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Canadian Club Chairman's Select 100% Rye

Average score from 7 reviews and 10 ratings 81

Canadian Club Chairman's Select 100% Rye

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@cricklewood
Canadian Club Chairman's Select 100% Rye

This whisky was released a few years back and was surprising for a couple of reasons. One it's the first time the Canadian Club brand has released a 100% rye grain whisky. The other reason is that this whisky wasn't distilled a the Hiram Walker Distillery in Windsor which was the home of CC.

The whisky actually comes from Alberta Distillers Limited. This might seem strange at first until you look closely and see that Canadian Club is owned by Beam Suntory, while Hiram Walker Distillery is owned by Pernod Ricard/Corby.

I then makes sense that with the success of its own 100% rye brand (Lot 40) that Corby is very close fisted with its rye stocks. Suntory though has it's own delicious 100% rye juice through ADL, with which it has been supplying the US market with rye for many years.

Banking on a known formula the whisky is aged in virgin oak casks, the first batches were purported to be about 7yrs old. Since then it's hard to say exactly what the formula is but it's been met with no small measure of success, the price point is good and it performs well in cocktails.

My girlfriend had an old bottle kicking around for mixing and I had never bothered to try it straight.

Nose: Vanilla, mint. Cedar, rye bread, wet oak and a touch of char. The second wave brings apples, a smidge of pine resin & a floral side, rosewater, Turkish delight?

Palate: Mild arrival, rye bread, lots of sweet oak and orange peel. The development adds brown sugar with a few drops of molasses, black pepper and coriander seeds (steak spice?). The abv shows here as its quite thin bodied, you've got to work it around.

Finish: Short, old cigar humidor, whole-wheat raisin bread, the kind with a cinnamon swirl. It's quickly gone leaving only a trace of lemon pith and bread.

The Blab: All told this isn't bad actually, if you start a flight with this whisky and let it air put a good 15+ minutes, it performs quite well. That said it's watered down quite a bit, the virgin oak helps bring some richness otherwise it would be kind of lacking.

If you've had Masterson's or Whistlepig10 or it's single barrels then you know how good this distillate can be if presented right. Here though it lacks power and body. A good bottle to introduce someone to rye or for your cocktail arsenal.

@OdysseusUnbound

Canadian Club is one of the most popular brands of Canadian whisky. Heck, it was featured prominently in AMC's Mad Men as Don Draper's whisky of choice. Canadian Club Chairman's Select 100% Rye is something different though. Chairman's Select is awkwardly marketed as "the Single Malt of Canadian Whisky" despite the fact that it isn't made from malted barley at all, and despite the fact that there are Canadian distilleries that actually produce single malt whisky. Why the choice of those particular words? I'd venture to guess that the marketing department at Canadian Club knows their target audience. In my humble opinion, this whisky isn't aimed at the experienced connoisseur, but rather at the person who normally drinks CC & ginger and wants to try out some "sipping whisky". The bottle of Chairman's Select even comes in a tube reminiscent of many single malt scotches.

Tasting notes

  • Nose (undiluted): rye spice, freshly cut wood, cinnamon, toffee, black pepper
  • Palate (undiluted): soft arrival, a bit thin, lots of toffee sweetness, some vegetal rye, a bit of clove
  • Finish: short to medium length, more oak, cloves, cinnamon, and toffee

Water doesn't add anything to this whisky; it just thins everything out. A large ice sphere tones down a bit of the sweetness, but the rye spice still feels like it's in the backround. All the component flavours are good, I’d just like the volume turned up. The Chairman’s Select is a good whisky: it has the potential to be a great whisky. I'd love to see this bottled at 100 proof (50% ABV) or even at cask strength. Allow me to re-iterate: I don't think the people at Canadian Club are targeting the "sipping whisky" enthusiast or aficionado with this whisky. It's a respectable mixer and a decent introduction to a 100% rye whisky. If you're new to sipping whisky or to rye in general, this whisky is a good introduction. If you're a more experienced whisky drinker, I recommend you try before you buy. You may find this one a bit too nice.

