In case you haven’t heard, rye whisky is going boom. In 2015 Fortune noted that rye whisky sales volume was up 536% since 2009. As has been well documented now, the unexpected rye boom left many brands scrambling to find stocks of aged rye whisky.
While some brands turned to MGP’s rye stocks, other brands instead relied on stocks from Canadian distilleries, such as Beam Suntory’s Alberta Distillers Limited, to fill their bottles. Now, in addition to selling Alberta Distiller’s rye whisky to other brands, Beam Suntory is bottling it for the U.S. market as Canadian Club 100% Rye Whisky.
image via Whitney Morris/The Whiskey Wash
This Canadian whisky, which debuted in the US last year and in Canada in 2014, is a blend of whisky aged in three different types of barrels – new American white oak barrels, once-used bourbon barrels, and once-used Canadian whisky barrels. Canadian Club 100% Rye Whisky lacks an age statement, retails for just shy of $20, and clocks in at a mild 80 proof.
It has been rather well received so far on the judge and reviewers circle, including earning 2014 Canadian Whisky of the Year from Whisky Advocate magazine, Sippin’ Whisky of the Year at the 2015 Canadian Whisky Awards and gold at the 2016 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Tasting Notes: Canadian Club 100% Rye Whisky
Vital Stats: As the name suggests, the mash bill for Canadian Club 100% Rye Whisky includes only rye grain.
Appearance: In a Glencairn, the whisky appears a light honey brown.
Nose: In whisky aged in used barrels, the grain characteristics tend to lead the nose and palate. While Canadian Club Rye uses some new cooperage, based on the nose, I would guess that the ratio of whisky aged in new cooperage to whisky aged in used cooperage leans heavily towards the used cooperage end of the spectrum.
In this case, toasted cereal notes, attributable to the grain, dominate the nose. Vanilla and light spearmint notes appear underneath.
Palate: The front of the palate leads off with light baking spice notes and cream. As the flavor develops, the toasted grain notes from the nose emerge with a slight bitter edge. In the mid-palate, a light floral note from the rye grain balances with the spice notes, and a sweet undertone of caramel and vanilla rounds out the flavor profile.
For the finish, a toasted grain note mixes with less pronounced notes of cinnamon and clove. At 80 proof, it isn’t surprising that the finish is light and short.
Final Thoughts and Score:
Overall, Canadian Club 100% Rye Whisky is acceptable, but not memorable. The flavor profile, due to some of the rye whisky being aged in used cooperage and the low bottling proof, is very light.
Compared to other popular ryes, such as Sazerac rye and Rittenhouse bottled-in-bond rye, Canadian Club 100% rye lacks the strong rye and barrel notes. In a mixed drink, the Canadian Club rye would be quickly overwhelmed by mixer flavors.
Editor’s Note: A sample of this whiskey was provided to us by those behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, keeps full independent editorial control over this article.