Whiskey-Canadian Club-two versions, one distilled in 1956 and one distilled in 2004.
This requires a bit of explaining. One of my good friends, Dave Tollis, presented me with an experience I never thought I would have. Dave told me his mother had saved a bottle of Canadian Club from when she was younger, it was never opened and was sitting in the basement of the house. He offered me a portion of it after finding out I have a passion for whiskey. This took me aback and I was very grateful to him for the opportunity to try something made over fifty years ago. After trying some himself, which I’m glad he got to do so we could share the experience, I savored every drink I was able to get out if it! After doing research based on information from the bottle I determined the whiskey was distilled in 1956. I then bought myself a current bottle, distilled in 2004, and prepared to try and compare both. Again, thank you Dave for allowing me this special opportunity!
Please note-whiskey is not like wine! Once it is bottled it stops aging. So while this whiskey is over 50 years old, the actual age is only 6 years. The unique opportunity here is to see how the recipes have changed from the mid-50’s to today and see if there really is any noticeable difference!
Type-blended Canadian Whiskey, both are 6 yo, 40%ABV
2004–sunlight with fast thin tears, no impurities visible
1956–sunlight with fast thin tears, no impurities visible
2004-a somewhat closed and unadventurous aroma that has been designed for the U.S. market and mixed drinks. On its own there are mild spices with an underlining alcohol aroma. Traces of grains are detected but are mild and subdued.
1956– this is a bit more fun and lively! Cereal makes a statement with a better expression of spice. A dash of pepper is followed with a pinch of clove. Alcohol again is present but after you get past that it stops and you are left with an aroma a bit more complex than the 2004.
2004-to my surprise there is a floral aspect to this whiskey. Wood finally plays a role and undefined grains mix around tempered and mellow. Not very complex and not making a statement this whiskey is semi-dry and has a very light oily mouth feel. I noted when drinking this I found I really would like it in a mixed drink where you can taste the whiskey but it doesn’t take center stage in the drink.
1956– again this whiskey is mellow but it reaches out more making one take notice. Sweeter than the new version, the grains are a little more defined and the rye and malts express themselves more with traces of pepper and warm bread. This version also seems to be a bit more balanced than the newer one with a coating mouth feel and would be more of a presence in a mixed drink.
2004-the water allows the sweet malts to come through with underlining spice making this a less dry. It does not however make this more complex and I really was not able to detect anything more.
1956-as with the newer it becomes more sweet with spices being present, but in the case of this one it really mellows it out quickly and it loses a lot.
2004-dry, short and just as closed off as the aroma there is not much there. It is slightly sweeter then on the palate but not enough to make me have anymore feelings about it.
1956-much more pleasant than the new version, it also becomes more sweet with traces of pepper and salt speaking to me as other spices play just underneath. This lasts just a bit longer with an unexpected kick and is slightly warming.
What can I say, the 2004 was just uninspired as a whiskey by itself, but has a lot of potential in a mixed drink. The 1956 had more character and was more pleasant standing on its own, but just barely. While not complex it does allow for a nice and mellow experience that I believe many would enjoy. So what have I concluded about the two? I do think that in both cases Canadian Club has made a whiskey very accessible to the inexperienced to average drinker. Over the years though it does seem like they have mellowed the whiskey taking the character out of it a little at a time. I did like the old version of the whiskey and would hope future bottlings return to more adventurous expressions.