Review: Canadian Club Small Batch Classic Aged 12 Years Canadian Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

12 Years
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

I wonder how "small" these batches are...I apologize for the blurry image but I figure it's still better than nothing...

This whisky is aged 12 years, and was recently rebranded (I think 2013) to”small batch” with a new bottle (remind anyone of Knob Creek?) and description (in quite small lettering). It is barrel blended, that is, unaged spirit from different batches and perhaps recipes are blended together before being put in a barrel – in line with other Canadian Club whiskies. It is distilled in a pot still, at Hiram Walker Distillery in Windsor.

Review (2014)

  • Batch: C12-054

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

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.

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.

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.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High, at $28.

Review (2015; Blind)*

  • Batch: C12-014

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2015

Spices come through - nutmeg, clove, ginger, brown sugar, with threads of richness throughout. On the palate, it is somewhat sweet, though over-oaked and consequently tannic and bitter. Notable cinnamon on the finish.

Value: Low, at $28.

*I should note here that this whisky went on to win a silver medal at the Canadian Whisky Awards for this same batch, so, either my palate strongly disagreed with this one in a unique manner or this sample tasted was tainted, which is my suspicion. As such, I trust my previous review from 2014 more than this one.

Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2016

I’m posting this review because this whisky is generally pretty good and I think either I had a reuined sample or I botched the blind tasting above.

Dried blueberries, maple, cinnamon, old oak, new oak, vanilla, green, wet fresh and rich wood, and some very appealing spiciness. This is very familiar. The palate is fairly straightforward with some molasses, light pine, and bean sprouts and caramel. Slightly bitter on the finish, but decent.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High, at $28.

Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

A nose dotted with transcendant rye and rich grain, easing into a palate dotted with orange peel, cream of wheat, caramel, cedar, gooseberry, white grape, vanilla, and then a creamy and spicy finish. Really nice rye and the integration is awesome. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a CC12 that’s been so good. The corn essence and dried fruit in the whisky is also quite rich, a nice touch.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High, at $30.