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Canadian Club Classic 12 Year Old

Average score from 11 reviews and 24 ratings 76

Canadian Club Classic 12 Year Old

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Canadian Club Classic 12 Year Old

Canadian Club is an interesting label. The brand is owned by Beam Suntory, which also owns Alberta Premium (ADL), but most of their whisky is made at the Hiram Walker distillery in Windsor, Ontario. Or Walkerville, Ontario. Whatever. This CC bears a big ol' 12 year age statement, so it's got to be better than non-age-stated stuff, right?

Tasting Notes

  • Nose (undiluted): Rye spice right away, leather, brown sugar, flat cola, a hint of corn husks
  • Palate (undiluted): very soft arrival, almost rum-like with Kraft soft caramels, molasses, cloves, and raisins
  • Finish: short to medium length, plums and blackberries at first, then slightly bitter and drying but not unpleasant. Somewhat reminiscent of grapefruit juice or tonic water.

With water the rye and leather all but disappear from the nose. They are replaced by brown sugar and raisins, with a touch of walnuts. Much of the “rummy-ness” of the palate disappears with water and this Canadian Club 12 becomes more of a sweet, dessert sipper. There’s also less fruit and more oak on the finish with water added, yet that bitterness hangs around. It's interesting, but it may not be for everyone.

This whisky is ok as a sipper, neat or on the rocks, but I think it's still primarily a mixing whisky. I sometimes like to add a dash or two of Angostura bitters to my rye and ginger, but I think it would be unnecessary with CC 12. The bitterness on the finish isn't overwhelming but it is present. I don't mind it, but it may not be for everyone. For what it's worth, the Chairman's Select, while under-powered, is a more interesting offering from Canadian Club. This one is a supporting cast member, not a star in its own right.


Nose: creamy, with pronounced caramel and butterscotch. A touch of wet stone/slate. Typical Canadian, but richer and smoother than your standard fare.

Taste: medium-bodied and supple on the tongue. Vanilla and caramel at first, and then some nice oak carrying with it a bit of warming spice.

Finish: somewhat bitter.

Balance: definitely a step up from the bottom-shelfers at the LCBO. The bittersweet CC profile is bolstered by longer aging, though unfortunately the finish is a little off. It is okay taken neat, but it really shines in a rye and ginger. Just enough flavour to stand out, without trying to steal the show.


Appearance: Darker than my usual choice of Bourbons- a dark Baltic amber hue.

Nose: Very, very light nose- all vanilla and cocoa. Some of that slight earthy-yet-acidic feeling of a lightly brewed fresh coffee.

Taste: Creamy mouthfeel. Lots of deep caramel, toffee and coffee, with that drying, woody note that comes from the rye- if anything, this supports the coffee flavours. A tiny bit of smoke too and an acidity. Not as sweet as I expected though- though there is a fair bit of cake-spice flavour going around too.

Like the standard issue Canadian Club, the finish isn't complex and pretty much all vanilla. It is a good deal longer than the standard CC, but still pretty short as it goes....You can barely taste the alcohol compared to a similar strength Bourbon- so very smooth and silky in the mouthfeel. There's no rawness or burn- you'd swear it was 20% not 40%....

Overall, despite the 12 years of maturation, this is still a very light all the way through. It's good- and drinkable, being so smooth. Just lacking depth and the dark caramel flavour gets more than a little cloying after a couple of glasses, and then out comes the Bourbon.

Good but not earth-shattering.


This whisky, at times, seems to be quite hit and miss. Some people really seem to like it, and some don't seem to care for it much at all. Recently rebranded to try to give more information and attract more connoisseurs, it is part of a growing "middle class" of Canadian whisky - generally small batch, $30-40 whiskies which are not ultra-rare or ultra premium, but are trying to offer something a bit different and more premium than the cheaper priced bottlings of a given brand. Among major brands, Crown Royal Limited Edition, Forty Creek Copper Pot, Wiser's Small Batch, Century Reserve lot 15/25, and Alberta Premium Dark Horse fit this mold - and 2 of these bottlings were introduced in the last 3 years. And you could make a case for others such as Collingwood (as part of the Canadian Mist line), lot no. 40 and pike creek (as part of Corby), and more singular bottlings like Royal Canadian.

Nose: Quite a compact, almost dark aroma. Maple, some cedar, slightly creamy, and even touches of light smoke, cola, some oaky earthiness characteristic of Canadian Club which I just love, a bit of light, fresh banana which, in combination with the creaminess, is a bit like a banana split. Dark rye bread, light orange, and some light toffee are also present and vanilla grows in weight as the whisky sits. 85%

Taste: Fairly sweet, with honey, maple, caramel, oak, rye bread, brown sugar, marmelade, malt and some spices on the finish. The palate is very enjoyable, and is a bit creamy and thick. The sweetness slowly builds until there is a lovely vanilla flourish at the end of the palate which leads into the finish very nicely. 88%

Finish: Slightly drying with some touches of dark rye bread, vanilla, a bit of oak, a touch of nutmeg and very light clove, and some light oaky earthiness (like you might expect from mossy and moist oak), with, unfortunately, a touch of slightly nagging bitterness. 83%

Intrigue: This fits nicely in the Canadian Club range - I quite like the earthiness, spice, and profile of this one. The sweetness is about right here also. 85%

Weighting the nose 25%, taste 35%, Finish 15%, and Intrigue 25% the overall grade is 86.

