In the past, we’ve examined a couple of old Canadian Club whiskies. Yet, their age was determined by the distillation year rather than their actual (unknown) aging period. However, in recent times, Canadian Club has been introducing an array of progressively older releases each year. It all began with a 40-year-old age statement in 2017, and from that point on, each annual release would add another year to its age. Today, we’ll be reviewing two expressions, remarkable by their age statement: the Canadian Club 40-year-old and 42-year-old whiskies.
Canadian Club 40-Year-Old Review
I’ve come across two contradictory pieces of information about this whisky and its composition. Hence, I’ll share both versions with you.
The first source says that this Canadian Club is crafted using a unique blend of three different mash bills. The first one is made entirely from 100% corn, while the second is composed of 100% rye. Both of these blends undergo distillation in a continuous still. The third one is created with a mash bill consisting of rye, malted rye, and malted barley. A portion of this blend is distilled using traditional pot stills, while the remainder is processed in a continuous still.
Each spirit is aged using a combination of ex-bourbon casks, American oak casks, and Canadian oak casks. The ex-bourbon barrels typically feature a #3 char, whilst the American oak and Canadian oak casks undergo various levels of toasting, ranging from a deep #4 char to a lighter toast.
Canadian oak casks are particularly noteworthy as they are crafted from locally sourced white oak trees that grow slowly in Canada, resulting in a denser grain. Moreover, these casks contain higher levels of vanillin, which imparts a pronounced vanilla aroma and flavour to the whisky.
The second source, however, says this is pure corn whisky barrelled in 1977.
Which one is the correct one? No idea.
This Canadian Club Chronicles 40-year-old is bottled at a higher strength than the standard, with an ABV of 45%. Information regarding any colour additive or chill filtration, or whether they are absent, remains undisclosed.
Canadian Club 40-year-old was introduced in 2017, and a limited release of 7,000 bottles was made available at a suggested retail price of CAD250 during that time. Sold out as far as I know.
Neat: Initially, the aroma is somewhat reserved. I can, however, detect the familiar sweetness characteristic of the corn whisky found in many Canadian whiskies. Hints of corn syrup, butterscotch, and a touch of spice emerge, along with delightful notes of vanilla and honey. With aeration, subtle traces of yellow fruits like apricot and peach gracefully unveil themselves.
Neat: The arrival is pleasantly sweet with a subtle spiciness, but regrettably, the mouthfeel lacks some fullness. The flavours of caramel persist, ranging from butterscotch to a hint of diluted cough syrup. There are also notes of pepper and cinnamon, accompanied by a touch of zesty lime juice, vanilla, and a delicate woody essence of oak and cedar.
The finish is warm, displaying a spicier profile and a milder sweetness compared to the palate. Surprisingly, it carries more intensity, providing a pleasant kick, and it lingers for a while.
Normally, I’m not drawn to ‘classical’ Canadian whisky, but the extended aging of this CC Chronicles 40yo blend works well, without getting too woody. The aroma on the nose is somewhat traditional and delicate, but the palate presents bolder flavours with a pleasing sense of balance, despite being a touch thin. As for the finish, it builds upon the palate with an added kick, which is truly enjoyable and welcomed.
Canadian Club Chronicles 42-Year-Old Review
Alright, those accustomed to the European or Scottish whisky regulations are in for a surprise, as the rules governing Canadian whisky are, let’s say … unique.
Canadian Club Chronicles Issue 2, known as “The Dock Man,” is a 42-year-old whisky released in 2019. It pays tribute to the dock workers involved in loading sea freighters with crates of Canadian Club Whisky during the American Prohibition, ensuring its delivery to bar owners and consumers. This release follows the initial Canadian Club Chronicles: Issue 1 (Aged 41 Years), which was released in 2018.
At its core, the 42-Year-Old whisky is an aged Corn Whisky, originally barrelled in 1977. Back in 2017, Canadian Club unveiled this 100% Corn distillate as the Canadian Club 40-Year-Old Whisky (so it would mean the second source was the right one?). However, the master blenders couldn’t resist experimenting with this whisky. In 2018, they combined some of this whisky (now a year older) with a small amount of cognac, rye, and sherry, which resulted in the aforementioned Canadian Club Chronicles Issue 1. Then, in 2019, with the whisky now another year older, they blended it with a 16-Year-Old Rye Whisky, a 12-Year-Old pot distilled Rye, and a touch of Brandy to create Canadian Club Chronicles Issue 2 (42 Years Old). Yes, still 42 years old despite some way younger components were added to it.
As a Canadian Whisky, it’s permissible to label the spirit as a 42-Year-Old as long as what is called traditional flavouring spirit (typically flavourful whiskies or wines) represents less than 1/11 of the total whisky volume. It’s safe to assume that most of that 1/11 permitted volume, which could be filled with younger whisky, was used in this blending process. The outcome of this “stretching” of the 42-Year-Old corn spirit will be intriguing from a flavour perspective, but not as intriguing as how they can still say this whisky is still 42 years old.
Anyway. This was bottled once again at 45% ABV, with a recommended retail price of CAD300 at the time. No indication once again regarding colouring and chill filtration or their absence.
Neat: The impression leans slightly towards bourbon. Notes of wood, vanilla, and cinnamon take centre stage, accompanied by subtle hints of light orange marmalade and a touch of butterscotch. In the background, there are aromas reminiscent of dusty books. As it opens up, hints of marzipan and roasted almonds emerge.
Neat: Similar to the 40-year-old expression, but with a noticeable increase in woody notes and bolder flavours. There’s a stronger presence of pepper, intensified woodiness, and a richer caramel profile, showcasing enhanced depth. The mouthfeel is creamy and satisfyingly full-bodied, in stark contrast to the slightly thinner texture found in the 40-year-old variant.
The finish offers a combination of caramel, vanilla, wood, and spices, with a gentle warmth in the throat.
It feels quite a progression compared to the 40-year-old. Before knowing about how this ‘42-year-old’ was made, I was surprised as I didn’t expect two additional years would have changed it that much for the better. However, knowing now about the tricks used covered by the very permissive Canadian whisky rules regarding age statement, I better understand why it’s more lively and full bodied. In the end, what’s important to remember is despite all the witchcraft used by the blenders, this is a good whisky.
Thank you very much, Tyrone!