Canadian Club Sherry Cask (41.3% alc./vol.) Batch SC-018
Rich and very fruity– from raisins to peaches to berries. Sweet hot tobacco, black tea, pencil shavings, pepper and baking spices. Fruity & Spicy. ★★★★☆So what is a “batch” of whisky? The term has been bandied about for decades and used to make whiskies seem more exclusive but it was never really defined. That is, until now. For Canadian Club, we now know that a “small batch” of their 8-year-old, sherry-cask whisky begins life when exactly 27 Jerez sherry butts are filled with fully-matured, barrel-blended, 6-year-old Canadian Club whisky. This whisky is then left in these particular butts for two additional years in order to draw the rich, oaky, fruity flavours from the Spanish sherry wood.Sherry butts are expensive and not that easy to come by. But Canadian Club is part of the Fortune Brands family, as is John Harvey & Sons, who also happen to be the makers of Harvey’s Bristol Cream sherry. Thus, the whisky-makers at Canadian Club have an inside source. And clearly, they know how to use it to their advantage. Which also happens to be ours.Transferring whisky to a second barrel for finishing is not a typical technique in the Canadian whisky industry, but then again, neither is Canadian Club Sherry Cask your stereotypical Canadian whisky. Rather, this rich, robust, flavourful potation, while most definitely Canadian whisky, is more reminiscent of wine-finished single malts. So much so, in fact, that frankly, many Canadian whisky aficionados may not know immediately quite what to make of it. So take your time, savour it, and feel it developing on your tongue and in your glass.The distillery is now working on batch 23, and each batch is a little bit different from the others. This bottle, from batch 18, certainly makes me curious to try the others.Nose: Rich and robust aromas begin with unusually fruity tobacco notes, but also black tea, dust, and raisins. The fruitiness develops into dark, dried, and over-ripe fruit, along with fresh peaches, purple plums, fresh apples, strawberry jam, and grape Kool-Aid. This rich and complex fruitiness is balanced against some quite sharp notes, including bitter tobacco, dry oak, and pencil shavings. But it is the fresh sawdust and hints of lumber that finally draw them into the whole. Rye grain also shines through in vaguely floral aromas, along with typical rye baking spices. And after leaving it for eight years in wood, the blender has managed to retain just a little whiff of spirit. For all the world this whisky noses like a wine-finished single malt.Palate: Oh my goodness, is this stuff good! It tastes like a top-grade cognac-cured cigar, with burning fruity pipe tobacco deep in your throat, while sharp dried currents and soft black raisins tickle your tongue. Pepper, sherry, and dark fruits intertwine, but it’s the persistent half-bitter tobacco-smoke heat that thrills. And underneath it all rich oaky tones blend seamlessly into the tobacco. This is decidedly gentlemen’s club whisky, to be sipped from a snifter while seated in a brass-tacked over-stuffed leather wingback reading Foreign Affairs, The New Yorker, Watch World, or the like.The sherry casks have worked their magic as a generic fruity sweetness with hints of oak caramels moves from rich dark fruits to dried ones, including prunes, figs, and maybe dates. The tobacco-black fruit interaction is quite complex and from it emerges a wonderfully woody flourish which includes dry oak, bitter tannins, and fresh-cut cedar. Hints of black and Earl Grey tea supplement the refreshing bitterness of the oak-tobacco continuum. If that is not enough, hot pepper bursts in then quickly transforms into the sensation of hot, slightly bitter, cigar smoke in the throat with lasting peppery heat on the sides of the tongue.Additional sips fairly sear the lips with their power. And then an almost waxy creaminess materializes to hold it all together as the palate grows warmer and warmer. Hints of Rum and Butter chocolate bar send the palate in a new direction before a bitter citric zest, hints of lime juice, and some grapefruit pith tidy it up towards the end. It’s a sherried whisky for sure, but this is still rye with its signature hints of cloves and ginger. And despite all this complexity and tight integration, the whisky remains both bright and youthful.Finish: Long, fading gradually into sherry wood and hot pepper. Hints of hot tobacco, some zestiness, with traces of cream sherry and baking spices.Empty Glass: Oaky, with hints of caramel. Just the vaguest dark fruit, sweet fruit, and ripe fruit.$35.00 at LCBO.Highly recommended. ★★★★☆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.Canadian Club 30 year old reviewed here.