• Shelley Boettcher

Canadian Club releases 40-year-old whisky

The legendary distillery Canadian Club has released its first-ever 4o-year-old aged whisky.

Made in 1977 in Ontario, from 100-per-cent corn, it was aged in first-fill Bourbon American white oak barrels.

Full-bodied, rich and sweet, it has delicious notes of caramelized sugar, creme brulee, stewed dried fruit, cloves and nutmeg. No caramel has been added; the pale gold colour comes straight from the barrels.

"When we pulled it from the warehouse, we intended to blend it," says Tish Harcus, Canadian Club's brand ambassador.

"But we tasted it and we went, 'Oh, my God, this stuff is incredible. This is exquisite stuff. We don't have to blend it with anything."

Only 7,000 bottles have been made, and all are destined for the Canadian market.

Each retails for about $250 a bottle.

This isn't the first older whisky that Canadian Club has released; a few years ago, the distillery released a 30-year-old, which was greeted with much excitement.

And, of course, the brand has been famous for generations, both in Canada and around the world.

One of Canada's oldest and largest distilleries, Canadian Club is now owned by Beam Suntory, but its beginnings go back to the 19th century.

Hiram Walker founded the distillery in 1858 in Detroit, but moved it into Southern Ontario, Canada, a few years later, when Prohibition was taking over in the U.S.

It must've been quite the time. During Prohibition, the gangster Al Capone was one of the distillery's biggest customers. He smuggled thousands of cases of whisky from Canada into the U.S.

These days, of course, Canadian Club can be found (legally) around the world, and the Walker distillery is still operating in Windsor, Ontario.

It's considerably bigger than it was back then — there are 1.7 million barrels just at the warehouses where Canadian Club is stored, not including the other Beam Suntory products made in Canada.

But the commitment to making Canadian whisky in Canada is as strong now as it was then.

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