Canadian Club Classic 12 year old photo

Canadian Club Classic 12 year old (40% alc./vol.)

January 18, 2017


Sweet oak caramels and burnt sugar, raisins, prunes, and Christmas cake. Peppery with a slippery creaminess and underlying notes of clean oak. Fruity & Spicy. ★★★☆

At the entry level, there are three different versions of Canadian Club: a best-selling, six-year-old mixing whisky, known in Canada as Canadian Club Premium; a rye-rich ten-year-old, called Canadian Club Reserve; and for those who can’t decide whether to sip or mix: this sweet voluptuous twelve-year-old whisky, dubbed Canadian Club Classic.

An enormous variety of whiskies can be made by tweaking just a few basic factors. These begin with the choice of grains, followed by the selection of barrels, and, last but not least, the decision to employ particular blending practices that contribute to the final flavours.

Like most Canadian whisky, Canadian Club is made primarily from corn. Then, to this are added rye, rye malt, and barley malt. Each grain contributes its own characteristic flavours. Consequently, by changing the ratios of these three grains in the mashes, a wide range of spirits can be created. For Canadian Club Classic, the whisky makers have chosen a decidedly higher content of malted barley for the mash bill than they opt for with their other whiskies.

As with each of the Canadian Club whiskies, a variety of barrels is used to mature the spirit that will eventually become Canadian Club Classic. For this particular whisky, the folks at Canadian Club have chosen to use larger numbers of re-charred Bourbon barrels than they conventionally would for their other Canadian Club whiskies. Re-charring the barrels in this way accomplishes two objectives: First, it burns off any residual Bourbon that has been absorbed into the barrel staves and could flavour the new whisky; re-charring virtually eliminates the Bourbon influence on the whisky. And second, re-charring rejuvenates the partly-depleted layer of caramelized oak sugars in the barrel in addition to reactivating the charcoal itself. This increases the sweetness of the whisky while contributing significantly to removing any off-notes from the new spirit. The result is a creamy, robust whisky that is rich in oak caramels and toffees.

Whisky can be blended in many different ways, as Canadian whisky aficionados know. Many of them have become quite familiar with the “barrel blending” process that Hiram Walker pioneered for his Canadian Club whisky. This barrel blending method involves mixing the various spirit components of the final whisky as soon as they are distilled, and then putting them into barrels where they will mature as blended spirit. Barrel blending allows more time for the various spirits to intermingle and for their constituent flavours to integrate. Among other things, the people who make Canadian Club attribute the signature fruitiness of their whiskies to this long period of marrying.

Nose: Very fragrant with distinct caramel/burnt sugar notes and sweet dark fruits, including raisins, blackcurrants, and prunes, then a slight hint of sweet-and-pickly sourness. Emerging floral and herbal notes are overtaken by the aroma of celery. Slight spirity notes combine with an assortment of rye spices – nutmeg, cloves, ginger – to stir memories of rum-soaked Christmas cake. Wouldn’t this be a fine Christmas digestif?

Palate: Toffee sweetness, caramel, fudge, burnt sugar – in fact all the oak sugars rolled into one. A slippery, syrupy creaminess balances a peppery, mouth-warming heat which gets quite hot on the sides of the tongue when the gingery rye spices kick in. Black fruit accentuates the sweetness, but a lemony citric zest, with a slight cleansing bitterness, keeps it all under control. Twelve years in wood have left a pleasing oaky patina that underlies the whole. Hints of fresh water plants remind us that this succulent sweet libation is rye whisky, indeed.

Finish: Medium. Fading on pepper and spices, with hints of sweet caramel, slight woody astringency, and a vague bitterness.

Empty Glass: Surprisingly little for such an aromatic nose and flavourful palate. What is there consists mainly of toffee, caramel, suggestions of creamy Caramac® bar, as well as sour pickles.

$42.70 at LCBO.
Highly Recommended. ★★★☆

Canadian Club 8 year old Sherry Cask reviewed here.
Canadian Club 10 year old Reserve reviewed here.
Canadian Club 15 year old reviewed here.
Canadian Club 20 year old reviewed here.
Canadian Club 30 year old reviewed here.


34 Responses to “Canadian Club Classic 12 year old (40% alc./vol.)”

  1. Tim N:

    When I really started digging into Cndn whisky this is the one that got me hooked and opened the doors.

    • Davin:

      Yes, for sipping or mixing it’s a sweet, creamy, rich, and flavourful favourite.

  2. [...] Canadian Club Classic 12 This is the most Christmassy of the Canadian Club range. It’s sweet and spicy and a most versatile drink indeed as it works well as a sweet and flavourful sipper, a robust mixer, and, with its spicy notes, will add flavour and zip to a glass of eggnog.  CC Classic 12 is available at LCBO for $24.40. [...]

  3. JWS:

    Tried this at a tavern on St. Patrick’s Day a week ago. That’s some GREAT stuff!! Canadian Club has yet to disappoint me. The Classic 12 is cheaper than that “Royal whisky”, and tastes BETTER!! Love it!!

