Canadian Club 20 Yr Old Whisky
Review: Canadian Club 20 Year Old Whisky 89.5/100
a Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published March 27, 2011
Canadian Club Whisky (C.C. Whisky) is blended before it is aged, and this process, which has been called ‘Blended at Birth’, is the foundation for the entire portfolio of Canadian Club Whiskies. The particular whisky which is examined in this review is the Canadian Club 20 Year Old Whisky. It is a blend of rye, rye malt, corn, and barley malt spirits which were set down to age together 20 years ago.
I believe that the actual blend of base spirits for the 20-year-old C.C. Whisky is the same as the blend used for the Canadian Club Premium, which is the 6 year Old Canadian Whisky which anchors the entire Canadian Club brand. Although it was originally intended to be a specialty bottling, the 20 Year Old became a standard bottling when Beam Global acquired the Canadian Club brand.
In the Bottle 4/5
As we move up the ladder in the Canadian Club line-up my standards for the presentation of the whisky become more stringent. It is my belief that a more expensive premium spirit should reflect its price and its higher quality in the bottle presentation. The C.C. 20 is pictured to the right in a tall clear bottle. The bottle is topped with a cork topper, and the new black label employed for the brand looks professional. But… it is rather disappointing that more effort was not made to set this bottle apart from its siblings in the brand line-up. When I take the bottle off of my shelf, I do not get any ‘wow’ factor. Except for the cork, it looks like a bottle designed for a mixer.
In the Glass 9/10
On my first day of sampling, the temperature outside my house was minus 30 degrees Celsius and my furnace was struggling to keep up. My tasting room was a little cooler than normal, and I was afraid I would not be able to fairly judge the whisky. The cooler temperature in my tasting room, (16 degrees instead of the normal 21 degrees), might inhibit the nose and cause me problems in assessing the whisky. Imagine my surprise when I poured my glass and was greeted with the full aroma of an assertive, wonderful spirit. Toffee and caramel poured out of the nose with deep oaky accents of baking spices. Rye scents followed as did that full dank corn aroma which is so typical of the Canadian Club line-up. The cooler temperature was certainly not inhibiting this whisky. (Of course, I also did a few sampling sessions when it was warmer.) It is when the glass is fully decanted that the aroma becomes sublime. Deep, dark brown sugars and a hint of charred marshmallow become evident as well as mildly sour citrus fruit. Although that final bit of description may not sound lovely, you will have to trust me that it is.
In The Mouth 54/60
The initial entry into the mouth gives me a strong combination of dank Canadian Club corn flavour, heavy oak tannins, and rich baking spices. These are the main flavours, and they seem to be battling for supremacy with that typically dank and punky Canadian Club corn flavour edging out the others in a well fought battle royal. The oak has not quite melted into the other flavours, and as a result a few mildly bitter tannins are evident beside the sweet baking spice and caramel.
The whisky has a nice smoky quality at mid palate with some fruity flavours of half-dried raisins and moist prunes evolving which hold the whisky together beautifully. A peppery rye note bobs up to the surface and somewhere in the mix, and I taste dabs of cinnamon and a dash of Apricot Brandy.
Like the previously reviewed C.C. Classic I taste a little nibble of sourness kind of like baked apples wandering around the edges of the flavour.
Reading over this description I realize that my writing is just a little disjointed, but this is also the character of this whisky which is just slightly out of balance leading to a minor discombobulation of flavour impressions in the mouth.
In the Throat 13.5/15
The C.C. 20 Year Old finishes with a nice peppery swat at the tonsils as it goes down. I would not call the exit harsh as the heated finish is welcome, but the finish is not smooth and easy either. Things sit somewhere in between.
The smokiness I noticed on the palate finds a home in the finish. As well I sense a few ghostly trails of dry fruit, cocoa, and tea leaves following the peppery heat. The finale includes fading flavours of oak spices and toasted brown sugars which leave my glass smelling wonderful and my throat sated.
The Afterburn 9/10
For me this is a huge step up from the C.C. Premium (6-year-old), and much richer and fuller than the C.C. Classic (12 year Old). But it does not have the suave character or balance of the Anniversary Edition (30 Year Old). I enjoyed the Canadian Club 20-year-old immensely, and if you need a special gift for the Canadian Club aficionado then this whisky certainly fits the bill.
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)