*I have also posted a separate format (with similar content) of this review at whiskywon.wordpress.com/2014/08/…


My first introduction to Canadian Club was the standard expression. I found it to be rather sweet. Cooling my heels for a few years I spotted the lovely decanter styled bottle of the 12 year and decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did.

Colour like red tea with honey.

Nose – Oak, honey, maple syrup, caramel, vanilla.

Taste – Rye, caramel, dry ginger, toffee.

Finish – Medium to short, the rye pushes through and gives way to maple syrup and spice.

This goes down easy. I suggest it to someone new to whisk(e)y for it's easy and palatable approach.

@Frost - Nice find with the old style decanter; the new bottles are all business. Glad to know that CC 12 YO is to your liking. You have in your cabinet one of my favourite Canadians of all time, Canadian Club 20 YO.

@Frost, the decanter style is long gone in Canada. Does your bottle have a glass stopper?



Canadian Club is one of our northerly brother's distilleries who supplied us during our time of need. (Prohibition in the U.S.)

Canadian Club Classic 12 Small Batch (I think this is one of the longer names for a whisk(e)y.

Batch No. C12-238

Color: Caramel (Almost too perfect in color)

Nose: Vanilla, caramel, creme brulee, sweet cream, gentle winter spices, small notes of stone fruits (peaches?)

Body: Medium-Heavy. It has a bit of a creamy texture on the tongue. Nice for only 40%.

Taste: Drier and more heated on the palate. Notes of rye spice, dusty oak, winter spice, caramel apples, and nutty components (cashews?).

Finish: Medium length. Rye spice and continued creamy cashews.

Overall: Better than the last Canadians (blended whisky) I've had. A good batch but not a great one.


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.

I am talking about a wide variation in quality in the batches. I don't have much confidence in a brand when I like one bottle and dislike the next one. It's even worse if I don't like the first one, and then the reports are much better. A new different whisky looks like a safer bet for my money after I've been burned by a bottle.

Well, you won't know for sure if you don't try the different batches. I presume the batch I had has a different profile from the batch Murray had, based on his tasting notes...but I cannot know for sure until I try it as well. And the batch I had compared to the old CC 12 is better but certainly not different in style.


Today I had a quite nasty experience and it involves one of my favorite whisky categories. Canadian Whisky.

Money has been tight lately and so my wife and I have been pinching every penny and I haven't bought many bottles (many meaning any) lately. Today I totaled up all my tips that were in US currency and decide to exchange them for yand buy a bottle. This totaled roughly $43 bucks.

I then ran to Dan Murphys excited as to who I was going to adopt and take home with me today. To aid in the adoption process I brought my whisky bible 2012 and my mobile tuned into Connosr.

As I wandered through the whisky section I debated who to take home. A few good bourbons and ryes, but I already had a pretty good bourbon which I had used to introduce my father and brother in law too, so maybe something else they hadn't tried yet.

I spied Canadian Club 12 yr old and saw it was exactly $42 bucks. I pulled open my trusty whisky bible and looked it up, Jim Murray says 91.5. WEWT!! A steal of a deal at $42 then!! I pick up the bottle and head home. As I was heading home I pulled up Connosr, I see my 12 yr old has been getting 70-80ish point wise...uh oh.

I get home and pull out the bottle, my wife goes "Nice! That bottle is pretty" I think to myself "god I hope the whisky is too" I then pour us out both a dram . . . then my brother in law later on that night along with my father in law and this is what we discovered.

Jim Murray can be WRONG!! SHOCK!!!!

Nose: Honey, waves of honey come off this whisky with hints of cinnamon, then as my wife and brother in law put it "Permanent Marker" and something that my brother in law said should not be drunk by man. Waves of rubbing alcohol hit my nose with a hint of the permanent marker.

Taste: Sadly the taste agreed with the nose with quite a bit of bitterness. A little bit of rye, some honey and quite a bit of rubbing alcohol and permanent marker.

Finish: Extremely bitter. Do I really have to finish my glass?

I grew up in Seattle in the US and I grew up drinking bourbons and canadian whiskies. I loved Crown Royal back in the day and don't get me started on the bourbons. I know what a good canadian whisky is supposed to taste like. THIS ISNT IT. I rarely have encountered a whisky that I just said "This is a whisky and coke" whisky, but Canadian Club 12 yr old is just that.

My wife is a Speyside girl, my brother and father in law are Islay men and I'm a bourbon man myself . . . none of us found this to a even a decent whisky. I used to steer away from the Candian Clubs, I thought that it was because of stuff I had heard growing up, but I'm sorry to say I should have learned my lesson back then. It'll be ALONG time before I try another Canadian Club again.

When I initially read your review, I thought that you were being adventurous. I've reconsidered - a trip to Caledonia is adventurous! Your cabinet is now filled with some excellent malt, otherwise an intervention would be in order;) - if there wasn't half a world between us, I'd drop by with an assortment of top shelf Canucks.

