Canadian Club 30-Year Whisky (New Policy: On Fridays, booze is now a gadget)

30yearcanadian.jpg

“$200 for a bottle of Canadian Club?” asked Ian. I was packing up most of my stuff to leave Brooklyn. I wasn’t leaving for Eugene for two more weeks, but I didn’t want to wait until the last second. “Who drinks Canadian Club?”

“It’s a Mad Men thing, I think.” The blended whisky had been moving back up the ranks of acceptable drinks ever since Don Draper, the last style icon we’d had in a while, had sipped a few in an early episode. Or at least I thought that’s what he did. It’d been a while since I’d watched Don boss his secretary around.

Ian turned up his nose, which was silly. Canadian Club, the regular old stuff you can get for twenty bucks or so, really isn’t bad stuff. Too much vanilla overtone for my taste, but not bad for a blend of corn, barley, and rye mashes. I think Ian just doesn’t like it because he’s from Detroit—okay, well, Ann Arbor, but he wears chains like he used to hang out with the goths at City Club—and after Hiram Walker moved his distillery to Windsor, Ontario, the proud people of Rock City can’t stand to think that CC is quality stuff. Or something. I’m not from Detroit.

*

Canadian Club actually used to be quite a premium drink, due in large part to Walker’s decision to age each bottle for five years, unlike other whiskies and bourbons around the turn of the century, which might only spend a few months in oak barrels before getting slipped onto the backs of burros and shipped off to the tipple and julip foundries of the East. But the last couple of decades found blended whiskies relegated to the slop trough, hiding behind sour mix, colas, or deep within cocktails, while the single-barrel stuff gets the attention. Which is fine—I’m not going to argue that single-barrel whiskies aren’t great—but as a bourbon drinker, I’m happy to offer up the suggestion that there aren’t profound differences between a decent blended whisky and something that is milked from a single nipple of an oak-and-brass spider idol. Yes, yes, the subtlety—I get it. And the smoothness. Sure. (Which, as someone who drinks their whisky neat, I find a peculiar quality over which to stumble. We are sipping straight booze, after all. Buck up.)

I’m in Eugene now, and I’ve started sipping from this bottle of Canadian Club 30-Year Reserve. It’s noon and the sun is starting to shine. The dog sleeps on his bed in a parallelogram of sunlight. I need to get to my point before I blow through the rest of this day—and the bottle, which is nearly gone already.

What I’m trying to say here is that Canadian Club is alright. I actually had a bottle of the standard six-year sitting in the bar in Brooklyn to use as a control versus this 30-year bottle, one of 3,000 released by Canadian Club to celebrate their 150th anniversary. They’re clearly the same stuff, still light on the tongue, not too oily, very little oak, with a bit more vanilla sweetness than I think makes sense, but still pleasant enough to let stand on its own, perhaps broken up my a single ice cube if you want to make it suitable for lawn work. The 30-year, though, has been transmuted by that peculiar alchemy made popular by Hiram himself; it’s very much the same whisky, but it’s so smooth that what alcohol burns the throat is almost an afterthought, a slow suck on a cough drop opposed to the full snort of Vap-o-rub.

Too bad I don’t really care about smoothness.

It’s inarguably a nice drink, though, as my nearly empty bottle testifies. Paying $200 for a blended whisky is still probably a bit silly, but if you’re a dedicated Canadian Club drinker already, it might be worth a splurge to sample what your drink of choice would taste like with another two-and-a-half decades of contemplation. For everyone else—and god knows we’re choosing booze on price these days—I’d stick with the six-year. It’ll get you farther than a fifth of the way to the same experience.

I was originally going to write this booze up for my friends at Cocktalians, but then I never ended up making any cocktails out of it. So do me a favor and go check their site out.

I’m about to reconstitute my homebrewing setup here in Eugene, so expect more posts about that here on BBG, too.

And if you’re a booze distributor, homebrew suppleir, distiller, or importer, and you’d like to give me free liquor to drink and maybe even write about on the site, shoot me an email and I’ll give you my address. It’s a rough job…

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45 Responses to Canadian Club 30-Year Whisky (New Policy: On Fridays, booze is now a gadget)

  1. feedingfashionistas says:

    I recently was gifted a bottle of Rittenhouse 23-year Rye whiskey by my local BevMo (I’d ordered some run-of-the-mill Rittenhouse, and they did a switcheroo).