@Nozinan

The Blue Jays pulled off an almost unheard of comeback in the bottom of the ninth, capped by Steve Pearce’s second walk-off grand slam this week. Of course it all happened right after I turned off the TV to go out with my family.

To celebrate I decided tonight I would have something Canadian (it was Canadian Baseball Day today after all). And what is more Canadian than Canadian Club?

I originally got this bottle to help prepare myself for rye. I had won the BTAC lottery in 2014 and had purchased a bottle of Thomas Handy Rye. A tasting was set up at the home of @Talexander but I had very limited experience with 100% rye. So the week before the tasting I started with Alberta Premium, the AP25, the AP30 and finally I picked this up. I recall kind-of liking it more than I do now.

I purchased and opened this bottle in January 2015. It is 2/3 full and has always been gassed. This expression is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes.


Nose:

In the standard glencairn, Sweet, fruity, spicy, dusty. Fresh. A little green apple. The first sniff in the Canadian Glencairn is condensed and powerful, with emphasis on the rye spiciness. Light syrup. 22/25

Taste:

Thin, slightly bitter on first sip. A little sweeter with following sips. Quite unidimentional. Not at all to my liking. No improvement in the Canadian, more diluted flavours, except that the rye spices came out a little more after I poured the contents of the standard Glencairn into it. 20/25

Finish: Short, uninspiring.20/25

Balance: The palate really disappoints the exceptional promise of the nose. 20/25

Score: 82/100


On a whim, I tossed in an ice cube, like my father used to do with the standard CC. You can see ripples in the liquid as the cube melts, dilutes and cools the liquid. Tastes OK, actually a little nicer than neat.

I didn’t finish the dram. There have been rare occasions when I’ve reached for this (mostly out of curiosity) but tonight is not one of those times. I see from other scores on Connosr that I seem to be right between scores in the 70s and high 80s. I would not have expected this to be a polarizing whisky.

@Nozinan, my impressions of CC Chairman's 100% Rye are about the same as yours are.

I saw that Jays' score and thought of you. There is nothing like winning 11-10 when you had just been down 10-7.

@Nozinan I usually just watch the Blue Jays in 30, where you get all the major highlights of the game, inning by inning, in 30 minutes. By the end of the 8th when they were down 10-4 I'd had enough and was flipping around channels. I got back just in time to see the Pearce walk off grand slam. Unbelievable. It ain't over till it's over.

About the CC. Sounds like your Dad had the right idea.

@cheeserandyburg

This is a cheap, well priced 100% Rye that got a lot of raving when it came out, so why not try it.

Nose: Fruit. Lots and lots of fruit.

Palate: Sweet, dry, velvety astringent texture, with a bit a spice. Now with water, this gets much better. We get more sweetness coming through, and it becomes much smoother.

Finish: Fairly short. Dry with lingering woody notes and some sour fruit.

Conclusion - So where does this stand among the rye's. Well, for one, this a very affordable whisky to enjoy, but it definitely helps to get the water in to bring out the most. Additionally, it comes off as a little "restrained", but that's to be expected from CC/ at this price point. On a more positive note, this is a smooth whisky - make no mistake - easy to sip on and very easy to polish off. For the price, you can't go wrong.

I really like this Rye to use for Old Fashioned cocktails. It worked really nicely there.

@Megawatt

Nose: fairly typical of Canadian whisky with butter toffee and wet stone aromas. But then there is an added peppery note, hinting at black pepper, in addition to a rum-like banana fruitiness. Not the most attractive nose in the world, but has a certain charm.

Taste: medium-bodied with a good spicy kick right off the bat, which thickens as it spreads across the tongue. All told, a smooth and pleasant experience.

Finish: no real surprises here. Fades on pepper notes with a bit of musty wood.