  4. Grant Mathey:

    I have been drinking classic 12 for over a year at my club. The other day the Mgr. told me that he would not
    be able to get it anymore as the Distributor told him that Hiram Walker was discontinuing the product. I told him I didn’t think so,
    Can you clear up the matter for me. I have a feeling the
    Dist. is just not going to carry it any longer, but I need
    the story.
    Thanks, Grant

    • Davin:

      I have heard no such rumour and was at an event just two weeks ago where Canadian Club was actively promoting their Classic 12.

  5. [...] Обзор на Canadian Whisky [...]

  6. sailor joe:

    Why only a 3 star Davin?

    • Davin:

      Perhaps it’s time for me to give it another try.

  7. Holly:

    I first tried CCC 12 year old Whisky 3 years ago…it has a great taste nothing compares as far as I am concerned!

  8. [...] crys­tal glasses he gave me that day. He would have wanted them filled with some­thing tight and twelve-years old. Nowadays all I can take is a lit­tle Bailey’s on my Mayan choco­late Häagen-Dazs. Luckily [...]

  9. [...] reviewed here, Canadian Club 20 year old reviewed here, Canadian Club 15 year old reviewed here, Canadian Club Classic 12 year old reviewed here, Canadian Club 10 year old reviewed here, Canadian Club 8 year old Sherry Cask reviewed [...]

  10. Doug:

    Wow,Picked CC classic 12 up by mistake, Wanted to try the Cherry Cask,Tried many brands looking for a smooth rich taste, I fell in love with Small Batch. I drink it straight over ice.

  11. Andy:

    I picked up a 375ml bottle now branded as “small batch”. From what I remember of the CC Classic 6years ago, this has improved. I think the Reserve that was 10yo and now 9yo has also improved.

  12. Ray Abraham:

    I have had this 12 year old for many years. It is truly the best in the CC line. I believe it actually beats out the 20 and 30 year expressions, all be it ever so slightly. For me CC and Crown are neck and neck. I love Canadian Whiskey!!!

  13. Jeremiah:

    I have a 1974 unopened bottle of CC 12 year reserve and was wondering what the value might be?

    • Davin:

      Around $35.00 in Canada. Probably half that in the US.

  14. I have an unopened bottle of Canadian Club Classic 12 year whisky from 1972 and was wondering what the value might be? Thank you.

    • Davin:

      It has not appreciated in value so about the same as a new bottle where you live.

    • JWS:

      Dorothy, open that thing up & ENJOY!!!

  15. Dean:

    Tried it based on the reviews. Very mediocre. Won’t buy again.

  16. Kenneth:

    Any plans on reviewing the revamped version of this? Now called Canadian Club Small Batch Classic 12. Or something like that, it’s a little hard to interpret the reading order on the new label. :)

  17. Jay:

    I just got a bottle of 12 year with a tax label from 74 from my dad. Wanna drink it so bad, but also wanna save it for retirement… I mean what’s another 20 or 30 years right?

  18. I have been buying Canadian Club Classic 12 since it came out. I hate the new cap. I am 79 years old and it is extremely difficult to open when every night before dinner I have my manhattan. Why did you change it to a cork?

    • Don:


      Get a stainless pourer and throw the cork away.

  19. Semone:

    I have a imported glass bottle and glass cork with the big W and crown on top and lions on both sides of the W. The bottle it self was established in 1858 aged 12 years 40% alc 80 u.s Proof 375ml limited can any one give me any information on it I can’t find any none what so ever and believe I have the only one

    • Davin:

      That is the logo for Hiram Walker whisky. They still put 1858 on Canadian Club bottles today. Not rare at all. Sorry.

  20. Dennis Schuman:

    I have a gift set of canadian club classic hiram walker and s375ons limited 40% 375ml bottle with two glasses new in box wanted a value of this item.

    • Davin:

      Probably not much more than you paid for them new.

  21. Gio:

    Really good whisky, its more scotch than bourbon. Sweet and smooth but have a strong body. Around 18 usd in Japan

  22. Scott:

    I have a bottle of C.C. Classic aged 12 years. I’m asking for help in deciphering the info on the bottle. On the front of the bottle in little white letters reads “880615W”. Maybe this is the date? On a small tag around the neck there are typed letters after the cursive portion. It reads Imported to Detroit, Michigan : “WG 1254 C”. Just wondering what these number signify and does the whiskey get better after 30 more years of not being opened? Seal has not been broken. Whiskey is clear, no floaters.

    • DANNYD:

      It’s just the batch number. And no a 30 year old bottle of 12 year old whiskey is still a bottle of 12 year old whiskey. It just might be a different flavour profile than today but whiskey doesn’t change in bottle like wine. And our whiskey whilst delicious isn’t worth much so if the colour is good and the level is high go ahead and crack it open and have a dram

  23. Theo papadakis:

    I have a bottle of Canadian club classic 12 year old that was given to my aunt when she got married in 1960,she gave it to me still sealed.What I want to know is;will the tast be the same or will their be a change? I

    • Davin:

      As long as it was stored upright and not in the light it should be the same give or take for batch differences.

Leave a Reply