    At $160/btl, I quaked with fear as I opened it, mainly afraid that this taste of the good life would spoil me on the affordable stuff I loved. It was remarkably tasty. It’s the kind of whiskey that *demands* you pour out a scant half oz and spend an hour reclined someplace comfortable, sipping gingerly.

    Amazing stuff, yes- but the nice thing is, it’s just too damn complex (and precious) for cocktails, which are my main use for whiskey- so the regular RH rye is still a mainstay in my house for the requisite Manhattans, Sazeracs and such. I’ve savored the 23 so slowly, there’s probably less than a few ounces missing after a few months of enjoyment.

    I live in constant fear of my housemate inviting some particularly rowdy friends over and finding the ornate bottle, empty and smashed over somebody’s unconscious head, in the morning.

  2. mkultra says:

    If you like single-malt scotch, I suggest trying this tequila: Corzo Añejo. I’m not a tequila fan normally, but this was the stuff that convinced me that it’s worth a second look. It’s astonishingly complex.

    It’s also a lovely bottle, which for some reason is important to me.

  3. Canadian Club 30 years old reserve whisky is a whisky that any aficionado of the dark spirit will enjoy as it embodies the perfect ideal of the blended variety.It is exceptionally smooth with a lush oak character and velvet texture, making it a superior sipping whisky and one, which if you’ve steered clear of Canadian whiskies, will bring you back into the fold.I like to drink this with my Cohiba which is the king of Cuban cigar

  4. mrmopwater says:

    For the $$, the Canadian Club Classic 12 Year isn’t bad. Actually, it’s a really smooth, pleasant whiskey. Kind of maple-y if that makes sense. About $25/750ml.

  5. retrojoe says:

    The Irish have been putting out premium and super premium blended whiskeys for decades.

    I’d like to know how the 30yr C-C was aged: What type of barrel(s), finish barrels, final marriage, etc.? 30 year’s tend to be vain glory anyway. Unless the whiskey is transferred from one barrel to the next it get’s old and tired. And even then, it can pick up too much from all the switching. While I don’t discriminate based upon age (young/old there are tasty versions of all) I have found little in 20+ years that are of any benefit over 18 and under.

    That sounded pervy.

  6. absolutetrust says:

    Well gosh Joel, I would imagine that you could now justify a membership to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America as a business expense.

    SMWSA

    Check out this snip from the January bottling list:

    16 years
    53.5%
    Cask # 25.45
    Price $120
    The colour – greeny gold – hints at the citric heart of this seductive dram from the Falkirk distillery that closed in 1993 (refill barrel). The unreduced nose has lemon lovehearts, chocolate limes, crème brulée, and a touch of polish (or washing powder?). Ginger-flavoured Edinburgh Rock tingles the palate; very sweet and syrupy with a woody chewiness in the finish. With water, the nose continues citric (sherbet lemons and hints of pear) but develops a leafy note, like standing under lime trees. In the reduced taste, dark chocolate cuts the sweetness perfectly.

  7. danbanana says:

    another reason to love fridays! i’m totally going to spend my evening with gadgets in a bar until i can’t stand up!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Pendleton Whiskey is available in Texas. I have it at my store: Twin Liquors in Pflugerville.

  9. bbonyx says:

    Hey #40! Big ups for Pflugerville!

    (Round Rock in the house. Twin Liquors customer too!)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Now that you’re in Oregon, be sure to pick up a bottle of Pendleton Whiskey. It’s an amazingly great blended canadian, that as far as I can tell you can’t get outside of Oregon.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Charlie Stross @12:
    Actually, legally it doesn’t have to be matured for nearly as long as that- although I agree that it’s not even worth cooking with if it’s not at least eight years old.
    The UK legal definition of Scotch Whisky says

    …”Scotch whisky” means whisky—…
    (c) which has been matured in an excise warehouse in Scotland in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres, the period of that maturation being not less than 3 years;

    Interestingly, last time I looked, the US definition of Scotch Whisky was basically “Scotch Whisky is whatever can be legally described as Scotch Whisky in Scotland”, i.e. the US Government completely delegated that piece of legislation to the British Government.

