...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

NOT Single Malt Report: Canadian Club 6 year Blended Whisky (plastic-bottled in 2004, Ancient!)

After searching long and far, spelunking through the oldest caves, digging through the most ancient of ruins, sparing no expense, I've finally unearthed this great artifact from the history of distillation:

I postulated that this whisky, bottled in the year two-thousand-and-four (in the common era) by a company that no longer exists, must hold the secrets of the past or at least some leaching from its magical "unbreakable" bottle.

And it came at a burdensome financial investment.

Brand: Canadian Club
Distillery: Hiram Walker & Sons Distillery
Ownership: was Allied Domecq (now Beam Global)
Type: Canadian Blended Whisky
Region: Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Age: minimum 6 years
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
Bottled: (est.) March 1, 2004
Bottle code: 54 SL 24 LE 061 DW 15:08

How ancient is this bottle?  When it was being filled...

Justin Bieber was 10.  ADORBZ!
There was no Shake Weight.
The Red Sox still hadn't won a World Series in 85 years.
Aaron, Ruth, and Mays were still the top three career Home Run hitters.
No one had been properly Rickrolled.  Yet.
Glen Beck had yet to go on television.
Michael Phelps had zero Olympic Medals.
The cat hadn't yet asked if he could haz cheezburger.
The CIA had just admitted that there was no WMD threat from Iraq before the American invasion.
Janet Jackson had just accidentally purposely showed a pastie- (not pastry-) covered breast on live TV.
Lost in Translation had just NOT won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
Johns Kerry and Edwards were still battling it out for the Democratic Party's presidential nominee.
Not many people outside of Illinois had heard of one Barack Obama.
Facebook was limited to Harvard University students.
The Passion of the Christ had just opened nationwide.
Friends and Frasier hadn't ended.
Kristen Perry was living in Spain and hadn't yet moved in with me.
I was young.

So this bottle is OLD.  Like before Rihanna and memory and stuff.

It was released by Allied Domecq Ltd before Pernod Ricard took over the company in 2005 and sold C.C. to Fortune Brands (which then spun off Beam Inc as its own corporation).

Canadian Club's origins can be traced back to 1858, when Hiram Walker of Detroit opened a distillery in Windsor, Canada.  He'd started making whisky in the US a few years earlier, but the Temperance movement was gaining steam in Michigan so he moved his business across the water.  He called the resulting product Club Whisky.  American whiskey companies got the law involved to force Walker to put "Canada" on the label on the theory that it would slow Club Whisky's popularity.  That backfired.  Seeing the boost in sales that resulted from the "Canada" on the label, Walker changed the name of the whisky to Canadian Club.  In the early 1960s Don Draper made it a permanent addition to his office's liquor cart and the rest is history.  Sorta.

With the weight of human history and American-Canadian relations on my shoulders, I opened the black screw-top.  The plastic angels had already walked off with some of the beverage over the last 8+ years, as the liquid level was below the bottle's neck.  Down to its collarbone.

My hands shook with excitement as I poured myself an ounce-and-a-half of history.  I took fifteen minutes to embrace this singular opportunity.  Then I began my nosing and tasting.

At first in the glass, the whisky's color forms a strata of urine at the bottom and apple juice at the top.  After fifteen minutes it evens out to amber.  The nose is a fist full of vanilla followed by oak and mild grains.  There's more alcohol burn than one usually gets from a 40% ABV booze.  After time, there are hints of apricots and (much less subtly) white vinegar.  It's with the palate that things start to go askew.  It starts with bitter sugar cookies and imitation vanilla extract, goes to sour ladyfingers and then more bitterness, ultimately drying out the tongue.  It finishes with an oaky vanilla, bland sugar, but mostly a wallop of sourness and bitterness that lingers inconveniently like dog sh*t on a shoe.

WITH WATER (approx. 33.3% ABV)
Oof.  It may bring out brighter sugars in the nose, but the mouth gets so much bitterer.

The Malt Maniacs sometimes talk about the OBE (Old Bottle Effect) on whisky.  But I think they're just referring to glass bottles.  May I introduce OPBE (Old Polyethylene Bottle Effect)?

This whisky tasted almost nothing like any Canadian Club I've had.  I actually don't mind CC6 usually; I used to use it a bit for highballs.  The awful (and slightly worrying) sour and bitter notes are unique to this bottle.  Aside from those vaguely noxious notes, this CC6 was blander and flatter than the usual bottling.

A rousing success!  Anyone want to trade for a 2oz sample of this?!

Availability - This ancient bottling? My shady corner liquor store.
Pricing - Current (750mL) bottling goes for $12-$15
Rating - 59


  1. Well, I guess sometimes it's good to be reminded of just how bad things could be... helps you appreciate the tastier stuff.

  2. Having spent the last 11 years documenting every single bottling of Seagrams 7 (the "S7 Project") I find myself out of position to comment on the specifics of this particular Canadian Club bottling. I've heard tell of the legendary polyethelene Canadian Clube 50ml "airline dumpies" that Hughes Airwest distributed only on the Twin Falls to Edmonton route (the one that stops in Twin Falls, Moscow, Idaho, Spokane Washington, Lethbridge, Alberta, Calgary, and then finally Edmonton International). Those were supposedly fantastic - particularly if you found one of the 12 oz "shorty" Canada Dry Ginger Ales to "vat". The melding of the that special greater Vancouver bottling of ginger ale plus the medicinal bite of CC 6 was something truly special - particularly if you had already been drinking heavily all day...

    OK - breaking out of joke mode into "actual" whisky geek mode. The lever cap editions of Canadian Club from the early 1960s and prior and legitimately supposedly excellent. Davin De Kergommeaux (Malt Maniac, author, wine sommelier and epicure) wrote up a tasting of a 1940s example of Canadian Club that sounds legitimately incredible. Why is that that all those antique drams sound so frickin' good?

    I'm going to be doing some real empirical research on this topic. I'll get back to you.

    1. I think the S7 Project would probably kill a man within the first year. Having had many considerable Arrowhead water that tasted like the plastic bottle that held it, I wonder if there have been any studies on the leeching of liquor plastic bottles. I don't mind a little sherry in my Macallan, but I think I'm going to have to draw the line at petroleum in my Dunlivet.

      I've been seeing a lot of discussion by the Maniacs about how much better blends (in general) used to be. Perhaps it's more malt, better malt? Lower demand may have allowed for more patience in the whisky production. Maybe they used to use better grains as opposed to the most efficient grains. I don't know.

    2. Alcohol should leech plastic much faster than water, being a comparatively non-polar solvent. My guess is that the assumption was people would buy and drink those bottles quickly, not let them sit on a shelf for years.

    3. Ah yes, I should have gone to the scientist about this. :)

      I wouldn't doubt if this bottle sat in the sun for some time (years) as well.

  3. I think my whisk(e)y cabinet needs some cleaning because I am pretty sure I have an unopened Canadian Club Sherry Cask somewhere. I had seen some decent reviews for that one so I picked one up on sale. Though my experiences with sherry finished whisky (Glenmo Lasanta was good but uninteresting while Balvenie Doublewood is pretty good) is making me a bit wary.

    1. Good luck with it. I've found Canadian Club works best in highballs or on the rocks. Not the best experience when served neat. But I have no idea what happens when it's finished in sherry casks. I remember seeing those bottles in stores too, but I think they're pretty much gone from CA but are still selling on the East Coast.