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Canadian Club Reserve Whisky

Whisky Review: Canadian Club Reserve (10 Year Old) 79.5/100
a Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted August 21, 2011

Canadian Club Whisky is the oldest and probably the most influential brand of Canadian Whisky in the world. It can be found in over 150 countries and boasts sales in Canada that are unmatched by any other premium whisky brand. Its popularity spiked during the days of Prohibition when Canadian Club was the whisky of choice for smugglers and whiskey runners, and it has even been reported that Canadian Club was the whisky of choice for Al Capone who is said to have smuggled thousands of cases of Canadian Whisky into the USA .

The Canadian Club Reserve is a step up from the previously reviewed Canadian Club Premium. Still ‘Blended at Birth’, the whisky is a mixture of rye, rye malt, corn and barley spirits.  Although separately distilled, these spirits are blended before being placed in white oak barrels where the blend ages for a minimum of 10 years.

In the Bottle 4/5

Pictured to the right is the bottle of Canadian Club Reserve given to me by Beam Global  team here in Alberta. I wish I was just a little better at photography than I am as the photo doesn’t quite get the colours right. The label, the screw-cap topper and the blue sleeve around the neck are much more of a dark navy blue than the bright shade of  blue colour my camera displayed. The bottle is of the same bar room style as the previously reviewed Canadian Club premium, however rather than being darkly coloured, the glass is clear allowing you to see the mahogany coloured whisky inside. The labeling is also more professional and everything suits a whisky one step up the rung from its predecessor.

In The Glass 9/10

Poured into the glass, Canadian Club Reserve is a soft mahogany coloured whisky.  It has a light bodied look in the glass, and when I tilt my glass it leaves a oily sheen on the side of my glass with slender legs which trickle back into the whisky.

In the air, a light toffee has developed which has that same almond taint I noticed in the younger Canadian Club whisky. Dank tones of corn and tobacco are present as well as a light smokiness which hints at baked apples. A dusty rye scent and light oak spices weave in and out of the aroma which is noticeably more complex than the Canadian Club Premium.

In the Mouth 48/60

The whisky is soft as it enters the mouth, and it is full of that typical ‘Canadian Club’ dankness which the brand is famous for. However, the dankness is accompanied by a surprising mustiness which seems to stem from the flavour of cereal grains. Dusty rye spices are present as well but the rye spice seems at odds with the musty flavour of the whisky.

As I sip, I notice other flavours as well which include a damp tobacco and fermenting fruit flavours which give me impressions of canned apricots and baked apples. Toffee and vanilla round out the whisky with a bit of spicy oak which heats up the mouth in a good way. Canadian Club Reserve Whisky has that same  ‘when you get used to this you will really like it’ quality which I noted with the Canadian Club Premium Whisky. As I said in my review of the C.C. Premium, it’s that ‘getting used to it’ part, that is kind of challenging.

In the Throat 11/15

The musty flavour I tried to describe in the mouth finds far too much traction in the finish, and this really knocks down the score here.  My throat and mouth are left with an odd musty dry grass flavour impression which seems completely out of place with the whisky.

The Afterburn  7.5/10

The Canadian Club Reserve began with such promise on the nose which screamed of complexity and robust flavour. But the odd mustiness I noticed on the nose and in the mouth, gained fury in the throat and did me in. (I sampled the whisky to several of my friends who did not notice this mustiness at all.) I obtained a second bottle from a completely different batch run, and again I noticed the mustiness, and my friends did not. This is the first time my friends and I have been so completely at odds over what we taste. In my judgement the mustiness was somewhat overpowering especially in the finish. My score reflects my impressions and not those of my friends.

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


Suggested Recipe

Canadian Club Reserve Whisky will make nice long rye cocktails to drink on the deck on warm evenings after all the work is done. Here is a nice summer deck recipe:

Wood CutterThe Woodcutter

1 1/2  oz Canadian Club Reserve Whisky
3/4  oz  Triple Sec
3/4 oz Lime Juice
4 large ice cubes
dry apple cider

Mix the first three ingredients in a tall Collins glass with ice
Lengthen the drink with dry apple cider



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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