[Ed. note: Most of you are by now familiar with the other half of SLOSHED!, my fiancé Dan. This is the first of what will be many reviews from him, our house whisk(e)y enthusiast. Cheers!]
My least favorite boxes to unload at work are Canadian Club’s, which feature sepia-toned burly dudes with mismanaged sideburns and peek-a-boo gym shorts coupled with the equally ridiculous caption, “Damn Right Your Dad Drank It”. Now, my old man could be credited with and/or accused of many questionable activities in his youth (including trading mescaline for sexual favors and marrying my mother), but I’m pretty sure he never drank Canadian Club. However, if the cross-section of current Canadian Club enthusiasts at my place of employ is any indication (polyester-clad feme soles approximately three paces from the tomb), my grandmother drank it, and maybe yours did too.
Despite the hackneyed ad campaign, the actual Canadian Club whisky is, well, blended whisky. It comes in a plastic bottle and is serviceable with ginger ale, and as an added bonus, you can get really trashed if you drink enough of it. However, if there’s other whiskey around, and at my house there usually is, then why bother?
Needless to say, I was skeptical when the bottle of Canadian Club 30-Year Reserve arrived at our house a few months back. Released in a limited run of 3,000 bottles to celebrate its 150th anniversary, and priced at a hefty two hundred dollars, it comes packaged in a suitably tacky faux-silk sarcophagus. The bottle itself, however, is very nice, and thankfully not made of plastic (sorry, Grandma!).
Now, here’s the kick in the trousers: the whisky is good—very good, in fact. The nose has a rich, oaky character, with plenty of cinnamon and vanilla. There’s more oak and cinnamon in the entry, and very pleasant notes of vanilla and molasses. The best part of this whisky, though, is the finish—long, complex, and exceptionally smooth. I know ‘smooth’ is an adjective that often gets thrown about when there’s a lack of better things to say about a spirit one just blew way too much money on, but this one actually embodies that attribute perfectly. It has a warm, velvety texture while retaining a surprisingly light body and mouth feel. It probably tastes okay with ginger ale too, but I recommend drinking this one neat—I added a bit of water and found that it sacrificed the finer textural attributes a bit.
Bottom line: This is an exceptional whisky, and definitely the best Canadian/blended whisky I have ever had. The price tag is a bit steep (especially if you have a crippling addiction to bourbon that threatens your bank account at every turn), but I would say that it’s probably worth it. Aging usually does wonders for whisk(e)y, and this one is no exception. A word to the PR hacks, though: skip the Mad Men tie-ins and patronizing sloganeering; an excellent spirit sells itself. My Dad still doesn’t drink Canadian Club, but if this were an indication of the quality of all of their products, he might be inclined to start.