    But, quibbles aside, seconded that Joel was talking about Whiskey, not Whisky, and definitely seconded that a visit to the SMWS is exceptionally worthwhile for anyone who isn’t teetotal.

  12. mellowknees says:

    coolness!!

    For my father-in-law’s 60th birthday, my husband and I really wanted to get him a bottle of 60 year old scotch. However, we didn’t have $2000 to spend on a bottle of booze.

    I found a 60 year old bottle of Seagram’s Canadian Whisky on eBay and bought that instead…and you know what?

    IT’S FREAKING DELICIOUS.

    Smooth as silk with a nice warm aftertaste. I couldn’t believe it!

  13. flipcloud says:

    I have a ton of respect for the master blenders for some of these blended whiskey companies. In a given year, based on a number of factors, including their suppliers yield, a blender will get varying quantities of single barrel whiskies to be added to their product. So the fact that year after year they are able to combine this constantly changing list of ingredients into a consistently recognizable drink makes me say “HOWDTHEYDOTHAT?”. Arguably trickier than the slightly more predictable job of quality control at a single malt still. Don’t get me wrong, I like single malts fine, but my wallet usually disagrees. And so in the spirit of Nick Nolte, I would never turn my back to a nice yellow-labeled bottle of J&B either.

  14. TheMostHorrible says:

    If you like gin try Aviation out of Portland.

  15. Anonymous says:

    “Oh whisky you’re me darlin’
    you’re spunkier nor tay
    Oh whiskey you’re me darlin’
    drunk or sober!”

    Pilgrimer

  16. zpss says:

    Check out Clear Creek Distillery in PDX. They are exceptionally friendly.

    http://clearcreekdistillery.com/index.php

  17. ffaat says:

    My current favorite rye is 40 creek, from Kittling Ridge distillery in the Niagara region.

    http://www.fortycreekwhisky.com/whatsnew/default.asp

    Their normal Barrel Select is delightful, but I did pick up two bottles of their small batch reserve (only one left) and I’ve been eyeballing their current Double Barrel reserve.

    It is a rye that managed to convert a few scotch drinkers I know ;)

    -Rob A>

  18. Anonymous says:

    Generally agree with you that premium blends are oxymoronic. The purpose of a blend is to achieve smoothness (which normally requires substantial ageing) by appropriately balancing lesser ingredients. Ageing the crap out of a blend is a waste of valuable warehouse space!

    I’m a big fan of Ryes, though most of the Canadian varieties are pale shadows of what a really good rye can be. The best ryes are from the US (ironic, since Canada made them famous). For example, Wild Turkey Rye is outstanding (though difficult to track down).

    One Canadian rye which gives CC 30yo a run for its money is Alberta Premium 25yo. It’s under $CDN 30, and although it suffers from the same problems as the CC (too smooth, too much vanilla), is an excellent sipping tipple for not much dough.

    That being said, give me a good Single Malt (Talisker, Highland Park, Ardbeg, etc) any day.

    If you are in Toronto this May 8th, check out Spirit of Toronto, an all-you-can-drink malt-a-thon. You’ll never go back to blends.

  19. Elvis Pelt says:

    Hey, booze as a gadget. Let’s get it on.

    On the high-priced specialty run theme, I figure that if you have the expertise to tell the difference, it’s worth a splurge now and then. I brewed for years at Grizzly Bay Brewing Co., so beer I know. Scotch and bourbon, no problem. Tequila, gin, vodka…I’ll stop now. But I know/knew people in the wine biz and they’ll whip out some $250 bottle of private reserve and it dribbles down my throat like any old BV coastal. After years of this, I just shrug and tell them not to waste it on me.

    Now, I just need somebody with a spare bottle of Century of Malts to disabuse me of my single malt snobbery.

  20. jjasper says:

    I’ll take Irish superpremium pure pot still, thanks. Mmm. Redbreast.

