July 2, 2007

Canadian Club

Bill Dowd photo

During a recent visit to the Canadian Club Brand Heritage Centre in Walkerville, Ontario, I had the opportunity to sample four of the distillery's best Canadian whiskies up against two other iconic whiskies from elsewhere -- Maker's Mark from Kentucky and Famous Grouse from Scotland. Here are my notes on the CC products.

Canadian Club:

This 80-proof six-year-old is the company's biggest seller. It is a pale amber color with an aroma full of spice, apple and vanilla notes. It's a light bodied whisky -- what its makers say is a good "transitional" liquor for younger palates seeking to move on from beer '' -- with a smooth, sweet, slightly spicy taste from its rye, rye malt, barley malt and corn building blocks and a clean, short finish. Good for mixed cocktails.

Canadian Club Reserve:

This 80-proof offering undergoes pre-barrel blending, then is aged 10 years in small oak barrels. It's bright gold to bronze in color, with a nose less alcohol pervasive than the basic CC and a definite caramel smell. It's a medium textured body coupled with a full vanilla flavor and a bit of nutmeg bite; 40% of the blend it is aged in used U.S. oak barrels and contains more barley malt than CC. Longer, drier finish.

Classic 12:

The No. 2 seller in the CC line, this 80-proof 12-year-old is blended before aging, with 60% of it coming from U.S. barrels. Deep amber in color, soft and lightly floral in aroma, it has a creamy texture rich in oak and vanilla plus a floral honey. Light, long finish.

Canadian Club Sherry Cask:

The smallest seller in the line also is my favorite, hands down. It's an 82.6-proof gem made in limited quantities, aged at least eight years in white oak barrels and then double matured in sherry casks imported from the Harvey's facility in Spain, which is owned by the same company as CC. It's a deep antique bronze that is very inviting, as is the aroma redolent of cherries, figs and sherry. Dates and figs continue the fruitiness of the taste in a body that is at once light and creamy, with a light, clean finish.

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