Canadian Club Classic 12 year old (40% alc./vol.)
Sweet oak caramels and burnt sugar, raisins, prunes, and Christmas cake. Peppery with a slippery creaminess and underlying notes of clean oak. Fruity & Spicy. ★★★☆At the entry level, there are three different versions of Canadian Club: a best-selling, six-year-old mixing whisky, known in Canada as Canadian Club Premium; a rye-rich ten-year-old, called Canadian Club Reserve; and for those who can’t decide whether to sip or mix: this sweet voluptuous twelve-year-old whisky, dubbed Canadian Club Classic.An enormous variety of whiskies can be made by tweaking just a few basic factors. These begin with the choice of grains, followed by the selection of barrels, and, last but not least, the decision to employ particular blending practices that contribute to the final flavours.Like most Canadian whisky, Canadian Club is made primarily from corn. Then, to this are added rye, rye malt, and barley malt. Each grain contributes its own characteristic flavours. Consequently, by changing the ratios of these three grains in the mashes, a wide range of spirits can be created. For Canadian Club Classic, the whisky makers have chosen a decidedly higher content of malted barley for the mash bill than they opt for with their other whiskies.As with each of the Canadian Club whiskies, a variety of barrels is used to mature the spirit that will eventually become Canadian Club Classic. For this particular whisky, the folks at Canadian Club have chosen to use larger numbers of re-charred Bourbon barrels than they conventionally would for their other Canadian Club whiskies. Re-charring the barrels in this way accomplishes two objectives: First, it burns off any residual Bourbon that has been absorbed into the barrel staves and could flavour the new whisky; re-charring virtually eliminates the Bourbon influence on the whisky. And second, re-charring rejuvenates the partly-depleted layer of caramelized oak sugars in the barrel in addition to reactivating the charcoal itself. This increases the sweetness of the whisky while contributing significantly to removing any off-notes from the new spirit. The result is a creamy, robust whisky that is rich in oak caramels and toffees.Whisky can be blended in many different ways, as Canadian whisky aficionados know. Many of them have become quite familiar with the “barrel blending” process that Hiram Walker pioneered for his Canadian Club whisky. This barrel blending method involves mixing the various spirit components of the final whisky as soon as they are distilled, and then putting them into barrels where they will mature as blended spirit. Barrel blending allows more time for the various spirits to intermingle and for their constituent flavours to integrate. Among other things, the people who make Canadian Club attribute the signature fruitiness of their whiskies to this long period of marrying.Nose: Very fragrant with distinct caramel/burnt sugar notes and sweet dark fruits, including raisins, blackcurrants, and prunes, then a slight hint of sweet-and-pickly sourness. Emerging floral and herbal notes are overtaken by the aroma of celery. Slight spirity notes combine with an assortment of rye spices – nutmeg, cloves, ginger – to stir memories of rum-soaked Christmas cake. Wouldn’t this be a fine Christmas digestif?Palate: Toffee sweetness, caramel, fudge, burnt sugar – in fact all the oak sugars rolled into one. A slippery, syrupy creaminess balances a peppery, mouth-warming heat which gets quite hot on the sides of the tongue when the gingery rye spices kick in. Black fruit accentuates the sweetness, but a lemony citric zest, with a slight cleansing bitterness, keeps it all under control. Twelve years in wood have left a pleasing oaky patina that underlies the whole. Hints of fresh water plants remind us that this succulent sweet libation is rye whisky, indeed.Finish: Medium. Fading on pepper and spices, with hints of sweet caramel, slight woody astringency, and a vague bitterness.Empty Glass: Surprisingly little for such an aromatic nose and flavourful palate. What is there consists mainly of toffee, caramel, suggestions of creamy Caramac® bar, as well as sour pickles.$42.70 at LCBO.Highly Recommended. ★★★☆Canadian Club 8 year old Sherry Cask reviewed here.Canadian Club 10 year old Reserve reviewed here.Canadian Club 15 year old reviewed here.Canadian Club 20 year old reviewed here.Canadian Club 30 year old reviewed here.