Balance: at this price point you can't expect to get blown away, but this is at least a new take on a traditional Canadian whisky. Doesn't make any bold statements and shouldn't scare off fans of regular CC, it at least offers something a little different at a reasonable price.

@talexander

The Canuck rye going head-to-head with Bulleit is the new Canadian Club. It is called "Chairman's Select" but I have no idea who this mystery Chairman is, nor if he is qualified to select anything. Unlike other CCs, which are distilled in Windsor, this one is sourced from Alberta Distillers. This is only available in Canada.

The colour is a deep reddish gold. On the nose, lots of caramel with some vanilla in the background. The spices are also softer and more subtle. The fruits are darker - plum, date - and it is not as floral as other high ryes. Much more Canadian influence owing to the casks likely being a mix of refill, and probably some ex-sherry as well. Soft and velvety, but a little spicier with water. Very pleasant and satisfying.

On the palate we have more spice but again they are softer, blanketed by the caramel. Mouth drying with the oak. Pencil shavings. Oiled leather. More plums, with overripe peaches and black cherries; even fruitier with water. Delicious.

The finish is quiet, drying to a wet slate, grapefruit pithiness. Of course, this is completely different from the Bulleit rye - there is no comparison. I find the Bulleit more complex, with more layers of fruit and spice. The CC is classically Canadian in its delivery, but is still very good (in some ways, more drinkable than the Bulleit). This was recently awarded Canadian Whisky of the Year by Whisky Advocate magazine, and I can see why. It's beautifully done, and I hope remains a permanent part of the CC stable. While Bulleit wins the battle, there really are no losers here.

Very nice comparison @talexander. I think you'll like this one @Victor. CC 100% Rye is to the best of my knowledge produced with Alberta Distillers Ltd's proprietary enzymes.

Brown-Forman had a 'new cask and aged cask rye' offering as part of their Master's Collection. Chris Morris, master distiller at B-F stated they would never make rye whiskey again - a sticky residue coated their works as a result of the rye distillate production, Apparently this is a bigger problem with malted rye than with the use of enzymes.

ADL is the king of rye grain distillation - the largest consumer of rye grain on the planet. Although they may not be the best marketers of this delicious spirit, they are the #1 source for Independent Bottlers who then spin it off as some stylish boutique offering to the rye-hungry hoards; WhistlePig and Masterson's immediately come to mind.

New oak, heavy char and a generous portion of pot still flavouring whisky are not the only factors making this new expression an instant hit. Beam Suntory assembled a cross-functional team of specialists with expertise in key areas. Kentucky provided guidance in wood management, Alberta produced some primo juice, and Ontario dressed-up and distributed this darling to the market - projected to be 70,000 cases per annum.

Upon my first taste of this incredibly delicious whisky I immediately penned my prognostication at Whisky Advocate to declare this beauty as a clear winner in multiple categoties..."winner, winner at the whisky dinner".

Great Whisky. Great Value. Game changer. This one is a very easy sipper...if only it were available at a higher proof; Oh Canada!

I believe Canadian rye tends to be malted. @paddockjudge might know better than I do, though. That might explain the difference of character to American rye (although that's probably more attributable to the barrels used - but what do I know).

I would put the flavour profile somewhere between Alberta Premium and Alberta Springs 10 Year Old, if that makes any sense. But it does have a "Canadian Club" character in the caramel, so perhaps used CC barrels were utilized. It is very nice, but still not nearly as punchy as the best US ryes!

BTW I won the opportunity to buy the 2014 Stagg - it's ready for pickup at my local LCBO! I'll grab it tomorrow...

@JasonHambrey

This whisky, though it is Canadian Club, is not actually distilled at the Hiram Walker plant in Windsor (like the rest of the Canadian Club line) – it is actually distilled and bottled in Alberta, from Alberta Distillers. However, they’re both owned by Beam-Suntory so some stock-swapping isn’t as difficult as it otherwise might be. And, as Canadian Club is a bigger name, it makes more sense to sell Alberta rye from a marketing perspective because Canadian Club has a much bigger brand name.