Okay, here is a "safe" list of Canadian juice - most of these seldom, if ever, leave the Great White North, but here's to hoping that you may find some of these... the next time you empty the tip jar.

Wiser's Red Letter, 150th Anniversary

Wiser's 18 Year Blended Canadian

Highwood Distillers Ltd Century Reserve 21 year old

Highwood Distillers CENTURY RESERVE LOT 15 to 25

Highwood Distillers 25 yr old 100th Anniversary Calgary Stampede Ltd Edition

Gibson's Finest 100th Grey Cup Ltd Edition

Alberta Distillers 25 yr old Alberta Premium Ltd Edition 100% Rye

Alberta Distillers 30 yr old Alberta Premium Ltd Edition 100% Rye

Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve

Forty Creek Port Wood Reserve 2012

Forty Creek Confederation Oak Reserve

Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve

Forty Creek John's Private Cak No.1

Danfield's 21 yr old Ltd Edition

Corby Distilleries Lot No. 40, 2012

Pike Creek 10 year old

Gibson's Finest Rare 18 Year Old

Canadian Club 30 year old

Masterson's 10 year-old Straight Rye

Whistle Pig

Royal Canadian Small Batch

Caribou Crossing Single Barrel

Crown Royal XR

@PaddockJudge Hahaha my friend I wasn't saying all Canadian whiskies were bad, just saying I'd sadly never encountered a good one. Personally I think you guys keep all the good stuff for yourself :D Sorta like the Aussie exporting Fosters and keeping all the good beers for themselves! One of the things I'm hoping to do one day is make one of your guys whisky tastings and get my hands and lips on some great tasting Canadian whiskies. The big problem over here is the price point on even basic Canadian whiskies is very expensive, roughly $100-$110 for Crown Royal. It makes one very hesitant to experiment and like I said before, minus the Caribou Crossing I've never seen any of those whiskies over here.

To be fair the Canadian Club 12 year old I had is one I'm pretty sure isn't standard representative of the line, i.e batch variation, etc but in my defense it was FOUL!

I wound up selling the bottle to a friend of mine who sells beer with me and puts ALL of his whisky into coke.

@CanadianNinja I indeed brought home MANY excellent whiskies. As you already have commented it is an old review (just noticed the date was the day after my wife's and my first wedding anniversary), but sadly all of my sexy whiskies have to travel via boat before I get to see them. (Friends of mine who import whisky are importing my bottles for me which is supposed to lead to a lower tax bracket in theory)


This whisky shows more obvious rye influence than I recall from previous bottles. On the nose it has that light spice, like cinnamon and cloves, but also an astringent mineral note, like wet stones. Not as much toffee and vanilla as other Canadians.

It hits the mouth with pronounced bitterness. The flavour is hard and brittle like rye-heavy Canadians tend to be. You really have to like this style of whisky to enjoy this. The extra age does give it a richer body and hints of toffee. Ice brings out additional sweetness

It leaves with a gradual, consistent fade. Overall this whisky falls on the bitter end of the Canadian flavour spectrum. Head-to-head comparisons reveal that it is not nearly as sweet and creamy as Gibson's 12 year old, yet has greater character and complexity. Mixes very well with ginger ale.

Interesting that you have found this quite bitter. The samples I have had have been very very sweet. This makes me wonder about batch and bottle variations.


Am not a huge fan of the regular CC - but I do like this one. A deep amber colour, medium bodied, with aromas of honey, toffee, oak and a little bit of pineapple, which was very nice. Taste is also oaky and sweet, but some banana comes through - the fruity accents are quite welcome. Some caramel comes out with a little water. Smooth, fruity finish. A very good Canadian whisky, try it in a whisky sour.


A friend of mine was given this as a present, and found he didn't like the finish much (too 'gin-like' he said), and so offered me a taste. I thought 'why not' and so here we are.

I've read around the traps that the CC Classic 12 year old is a mixture of rye, rye malt, corn. and barley malt spirits, so I'm expecting a decent amount of spice and sweetness. Still, my experiences with the basic Canadian Club haven't filled me with much hope. It does come in a pretty bottle though!

The nose is creamy, buttery caramel, a hint of cinnamon, and just the barest nudge of iodine which feels a little out of place, but somehow quite pleasant.

The taste is light and full of spice - sweet cinnamon, pepper, even a hint of chinese five spice! This is laid thickly over hints of toffee, iodine and oak. Genuinely fun!

The finish is moderately long, and starts with sweet cinnamon and pepper over milk chocolate and oak. It does have a gin-like, almost metallic iodine note in the finish, but I didn't mind it, as the iodine runs through the whole dram, and by the time I got to the finish, I found the metallic edge intriguing more than intrusive.

I can see why people might not enjoy this one, and it certainly isn't a world beater, but I didn't mind it! Much better than the base level CC (which I don't have much time for). Worth a look given it is so cheap, around $40 Australian, which is in the same price bracket as Johnnie Walker Red, (which is pretty average).

Keep an eye out for the Sherry Cask.

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