Review: Canadian Club Chronicles 43 Year Old Canadian Whisky "The Speakeasy" / by Jason Hambrey

Canadian Club 43 1.jpg
43 Years; Refill American Oak
100% Corn
Distiller Hiram Walker (Windsor, Ontario)

For the past number of years, Canadian Club has been releasing among the oldest Canadian whisky every to be bottled, starting in 2017 with the 40 Year Old (one of the best whiskies I’ve ever tasted). Then they followed up with the “Chronicles” series, starting with the “The Water of Windsor” at 41 Years Old, then “The Dock Man” at 42 Years Old and now this, “The Speakeasy” at 43 Years Old. As far as I am aware, this is the oldest age-stated Canadian whisky ever – but my personal knowledge of bottles pre-2000 whiskies are limited and research isn’t easy. I’ve checked with a number of authorities and the oldest age-stated whisky I’ve heard of before these old Canadian Clubs was a 37 year old Seagrams before prohibition. Not to say an older one hasn’t been bottled, but if it has, it’s certainly not well known.

Regardless, it’s certainly the oldest whisky that’s been available in decades.

Canadian whisky ages very well, in part because of the use of less active casks, a spirit whose lightness takes very well to age, and careful blending (as Canadian Club has done with these releases). I really like the character, in part because the nuance created by the aging process doesn’t get masked behind a lot of oak or strong spirit character. Some Scottish grain whiskies have similar age and character, but I find they typically haven’t had the depth or vivacity that I’ve seen in a lot of the old Canadian whiskies.

Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L20240IW14:08

  • Bottling Date: 2020

The nose is glorious. It’s full of old leather, dried fruit, berries, brown sugar, prune, beeswax, nutmeg, corn oil, vanilla, and weathered oak. It’s a nose, indeed, that could hold me for 43 minutes – most aged whiskies won’t. The palate is glorious – soft, with rich character, light oak, molasses, beeswax, dried blueberry, clove, and white pepper. Very delicate, yet very rich. Dried fruits hold the finish, coupled with lots of old leather and a really nice dusty, dry spiciness on the finish. The whisky in many ways reminds me of many of the scents of the furniture section of antique stores.

It’s much richer than a lot of the lighter aged Canadian whisky – but still at 45% it’s soft enough that I wouldn’t have been surprised if it was 40% - but the extra strength really helps out on the finish.

For me, 2018 only yielded one “exceptional” whisky (a 35 year old Caol Ila). 2019 also only yielded one (Mister Sam). I was wondering if 2020 would pass without one.

I guess not.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Low - at $320 you aren’t buying this for value! However, as far as 43 year-olds go, this is extremely reasonable!