This whisky is about 7 years old, and is, apparently, targeted to the young crowd to get them interested in high quality whisky. Of course, it is also targeted to be a good mixer and comes with cocktail suggestions as well. Alberta Distillers, it seems, is an ever-ending source of new rye whisky brands when the rest of the world has no rye left to offer.

Nose: If you’re familiar with the Canadian Club brand, you’ll know that this doesn’t quite follow suit. Lots of fruit – orange and guava – amidst a rich and slightly sour background of dusty rye and spices. Of all the Alberta rye I’ve had, this seems to have the brightest fruit character. There is a light oak tannin (I say tannin because it gives me the impression/feeling of a very dry characteristic) note as well in the background. At times the fruitiness is a bit too medicinal for my liking – and the orange shifts from a nice candied citrus peel to cough syrup. Interesting, though, in the context of Alberta rye where I often find a very slight medicinal edge – much like you find sometimes with the peaty Islay Scotches. But, in the case of Alberta rye, I have always found it to be more on the spirity medicinal side like turpentine. This time, however, it’s more in the cough-syrup mold. The oak, and in fact the rye, along with vanilla and a slight buttery-ness emerge a bit more as the whisky sits. Also, I find the fruit keeps growing too, such that I can’t really understand how it can get any bigger in magnitude. While, on one hand, this is nice, I find the sweet candied fruit and the dry and spicy rye and oak compete for the spotlight in a matter that is a bit discordant. Nonetheless, a big, complex nose – and very interesting. 83%

Taste: The fruit leads on the palate as well, bringing in some woody notes with a surprising amount of sweetness before the oak and tannins take over, drying the feel slightly before some spices (clove and cinnamon) and, surprisingly, a bit of maltiness remain. It is quite rich – fruity, woody (sometimes with a bit of earthiness integrated), and a bit spicy (in “feel” as well as “flavour”, though more on the flavour side). Additionally, the vanilla is so well integrated into this one I almost missed it! It isn’t so much it’s own flavour but very much part of the background mix. I very much like this one. The oak is nicely judged on this one – it is close to being too bitter – but it is just right so that it has a great edge of tannic oak. 88%

Finish: Orange, light oak, a few sour prunes, a touch of mint, cinnamon, almond and some very light arugula (which I often find in 100% ryes) from time to time. The fruitiness finally dies, and a good bit of oak and cinnamon remain with some orange notes from time to time. It has a nice effect of growing as you drink more of it. Fairly tannic and dry as well. 13/15 87%

Intrigue: A most excellent whisky! Richly woody, with a shocking amount of fruit, and some nice oak and spice to frame the whole thing. I am glad for the release and think it is an excellent addition to the Canadian Club line, and hopefully they can expand it so that more people can have access to it. I am glad that the palate and the finish both balanced the fruitiness, spiciness, and oak unlike on the nose. It is somewhat natural to consider how this one compares to Alberta Premium (AP), both Alberta Distillery 100% Rye, but both very different whiskies – in terms of rye, AP has a dry, rye-flour sort of presentation that is quite grain driven as opposed to the load of fruit in this Canadian Club. In terms of spice, Alberta Premium is more in the mold of a light cayenne spice, whereas Canadian Club is more in a cinnamon and dry ginger mode. In terms of oak, AP has notes of light toasted oak while this Canadian Club has big, caramel-y oak. Beyond that, Alberta Premium is more buttery and toffee driven while Canadian Club is big, driven by fruit and oak. In one sense, Alberta Premium is more traditionally Canadian in its presentation of rye and this Canadian Club has a bit more of an American rye style to it (though it’s hard to find a rye anywhere with so much fruit!!). Canadian Club has certainly done an excellent job crafting a good whisky at a great price. 88%

Weighting the nose 25%, taste 35%, Finish 15%, and Intrigue 25% the overall grade is 87.

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