Not to be outdone by Crown Royal, Canadian Club has released a Canadian rye whisky that focuses on the rye grain, which is typically a rather secondary ingredient in mass-market Canadian whisky (the first being corn)… an ironic situation considering that Canadian whisky is colloquially referred to as “rye”. Perhaps in an effort to rekindle the association between Canada and that characterful grain, or more likely to compete with Crown Royal’s runaway success: Northern Harvest Rye, Canadian Club has one-upped their adversary by using 100% rye in the mash bill, as opposed to Northern Harvest’s 90-ish percent.
Canadian Club 100% rye is distilled by Alberta Distillers, like one of my favorite Canadian whiskies, Alberta Rye Dark Batch, although the Canadian Club brand is owned by Beam-Suntory. The 100% rye whisky is aged in a combination of casks: brand new American white oak barrels, previously-used bourbon barrels, and barrels that previously held Canadian whisky. The resulting batches are bottled at 40% ABV.
Note that this is not to be confused with the Canadian Club Chairman’s Select [actually, it is the same – see comments], which is also 100% rye, nor Alberta’s own Alberta Premium, also 100% rye.
Nose: Very soft, nonthreatening grain, with a sweet envelope of vanilla, bubblegum, and honeysuckle. This auspicious start is marred by a flash of acetone (nail polish remover), betraying its youth.
Palate: Soft, supple, and creamy body. Quite a bit hotter than I’d expect at 40% ABV. The palate offers more sweet grains and a teasing of jammy fruits, but not much else.
Finish: Short. Vanilla sweet and floral, with more honeysuckle and some orange blossom. Pleasant and not bitter, but quick.
With Water: Water might bring a little bit of caramel to the palate, rounding out the sweet flavors and taming a little of the tongue burn, but is otherwise unhelpful. If you don’t like this at first sip, throw in some water to see if it improves.
Overall: To me, this feels like an attempt to compete with Crown’s Northern Harvest Rye which falls flat. Its initially sweet, fruity aroma is undone by youthful raw alcohol and paint-thinner notes. Its creamy body (a hallmark of Canadian blended ryes) is otherwise bland and overly hot. In a word, forgettable.