  21. Charlie Stross says:

    Sigh.

    Joel, if you’re ever in Edinburgh, ping me and I’ll drag you round the Scottish Malt Whisky Society tasting rooms.

    (Where you may be shocked by how good — and relatively inexpensive — some of the decent single malts are.)

  22. roykim says:

    nice unibody mbp~

  23. Rodney says:

    This reader is down w/booze-as-gadget Fridays.

  24. fenderbasher says:

    Joel – Once you make it to Oregon, I strongly and enthusiastically recommend McMenamin’s Pot Still Brandy. I enjoy a nice VSOP cognac when I can, and this brandy holds rank with the best.

    Unfortunately, bottles are only available from McMenamin’s in Bend or Gresham (Portland suburb). However, it should be available to drink at any McMenamin’s that serves liquor. Goes well with a nice maduro, too.

    Also unfortunately, you’ll learn the pain of Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC).

  25. pewma says:

    I think I may know what one of your favorite places in town might be. The Oregon Electric Station : http://www.oesrestaurant.com/

    Behind the bar is a wall (almost up to the celling) of various varieties of whiskies. There is a sliding ladder ( the library type) to reach all of them. I’ve spent way too much time there.

    here’s the Google map: http://maps.google.com/maps?client=safari&rls=en-us&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=oregon+electric+station+eugene+oregon&fb=1&split=1&gl=us&cid=0,0,9742988658285141851&ei=RZKxSefMMo7IMpy3rfkE&sa=X&oi=local_result&resnum=1&ct=image

  26. Anonymous says:

    “once it hits the bottle, it’s the same product ever more.”

    Actually that is a popular myth.

    Sure. Ideally you want to have a product aged inside the barrel.

    However i can tell you that the collection of liquors that i found in my Great-Grandfather’s secret stash were Definitely different after sitting in their bottles since 1965.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Canadian Club 30-Year Whisky is simply spectacular.It embodies the perfect ideal of the blended varieties.It is smooth with a lush oak character and velvet texture.The 30-year is quite easy to drink.It is a bit expensive because of the limited edition.You can sip this for a long time and never get tired of the taste.

    http://www.gocubans.com/

  28. J France says:

    CC is a great, easy drinking blend.

    I really dislike getting drunk – well, I’d like to get drunk, but the stuff just does not agree past a certain point.

    Which is why I like CC – I can drink a lot and it doesn’t have a real foulness – in both the drunken feeling and the hnagover. That and Wild Turkey, for a bourbon, are it for me.

    Unless I happen to have some money to burn, and then it’s aged Glenfiddich – that’s the extent of my single malt experiences. At least the ones sober enough to remember.

    And I’m looking forward to your homebrew blogging – it’s something I’m just getting back into and would like to make it more about the quality and subtleties of one’s own brew than the cheap-beer-hoorah! mentality that motivated it.

  29. Hal says:

    it’s a slippery slope. $200 Canadian Club one day, 7&7 the next.

  30. mkultra says:

    Canadian Club actually used to be quite a premium drink, due in large part to Walker’s decision to age each bottle for five years,

    OK, one minor quibble. Whisky bottles aren’t aged, as I’m sure you know. The aging is just in the barrel, once it hits the bottle, it’s the same product ever more.

    For my money, Dalwhinnie is my personal favorite single-malt. Being the highest-altitude highlands distillery in Scotland, it has a subtlety and gentility unmatched, with notes of heather, sage and broken dreams. I find some of the Islay stuff a bit on the peaty side, but that’s just me.

    Charlie: I dragged my inlaws over there last time we were in Auld Reekie and subjected them to the entire experience. The animatronic ride was hilarious. Very kitsch. Oh, and I’m the geek who submitted the gushing fanboi email question when you were giving the radio interview in Santa Cruz a while back. How embarrassing.

  31. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    City Club Goths?

    Ascension. I still have scars.

  32. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    Oh, and a gadget is anything that makes life easier, faster or more fun. Canadian Club meets all of these standards.

  33. hM says:

    For rye whiskies the best I’ve ever had is still Wiser’s oldest (i.e. 18 years). So smooth, so sweet and such a rich palette of flavors.

