Monday, March 19, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #56

Canadian Club Premium
Canadian Whisky
40% abv

Today it may be hard to believe, but there was a time in Canada's history when there were dozens of whisky distillers spread out across the country.

When Upper and Lower Canada were united in 1841 as The Province of Canada, taxes were introduced that put great strains on the little distillers. The expanding rail links meant whisky needn't be produced locally anymore as it could be hauled long distances. Into this changing environment came Hiram Walker in 1856, closing his distillery in Detroit under threat of state-wide prohibition. The distillery was founded in Windsor, and as it housed his distillery, a dairy farm, a cooperage, brick and timber yards, and housed all the employees, the area came to be known as Walkerville. Although his family still lived in Detroit (yes, he commuted to work 3 hours each way by ferry) the whisky grew in popularity on both sides of the border and Walker's "Club" whisky was officially born in 1884.

The word 'Canadian' came to appear on the label because of a ill-advised plan by the U.S. government. Under the encouragement of American distillers, the government tried to curb Canadian whisky imports (and thus, they thought, consumption) by introducing legislation that demanded the whisky clearly indicate country of origin. This had the opposite affect as Americans were attracted to the whisky from Canada. Hiram Walker saw this appeal and capitalised on it. Thus, "Canadian Club" was born.

Queen Victoria loved the stuff. And so did Al Capone who saw to it that Canadian Club flowed into the US via Windsor to Detroit by car and truck, but also strapped to smuggler's legs, hidden by their boots, coining the term "bootlegging".

Canadian Club is a blend of rye, barley and corn/maize whiskies, pre-blended before maturation and put to cask to marry for 5 years. There are (at least) 7 varieties of Canadian Club, only 4 of which are widely available in Canada.


Tough to explain and I dont have the posh terminology that I am certain exists in the wine world, but this has a nose with aromas that are 'up high'; light and perceived behind the eyes rather than the back of the skull. To put it in context, I had similar impressions with the Isle of Arran, Buchanan's, and Johnnie Walkers Green and Red. Perfumy. Cotton candy, raw corn, plastic bags, shoe polish, make-up remover.

Very watery in the mouth, tastes of flat cream soda, green apple peels, toothpicks, and some white pepper. The flavour is simple and straightforward while being neither unpleasant nor exciting.


Fine to drink this neat, I suppose, but really screams for a mixer. Pass the Canada Dry. And ice, please.

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