Taste Review #132 – Canadian Club 1858
What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Canada? I am going to guess whisky isn’t the first thing you would think of. For me, I just think of a country that has vast wildernesses, say “ay” at the end of sentences a lot, and are pretty laid back. Canada is a place I have worked in the past and I’ve really enjoyed being there. In 2002 I spent some time there while working on a drilling rig that wasn’t too far away from where the Titanic sank. I remember flying over the snow covered coast on a helicopter on the run in to Halifax airport watching people go across the landscape on skiddoos. I guess being in Canada looks a lot of fun with not a lot of people to get in your way outside of the cities.
Canadian Club is the first whisky I think of when I think of Canada. I realise there are others but I’m not particularly interested in Canadian spirits, but I felt them worth a try. The brand was started by Hiram Walker in 1858 and was originally known as Hiram Walker’s Club Whisky. It became popular and due to a change in American law which required foreign whisky to state the country of origin on the label, it eventually became known as Canadian Club.
As per usual, brands change hands, and Canadian Club is now owned by Beam Suntory. There isn’t really a lot to write about this whisky but I’ll say more later.
Canadian Club 1858
Region – Canada Age – NAS Strength – 40% Colour – Deep Copper (1.0) Cask Type – Not stated Colouring – Not stated Chill Filtered – Not stated Nose – sweet, corn, biscuits, caramel, vanilla. Palate – very light mouthfeel, watery. Woody, melon and apple juice, Tinned pears syrup Irn Bru spices – ginger and cinnamon combined. Fizz on the palate almost like a slightly flat soda water. Finish – a slight heat and fruity finish. Medium short and drying.
There were a fact or two I discovered about Canadian Club. I didn’t realise this is the only North American whisky to gain a Royal Warrant. Not just one – Queen Victoria, Kings Edward VII, George V and George VI plus even Elizabeth II have given this whisky their blessing. They must have been using laudanum as their mixer I presume. I have to say that I was hoping this would be a smooth drink that would take me to a gentleman’s club with wood panelling filled with chesterfield sofas with a light whiff of cigar smoke in the background. I’m afraid to tell you that I was massively disappointed in that this whiskey did absolutely nothing for me at all. It was almost as though I was drinking a watered down drink. But this a chance a seasoned whisky drinker takes when they go back to basics then there just isn’t enough there to entertain them. It was as though I wasn’t drinking a whisky at all, but a flavouring used in food.
The other fact (and this is highly dubious) is that according to Tesco, Canadian Club is the only recognised Canadian whisky in the UK. I suspect this is not true. This ignores Crown Royal altogether.
Canadian Club 1858 is sold in Australia and New Zealand at 37% abv. God knows why, as this is a whisky that isn’t going to blow anybodies head off. Speaking of heads, I sort of wanted to start with some sort of questionable humour about when I think of Canadians and clubs, I also include baby seals in that thought. But due to the lack of kick in this whisky, that’s the only sore head that anybody will be getting with a Canadian Club. Of course, this assumes you all drink responsibly. Of course you do.
But to be fair, this isn’t a completely bad whisky; I could enjoy this as a very light refreshment in a cocktail but as a straight drink it just doesn’t work for me. New whisky drinkers may enjoy it, so it isn’t to be a total write off. Every drink has its place and this is far from the bottom of the pile.
All Photos – Authors Own
(screen grab from Tesco.com)