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A year or so ago, I wrote a short review of the Canadian Club Classic 12 Year Old (scoring it 80) - a Canadian whisky I've always liked. Since then, I've studied the spirit (and was tested on it) at a spirits course at George Brown College in Toronto; in addition, as with a few Canadian Club offerings, it has been repackaged and re-marketed, this one as a "small batch" (including giving a batch number on the label). Is it the exact same spirit in the bottle as it was in years past? Given the batch number on the label, I'm going to guess: not necessarily. Shall we re-evaluate this and see how it measures up? My bottle is from batch no. C12-040.
The colour is deep amber with light amber highlights - seems a little lighter than the old version but that could be my imagination. On the nose, as you would expect, there is lots of caramel and vanilla. Grapefruit pith, tropical fruits (and dark fruits as well), some cinnamon and cloves. A drop of water lightens things up. Seems more complex to me than in previous years.
In the mouth, the whisky is soft and rounded. Lots of rye but it's coated in those vanillas and caramels. Quite sweet, but not as sweet as I remember the old bottling being - there seems to be more rye gripping the palate, which I really like. More rye and citrus with a drop of water. A little bit medicinal, even.
The finish is long and deep, almost smoky, with a lot more spice than on the nose or palate. More grapefruit pith on the finish, with some banana and papaya as well (which I've always picked up on in the past). This is a very good whisky and really, not as sweet as I remember. When I was tested on the old bottling in the George Brown course, I tasted it shortly after evaluating a Laphroaig Quarter Cask - and I mistook the CC 12 for a rum! Embarrassing...I don't even know why I'm telling you this. But it speaks to how sweet I found the earlier bottling, and I'm quite sure this bottle is not as sweet as that. There is a lot of caramel, yes, but it is tempered by more peppery rye than I remember. I believe this is an improvement.
Note: Jim Murray rates the old CC 12 a 91.5. However, he tasted the new one, batch no. C12-020, and rated it a 73.5. I'm tasting batch no. C12-040 and I find it does not match many of this descriptives of his sample - so I suspect there is a fair bit of deviation between batches, which is very interesting.