Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: Canadian Club Blended Whisky Aged 30 years

About a month ago, I received email from fellow whisky nuts,  Davin de Kergommeaux ( and Chip Dykstra (The Rum Howler Blog).  These Canadian guys operate their respective spirits review websites, and wanted to know if I was interested in participating in reviewing the same whisky and post simultaneously in front of you, the reader.  You get the bonus of three points of view.  I thought hmmm . . . could be interesting.  It would also be a welcome change for you the reader, who may be tired of my pop culture analogies of how a whisky performs on my untrained palate.  So, I thought, what the hell!  I have nothing to lose . . . other than my dignity, reputation and the budding friendship of two, whacky whisky boob, internet acquaintances.

Canadian Club 30 year old whisky
In 2008, to mark the 150th year of the distilleryCanadian Club 30 years old was released.  Davin and Chip also selected it as the first of possibly a series of whiskies to be reviewed.

I am Canadian, and so, am familiar with the Canadian Club brand.  In my college days, I drank Crown Royal.  Didn't care for 'CC' as it is often termed lovingly by its' legions of fans.  I found the standard bottling rather sweet, kinda like perfume.  In college, I sought out perfume, but wanted it accompanied by a female body, not a whisky bottle!  That's my knowledge of this brand.  Ok, let's move on to the 30 year old (err whisky that is . . .):

Nose (undiluted)
Fragrant rye, roses and vanilla.

Palate (undiluted)
Big rye flavor that brings to mind certain great American bourbons.  Maple sugar, hickory and massive oak towering overhead.  Nevertheless, the flavors are all in balance with a nice symmetry. 

Finish (undiluted)
Cinnamon and a ginger intensity merging into a fast moving stream of vanilla.  A little spice here at the tail end, but not a lot.

General Impressions
Super smooth.  Balanced.  Polite.  Much like Canadian people abroad.  "Yes, sir" or "Please" or "May I know the time?"  This whisky is not taking any chances, because risk taking in distilling involves the possibility of offending.  No one will take offence here.  Smooth, no nasty, naked alcohol rolling around on the palate.  Everyone has their clothes on at this party. 

So, as a gift for ol' grandad, he'll sure be happy.  A pleasant enough drink.  That's for sure.  But, at nearly $200 a bottle, your more serious whisky fan (me, myself & I) will not be impressed.  Question:  Why?  Answer:  Canadian Club 30 years does not roll out a flavor profile of any great complexity.  You literally taste in the most linear and uninspiring fashion: rye, vanilla and oak followed by cinnamon and ginger on the finish. 

Remember the stodgy narrator, the wheelchair bound criminoligist of the Rocky Horror Picture Show?  What do crowds of college students repeatedly shout at the top of their lungs, the world over, standing defiantly in the aisles, at midnight screenings of that ridiculously funny film?  Boring! Boring! Boring!   

I have the same sentiment as I sip Canadian Club 30 years old.  It's just not doing anything for me.  This whisky is not worth the price.  Buy Gibson's Finest Rare 18 years, another Canadian whisky, that is a fraction of the price, and enjoy a flavor profile that is just as satisfying.  Canadian Club 30 years is proof that age statements are not definitive of quality.

At $200 a bottle, you expect to be 'wowed.'  You want some 'pizazz.'  Not a slice of white bread!  This is vanilla when I am expecting neapolitan flavor ice cream.

Another Opinion?
Ever heard the saying:  "If there is not enough work in a small town for one lawyer, there is always enough for two?"  Same holds true for whisky reviewers.  At least with this review, there is a triumvirate of sorts.  If you want to read the review of a recognized authority of Canadian whisky, visit Davin de Kergommeaux's site here for his take on CC 30.  If you want to read another review of a rum expert, who analyzed Canadian Club 30, try Chip Dykstra's site


Jason Debly

Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2011. All rights reserved.  Poster owns no copyright to image of Rock Horror Picture Show which is posted for the purposes of nostalgia, education and entertainment.


  1. Jason, I think you are the "Simon Cowell" of your whisky review triumvirate. "American Idol" needs you!

  2. I was pleased to discover your review blog and wanted to say just why. Like you, at The Rum Project (linked) we feel VERY strongly about keeping ourselves free of commercial influence, and scrupulously purchase our rums at retail prices.

    After reviewing over 130 rums, we have taken two freebies - a glass, and two rums that were simply not available in south Florida.

    In this fashion, we take the same risk as any other buyer. Let me be clear: a freebie just isn't the same and absolutely affects the review. It's like punching a guy who just smiled and warmly shook your hand.

    Your review on the Canadian 30 may be a perfect example of your independence. I've read enough of your reviews to determine that you have the chops to understand and communicate a whisky, and without resorting to "review speak", common among more commercial "reviewers".

    To compare the three reviews of C30 was instructive. Yours is worlds apart, and if I've learned one thing about both great and poor presentations it's that great spirits tend to find a consensus.

    Canadian 30 did not and you are the outlier. This is no mistake I think, and I congratulate you. Independent resources like yours are a gift to the internet.

    Thank you.

  3. Thanks Capn! I guess it comes down to every person has to march to the beat of his drum. For you and I, we believe that taking samples corrupts our ability to render a truly independent appraisal of a spirit. Others think otherwise. Live and let live, but for us, freebie free is the only way.

  4. I think you are both absolutely right in your suspicion that free drinks corrupt your judgement. Or maybe it rather just softens ones judgement. I think the main reason for that is, that the biggest let down of a "bad" whisky isn't the uninteresting or, in some cases, offensive, taste. It is bacause you paid for it yourself with your own hard earned money. And being a whisky enthusiast, you are very well awere of what you could have gotten for that same money instead.
    A free dram does not let you down in that way, because you couldn't have spent no money on anything else.
    Long story short: A free whisky can be dissapointing concerning the taste. But a bad whisky that you yourself have purchased actually makes you a bit angry at that particular bottle.
    At least, that's what I think.

    On another topic (which is still whisky though) - have you tried whisky from the distillery Amrut from India. If not, do go for it. Because of the different climate, the whisky developes a lot of character during a relatively short time span, which helps to bring down the price of the final product. I have tried the Amrut Fusion (50/50 barley from Scotland and Himalaya). It's a little different than Scotch but still reminiscent of a high quality Speysider.

    - Magnus, Denmark

  5. Magnus, probably my biggest disappointment that hit me in the pocket book was Johnnie Walker Blue Label, just not worth the money.

    As for Amrut, I hear very good things about this brand. I hope to try it sometime. I am excited to see countries like India being recognized for producing a good spirit.