Canadian Club 30 year old (40% alc./vol.)
Fragrant and flavourful with butterscotch, dark fruit, loads of fresh-cut wood, hot pepper, a vague corn-whisky mustiness, and recurring rich tobacco notes. Deceptively simple and surprisingly lively. Rich & Round. ★★★★★In 1858, Hiram Walker began distilling whisky in Walkerville, Ontario, then a little town just north of Windsor. Although he did not introduce his signature Canadian Club whisky until the 1880s, from the beginning, Walker used a process that involved blending several component whiskies according to a still-secret formula, then putting the resulting blend to age in barrels made of white oak. Walker experimented with ageing this “barrel blended” whisky for 5, then 6, and then 7 years, before finally settling on 6 years as the standard. More recently, various older versions, including 10, 12, 15, and 20 year olds, have been introduced to expand the range.Some thirty-odd years ago, someone at the Hiram Walker distillery in Walkerville selected 89 real “honey” barrels of standard barrel-blended Canadian Club, and set them aside for long ageing. Whoever that person might have been – master blender, barrel jockey, or prankster – he (or she?) is owed a great debt of gratitude. Over those thirty years, the angels that visit the CC warehouses in Pike Creek, Ontario have consumed more than half of that whisky, leaving the equivalent of only 39 barrels of the golden liquid behind.In 2008, when preparations for the 150th anniversary of Walker’s distillery were in full swing, his successors decided that the time had finally come to pull those old honey barrels out of the warehouse and to bottle their contents. The result? A supply of an astounding 2,560 six-bottle cases of this special Canadian Club 30-year-old edition.Nose: Quite fragrant with cedar lumber and lots of dry, fresh-cut hardwood. Dark fruit – including raisins, black currants, and prunes – merge with fruity pipe tobacco, which in turn, is joined by a hint of grape Kool-Aid. These fruity notes have melded right into the woody ones, creating a deceptively simple nose. But given time, the deceit is revealed as teasing nuances of gentle sweet vanilla and fleeting hints of milk chocolate escape, only to be jostled aside by a vaguely rancorous astringency, as childhood scents of peeled green Manitoba maple bark elbow their way in too. Yes, thirty years in a Pike Creek warehouse is a mighty long time, even though the warehouses are heated in winter. That said, this whisky is anything but tired, though its recurring ultra-complex tobacco notes remind us of that thirty-year sleep.Canadian Club 30 year old is made from the same spirit as CC 20 year old, using the same blending formula. A rye, a malted rye, a barley whisky, and a corn whisky were the constituents of both the 20- and 30-year old, and there are many similarities between the noses of these two whiskies. But there are differences too, and not ones you might initially anticipate, either. As expected, wood dominates the nose of the 30-year old, as it also does with the 20. But ten more years in the barrel have left Canadian Club 30 year old not woodier, but fruitier than its 20-year-old cousin, and also dryer, as so often happens with very old whiskies.Palate: At thirty years of age, the palate is still crisp and fresh. And it still retains that particular Canadian Club creaminess, with a pleasing medium weight, and some sweetness too. The dominating feature though is fresh-cut lumber, tightly integrated with a hot zippy pepper. This well-aged whisky remains vibrant and powerful and is most definitely not over the hill. An early bitter citric zest disappears after a little while, but a pleasing mouth-filling heat lingers. Given its age, I would expect more obvious complexity but it really is quite subtle. Hints of black fruit, fresh plums, sherry, licorice, caramel, loads of butterscotch, floral perfume, and pink grapefruit juice broaden the palate. Traces of old corn whisky, along with slightly musty cardboard and old books, mingle with the dustiness of rye. The fruity tobacco of the nose finds its echo on the palate in hot tobacco notes which underscore the hot pepper while tempering a gentle tannic pull and a hint of woody bitterness.Finish: Long and reluctant. Zesty bitter citric notes, suggestions of dark fruit, lots of pepper, and fading hints of dry wood and sawdust. The peppery glow lingers in the throat, joined towards the end by inklings of ginger.Empty Glass: Restrained oakiness and fresh-cut cedar, hints of pickle juice, fudge, caramel, mild woodiness, and slight citric notes.Canadian Club 30 year old is gone from LCBO, but it is still available for $180 at B.C. Liquors, and $183 at SAQ. There was, after all, just a single batch and almost all of it has been sold. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to decide whether or not you must have one of the few remaining bottles.Very highly recommended. ★★★★★The reviews on canadianwhisky.org are intended to help readers find whiskies they will enjoy, and to better appreciate the whiskies they drink. Not everyone has the same likes and dislikes though, and the best a reviewer can do is offer his or her opinion. But these are just that, opinions and not truths.Just for fun, Chip Dykstra in Edmonton, Jason Debly in Fredericton, and I, decided to review this exceptional Canadian Club whisky independently and then post our reviews at the same time on our respective websites. We did this so we, and you could compare them. You can read what Chip thinks of CC 30 on his Rum Howler blog and get Jason’s opinion on his blog – Jason’s Scotch Whisky Reviews. We have not shared our reviews with each other before posting them so we'll be just as surprised as you are. But who knows, if we like the results we may just try it again a time or two in 2011.Canadian Club 8 year old Sherry Cask reviewed here.Canadian Club 10 year old Reserve reviewed here.Canadian Club 12 year old Classic reviewed here.Canadian Club 15 year old reviewed here.Canadian Club 20 year old reviewed here.