the legend. A giant of Canadian whisky since 1858, it’s aged longer than the 3 years required by law in oak barrels before bottling for the smoothest possible flavour. …” 

If you have been paying attention to the new television ads, you will have noticed that Canadian Club has been touting their flagship whisky with a new advertisement featuring the outstanding score (92/100) which Jim Murray (revered whisky critic) recently gave the spirit. This high score is quite a bit north of the last score I published two years ago. However when I learned of Jim Murray’s high score, I couldn’t resist checking my recent private score when I served as a juror for the 2018 Canadian Whisky Awards. Indeed, I found that I also had scored the whisky somewhat higher for those awards than I had in my past review.

So I decided to revisit Canadian Club Premium to see if these observations held up when I tasted the spirit in isolation.

Note: Canadian Club Premium is bottled at 40 % alcohol by volume.

canadian-club-premium-sam_2653In 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  8.5/10

Poured into the glass, Canadian Club is a bright amber colour which flashes golden in the light. The whisky appears to be light to medium bodied which drops slow-moving leglets down the inside of my glass.

The initial aroma brings fine wood spice, light vanilla butterscotch and almond scents with a mild grassy/herbal impression. As the glass sits, I notice a slight thickening of the aroma. Spicy fine oak permeates the breezes with caramel toffee beginning to develop from the wood spice, the butterscotch and the vanilla, There is a strengthening grassy herbal character, and the whisky is overtly fruity with scents of canned apricots and raw pineapple as well.

In the Mouth  50.5/60

Canadian Club as a brand, has one the most aggressive flavour profiles in the Canadian Whisky category. This begins with oodles of fine wood spice and oak tannins disguised as orange peel zest as well as heated rye spices stimulating the palate. Underneath the spice is an organic/herbal sour mash flavour which runs through the spirit. Damp tobacco and fermenting fruit flavours add to the complexity. Although it is hard to tell from my taste descriptors whether the whisky has indeed changed, I notice that the dank quality I described two years ago within the spirit is mostly absent, and that the spirits seems drier with firmer rye and dusty grain flavours than I remember.

When I add ice, I find a few ribbons of chocolate which were previously unnoticed. I could certainly sip the spirit and enjoy myself; but truthfully, I am much more inclined to mix cocktails like the Manhattan or the quintessential Canadian Whisky highball, Rye and Ginger.

In the Throat  12.5/15

The finish is of medium length with the light bitterness of rye and citrus pith drying the palate. After the swallow, I notice flavours of menthol and caramel complimented by baking spice (cinnamon in particular) and peppery wood spices.

The Afterburn  8.5/10

My overall scoring does not reach the level of Jim Murray’s, but like Jim, I have increased my score from its position two years ago. In understanding why the whisky is scoring better, I note that when I examined my older review, I found that at that I could not quite call Canadian Club Premium a sipper at that time. This time around however, I found the whisky somewhat smoother, and indeed I did enjoy sipping the spirit neat (and over ice).

Having said that, I should point out that I still feel that mixing the Canadian Club into highballs and cocktails is probably the whisky’s ultimate destiny (for myself at least).

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

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Suggested Recipes

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.

canadian-club-cooler-sam_2769I 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
Ice
Ginger Ale

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

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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)

 

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2 Responses to “Canadian Club Premium Canadian Whisky”

  1. Dean said

    I love it as a mixer or simply by itself on ice. I agree that once you get used to it you will really like it. Don Draper can’t be wrong. It is a Canadian classic. A whiskey that everyone should experience.

  2. Yochanan said

    Chip,

    While we agree on much in terms of whiskey opinion, we surely do not here. I have always found the entry-level CC to hold something of a cheap syrupy note, sickly so. I stress my wording of “sickly”, and I am not dabbling in hyperbole: I am met with a stomach churning sensation whenever the occasion airs when I sniff the stuff (being offered a glass or what not). To me it’s quite too raw, sickly style of a syrupy nature, with some low quality rye visible in the finish. Keep up the great bloggin’!

 
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