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Canadian Club Small Batch Sherry Cask

Whisky Review: Canadian Club Small Batch Sherry Cask    85.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted January 25, 2015

Canadian Club Whisky is the oldest (and arguably also the most influential) Canadian Whisky brand in the world. It is sold in over 150 countries world-wide, and sales in Canada are unmatched by any other 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.

Recently there have been some changes in the Canadian Club family. One of the brands which has undergone a revamping is the Canadian Club Sherry Cask which has been replaced by the Canadian Club Small Batch Sherry Cask. The newer version of the whisky has a new bottle (shown below) and the two words, “Small Batch” have been added to the label. My understanding is the whisky is made from the familiar Canadian Club “blended at birth“  recipe of corn, rye, rye malt and barley spirits. The spirits from these grains are blended before entering the white oak barrel, and then set down for six to eight years to age. The matured whisky is then recasked for an additional finishing period  in Sherry Casks from Jerez Spain.

The second maturation allows the whisky to acquire some of the characteristics of the sherry (similar to sherry cask matured scotches); but this second maturation is of a much shorter time period which ensures that the core Canadian Club spirit remains the centerpiece of the whisky. When the Canadian Club Sherry Cask is bottled, it is done so at 41.3% alcohol by volume, just a hair over the regular 40 % strength of the rest of their line-up.

CC Sherry CaskIn the Bottle: 4.5/5

The new bottle for the Small Batch Sherry Cask Whisky has a new design (see left). The former bottle was designed to be a bartender friendly bottle with the familiar tall slender bar shelf style. The newer flask style bottle seems to imply a sleek masculinity which is new for the Canadian Club brand. This same new bottle design is also being used for Canadian Club Classic Small Batch 12 year Old. The label is also more attractive and the changes in the look of the label seems to represent an overall re-imaging of the brand meant to be bolder and more consistent throughout the Canadian Club line-up.

Because the  positives seem to out-way negatives, I have added a half point to the presentation score for the new bottle.

In the Glass 9/10

In the glass, the CC Sherry Cask displays itself as a dark copper coloured whisky with a hue close to that of a tarnished penny. When I tilt my glencairn and give it a slow twirl, I see a slightly thickened sheen of whisky on the inside of my glass, the crest of which gives up moderately stubborn drooplets which crawl back down into the bottom of my glass.

The initial aroma brings dark fruit (raisins and dates) and red licorice (Turkish delight) with fine wood spices running alongside which feature a smattering of ginger, white pepper and cardamom. As the glass sits, some rich tobacco builds up as does hints of orange marmalade, and rich baking spices (vanilla, dark brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and a hint of cloves).

I find the aroma very inviting, and soon I am taking my first sip.

In the Mouth 51/60

The whisky is soft in the mouth carrying impressions of fine wood spice and bits of red licorice, dark fruit (raisins and dates) and red cherry wood. Oak and cedar flavours grow from the wood spice. A flavour of Port wine and impressions of sweet cigar tobacco are hinted at. Caramel toffee, baking spices, and sticky red jelly all seem to find a place in the complex flavour profile of the Sherry Cask whisky. Rye spices seem to grow and diminish fighting for attention with the strong fruity sherry flavours. This battle for attention is never resolved, and I am left with an impression of an imbalance between the spicy rye and the dark fruity flavour of the sherry. This whisky however, shows strong complexity and depth of flavour, which tempers how I view my perceived lack of harmony in the glass.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The exit is smooth, but it also seems rather short considering the complexity of flavour. There are some nice sherry style impressions of turkish delight and raisin which linger for a little while, but again these seem at odds with the wood and rye spices which linger alongside.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

I have found that whiskies which combine rye and sherry just never seem to capture my imagination. There is something about these two contrasting flavours which (for me anyways) does not work completely. The vibrant rye and wood spices seem an odd match for the dark fruity flavour of sherry. While I recognize that the Canadian Club Sherry Cask is an excellent whisky with a great depth of flavour and complexity. The disharmony I sense within this whisky keeps my score in the mid 80s.

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 Recipe

Sherry cask Port Manhattan SAM_1428Sherry Cask Port Manhattan

2 oz Canadian Club Sherry Cask
3/4 oz Ruby Port Wine
Dash of Angostura Bitters (optional)
Ice
Brandied Cherry
Twist of Orange Peel

Add the Sherry Cask Canadian Club, the Port Wine, and the bitters into a Martini Shaker with ice
Shake until chilled
Place a brandied cherry in the bottom of a cocktail glass
Strain the mixed ingredients over the brandied cherry
Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass and twist it over the drink. (This will release the oil from the orange zest into the drink)
Discard the peel.

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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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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