    Dunno where you can get in the U.S. (or anywhere else outside of Canada tho).

    Highly recommended purchase the next time you hit the duty free at YYZ.

  34. Chrs says:

    I strongly endorse this Friday policy. I’m admittedly not much of a whiskey fan, but I look forward to future editions!

  35. Anonymous says:

    I toured Highland Park Distillery in the Shetlands when I was 15 with my boyfriend and his folks — at the end of the tour they gave everyone about 12 or over a double shot as a teaser! On a free tour no less! Of course, this was while you were wandering through the gift shop…
    Still it’s a good one, and I’ve occasionally bought a bottle since.

  36. Anonymous says:

    C6H5OH would be more correct.

    /chemistrynerd

  37. hohum says:

    Best policy of all freaking time.

  38. Charlie Stross says:

    MKUltra: if there was an animatronic display, that’s not the SMWS, that’s the tourist attraction on the Royal Mile. (A bit like confusing Disneyland with Studio Ghibli.) The SMWS is essentially a private members’ club with a bonded warehouse full of casks.

    “Whiskey” with the “e” is not Scotch. (No “e”.)

    And it isn’t legally whisky unless it’s spent a solid eight years in the wood before bottling.

  39. Anonymous says:

    This is Ian, mentioned in the article, and I am writing just to the point of clearing the record.

    1) I didn’t turn my nose up at the mention of Canadian Club (my folks drink the stuff) my tastes do differ, generally away from blended whiskey (in much the same way that I don’t like vodka made with grain).

    2) I did live in Ann Arbor, though neither did I grow up there nor do I consider myself from there, and the time spent that close to Canada did anything but make me dislike Canada.

    3) You refer to the chains and City Club like they must be related. The chains I’ll have you know are from long before I even knew Ann Arbor existed. I still have fond memories of City Club.

  40. PaulR says:

    Charlie Stross @6

    Where you may be shocked by how good — and relatively inexpensive — some of the decent single malts are.

    I came here to say this.

    Take your relatively inexpensive 12 year old The Macallan – it’s about $45CDN here. Pour yourself a ‘fifth of a gill or multiple thereof’ and settle down for some quiet conversation with a friend.

    It only takes a sip and you’re happy. And it’s less expensive that a six pack of ‘organically processed’ beer.

    Oh, OK, so here goes:
    “So, did you know that Canadian beer causes cancer and that American beer doesn’t?
    – No! I didn’t know that. How come?
    – Well, just before it’s bottled, American beer is organically processed.
    – Really? I didn’t know that.
    – Yeah, they use a device called a horse.

  41. technogeek says:

    I’ll stick with Canada Dry. (Though actually, it isn’t dry enough for my taste — I prefer more ginger, less sugar.)

  42. ZoopyFunk says:

    Whiskey in Eugene? There are soooo many better options….

  43. mkultra says:

    Charlie: I apologize and stand corrected. I thought it was an odd choice of destination for a native.

    I’m going to be up near Loch Ness in June for a couple weeks, I hope to visit some of the Speyside distilleries during that time, which should be interesting as it is a region I’m wholly unfamiliar with.

  44. dculberson says:

    Whiskey, ahh, one of my many favorite boozes. Well, it’s mostly just Whisk(e)y and Gin. But I love them a lot.

    My favorite single malt so far is Lagavulin. I haven’t had a lot of American single malts, though. Lately, for a blended Bourbon, I’ve been drinking Old Forester. I know! At $15/fifth, I didn’t think it would be drinkable. But it’s quite tasty. My whiskey bar owner friend turned me on to it. My wife and I have demolished a couple bottles over the last month or two. (yipes.)

    Mkultra, I’m not going for gentility when I drink! I wanna get socked in the mouth! ;-) But I still want to try that Scotch.

    Taking notes for future purchases…

  45. Anonymous says:

    I followed these links to other links and got a recipe for a proposed cocktail US Airways cocktail:

    The Sully:

    • * 2 Shots of Grey Goose
    • * A splash of ice-cold water

    Shake hard, set down easy.

    As a New Yorker, I’ll have to start making these!

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