- > Grocer Hiram Walker began his career in Detroit, MI, a bustling fur trading center, in 1836.
- > As an entrepreneur, Walker had numerous businesses but had a very strong desire to open up a distillery.
- > Anticipating what the U.S. business climate would be for a whisky producer if America’s “Noble Experiment” with Prohibition succeeded, Walker sold all of his businesses in Detroit and looked across the Detroit River to Ontario, Canada and purchased 460 acres of property. In 1858, within two years of purchasing the property, he had his distillery up and running.
- > One of Walker’s whiskies became quite popular in gentlemen’s clubs throughout the U.S. and Canada and became known as Club Whisky. Its immense popularity impacted the sale of American bourbons to the extent that American distillers pushed legislation that required Country of Origin labeling, and Club Whisky became “Canadian Club”.
- > Following Prohibition’s enactment in 1920, the Canadian Club distillery was the locale of many backroom deals, border-crossing car chases, and immense profits. Lore has it that influential customers, including Al Capone, spurred sales of the whisky in the U.S. CC became the “unofficial” Whisky of Prohibition.
- > After Prohibition’s repeal in 1933, Canadian Club was quite popular and continued to grow.
- > Today, CC is enjoying even more popularity, thanks to TV’s Don Draper on Mad Men. While we all may love to hate him, Draper loves his Canadian Club cocktails, any time of day – the earlier the better, in fact!
So, what’s so special about Canadian Club? According to Tish Harcus, Brand Ambassador for Canadian Club, the answer is, “Our proprietary pre-barrel blending process. The spirits are blended together, according to recipe, from corn, rye, rye malt and barley malt before they’re put into barrels for ageing. It’s like making a stew or chili – all the ingredients are able to marry with each other at the same time.”
Canadian Club is double distilled and the portfolio is considered lighter than Scotch and smoother than Bourbon. All Canadian Club expressions are aged in once-used American white oak barrels, giving the liquid its signature mellowness. Grain malting is done in towns nearby the distillery. Core expressions of the brand are the beloved Canadian Club 6 Year Old, CC 100 Proof, CC Reserve (10 year), CC CLASSIC 12, and CC Sherry Cask (8 year). Special editions have included a spectacular 30 year old, released in 2008 in commemoration of the distillery’s 150th anniversary. This is the only 30 year old Canadian whisky ever made available to the public. The distillery is looking forward to 2012 when its Innovation Project will release several new expressions.
But, back to Don Draper and his favorite Canadian Club cocktails, here are two:
Canadian Club Reserve Manhattan
1 part Canadian Club Reserve 10 Year
1/3 part Sweet Vermouth
Dash Angostura® bitters
Directions: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in the whisky and sweet vermouth and add dash of bitters. Shake and then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry and serve.
Canadian Club Old Fashioned
2 parts Canadian Club CLASSIC 12
2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 half-moon orange slice
1 stemmed cherry, pitted
1 – 2 sugar cubes
Directions: In an Old Fashion glass, muddle the orange, cherry, bitters, and sugar cubes. Fill glass with cracked ice and add whisky. Gently stir cocktail to bring the fruit up and around the ice. Then, spritz with club soda. No garnish necessary, but if you’d like, add a fresh half-moon orange slice on the rim.