December 1, 2013 was an interesting day for me. I was driving from Indiananpolis to Minnesota.
This is not the interesting part.
I had been scheduled to take part in an online Twitter tasting going by the name #DavinTT2 but obviously couldn’t take part due to that aforementioned driving. The group had two whiskies to sample and I had tasted mine the previous evening in order to have notes ready to tweet out during the event. I had really liked both of them and was excited to find out what they were, what other thought of them and most importantly if I could get them in the US.
Due to extremely intermittent internet connectivity (thank you AT&T for seemingly not building a tower along a large stretch of Interstate 94 between Madison and Eau Claire, Wisconsin) I found out what the second whisky was first. And that it was a Canada only release. Drat.
The first one, I didn’t like as much as the second, but I still liked it enough to search out if available in the US for a decent price. Imagine my delighted surprise when I found out that it was Canadian Club Sherry Cask. I’d seen that practically everywhere.
I’d seen it everywhere but had dismissed it in large part due to the fact that it was Canadian Club. I had a vague recollection of not caring for Canadian Club back when I was young and very much not into whiskey.
It’s amazing how old prejudices stick with you even when you’ve forgotten why you have them. Isn’t it? But that’s the value of blind tasting. I knew these whiskies were from Canada but that was it. It got me to taste something I had literally passed over dozens of times. And I liked it. Now I just needed to find it so I could taste more than an ounce and see if I really liked it.
I ran to the store once I got home and…they were out. Odd. I looked at the other stores I frequent. They were out or didn’t carry it. What the hell? I looked every time I stopped at a liquor store. Nothing. It got so bad that I finally ended up grabbing a bottle at Binny’s on my next vacation. Of course, when I got home, it was everywhere. And cheaper.
Knowing that this was a tasty drink got me to wondering what the regular release tasted like. Was it something that I might want to keep on hand? I mean, it’s cheap enough. I bought a bottle to sip on during the Mad Men season premier this year. It was tasty enough. So now I had two Canadian Club whiskies. One that went for almost $30 and one that went for about $15. Was one twice as good as the other?
Purchase info: $14.99 for 750mL at Ace Spirits, Hopkins, MN
Details: 40% ABV
Nose: Delicate nose with notes of ripe cherries, wet stone and dusty old wood
Mouth: silky texture with a malt-like sweetness. It has strong floral notes. There is a bit of mineral flavor along the sides of the tongue.
Finish: Sweet and gentle, but with just enough heat to subtly remind you you are drinking whisky.
Thoughts: There is absolutely nothing wrong with this whisky. And, if you love delicate flavors, I can see this being a nice inexpensive bottle to keep on hand. I prefer my whisky to be a bit more in-your-face and not so eager to please so, although I wouldn’t turn down a glass if offered, I doubt I’ll be buying this one again.
Canadian Club Small Batch: Sherry Cask
Purchase info: $29.99 for a 750mL at Binny’s, Bloomington, IL
Details: 41.3% ABV. Batch: C12-232
Nose: Floral soapiness, wet stone, dusty wood, sweet caramel and raisins.
Mouth: Thick and sweet. Fruity caramel paired with dark chocolate.
Finish: Sweet and of a decent length. Lingering fruitiness that fades to bitter. Dries the mouth nicely.
Thoughts: This is a good conversation whisky. Buy it to have with your friends for those times you’d rather think about your friends than your whisky. It’s not a complicated whisky, but I like it. Just not for every pour.
In the end, the Sherry Cask is better than the regular release. Is it twice as good? No. But then whisky math is seldom that straightforward. If I pick this up again it will be as a change of pace whisky. It doesn’t perfectly line up with my palate, but it’s not far enough off that I wouldn’t want a glass now and then.