Whiskey review: Canadian Club Classic 12

Canadian Club Classic 12 Year-Old

This variation on the very popular brand of Canadian whisky has been around for years, but I’ve never seen it on a single store shelf. In fact, at first I assumed it was a brand new product. It’s not, but it fits right in with the trend towards attempting more complex variations on the traditionally light and smooth Canadian whisky discussed in our “Spotlight on Booze” piece several weeks back.

As the name Canadian Club Classic 12 indicates, this expression is aged 12 years rather than six years as with standard Canadian Club.  It is actually one of a few spin-off lines from Hiram Walker’s best-known brand. The venerable whisky line also includes the more commonly available 10-year-old Canadian Club Reserve, which I’ve enjoyed, and a 100 proof version I would truly love to try at some point — now that I know it exists.

I’ve been sampling this whisky — the Canadians dispense with the “e” — for a while now and have featured it in a couple of “Drink of the Week” posts, but I haven’t really discussed it on its own. Like a lot of things, it took some getting used to but has grown on me.  I found it pretty outstanding in the slightly counterintuitive Bloody Caesar recipe that I ran. Its more smokey flavor may also work better in a Canadian Cocktail than ordinary CC.

Though I rarely drink booze straight except when I’m doing these reviews, it definitely tastes better neat than it’s more inexpensive but supremely mixable brethren. CC 12 has some Scotch-like astringency, but the flavor also has maybe a tiny bit more of a noticeable sweetness with a rye tang. It’s fine on the rocks and extremely drinkable with soda.

All in all, I’m coming around to the view that I’m pretty favorable to this expression, perhaps because it actually predates recent attempts to appeal to connoisseurs. In the case of the acclaimed Forty Creek, those efforts may have lead to a whiskey I personally found excessively difficult for all its greater complexity. I prefer the lightness and smoothness of regular Canadian whisky in general, and standard (and very inexpensive) Canadian Club in particular, which causes some to sniff that it’s the vodka of whiskey. I still like vodka, too.

  

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Drink of the Week: The Bloody Caesar

The Bloody Caesar

In general, Canada’s correctly beloved Bloody Caesar is nothing more or less than a Bloody Mary made with Clamato or a similar tomato/clam juice beverage rather than straight tomato juice. In fact, you are certainly not ill-advised to simply make that substitution with the previously described DOTW Bloody Mary recipe. Nevertheless, I recently tried out this particular recipe provided by, naturally, the Canadian Club people to promote their new Canadian Club Classic 12 Year-Old whisky and I highly recommend it.

Yes, you can make a bloody beverage with not only vodka and gin but with various types of whiskey, and I have to say that this particular variant on the classic is pretty fantastic. It’s about as refreshing as an alcoholic cocktail can be while having plenty of spice to it. It really does seem to taste best with CC’s newest brand, but this version of the Bloody Caesar works very nicely with vodka or regular Canadian Club as well. The trick here is that this is the first Bloody Anything I’ve tried that comes out of shaker rather than being built in the glass.

The Bloody Caesar, CC Variant

1.5 ounces Canadian Club Classic 12, or alternative boozes as preferred and available
4 ounces Clamato/tomato-mollusk beverage of your choice
4 dashes Tabasco/Louisiana hot sauce of your preference
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce (I like Lea & Perrin’s, when I find it on sale)
1 dash black pepper
1 lemon wedge
1 small celery stalk (optional but very nice garnish)

Pour your liquor and tomato-clam beverage into a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the hot sauce, Worcestershire and pepper. Squeeze the juice out of your lemon wedge and throw the spent edge into the mix. Shake very vigorously. Strain over fresh ice into a highball/Collins glass. Add your celery, if you’ve got it.

****

I did try one more variant of this, using an inexpensive brand of blended Scotch. It wasn’t half bad. I hereby christen it the Bloody Macbeth. Just be careful when ordering it near nervous Shakespeareans.

  

Drink of the Week: The Canadian Cocktail

the Canadian CocktailLike the nation for which it is named and the spirit with which it is made, this week’s selection is often overlooked and highly underrated. Indeed, at least on the web, it’s almost unheralded among cocktails, classic or otherwise. Still, it’s a pretty delightful variation — I’d say improvement — on a whiskey sour with a bit of classic margarita thrown in.

As the name would indicate, the Canadian Cocktail is definitely an enjoyable way to enjoy Don Draper and Nucky Thompson’s underrated favorite, Canadian Club, or, if you’re feeling like something a bit more complex, the new Canadian Club Classic 12 (as in 12 years-old). It’s part of a new wave of high end Canadian whisky and a beverage we’ll be returning to elsewhere.

The Canadian Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces Canadian whisky
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce orange curacao or triple sec
1-2 dash bitters (Angostura or orange)
1 teaspoon superfine sugar (highly optional)
1 maraschino cherry (garnish, fairly optional)

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. If you’re adding sugar dissolve it. Add ice, shake like the dickens and strain into a chilled and preferably smallish rocks/old fashioned glass, perhaps one in which you’ve already tossed a maraschino cheery if you’ve skipped the sugar. Sip in a leisurely manner while watching a “Kids in the Hall” rerun or a Guy Maddin flick.

****

There are other versions of this drink floating around the net. Some dispense with the lemon juice, which might work if you’re using a really good triple sec or a very small quantity of it. Some call for you to peel an entire orange rind to make a gigantic orange twist. I’m sure it’s a fine touch, but I haven’t learned to do that yet without threatening myself with major harm. I would, however, counsel cocktail cheapskates to use orange curacao, which should have a slight edge of bitterness. On the inexpensive end of the liqueur landscape, it brings a much more interesting and less insipid flavor to the drink.

  

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